The 2021 UK Championship starts today

The UK Championship starts today. It’s one of the three “BBC tournaments” but the BBC isn’t interested in the first round. The reason why there will be no play on FRiday is not a “rest day” for the players, it’s because the BBC needs that day to install and test their equipment.

Eurosport covers the first round.

Apparently four tables are streamed, probably the ones in the main arena.

Today the following matches will be shown:


  • Chen Zifan v Zhou Yuelong
  • Anthony McGill v Iulian Boiko
  • Lu Ning v Wu Yize
  • Soheil Vahedi v Kyren Wilson


  • Tom Ford v Andrew Pagett
  • Shaun Murphy v Si Jiahui
  • Stephen Maguire v Sanderson Lam
  • John Higgins v Michael Georgiou

This first round is very important for the lowest ranked players as Phil Haigh explains here

High stakes at the UK Championship for lower-ranked players with careers in the balance

Betway UK Championship 2016 - Day 13 (Final)
There is plenty more than the trophy on the line at the UK Championship in York (Picture: Getty Images)

The first few days of the UK Championship seem something of a low-key affair with the BBC cameras yet to be switched on, but their importance cannot be underestimated for many players, with snooker careers heavily impacted by the early skirmishes at the Barbican.

All 128 players come in at round one at the UK and most attention will be on the big names, largely strolling into the next stage as they take on amateurs and those near the very foot of the rankings.

How the top players perform will take the headlines and any shocks will attract the most attention, but it will be defeats that fly under the radar that could have the most profound consequences.

Defending champion Neil Robertson was asked by the BBC who would likely be contending for the title this year, but he also pointed out: ‘The UK Championship is massive, especially for the lower players and their rankings.’ He is spot on.

With first round losers leaving York with nothing and £6,500 on offer for making round two – much more than most other ranking events open to all 128 players – that sum could well be the difference between a player being professional or amateur come the end of the season.

Last year’s edition of the UK Championship was a great example of this as every single player that won their first round match in Milton Keynes is still on the main tour.

In contrast, 14 professional players who lost their first matches last year no longer hold pro status, while nine more who were beaten in the first round also dropped off the tour but have since bounced straight back through Q School.

There is one anomaly in that Jimmy White won his first round match and still dropped off tour, only to be handed an invitational tour card, so one win in York is no guarantee, but it is hugely significant.

Clearly some of those players who were dumped out first round last year were never going to retain their tour status, I’m afraid I’m looking at you Amine Amiri and Alex Borg, but for many others one win at the Barbican would have made all the difference.

The likes of Ian Burns and Luo Honghao went into the UK Championship last year in the top 64, lost first round and ended up dropping off.

Gerard Greene did just enough to retain his tour status at the end of last season finishing eighth on the one-year list with £23,000, a large part in thanks to his win over Daniel Wells at the UK.

2018 Welsh Open - Day 2
Gerard Greene’s first round win over Daniel Wells last year proved to be massive, with Greene narrowly surviving on tour and Wells dropping off (Picture: Getty Images)

Nine players who dropped off tour were within £6,500 of Greene on that list and lost first round at the UK, so would have been saved by a solitary win.

Obviously there is more to it than this, players have the whole season to rack up the prize money required to stay on tour and the World Championship offers much more cash than the UK, but clearly the coming days will have huge consequences if last year is anything to go by.

Between the UK Championship and the World Championship qualifiers in April, there are precious few opportunities remaining for some players to pick up much prize money at all.

For any that have already failed to qualify for the Scottish Open, German Masters and European Masters, the only scheduled ranking events they are likely to play until Sheffield are the Shoot Out, Welsh Open, Turkish Masters and Gibraltar Open.

There are also fewer chances to book your place on tour for next season than there were for the current campaign, with the return of qualifiers from around the globe.

Windows of opportunity remain, but with prize money at events like the Shoot Out and Gibraltar so small, they are only just open and will be unceremoniously shut pretty soon.

Speaking to one player outside the top 64, he is already resigned to dropping off tour at the end of the season unless he can muster up a run to the last 16 in York.

He may not need as many as three wins at the UK, but a first round defeat and he would need something of a miracle – specifically a great run in World Championship qualifying – to survive, and we are still months away from that event.

With the importance of this opening round at the Barbican looming large, sympathy has to go out to world number 82 Lee Walker who has been forced to withdraw due to a positive Covid test.

