2021 Northern Ireland Open – Stats and Infos

WST has published some interesting stats regarding last months qualifiers

Nine players won three matches out of three in the qualifying rounds for the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, BetVictor English Open and BetVictor Scottish Open.

They will be looking forward to a trio of appearances at the BetVictor Home Nations series events over the coming weeks. The nine with a perfect record (world ranking in brackets) are:

David Gilbert (18)
Martin Gould (23)
Tom Ford (24)
Xiao Guodong (32)
Sunny Akani (56)
Chris Wakelin (61)
Oliver Lines (69)
Fergal O’Brien (77)
Xu Si (98)

A further ten players won two out of two matches, with their third held over to the main event:

Gary Wilson (28)
Hossein Vafaei (40)
Luca Brecel (44)
Martin O’Donnell (46)
Jimmy Robertson (48)
Ben Woollaston (52)
Mark King (59)
Steven Hallworth (70)
Allan Taylor (75)
Duane Jones (93)

Across the three events, 63% of matches were won by the higher ranked player. The BetVictor English Open will feature 47 of the world’s top 64 players, while the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and BetVictor Scottish Open will include 46 apiece.

Highest break of the qualifiers was a 147 from Xiao Guodong  in the third of his three wins. That was his first maximum break and the first by a Chinese player since Zhou Yuelong at last season’s Scottish Open.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh’s 139 and Wakelin’s 137 were the highest breaks in the English and Northern Ireland rounds respectively.

There was notable success for amateur players as six overcame pros to qualify, including Cypriot Michael Georgiou and James Cahill, who won two matches each.


Remarkable results for Xu Si, the lowest ranked player to win all three qualifying matches, and Sunny Akani whose practice has been minimal due to suffering from long covid.

They have also publihed some infos regarding how 2021 Northern Ireland Open will be organised:

Snooker’s Back In Belfast – ‘Sensational’ Atmosphere Expected!


NIOpen2020FinalSnooker’s BetVictor Northern Ireland Open will be among the first sporting events to take place in Belfast without social distancing, and fans are expected to pack the Waterfront Hall to see the world’s greatest stars.

Following the announcement this week that social distancing is no longer required in Northern Ireland in certain indoor settings, WST can confirm that the snooker event which runs from October 9 to 17 in central Belfast CAN go ahead with capacity crowds.

The field will be loaded with the best players on the planet including Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, home favourite Mark Allen and many more.

GettyImages-Judd-Ronnie-HandshakeJudd Trump has beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final in each of the last three years

“The atmosphere inside the Waterfront Hall when the top stars walk into the arena is going to be absolutely sensational,” said a WST spokesman. “We are thrilled by the decision to allow our event to go ahead without social distancing because fans have been starved of these major sporting events for a long time and there is a huge appetite to return and enjoy the excitement that live sport can offer.

“Now that this news has been confirmed, many sessions are expected to sell out fast so tickets must be booked quickly. The Waterfront is one of the most popular venues on the circuit for the players, we know how much people in Northern Ireland love snooker.

“Fans can be reassured that, based on the government guidelines, all necessary measures will be taken to minimise the risk of virus transmission. We have successfully staged over 30 snooker events since the start of the pandemic and proved our ability to keep public safety as the highest priority.

“This is an opportunity to see all of the best players during snooker’s golden age, when the standard of play and level of entertainment is higher than ever.”

Here’s all the key information for ticket holders:

  • You will not be required to socially distance, however please keep face to face contact to a minimum at all times.
  • You will need to wear a face covering throughout your time inside the venue, unless eating or drinking.
  • All ticket holders aged 18 and over, will need to provide one of the following:
  • Proof of full vaccination – both doses received (a full 14 days must have passed since the final dose of COVID-19 vaccine was received)
  • Proof of a negative Lateral Flow Test taken no more than 24 hours prior to attending the event
  • Proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test result for COVID-19, lasting for 180 days after the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period

All ticket holders will be required to complete this COVID Status Check on arrival at the venue.

Please CLICK HERE for all relevant information.

The BetVictor Northern Ireland Open will feature over 70 players battling for the famous Alex Higgins Trophy. Trump is aiming to win the title for a fourth consecutive year – remarkably he has beaten O’Sullivan 9-7 in each of the last three finals.

The opening Sunday of the tournament, October 10th, features no fewer than 13 of the world’s top 16 players, the ultimate Snooker Super Sunday!

Local players Mark Allen, Jordan Brown and young amateurs Robbie McGuigan and Christopher Clifford are also in the line-up. For the first round match schedule click here.

