The 2021 Champion of Champions – Group 3

It’s John Higgins who will face Yan Bingtao tomorrow night, after he beat Ronnie by 6-1 in the Group 3 final.

Here is the report on WST website:

Wizard Downs The Rocket

Credit: Taka G Wu/Matchroom Multi Sport

Group 3 Scores 

Group Semi-Finals 

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Stuart Bingham

73-55, 1-82 (58), 95-0 (95), 95-0 (57), 9-87 (63), 78-16 (50)

John Higgins 4-3 Ding Junhui

66-9 (66), 2-57, 1-77 (53), 38-65 (54), 96-0 (53), 66-63, 62-20

Group Final

Ronnie O’Sullivan 1-6 John Higgins

0-86 (86), 6-92 (92), 101-0 (101), 57-63, 0-136 (127), 8-94 (94), 22-64 (63)

John Higgins reached the semi-finals of the 2021 Cazoo Champion of Champions by beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 at the University of Bolton Stadium.

O’Sullivan opened the final day of group fixtures with a 4-2 defeat of Stuart Bingham. The six-time World Champion composed breaks of 58, 95, 57, and 50 on his way to the win.

Higgins staged a typically steely fightback to edge out Ding Junhui. The 31-time ranking event winner found himself 3-1 down and a ball away from defeat, but he was let off the hook and came back to emerge a 4-3 victor.

Higgins was quick out the blocks in the group final, firing in a break of 86 in his first visit of the match, before a run of 92 in the second frame put him 2-0 ahead. O’Sullivan hit back in the third frame with the first century of the match, a contribution of 101, to move one behind Higgins, who was runner-up at the recent English and Northern Ireland Opens.

The last frame before the interval proved to be pivotal. O’Sullivan appeared to be in pole position, but Higgins hit back to take it on the black and head into the mid-session 3-1 ahead.

Scotland’s four-time World Champion Higgins had momentum on his side and continued his dominance after the interval with his first century of the tournament, a break of 127, to move three frames in front. He followed that up with a break of 94 to hammer home his dominance and get within a frame from victory at 5-1.

Higgins swiftly dealt the final blow in the following frame with a break of 63 to seal his place in the semi-finals, where he will face Masters champion Yan Bingtao.

“It was my night really. The fourth frame was massive. We’d done three one-visit frames, but then I managed to nick it to go 3-1 that was a big frame. I came in after the interval, I didn’t really miss much and I didn’t really give him a lot of chances. Although he missed a couple that’d he’d never normally miss. I am delighted with the way I hit the ball,” said Higgins.

Yan is a brilliant young talent, brilliant young player and brilliant young champion. Already he’s already won some big events. I feel a little bit confident in my game and hopefully I will give him a good game on Saturday night. I think I am hitting it well. I was maybe a little too critical after my last final. Deep down you do wonder if you can get it over the line at the weekend. I would love to give myself another chance this weekend.

Higgins has won the Cazoo Champion of Champions before in 2016 and has eyes on a second title: “It would feel amazing to win it. The calibre of players that we have here is the best of the best. If you can win an event like this, it’s a big feather in your cap.”

There were some brilliant shots by Ronnie, as well as uncharacteristic errors, during the first match on the day. Like most players earlier this week, both Ronnie and Stuart seemed to struggle with the table conditions.

Generally the table looked to be playing rather slowly, and the top corner pockets were unforgiving: any ball played at pace has to be perfectly centered or it’s rejected.

John Higgins and Ding also struggled with the conditions during the second match, particularly Higgins. Ding really should have won that match. However, he missed the match ball, and, after that he appeared to lose interest and that was reflected in his shot selection. There was no fight. It’s pretty worrying TBH. Ding is still young, but there is no fire in him at the moment, no apparent desire. He has a lot of points to defend next week at the UK Chsampionship. An early exit in York could see him drop from 10th to 25th in the rankings.

Regarding the group final, it’s all in the report above.

These are the stats of the Group Final:

2021CofCROSHigginsStats

The telling stat is the last: the table time. It’s very difficult to find fluency or to stay concentrated when kept in the chair for very long spells.

Ronnie of course wasn’t happy with his own performance, but mainly praised his opponent, in typical gracious fashion.

