The 2021 Champion of Champions – Group 2

This is what happened yesterday!


Needless to say, it was the big talking point on twitter last evening!

And here is the report on WST site:

Yan Books Semi-Final Slot

Group 2 Scores

Group Semi-Finals 

Mark Selby 4-3 David Gilbert

1-67, 0-122 (77), 74-61 (67), 22-73 (69), 79-9 (79), 131-0 (131), 73-32 (72)

Shaun Murphy 1-4 Yan Bingtao 

5-103 (88), 0-86 (78), 77-14, 1-115 (96), 66-73

Group Final

Mark Selby 3-6 Yan Bingtao

20-74, 76-6, 39-84, 78-0 (78), 0-80 (76), 21-59, 132-0 (132), 0-140 (140), 11-120 (78)

Yan Bingtao is the third player into the 2021 Cazoo Champion of Champions semi-finals after defeating Mark Selby 6-3 in a dramatic Group 2 Final in Bolton.

World Champion Selby faced David Gilbert in his opening round tie and he had it all to do when he found himself trailing 3-1. The Jester from Leicester can never be counted out though and he took the fifth, before firing in a break of 131 to force the first decider of the week. He sealed victory in the final frame with a nerveless 72.

Yan came up against Shaun Murphy, who he met for the first time in this event six years ago. On that occasion it was Yan who secured victory and it was no different this time around. Masters champion Yan produced some heavy scoring, including breaks of 88, 78 and 96, to run out a 4-1 victor.

The evening began with Yan taking a scrappy opening frame, before Selby fired back in the second with a break of 68 to draw level at 1-1.

Selby was on the hunt for his first Cazoo Champion of Champions title and found himself behind again after the third with a clearance of 47 from Yan taking him into a 2-1 lead. However, the pair went into the mid-session all square after Selby fired in a fine run of 78 to make it 2-2.

When play resumed Yan edged in front by taking the fifth with a break of 76. He then put daylight between himself and Selby by winning the sixth to secure a two-frame cushion at 4-2.

A total clearance of 132 kept Selby firmly on Yan’s heels and closed the gap to a solitary frame, but it was the Chinese cueman who took control of the tie from then on. He produced a sublime break of 140 to move a frame from victory and got over the line with a contribution of 78.

“I was very surprised. Every time I play Mark Selby it is a very difficult match. He is very strong with safety and control. Every time I play Mark it is very difficult but tonight, I played well. I just enjoy being here, I enjoy the table and the people. I am happy for myself,” said Yan.

I think it’s okay, I do not care, I just enjoy the match. I think I would like to play Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-final. Every time you play Ronnie, he is very different. You come here and you need to win by beating champions to win the title.” said Yan.

Tomorrow sees O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham complete the group stage of the 2021 Cazoo Champion of Champions with O’Sullivan against Bingham getting things underway from 12:45 live on ITV4 followed by Higgins against Ding.

You can listen to Yan here:

Snooker fans AND pundits have really warmed to Yan now.

He has conquered his former critics. At the start of Yan’s first match yesterday, Phil Yates introduced him by these words: “You are watching the future of snooker” …

Yan’s performance was a very mature one. He has a very solid head on his young shoulders, he’s a very hard worker. Really though, he should have been facing David Gilbert in the Group final. Mark Selby produced a typical resilient performance to beat David Gilbert, but Hendry’s verdict was brutal: “He (Gilbert) threw that match away.” and I agree with that assessment, David didn’t deliberately throw the match away of course, but he had several very good chances to finish the job and repetedly failed to do so. His temperament let him down and his clarity of mind completely went.

Yan also comes across as a humble, no-nonsense young man. He also puts every effort in adapting to the life in the UK: his command of English has improved massively, he’s bought a house in Sheffield. He’s showing the other young Chinese that it can be done, that it’s not all about Ding. They can do it too.

Ronnie is in action today and I hope that Yan’s wish will come true and that Ronnie will make it to the semi-finals. He is in a very difficult group, with Stuart Bingham, Ding Junjui and John Higgins. It won’t be easy.

He’s been practicing, notably with On Yee:

And working on his fitness


And going by this interview with Eurosport, he’s in a good frame od mind:


Ronnie O’Sullivan is in a positive mood as he begins his latest bid to claim a record fourth Champion of Champions title against Stuart Bingham on Thursday afternoon. The six-times world champion admits he is happy to be involved in the sport he loves whether playing, watching from his sofa or doing punditry work for Eurosport on the cusp of his 30th year as a professional.