The BetVictor Northern Ireland Open is the first of the season’s BetVictor Home Nations series and will be televised by Eurosport and a range of broadcasters worldwide.

No social distancing, but masks on and proof of vaccination, long lasting immunity or negative test. Glad to see they are not throwing caution to the wind.

8 thoughts on “2021 Northern Ireland Open – Stats and Infos

  1. Metro had a long interview article with Perry who voiced very similar complaints about qualifications especially way before the actual tournament takes place, that only top 16 goes to the venue etc

  2. There are also 9 professionals (plus Marco Fu) who haven’t qualified for any of the Home Nations main venues. It’s more difficult in the German Masters and European Masters, with two qualifying rounds. The UK Championship (usually) has 4 tables in a sports hall, away from the main arena. Nodoubt there will be players who don’t get to see a live crowd for practically the whole season, between the British Open and the World Championship qualifiers, assuming anyone is allowed in to watch those. Others might just get one or two appearances, perhaps if they got ‘lucky’ and drew a top-16 player.

    • The sports hall at the Barbican has seats and it’s usually very well attended, especially by those fans who are genuinely interested in the sport and not just fans of one player.
      Other than that the two tables qualifiers setup has its “good side”: all matches are streamed and that means that, should those players have a sponsor, no matter the result, they usually get more money if their match is streamed/televised than if it’s not.

    • So… If I’m not mistaken those nine players are: Peter Lines, Ian Burns, Barry Pinches, Lukas Kleckers, Elliot Slessor, Reanne Evans, Jimmy White, Dean Young and Ashley Carty. Peter Lines (51), Barry Pinches (51) and Jimmy White (59) are well past their best. The fact that Peter and Barry re-qualified for the main tour via the Q-School this season only just shows how flawed that system is. Ian Burns although much younger (36) is also proof of that. He keeps falling of the tour and requalifying right away; he doesn’t look like he can actually stay on it. Jimmy of course “lives” on wildcards. Reanne Evans and Dean Young are rookies. They have a lot to learn. Lukas Kleckers is highly inconsistent and IMO not really good enough. Elliot Slessor seems to struggle when not on the big scene: he can’t find the motivation apparently, but that’s is HIS problem, not the system’s fault. The real surprise here is Ashley Carty who in 2020 qualified for the Crucible but seems to have lost his way.
      Sean Maddocks is yet to win a match this season, but isn’t in that list because he will play Mark Selby at the venue in Llandudno; I would be very surprised if he beats him. Aaron Hill is in a similar position, having won just one round-robin match during the summer; He will play Yan Bingtao at the venue in the English Open. Both are in their second year as pros and show no sign of improvement, rather the opposite, which is worrying.
      This whole system is flawed; you know that only too well. It doesn’t help young players’ development.

      • No, there are 15 further players who didn’t win, but have a held-over match, so they get to join the party. We are not just talking about ‘bad players’ here; for example Michael Holt is on that list. They just happen to have got off to a bad start, or their opponents played well.

        For what it’s worth, I think that all 122 professionals are great players and deserve to be treated better. I don’t think we can dismiss someone who can’t regularly get into the top-64. It’s a pretty tough standard these days!

        The players who stay at home are: Zhang Jiankang, Lukas Kleckers, Peter Lines, Ian Burns, Jimmy White, Chen Zifan, Dean Young, Kurt Maflin, Igor Figueiredo and Marco Fu. Of course some of them didn’t play all three tournaments, but that doesn’t alter the fact that they aren’t seeing any main venues until the UK Championship. Zhang, Kleckers and possibly Maflin will be scheduled in the ‘sports hall’ which may be closed to spectators this year, but even if a few people do get to watch it’s hardly a proper ‘main venue’ experience.

        With the older players, it’s likely to be even more agonising. One of the reasons why they keep playing is because they want to experience the crowds in a live snooker tournament.

        The reason why I raise this is because I really don’t want this to continue next season. These 6-day qualifiers behind closed doors may provide a trickle of streaming income for WST, but it’s not worthy for professional snooker.

      • Neither do I Lewis, but for me what is happening is that they are “diluting” the events to artificially trying to “fill” the calendar. Without the Chinese events, it’s nearly “back to the 90th”, a half-time sport.. And the fact that this coincides with Barry Hearn depparture and Matchroom – they own snooker remember – clearly pushing pool, and promoting the idea of shorter formats (with Judd Trump to support their views), more alleged “excitement” … it all worries me for the future of the game. Snooker as we know it is going backward. Just waiting for WST to announce that next season qualifiers will be held in cubicles in Pontins…

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