His personal window of opportunity for tour survival has just been significantly swung inwards and only the gentlest of breezes now blows through it.

There will be glory and vast riches won at the business end of the UK Championship, but far from the ticker tape of the trophy presentation, there will be despondence and despair in the unglamorous setting of ‘Arena Two’ where players will be battling for their snooker lives.

Keep an eye out for them. They’ll appreciate it.

All credits to Phil for this article, it’s rarely that the lower ranked players’ fate gets the press’ attention and the OK by the editors.

As mentioned above, it’s a real blow for Lee Walker to have to miss this tournament.

Someone else who will also miss it, is Olivier Marteel. Olivier was on his way to York, when his father was taken ill and went in ICU. Unfortunately, he passed away. Olivier still drove to York, thanked everyone for their support, and returned to Belgium. 

Our thoughts are with Olivier and his family in these difficult moments. 

Meanwhile the sportsman had an interview with Ronnie

Relaxed Ronnie O’Sullivan Bidding For Record-Extending Eighth UK Championship Win

Ronnie O’Sullivan insists snooker’s ‘toxic’ side almost drove him out of the game. But the Rocket is now a content and relaxed man going into this week’s UK Championship bidding to extend his own record by lifting the trophy for an eighth time.

Six-time world champion O’Sullivan, who will turn 46 on the day of the final in York, remains one of sport’s ultimate mavericks. A 30-year career has taken him from child prodigy through some incredible career highs – but also flashpoints and clashes with authority.

That came to a head four years ago when incidents at the Masters and then the Betfred World Championships led to lawyers getting involved. Current world No3 O’Sullivan brought the lawyers in about the threat of disciplinary action for criticising a referee and swearing at a photographer at Alexandra Palace. And after accusing the governing body and then World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn of “bullying and intimidation” O’Sullivan himself was briefly threatened with legal action.

O’Sullivan has a tough opening match on Wednesday against two-time ranking-event winner Michael White – now technically an amateur after falling off the tour.

He said: “I am feeling very relaxed, enjoying life and what I am doing and looking forward to everything – I do feel like I am on holiday at tournaments these days.

And I try to remove myself from that toxicity that I feel is sometimes around snooker, you get a lot of people bitching and moaning – and I was one of them for a while.

I did it for about two years before making a conscious decision I can’t live my life like this, and it was the best thing I ever did. As long as there is a tournament and a table, I’m okay.

There are a lot of things I would change about the game and I have talked about them in the past, but I don’t any more.

I had one phone conversation a few years ago with a key figure in the game, they asked me my views, would I be prepared to do this or that.

Certain things happened and I thought it was so toxic and so not right, so bad that I had no choice but to become more detached.

ronnie WC
Ronnie O’Sullivan

And it was only with a few close friends that gave me a lot of support with the right people to make sure I wasn’t being taken advantage of and to fight my corner, or I was out of there.

I was able to remove myself and guide myself in another direction. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Out of everything I do, snooker would be the first thing I would give up if one had to go. I wouldn’t give up anything else to play snooker.

The fact is it’s my personal choice, and I still love actually playing. I love the buzz, I love competing, I only play because I really enjoy it.

If I got a phone call tomorrow telling me ‘You’ve brought the game into disrepute and we don’t want you’, I’d say ‘Thank you very much!’

I wouldn’t resist and say ‘That’s okay, give me a call when you feel I’m allowed to come back’, if not no worries, I won’t sit around waiting. It’s an empowering position.”

O’Sullivan can sometimes play down his array of achievements, but he admits that one burning ambition is to set a mark for wins in snooker’s ‘Big Three’ that can never be beaten.

The UK Championship, the Masters and the Betfred World Championship form the game’s majors of ‘Triple Crown’ – and O’Sullivan already has 20 of them, more than anyone else.

He added: “The final is on my birthday this year – so who knows if I can celebrate that in style. Obviously one of my goals is to leave some records that will be very tough to beat. 20 majors is already a good benchmark.

And if I could get to 22 that would be even harder to match or beat. Look at Roger Federer, I bet he never thought his tally would be equalled but Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have got there.

Records are there to be broken but if I can add one, two or three majors to that list then I think 23 majors would be a tough one to beat for anyone. But maybe a few things might have to go my way for that to happen.

