2021 Northern Ireland – Yan Bingtao beats Ronnie in the last 16.

Yan Bingtao has beaten Ronnie in the last 16 of the 2021 Northern Ireland Open in a high quality and tense match that went the distance.

Here are the scores:

2021 NI Open - L16 - ROS vYan- Scores

And the report by WST:

Masters champion Yan Bingtao edged out six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-3 in an enthralling encounter.

Defeat denies O’Sullivan the chance to appear in the final for a fourth consecutive year. The Rocket was runner-up to Judd Trump in each of the last three years, losing all of the finals by a 9-7 scoreline.

Yan reached the final here back in 2017, when he was narrowly beaten 9-8 by Mark Williams. Since then he secured his first Triple Crown victory at the Masters and won a maiden ranking title at the Riga Masters.

Breaks of 89 and 51 helped Yan on his way to leading 3-2 this afternoon. He had looked set to get over the line when he led 71-0 in the fourth. However, 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan crafted a superb clearance of 74 to force a decider.

It was Yan who took the final frame on the colours and he will now face Mitchell Mann in the last eight. Mann booked his place in the quarters with a 4-1 defeat of Lyu Haotian.

And a more detailed one by Phil Haigh right after the match:

Ronnie O’Sullivan dumped out of Northern Ireland Open by Yan Bingtao

Phil Haigh Thursday 14 Oct 2021 

Ronnie O’Sullivan is out of the Northern Ireland Open after an engrossing 4-3 defeat to Yan Bingtao at the last 16 stage in Belfast.

The Rocket twice took the lead early in the match, including a brilliant century break, and then a superb clearance of 73 levelled the game in the sixth frame, but it was the Masters champion who got over the line in a thrilling contest.

O’Sullivan reached the final in the last three editions of the tournament and Yan becomes the only player other than Judd Trump to beat the six-time world champion in the Northern Ireland Open since he lost to Elliot Slessor in 2017.

The 21-year-old moves on to face Mitchell Mann in the quarter-finals as he looks for the second ranking title of his young, but already amazing, career.

2020 Players Championship - Day 2
Yan Bingtao is comfortably the brightest young talent in snooker (Picture: Getty Images)

Things started well for O’Sullivan, pouncing on a couple of errors from Yan to take a tight first frame, although the Chinese quickly levelled things up with an 89 in the next.

The Rocket found his rhythm in the third, though, stroking in an absolutley sublime break of 129 which was really classic O’Sullivan.

He was being distracted by the crowd in Belfast, however, asking fans to sit down and for officials to stop letting supporters into the arena during frames, and thing did start to go downhill after that third frame.

The Masters champion again evened the score in the fourth, thanks to a break of 51 and then carved out a lead for the first time in the fifth.

Yan opened up a 71-0 lead in the sixth frame and looked set for victory, but missed a long red – which was match ball – to give the Englishman some hope of an unlikely reprieve, although little is unlikely for O’Sullivan.

The Rocket produced a monumental clearance of 73 to pinch the frame on the black and take the match to a decider in incredible fashion.

The deciding frame was brilliantly tense with both players have chances in the balls and breaking down, but it was O’Sullivan rather than the youngster who failed to deal with the situation, twice messing up good chances.

The Englishman missed a fairly routine pink with the score at 36-32 in Yan’s favour and the Chinese stepped in to get himself a 20 point lead with just one red left.

Yan got the better of the safety battle which ensued, eventually potting a fine long green to take the match.

Ronnie’s concentration indeed appeared to be broken after the incident with the spectator. I don’t undersand why people are allowed to enter the arena and wander around during play here in Belfast. Usually they are asked to wait until the frame in progress has ended before being allowed into the arena. Ronnie had already complained about that after his last 64 match.

Phil Haigh also reported about Ronnie’s reaction after the match:

Ronnie O’Sullivan dismisses ‘very minor’ Home Nations events after Yan Bingtao defeat

Ronnie NI Open 2021 GettyImages
Ronnie O’Sullivan didn’t have particularly kind words for the Northern Ireland Open (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan insisted he wasn’t fussed about defeat to Yan Bingtao at the Northern Ireland Open on Thursday, because he considers the tournament as ‘match practice’ and ‘like pro-ams we used to play as amateurs.’

The six-time world champion was edged out 4-3 by the Masters champion in the last 16 in a memorable match in Belfast.

The Rocket had twice held the lead then produced a superb 73 clearance to force a decider, but it was the 21-year-old Chinese star who held his nerves together best in the decider.

O’Sullivan had been to the final of the event for three years on the spin before this defeat to Yan, but insists he is far from bothered about this or any of the Home Nations tournaments.

These tournaments are very very minor, they’re like match practice really,’ O’Sullivan said after defeat. ‘The three big events that are important are the Worlds, the Masters, the UK.

These best of sevens are just like pro-ams, like we used to play when we were amateurs.

Obviously Sheffield is the place, York, the Masters. You could probably chuck a few of the Chinese events in there now as they’re quite prestigious tournaments. But otherwise, if you look at the calendar, they’re not the greatest tournaments.

While Judd Trump says he considers all tournaments to be of equal value and treats them all the same, O’Sullivan is in an entirely different camp.