Ronnie O’Sullivan will begin his bid to claim a record fourth Champion of Champions title against Stuart Bingham on Thursday afternoon with his passion and panache for potting balls showing no signs of wilting.

For a figure who has seen and done it all in snooker since turning professional in 1992, Rocket Ronnie’s love of the ancient old game sounds as strong as ever.

The six-times world champion admits he loved his battle with time-honoured foe John Higgins in the semi-finals of the English Open in Milton Keynes last week despite losing 6-5, but is hopeful he can maintain his form in Bolton as he bids to end his 15-month wait for a trophy.

O’Sullivan could face Higgins for a semi-final spot in Group 3 on Thursday night and is feeling in fine fettle only two months before he enters his 30th year as a professional still at the summit of the sport.

It is perhaps fitting that the snooker GOAT enjoys a spot of green baize grazing when he is far from the madding crowd.

I had a great week last week and really enjoyed the match with John. I loved being in Milton Keynes, loved running and of course I loved playing,” said O’Sullivan.

I sometimes prefer the punditry side and sitting on the sofa watching snooker these days.

Even when I’m not playing at a tournament, I’ll get my tea and sit on the sofa to watch it with my friends.


We’ll do the gym and the running work in the morning, but I always love watching it. I love to see what the other guys are up to. It is great.

O’Sullivan won the first of three Champion of Champion titles when he defeated Bingham 10-8 in the 2013 final, two years before Bingham usurped O’Sullivan 13-9 in the last eight on his way to claiming the world title in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan defeated Judd Trump 10-7 a year later before outlasting Kyren Wilson 10-9 in the 2018 final.

The record 37-times ranking event winner admits he would enjoy clasping a fourth trophy and the £150,000 first prize on Sunday night.

If every event was like this, happy would be amazing,” said O’Sullivan, who hit 11 centuries during his run to the title three years ago.
Turn up, 16 or 32 players, beautiful venue and nice, relaxed environment.

I have a very, very good record in this event and I’m happy to be playing in it.


O’Sullivan is delighted fans have been allowed to return after tournaments were played behind closed-doors last year with no spectators due to the global pandemic.

He was impressed by Bingham during his free-wheeling gallop to the World Championship semi-finals as a qualifier in May and an agonising 17-15 defeat to Mark Selby in the semi-finals.

I beat Ball Run in the final in 2013. He’s an outstanding player,” added O’Sullivan. “He’s a real good professional who had an outstanding run at the World Championship this year.
He played in an epic match in the semi-finals, but they are all tough. Everybody who plays in this tournament is proper quality and if I get through that it is Higgins again so it doesn’t get any easier.

It is great to have the fans back and someone to play for. You need someone to inspire you to play and I think the fans do that for all sportspeople.

Hopefully it all comes together today in this great arena

2 thoughts on “The 2021 Champion of Champions – Group 2

  1. Well, I certainly did not hope for for Ronnie vs. Higgins. I can’t really get into this tournament, maybe because of the trashy outfits, but I still don’t want Ronnie to lose another match against Higgins, who will certainly raise his game after this not particularly impressive first round.

    I don’t think a player should express any desire concerning his next opponent, but though I did not see the poll, it is a no-brainer for me that Ding is very unlikely to win any world championship. I’m not a particular Yan-fan either, but I certainly applaud anyone for not caring about the opinion of fellow-nationals. 🙂

  2. Yesterday’s wins were some of Yan Bingtao’s better performances, but I still don’t think we have seen the best of him on the TV table. He can play better! It’s worth considering that before yesterday he has only played 1 match on the top table this season. Whereas many players (especially young players) find it too difficult, Yan manages to at least be competitive, which is frequently good enough to win matches.

    The strategy of doing very short interviews is the correct one. But it’s quite risky for Yan to say he wants to play Ronnie O’Sullivan, implying he isn’t backing Ding Junhui. Fan Zhengyi got into a lot of trouble last year by saying he preferred watching Ronnie to Ding. But Yan won’t worry about Chinese social media: he hasn’t been back to China for 2 years, so he can be detached from that at least until tournaments there start up again.

    But I do think that WST putting out a poll of who will be the first Chinese World Champion is a little unfair on Ding. Yan just beat both WC finalists, whilst Ding is preparing to play his first match. It does seem to load extra pressure on him. But nodoubt WST, organisers and sponsors are really hoping for a Higgins-O’Sullivan clash tonight.

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