John Higgins admitted that, having struggled in the afternonn, he had to change his cue action to cope with the conditions. All credit to him, he did find a way and fully deserved the win.

13 thoughts on “The 2021 Champion of Champions – Group 3

  1. Whisper it but there’s a touch of the “flat track bully” (as it’s called in cricket) to ROS at the minute. Can thump the lesser players for fun, but seems to struggle against the big boys. I think the 6-5 loss to Higgins in the English Open hurt more than he lets on, he was the better player that day but lost.

    You could tell last night when the fourth frame went to Higgins that it was going to be 6-1, Ronnie just lost interest. The other big players still get a big kick out of beating Ronnie and most definitely up their game against him, whereas Ronnie seems to be more sanguine about losing to them, which is a vicious cycle. He needs to be less nice – stop blowing smoke up their backsides in interviews etc. It’s fine when he’s retired but as an active player he should be a bit more guarded. The longer it goes on, the more it seems like Judd is right, and we can’t have that!

    From what he’s saying, he’s concentrating on the big ticket tournaments and good on him. I’m hoping he sits out some of the minor events now and puts all that effort into going deep at the UK/Masters/possibly the Worlds.

    • Don’t we all hope that he turns it around the next one he plays plays/at some of the big ones? Last year after every final loss people said he was saving it for the Worlds, until it all unravelled in the 2nd round.

      It is very difficult and somewhat dangerous to say anything here, because any criticism will elicit the response that he does not have anything to prove (true), and do I want to send him into retirement (no, and it is not for me to say anyway). Yet it is hard to believe that he is not fired up to beat his greatest rival on front of an audience (I can understand his lack of desire against Vafei, even though I don’t support it). Still on the one hand it is hard to imagine that he is all smiles and happy after a drubbing like this, on the other if he is, it is hard not to question his reasons to keep playing and at the same time give the opportunity to someone who is not worth to tie Ronnie’s shoes to run his trap about him and make people believe he is right. One of his usual mantra was he did it for the fans. Well, I doubt they were happy yesterday.

      And yes, after the 4th frame it was obvious it was all over, so I did not really care to watch it any longer, it was too painful. Contrast it to some of his big comebacks where he was done and out and still tried, even though did not always succeed. So yes, either loss of desire/belief, or too much admiration given to Higgins.

      • He wasn’t all smiles. He was gracious but he certainly wasn’t happy. And I wasn’t that certain it was all over after the 4th frame. It was though after the 5th. He wasn’t realistically going to win against an in-form Higgins from that far behind and he knew it.

  2. He might turn it around at UK ?, owes nobody nothing. Apart from Henrdry s worlds he has best stats of all the greats. Maybe a future as Emma Rads mind coach !

    • Yes, I do think you have it right. Equalling his childhood idol’s, Steve Davis, tally of World titles and surpassing Hendry’s 36 rankings somehow quelled his ambitions.

      • The sad thing is that I don’t really think people expected him to win yesterday, But this tendency already started in the 2019/20 season: losing to Neil at the CoC, Trump again at the NI, Ding at the UK, Selby at the Scottish, Kyren at the Welsh. Of course as he did not go to China (except once where he promptly lost to Dominic Dale), or German and European, he did not qualify to the Players’ and the Tour where he was defending champion, despite even going to the Shootout. So it was about to be a bad season, but then COVID came, the Worlds was postponed and he decided to give it a real try and make a true and very concerted effort and he won it. And since then it seems he continued this decline what already started, plus like you say, lost ambition after winning the 6th.

  3. Thats like the third time this year where Higgins played out of his skin against Ronnie.
    Where does his confidence came from? Well, maybe Ronnie should stop adoring him like a god and treating him like a normal opponent?

      • I dunno, people criticized Trump for what he said about Ronnie but he was so right…I’m the biggest Ronnie fanboy but the fact that he hasn’t won a big match for 2 straight seasons now tells me he’s finished

      • Ronnie won no ranking title between the 2009 Shanghai Masters and the 2012 German Masters. That’s 2 years and a half. Everyone was saying that he was finished. He has since won 15 more ranking titles… of course he was younger back then. But I wouldn’t write him off just yet. He won the World in August 2020, 15 months ago. That’s about half of the 2009-2012 gap.

  4. At least Ronnie’s problem yesterday was NOT being unable to get over the line. And the chalk ofc!

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