They have gone O’Sullivan’s way in this Triple Crown tournament in the past, and it is one that has seen some incredible highs and at least one memorable low. It was O’Sullivan’s first ranking title success at the tender age of 17 as he beat then dominant force Stephen Hendry in the final.

And it was against Hendry when trailing 4-1 in a quarter-final in 2006 that O’Sullivan turned tail in disgust after another poor shot, shook hands, and walked out of the arena and the building, for which he was later fined £20,000 and docked 900 ranking points.

But more recently it saw a joyous celebration with the fans in 2020 after beating Mark Allen in the final to set a new record for snooker’s ‘majors’ of 19 wins.

Ronnie was at Ding’s Academy earlier this week

Picture shared by the Academy on social media

Tour News – 22.11.2021

Q-Tour News

The Q-tour event one was played over the extended week-end and it was David Lilley who came out the winner. Congratulations David Lilley!

Here is the report published by WPBSA:

Lilley King Of The Castle

England’s David Lilley has claimed the inaugural WPBSA Q Tour title following a 5-1 final defeat of China’s Si Jiahui at the Castle Snooker & Sports Bar in Brighton.

The WPBSA Q Tour is an official pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season from four tournaments. The events are open to all players, with 48 players automatically qualified for the last 64 stage through their position on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

Reigning World Seniors Snooker champion Lilley was one of eight players competing on the final day having seen the field reduced from 107 since the start of the tournament and was impressed throughout, compiling 14 breaks of 50, including three centuries during his six matches played.

Having already dispatched English trio Hamim Hussain, Daniel Womersley and John Astley, his closest match came at the quarter-finals stage where he won the final two frames to edge out Welshman Daniel Wells 4-3, before dominating Alex Millington to reach the title match.

There he would face fellow former professional Si, who himself had seen off Lee Shanker, Soheil Vahedi and Alfie Lee to reach the final day, before toppling Keishin Kamihashi and Simon Bedford to earn the right to face Lilley.

The 19-year-old would have no answer in the decisive match, however, as he quickly fell 4-0 behind – potting just five balls prior to the mid-session interval – leaving Lilley just one frame from the title. Although Si would claim the first frame upon their resumption with a cool clearance of 84, Lilley would not be denied and took out the decider with a break of 76 to become the first Q Tour champion of the season.

The victory puts Lilley in pole position for the first World Snooker Tour card available from the new Q Tour series, with the top ranked player following this season’s four scheduled events set to qualify. A further 16 players will contest a play-off tournament for the second card.

The WPBSA would like to thank all of the players, officials and in particular the Castle Snooker Club and its staff, who helped to ensure the success of the first Q Tour event – which saw an impressive 28 century breaks compiled across three days.

Ahead of the last day – QFs, SFs and Final – Michael Day had written this “intermediate report” shared by WPBSA.

WPBSA Q Tour 1 – Quarter-Finals Preview

After two busy days of action at the Castle Snooker Club in Brighton, only eight players remain in contention for the first WPBSA Q Tour event title which will be decided on Sunday.

Over 100 players from 19 different countries set out for the £2,000 first prize, but more importantly, vital ranking points in their quest to secure one of two professional World Snooker Tour cards on offer at the end of the four-event campaign.

In the top half of the draw, 15-year-old Liam Davies has been one of the stars of the show so far on the south coast.

A prolific winner of junior titles in his homeland, the Welshman has already won five matches to get this far, including victories over former ranking event winners Michael White (3-0) and Michael Georgiou (3-1) in the last 64 and 16 respectively. Davies faces Alex Millington in the quarter-finals after the Englishman ousted Ben Fortey in the last 16 with the aid of a 136 break – the second highest of the competition so far.

From two players with no professional experience, to two who were on the top tier of the sport only last season in David Lilley and Daniel Wells.

Off the back of his Cazoo Champion of Champions appearance earlier in the week, world seniors champion Lilley has dropped only three frames in three matches so far. Wells – who came into this unseeded after a disappointing Q School campaign – has yet to be taken to a deciding frame in five outings. The former Scottish Open semi-finalist exhibited his class in his last match against fellow ex-professional Ross Muir by making breaks of 123 and 124 in consecutive frames to close the match out.

In the bottom half of the draw, two more former professionals will meet in the form of Simon Bedford and Harvey Chandler.

