BetVictor Northern Ireland Open Draw
The draw and format for the 2021 BetVictor Northern Ireland Open is now available.
The qualifying round will run from August 23-27 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, followed by the final stages at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast from October 9-17.
The matches involving the top 16 seeds, two wild card nominations plus local tour player Jordan Brown will be held over to the final venue.
Judd Trump will begin his quest to win the title for a fourth consecutive year against Andrew Pagett. Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Stuart Carrington in the first round, while World Champion Mark Selby will take on Mark Davis. Northern Ireland’s top player Mark Allen will meet Si Jiahui.
Neil Robertson will be back in action but Ding Junhui is still absent from the draw, as, unfortunately are On Yee Ng and Marco Fu.
As I expected after Jason Ferguson’s interview , the China Open has gone. Also, the top 16 players will not be in action at all until the 9th of October. That’s as big a break in the course of the season as I can remember. Also there are a lot of qualifiers to be confirmed in this calendar, but only one “potential ranking event” is mentioned. Also, no sign of the “traditional” Championship League.
Finally there is this in the press about the “handshake” incident at the start of the Allen v Evans match earlier this week.
Reanne Evans escapes punishment for handshake snub in bitter clash with ex Mark Allen
Reanne Evans ignored her former partner’s attempt at a fist bump before their fiery first round clash at the British Open but will not be punished for her actions
Reanne Evans has avoided any official punishment for her decision to ignore Mark Allen’s fist bump before they played at the British Open on Monday.
The pair had formerly been partners but broke up, making for a very awkward encounter only exaggerated by Evans’ move.
The draw for the British Open, which is being played for the first time since 2004, threw up the feisty encounter in the very first round. The two players have a daughter together, born in 2006, but split-up just two years later.
Evans recently asked for more maintenance money from Allen to support their child.
Previously, players have been warned about conduct if there have been aggressive or angry exchanges, however given the relatively placid nature of Evans’ refusal of Allen’s peace offering, there will be no such action taken.
Reanne Evans will not be punished for refusing ex-partner Mark Allen’s fist bump at the British Open in Leicester
The crowd in Leicester were engrossed at the game, often becoming raucous in their support of the players.
While snooker players are expected to shake hands before any match, there is no strict obligation to do so. During the Covid pandemic such traditions have proved malleable given the obvious risks.
Evans is a 12-time women’s snooker world champion, and recently earned a two year professional tour card. Allen is a Masters champion and is currently ranked 10th in the world.
The pair put on a gripping contest, eventually going to a deciding frame in which Allen held his nerve to take the victory.
Both players commented on how unpleasant the so-called ‘Battle of the Exes’ was to play in after the match, with many onlookers also feeling the intensity of the duel.
Allen said after his victory: “It was horrible, and not something I really want to be doing again. I tried to stay professional and I think I did that and can hold my head up high.”
Evans was upset at her failure to convert a 2-1 lead in frames into a shock victory. She said: “No one wanted that match but you have to accept it, it’s sport and these things are going to happen.
“I am sick of losing these deciders. I couldn’t feel my arms or my legs by the end, with all the nerves and tension. I did settle a bit after the first frame and fancied the job.”
Stephen Hendry remarked while commentating on the affair: “Both players have shown great character. It’s been the most intense match I have probably ever witnessed.”
Allen takes on Hossain Vafaei in the second round of the competition on Wednesday evening.
This was basically a storm in a cup of tea over a non-issue. As the underlined part stresses, there is no strict obligation for the handshake and there was no aggression on either side.