‘If I had to choose between winning 10 of these, what are these tournaments called? Home Nations, and one world title, I’d take one world title,’ Ronnie said. ‘Obviously that’s a proper event. This is just a bit of match practice. No-one is going to remember you for winning a Home Nations, are they?

I’d rather have Tiger Woods career than Colin Montgomerie’s. Or even Brooks Koepka. I know he doesn’t win many of the other events, but you still want to have those four majors tucked away. That’s where the pressure is, that’s where it counts. They’re the Blue Riband events.

Speaking from everybody else I get why they’re excited about them events. If I was Yan Bingtao I’d be super excited about it. My heart has gone out of giving blood, sweat and tears on the tour. I’m happy just to come and hit a few balls.

The Rocket may not have sounded too chirpy after his loss to the impressive 21-year-old but he did claim to enjoy the match and still took some positives out of it.

I really enjoyed that today,’ he said. ‘I enjoyed pitting myself against a good youngster who played well, who probably outplayed me and deserved to win.

But at 45 I can take a lot of positives out of that. I’m not sure a 45-year-old Yan Bingtao would beat a 21-year-old Ronnie O’Sullivan, so I kind of flip the coin sometimes. I’m not doing too bad for someone that’s getting on, you know.’

Now then… the very fact that Ronnie feels such a need to dismiss the importance of the defeat tells me that it actually hurts, and that’s a good thing. I amused me that he cites the World, Masters and UK … and then speaks about the four majors. Old boy! Indeed the Grand Prix used to be a major, shown by the BBC … more than 10 years ago!

I do believe Ronnie when he says that he enjoyed the match. It was a tremendous battle and he’s a very competitive animal. He would be genuinely pleased to see a hard working young player doing well because, no matter what he sometimes says, he loves his sport and wants a future for it.

Despite Ronnie’s defeat, I enjoyed the match as well. The commentators reflected that it was probably the best match of the season so far, despite the short format. Ronnie’s 73 clearance to force a decider was out of this world. Yan’s reaction after such a blow is testimony of an exceptional temperament.

One thing I didn’t like was Jimmy in the studio, before the match, dismissing Yan’s chances. OK, he’s Ronnie’s close friend, but a bit of ojectivity doesn’t hurt. Yes, on paper, Ronnie had bossed his previous matches, but, as I wrote after his last 32 win, he had also shown weaknesses: his break-off only too often left an opportunity for his opponent, and his long potting had been very ordinary. Surely, as a snooker player himself, Jimmy must have seen that too? Yan on the other hand, had shown a steely will to win and I had made him favourite. I was right, and if I’m honest, I feel that Ronnie actually played much better in this match he lost than in the ones he won.


6 thoughts on “2021 Northern Ireland – Yan Bingtao beats Ronnie in the last 16.

  1. Yes, I thought the same about Jimmy s comments before the match. Surely he must realise there s no certainty to any of these matches. Shame, but great match and looking forward to the next one. At least no 9-7 loss this time, ha.

  2. Actually I think Ronnie was talking about the 4 majors in golf. Snooker can’t really have the same thing, as the World Championship will always be higher than any other tournament. But there are clearly ‘levels’ of tournament, which is actually measureable by the length of matches and the qualify of the competitors (i.e. a measure of the likelihood the best players will win). Whilst this tournament isn’t one of the big ones, it can still be important as players battle for confidence and competitiveness.

    Unfortunately I was busy yesterday so didn’t see any live snooker. I’ve been able to catch up a little on the match, and I believe that Yan Bingtao was actually interviewed after his win? In that case full marks to ES – it’s about time the broadcasters dealt with that issue.

  3. Reminded me of the first round WGP loss to Marco Fu a few years ago. The frames Ronnie won were exceptional clearances/counter clearances but then he misses a couple of simple colours off the spot and the cookie crumbles the other way. Ronnie was basically a routine left handed pink off pinching the match. Yan played excellently too, knew when to be wily and knew when to go for a big shot, he deserved his win.

    I agree it’s a strangely good sign that he’s saying the majors are the only show in town, and I’d say that’s a little dig at Judd Trump – his 4 majors reference is (presumably) a reference to the golfers who have 4 majors. Apologies if you know this, in the 1990’s Colin Montgomerie was one of the big UK sports stars – a well known face nationally, always top of the order of merit in golf, but never won one of the four majors so unlikely a young golfer in, say, America these days will know who he is. His name is a byword for “good but not quite good enough in the big ones”.

    I agree, if Ronnie plays like that in some of the longer format games he’ll largely be fine. The 73 clearance was ridiculous!

    • There is no such thing as a “routine” shot in a decider, especially if you are behind. Ronnie hit that one quite hard … tension telling likely.

      • Yeah, there was a period about 3 years ago where I don’t think Ronnie lost a decider for about 2 years, including that ridiculous one v Trump in the Tour Championship from 8-2 down to win on the final black + obviously the Selby WC semi. If it got to a decider, Ronnie won.

        Whereas nowadays I just don’t fancy him in them – the Jordan Brown and Alex Ursenbacher ones still hurt to think about! Last one I can recall him doing the business in was v Hawkins in semi final of the Tour Championship. Do you reckon that’s a sign of age (ever so slightly more nervous) or just “one of those things” not to read into?

      • I think that confidence is a fickle thing, and Ronnie is an anxious person by nature. He’s has a string of defeats. One good win could turn it over, but it’s not coming at the moment.

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