Bedford denied Leo Fernandez 3-1 – two players who have both qualified for the Crucible Theatre before – to book his Finals Day berth, whilst 2018 European Amateur Champion Chandler came back from two frames down to eliminate Michael Collumb 3-2.

The final match on the drawsheet is an all-Asian affair between two youngsters – China’s Si Jiahui and Japan’s Keishin Kamihashi.

19-year-old Si is trying to bounce back after his relegation from the pro ranks last term and has made a good start here, finishing off his work on Saturday with a 3-1 success over fellow teenager Alfie Lee.

Former Japanese national champion Kamihashi has been showing how dangerous he can be. In the last 64 the 20-year-old dispatched recent European under-21 champion Dylan Emery, and in the last 16 he needed to win the final three frames – which he did with runs of 133, 100 and 51 – to defeat Brandon Sargeant 3-2.

Report by Michael Day.

Americas’ Snooker news

Victor Sarkis from Brazil won the Pan American Championship and will be offered a two years tour card. starting next season.  Congratulations to Victor!

Here is the report by WPBSA:

Brazilian Sarkis Wins Pan American Snooker Championship

Victor Sarkis will have the opportunity to play on the World Snooker Tour’s professional circuit full-time after he defeated Renat Denkha 5-3 in the final to win the 2021 Pan American Snooker Championship.

Organised by the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association, the most significant snooker championship across the North and South American continents returned having been cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Held at the Corner Bank venue in Toronto, Canada, cueists from Brazil, the United States of America and the host nation took part.

Sarkis – a 30-year-old from Florianópolis in Santa Catarina, Brazil – qualified for the knockout phase of the tournament after winning three of his four round robin games and topping Group A.

During the knockouts, Sarkis eliminated Canadians Jonathan Wallace 4-1 and Vito Puopolo 4-0 in the last 16 and eight respectively, before ousting United States national snooker champion Ahmed Aly Elsayed 4-3 in the semi-finals. A few days earlier at this venue, Aly won the Pan American Seniors Snooker Championship which qualifies him for the World Seniors Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre next May.

Sarkis’ opponent in the title match was American Denkha, who was runner-up in this competition the last time it was held in 2019 in Houston, Texas. Undefeated Denkha had dropped only four frames in six matches in reaching the last four but needed to come back from 3-1 down in the semi-finals in order to overhaul Derrick Claus (Canada) 4-3.

In the final, Sarkis took the opening frame and then the third and fourth to go into the mid-session interval 3-1 ahead. He then extended his lead again in the best-of-nine tie on resumption with frame five and stood on the edge of glory as he made a break of 51 in the sixth.

Denkha, though, refused to give in. From the jaws of defeat, he crafted a match-saving effort of 70 to claim the frame, before later reducing his arrears to just one at 4-3.

However, Sarkis was not to be denied the title as he regrouped in frame eight to record a 5-3 victory and follow in the footsteps of fellow Brazilian Igor Figueiredo who he succeeds as champion.

Sarkis now has the chance to join Figueiredo on the professional circuit as he becomes PABSA’s nomination for a WST tour card for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 campaigns.

2021 UK Championship News

Lee Walker was forced to withdraw from the 2021 UK Championship because of covid. Here is WST announcement:

Lee Walker has been withdrawn from the Cazoo UK Championship after testing positive for Covid-19. The positive test occurred away from the venue and Walker will now undergo a period of isolation.

The Welshman was due to face Jimmy Robertson in the first round in York on Thursday November 25th. He has been replaced in the draw by the next available player from the Q School rankings, Bai Langning.

The tournament at the York Barbican starts on Tuesday.

This is a massive blow for Lee who is provisionally ranked 82 at the end of the season, facing relegation. The UK Championship is very lucrative: winning the first round match earns the players 6500 ranking points and Lee could certainly do with that …

The arenas are being prepared:

And last but not least, huge congratulations to Chris Wakelin for THIS

Baize To The Ballroom For Wakelin

Wakelin and dance partner Amanda Hammond.

World number 62 Chris Wakelin will be swapping his snooker cue for dancing shoes next month, when he takes part in a Strictly Christmas charity fundraiser in aid of Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice.

Wakelin has no prior experience in ballroom dancing, but will take the plunge on December 17th and 18th, when the event takes place in Coventry.

The participating couples, made up of one more experienced ‘professional’ and a new ‘contestant’, will perform both a cha-cha-cha and a quickstep in a bid to qualify for the final night. Their scores from judges will be combined with an allocated number of points based on how much money they have raised for Zoe’s Place away from the dance floor.

So far Wakelin has raised over £2,000 by taking part in a range of other fundraising activities. You can donate by clicking here.

The Nuneaton cueman admits that the prospect of him dancing in front of a crowd was, at one point, a very distant one. However, after seeing his brother compete in the same event, he was drawn in to doing something for a very worthwhile cause.

Wakelin explained: “My first knowledge of Zoe’s Place came when going to watch my brother in Strictly Christmas four years ago. I went along expecting to see a dancing show, but in fact what I saw was an enormous group of people all with an interest in raising money for babies, children and their families, who sadly aren’t going to see their fifth birthday. It was months of hard work and a team of 70 odd people trying to support this charity, which at the time I’d never heard of. I had a visit to the hospice not long after that and saw what amazing work they do.

“I got asked if I would like to take part in this year’s show. It was one of those things where I said I would consider it, but really in the back of my mind I was thinking that I’d never danced before or been a performer of that sort. One drunken night I got home and thought I’d fill in the form to see what happened. Of course I got accepted and asked along for the induction. I’ve never looked back to be honest.

“I thought that the quickstep would be more my cup of tea. It is all about good posture and having a good frame. You need to have an upright frame being a runner and you obviously try to keep your upper body nice and stiff in snooker as well. The cha-cha-cha is all about being nice and free, loose, having your body moving and your hips swinging. I’ve never danced in my life, that’s not really me. However, I’ve actually enjoyed the cha-cha-cha a lot more. It is more of a challenge for me and I’m not the kind of person to back away from something which I perceive as being difficult. I’ve really thrown myself into it. The whole process is an overwhelming experience. Learning a new skill and having an amazing time, as well as doing something really worthwhile for charity.”

Away from the ballroom Wakelin has been working tirelessly to raise further funds for Zoe’s Place. Having taken up running over the summer, he focussed part of those efforts on road races and has now done a 10k race and a half marathon. Wakelin also completed a 24 hour snookerthon, which itself raised over £1,000.

“That was the first time I’ve ever run a half marathon distance. I trained for the Nuneaton 10K and that was my main focus for fundraising. I had no intention of running a half marathon until spring next year. I saw five days before the event, that the Coventry Half Marathon was taking entries. I went for it having only ever run 11k in my life prior to that. It was double what I’d ever done before,” said 29-year-old Wakelin.

“The snooker was a great, but very tiring, experience. Like any sportsperson will tell you, there are purple and cold patches. I started off with a couple of centuries and all of a sudden it dried up for a few hours. I set myself a personal target of making one century every hour. I managed to make the 24th one with about an hour to go. I was really chuffed to beat that personal goal of mine.

“It ran from 12pm until 12pm the next day and by seven in the morning I was gassed out. Those last few hours were tough. I was really tired and couldn’t see properly. I’d been awake for nearly a whole day and had five or six hours to go. I played my best mate, Ian White who owns the club, in the last hour. I had a bottle of beer while we played as a little celebration for what I’d been through. I had a little tear in my eye at the end, it was an amazing thing to do and a brilliant day. To raise over £1,000 was brilliant. There wasn’t any time for rest though. As soon as we finished that I jumped in the shower and went to dance practice a couple of hours later. ”

On the table Wakelin is preparing for a Cazoo UK Championship clash with Jamie Clarke next week in York. The victor will face either David Lilley or 2019 World Champion Judd Trump in the second round.

Wakelin heads to York off the back of two very contrasting performances on the TV table so far this season, both against seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry. He succumbed to a 3-2 defeat against 52-year-old Hendry in the British Open, after what turned out to be a below par performance from both players. However, he rectified that in the recent English Open, defeating Hendry 4-0 in style, courtesy of breaks of 141, 135 and 85.

“It was a complete disaster for both myself and Stephen at the British Open and there is no getting away from or hiding that. This time around I felt like I did myself justice. You want to showcase what you can do and I thought I made a far better account of myself the second time around. I felt good, prepared well and put in a good performance.

“Every player on tour knows they can do that on the practice table but to go out and do that on TV is a big confidence boost going forward. I had a lot of players, friends and family and snooker fans congratulating me and sending me messages about how well I played. Plenty of people cut you down and remind you of how badly you played when it doesn’t go well. It was nice to have people praising how I played.

“It is a tough first round tie against Jamie Clarke in York. We are both going up the rankings and in the right direction with our careers. Jamie is a lovely lad. I speak to him every tournament and have a little catch up. I’ve no doubt it will be a good game. I’d like to get through to the weekend. It is a lovely city to spend time in. There is normally a bit of snow around and the Christmas market is on. It is a beautiful city at the best of times but it really is fantastic at that time of year. I would more than likely play Judd Trump if I got through. I actually said that I couldn’t beat him in the Eurosport studio recently. Hopefully I can silence myself and do a bit of damage!”

Judd Trump wins the 2021 Champion of Champions

Judd Trump beat John Higgins by 10-4 yesterday evening to win the Champion of Champions for the first time. Congratulations to him.

Here is the report by WST:

Trump Crowned Champion Of Champions

Credit: Taka G Wu/Matchroom Multi Sport

Judd Trump produced a superb display to beat John Higgins 10-4 in the final of the Cazoo Champion of Champions in Bolton, winning the event for the first time in his career.

Trump beat David Lilley and Ryan Day on Monday to move through the group stage, before dispatching Kyren Wilson 6-0 on Friday evening to set up a final clash with Higgins in front of a sell-out crowd.

The Ace in the Pack lifted the Cazoo Champion of Champions trophy for the first time in three trips to the final, along with earning a cheque for £150,000.

The afternoon session began at pace, as Higgins pressed into a 3-0 lead. Trump responded emphatically though, taking five frames on the spin to head into the evening session 5-4 up.

Trump only lost five frames all week and started the evening brilliantly with a break of 74 to stretch his lead to 6-4. He then added the 11th frame, before a dramatic 12th.  Higgins was in a commanding position, but his break stopped at 47. Trump edged a brief safety battle and a contribution of 51 allowed him to move two away from the title.

World number two Trump has faced disappointment twice in the 2014 and 2019 finals, but history wasn’t going to repeat itself with a run of 68 in the penultimate frame putting him on the brink and leaving Higgins without a point for a third frame on the night. He went on to complete the victory and secure the title with a break of 59.

Trump said: “It’s an amazing feeling to get this one under my belt. The crowd here has been amazing for a new venue. There’s been the support has been superb for every player. We both felt that the noise and it was amazing. It was so exciting to play in a final. John has been amazing all season. I think he was in control early on but missed one or two he wouldn’t normally miss. Any win against John is incredible. He was always someone I admired when I was growing up.

There have been times when I was first coming through where I’ve been 4-0 up, 7-2 up, and every time he comes back and beats me. There was a bad one in Shanghai which I will never forget, but it’s put me in the position that I am today. I still learn and I am still willing to learn from him. I have the utmost respect for John.

Higgins, who has been runner-up in all of the last three events, said: “That’s obviously an achievement but you want to win events. It’s not a great feeling, I can hold my hands up and say I’ve lost to three unbelievable champions.

I thought Judd was awesome. If I am being hyper critical. When I went 3-1 up, I had a couple of chances that you’ve got to capitalise on against somebody as good as Judd, but I went walkabout for three or four frames. Judd just grew and grew in strength and then he just blitzed me tonight. Far too good.

It was a strange match to be honest. John started strongly, but after losing the last frame before the first MSI, he seemed to have lost his concentration in the process as well. Judd stepped in and took five on the bounce. When John managed to win the last frame of the afternoon session, I thought “Ok we have a match on our hands”. When they resumed however, it was completely one-sided. There were 9 breaks over 50, 7 by Judd and 2 by John, but the highest break was a mere 74.

One of the commentators reflected that this was an indication of the unusual and rather “slow” conditions, not the best for break-building. All week, an unusual number of “pack splits” were “unproductive” with the pack staying rather compact and/or the white getting stuck.

Phil Haigh gave a good account of the match and reported someting about Judd reaction that is not mentioned in the above report:

So excited to play in a final, it felt like I’d been on a drought, everyone kept saying I hadn’t won a tournament for a while.

To get this one under my belt early in the season and hopefully I can take some momentum from here. Everyone seems to say I only win little events so I wonder if this classes as a big one.

This, in my opinion, only shows that, despite all his successes, Judd is still insecure and desperate for recognition.






The 2021 Champion of Champions – The Semi-finals

Here are the semi-finals’ reports shared by WST

Judd Trump 6-0 Kyren Wilson

Sweet 16 For Terrific Trump

Judd Trump whitewashed Kyren Wilson 6-0 to reach the final of the Cazoo Champion of Champions and has won 16 consecutive frames at the tournament in Bolton.

Trump will face John Higgins or Yan Bingtao for the title on Sunday and victory would give the world number two his first silverware since he won the BetVictor Gibraltar Open in March.

The Bristol cueman won four straight frames in his opening match against David Lilley on Monday, then saw off Ryan Day 6-0 before repeating that scoreline tonight against Wilson. Breaks of 88, 82 and 88 helped him to an emphatic victory.

Trump is through to his third Champion of Champions final and is looking to lift the trophy for the first time having lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2014 and Neil Robertson in 2019.

To do what I have done here has come a little bit by surprise,” said 32-year-old Trump. “I haven’t played my absolute best, but it’s been nice to get through comfortably. It’s been decent but not perfect. The other players have struggled a little bit. My safety has been good, and I’ve scored heavy. To beat someone like Kyren 6-0, you must be doing something right.

The first frame was quite nervy. It was important for me to get that one. The longer I could keep Kyren at bay and get further away, it got more difficult for him. He never really got settled into the game. It’s important to keep your foot on the gas from the early stage. There’s a bit of time between now and the final. A little bit of practice. This is such a big event. You cannot take any liberties.

John Higgins has been amazing and probably the player of this season so far. Yan Bingtao is improving all the time. I think it will be a close game between them.

This is a massive event and one of the biggest on the calendar. I’ve come close a couple of times but not managed to get it over the line. These are all the best players in the world. Hopefully, I can go out there and be the face of the competition next year.

I love it when the crowd gets involved. I think it’s important they play their part. It gets you up. It brings the nerves out before the games. The atmosphere was incredible, and I am sure it will be for the rest of the week.”

Judd Trump 6-0 Kyren Wilson

66-16, 88-0 (88), 61-18, 91-2 (82), 69-49, 88-38 (88)

Pics: Taka Wu/Matchroom Multi Sport

Judd Trump didn’t take liberties indeed, and his safety game was excellent from start to finish. It was however a disappointing performance by Kyren: he never really got into the match.

John Higgins 6-5 Yan Bingtao

Higgins Sets Up Trump Final

John Higgins won a marathon five-hour battle against Yan Bingtao by a 6-5 scoreline to reach the final of the Cazoo Champion of Champions in Bolton.

Higgins and Trump have contested two Crucible finals

Higgins got over the winning line with a superb break in the deciding frame at 12.15am to earn a meeting with Judd Trump in Sunday’s final, with first to ten frames to take home the trophy and £150,000 top prize. Higgins will be aiming to win the title for the second time and first since 2016.

It’s a third final within the space of five weeks for the Scot and he’ll hope to make it third time lucky, having lost 9-8 to Mark Allen at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and by the same scoreline against Neil Robertson at the BetVictor English Open.

China’s Yan led 3-1 at the interval with top breaks of 54 and 74 then Wishaw’s Higgins hit back to take three frames in a row with top runs of 89 and 70. Yan’s break of 70 made it 4-4 then the next two were shared to leave the score at 5-5.

Early in the decider, Higgins thumped in a long red, and that set up a match-winning break of 89. He was out of position on 68 but played a clever double on the sixth-last red to a centre pocket which made victory inevitable.

The final starts at 1pm.

The second semi-final was completely different: it was a hell of a battle. Yan showed outstanding tactical skills, a rarety at such a young age. John Higgins is a master tactician but his young opponent matched him in that department yesterday evening. I truly enjoyed it. It was a very long match and both players certainly spent a lot of mental energy out there.

John Higgins is in his third final in a row. Agonisingly he lost the previous two in a deciding frame. He will hope to win this one and will give it his all. But … he’s had to battle hard until the early hours today whilst Judd Trump had a short and comparatively easy semi-final, a spare day to rest and practice, and is 14 years younger than him. It will be very difficult.

Also, during one of his stunts, the MC tried to get the audience going whilst the big screen was showing a kind of dance and loud music was on. I don’t know about other people, but that’s big NO NO for me. Snooker doesn’t need to be turned into a circus, particularly at a prestigious event and forced fun is rarely funny anyway.



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 had to be perfectly centered or it was 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:


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.

Here is the afternoon action:

And the evening

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

The 2021 Champion of Champions – Group 4

This is what happened yesterday at the 2021 Champion of Champions

Wilson Sets Up Trump Semi-final

Group 4 Scores

Group Semi-Finals

Neil Robertson 4-2 Mark Williams

71-69 (69), 65-54 (65), 12-73, 106-7 (100), 0-114 (104), 76-40 (62)

Kyren Wilson 4-2 Jordan Brown

55-52, 92-10 (59), 21-82, 90-15 (86), 30-65, 95-41 (71)

Group Final

Neil Robertson 4-6 Kyren Wilson

74-29 (73), 0-77, 0-114 (114), 6-120 (112), 107-1 (107), 75-37 (63), 59-28, 40-98 (98), 44-81 (55), 0-113 (113)

Kyren Wilson won a high quality clash with two-time Cazoo Champion of Champions winner Neil Robertson 6-4, to book his place in the semi-finals against Judd Trump.

Robertson started the day against Mark Williams, who was competing in his first tournament since the Northern Ireland Open, having missed out on the English Open due to testing positive for COVID-19. Robertson became only the fourth player to make 800 centuries on his way to a 4-2 win. Wilson meanwhile fended off a late fightback from debutant Jordan Brown, to pull through 4-2.

Robertson started the better of the two in the group final, taking the opener with a break of 74. However, Wilson kicked into gear by winning the next three frames to lead 3-1 at the interval. The Warrior fired in breaks of 114 and 112 in the process.

After the interval, the momentum did turn in Robertson’s favour, as he made a break of 107 to pull within a frame at 3-2. There was a nine minute safety battle on the blue in the sixth, which eventually went the way of Robertson. That allowed him to restore parity at 3-3, before he added frame seven to take the lead at 4-3.

It was a classy contest between two heavy scorers and Wilson wasn’t going away, composing a steely clearance of 98 in the eighth to pull level once again. Wilson then continued his ascent towards the semi-finals by taking the ninth frame to move a frame victory. The world number five wasted little time in getting over the line, showing his class with a run of 113 to secure the victory.

I played Neil last week at the English Open and it was another cracker there, but I was on the wrong side of that one. It was nice to put in a similar performance tonight and come out the winner,” said 29-year-old Wilson.

I was a little bit unlucky at 3-3, I went into the pack off the blue and knocked in a red. Sometimes you can see potential plants and I couldn’t see anything, it was just sort of freak shot that the red went in. I knew I was starting to hit the ball pretty well and it was all about staying focused and waiting for my next chance.”

Wilson will now face off with world number two Trump on Friday night: “It doesn’t get much tougher. That’s what you expect in a showpiece semi-final. It’s going to get tougher and tougher. Everyone is a champion in this event. It’s very pleasing to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to that match.”

The Warrior reached the final in 2018 before missing out to Ronnie O’Sullivan and is looking to go one better this year: “You learn from those moments, and I certainly feel like I have. It’d be nice to get back in that position again and put it right.

Day three of the 2021 Cazoo Champion of Champions sees world number one Mark Selby get things underway against 2021 Championship League Snooker Ranking Edition winner David Gilbert whilst World Championship runner-up Shaun Murphy will take on Masters Champion Yan Bingtao.

The Group Final was indeed an excellent match, as was also the first match of the day betweem Neil Robertson and Mark Williams. Mark Williams who has just recovered from a bad bout of covid-19 played better than I expected, which I was pleased to see.

The two remaining groups should be quality as well. It’s a shame that probably the three weakest players in the competition were all in the same group. Indeed, David Lilley, the Seniors’ World Champion who is currently an amateur, Stephen Maguire who hasn’t gone past the last 16 in any event since last season’s Welsh Open, and Ryan Day who qualified by winning the Shoot-out, did well in the “round-robin” events at the start of the season but had only won two matches after that coming into this tournament, were all in Group 1. Someone who is unlikely to complain though is Judd Trump …