Walden opened his campaign as top seed in the group with a 3-1 victory over Andy Lee which included breaks of 71 and 60, before earning a hard fought 2-2 draw against Gerard Greene in his second match.
Young Welsh star Jackson Page was the last remaining threat to Walden’s group-topping ambitions. He could have usurped the world number 18 with victory in their deciding match. There was to be no upset however, as Walden took the two frames required to secure his place in the next stage, a clearance of 106 in the second frame was his highest break of the group as he went on to win 3-1 and remain unbeaten.
Walden said: “I played well today, your first games since last season are always tricky coming back, so I’m delighted to get through.
“I’ve not picked the cue up other than a few exhibitions, so this is the perfect event to come back and get some of that rust off.
“The game against Gerard was a tough one, I think we’d both admit we didn’t play our best, but I knew if I lost it, I was done for the day. I said to myself that if I stick in there and get a draw you never know, in the end it turned out I didn’t need a win in my last game.
“Now I’m in the winners’ group it’s great, it’s only going to set me up for a better season, if I can get to the back end of tournaments like last season then I’m going to be in a strong position.”
Xiao Guodong followed the same route as Jamie Jones yesterday, in securing his place in winners’ week with a game to spare following a pair of 3-1 victories against Rod Lawler and Mink Nutcharut.
The world number 38 saw his highest break of the day (112) coming against the reigning women’s world snooker champion Mink, who impressed on her debut outing as a professional on the World Snooker Tour, picking up her only point of the group against Scott Donaldson in her first match of the season.
A draw in the Donaldson vs Rod Lawler match meant Xiao’s final match against the Scot was simply a formality. A 3-1 victory over the former Championship League Snooker Invitational Event winner sealed a perfect win record for Xiao in Group 32 which saw the Chinese player drop just three frames all day.
This is the table:
Mink played well against Scott Donaldson who, very sportingly, applauded and congratulated her at the end of the match. Her strengths – tactical nous, determination, patience and accurate potting and positioning – showed in this match. Her weaknesses unfortunately showed as well: mainly she totally lacks power, and when forced to play with power, she loses her accuracy. Of course, she is petite, but power not mainly a matter of physical strength, is also – and maybe mainly – a matter of “timing” and that can be worked on. She will need to improve on that to stand any chance on the main tour.
Yesterday, Ronnie was in action for the first time since winning his 7th World Title at the Crucible early May and he won his three matches in the 2022 ranking CLS Group 1. Jamie Jones was dominant in Group 27.
World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Welshman Jamie Jones got their seasons off to perfect starts, winning Groups One and 27 respectively at BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
O’Sullivan, starting the season as newly crowned seven-time Crucible king, opened his campaign with a quick-fire 3-0 win over Farakh Ajaib, a match in which he conceded just 46 points.
A closer tie against long-time practice partner Alfie Burden saw O’Sullivan concede his first frame of the group, and despite seeing Burden make the highest break of the match (79), it was the world number one who was the 3-1 victor.
Heading into the evening, O’Sullivan required just a point against Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher who had registered 3-1 wins against both Burden and Ajaib. The Rocket defeated Ursenbacher 3-1 with a century break (121) in the final frame, to maintain his perfect win record in the group, booking his spot in winners’ week.
Speaking afterwards, O’Sullivan said: “I just enjoyed playing, it felt good to be out there hitting balls again I suppose.
“Even if I play rubbish, it doesn’t bother me, I can quickly get over it and move on to the things I enjoy.”
It’s the first competitive outing on the baize for O’Sullivan following his historic seventh world title in Sheffield, reflecting on that feat he said: “I felt like my game was ok heading into Sheffield, it was enough to get the job done. The reaction was great, but also wasn’t great as I enjoy going under the radar these days.”
It was even more routine for Jamie Jones in Group 27 who qualified for winners’ week with a game to spare.
Jones started the day with a somewhat scrappy 3-1 victory over Estonia’s first ever professional snooker player Andres Petrov in the opening match on table two.
The Welsh potter found another level against former World Seniors Champion David Lilley, winning 3-0 with a group high break of 134 in the secondframe. A break of 54 in the third and final frame enough to complete the win and earn a spot in winners’ week before facing Sam Craigie in what resulted in a 2-2 draw.
On his group victory, Jones said: “I’ve been practising well and playing as much as I’ve ever done in the off season. This year, I’ve done a little bit of coaching where in previous years I’d usually put the cue down for two months. Now, I feel sharp and am glad to get through to the next stage.
“I have been a notoriously slow starter to the season, so I did feel a little bit of pressure coming into today as I didn’t want to start this season how I usually do.
“I’m currently 31st [on the tour] and I’ve given myself the hefty goal of trying to get into the Masters by January. It’s a massive goal, but if you don’t aim high what are you going to achieve? I’d also love to pick up my first trophy this season.”
Ronnie didn’t play particularly well, but he certainly applied himself. Actually it was his positional game that let him down at times, which is extremely unusual. Maybe I misunderstood – my hearing is terrible – but I think that the commentators said that he’s playing with a new cue. That could explain some unusual mistakes.
In a part of the interview that the above report doesn’t mention, Ronnie downplayed his chances at the Crucible next year. My feeling is that he is determined not to allow the media putting pressure on him, and rightly so.
Michael Holt was in commentary and he said something unusual but very true about Ronnie: “He loves the game, he doesn’t always love the sport.“.
This is yesterday’s table:
The last match in Group 27 was a draw.
As usual, points and pounds were 3000 for the winner, 2000 for the runner-up, 1000 for third place and nothing for fourth place.
Remarkably, this was actually the first time that Ronnie had beaten Alexander in a competitive match…
In Group 27, I had decided to watch Andres Petrov. The young man is obviously talented and plays an attacking game but I’m afraid that he will struggle on the professional tour. Without becoming a “defender”, he will need to play the percentages a bit more or he will be clobbered on a regular basis. At amateur level, he certainly was getting away with some of the mistakes I saw yesterday because, more often than not, his opponents weren’t able to table. Seasoned pros however will not let him off the hook.
If you follow snooker stuff on social media, you may have noticed a lot of post about “The 900” recently et you may wonder what this is all about … here are some answers!
The “900” will be a televised event for amateur snooker players, the first in many years. It’s an initiative by Snooker Legends.
The event will feature 25 nights of televised snooker, available on SKY Channel 537.
It will start on Monday, September 19, 2022, will be broadcast from Monday to Wednesday, and will run until Wednesday, November 9, 2022. That’s eight weeks and each week will produce a winner. Those 8 winner will contest a Grand Final on November 16, 2022. All events will be staged at Jason Francis’ Crucible Club in Reading.
The broadcast time is unusual: 10 pm until 1 am UK time.
The 900 is a new concept, but shares many elements with the Shoot Out.
A frame is 15 minutes long, that’s 900 seconds, hence the name. A 20 seconds shot-clock will be in operation, with no time-outs. A ball must touch a cushion on any shot, unless it’s a pot. Any foul gives the opponent ball in hand, and that includes “time out fouls”.
About the format…
Each Monday, 8 players will contest a knock-out mini tournament. The winner will get £500, the runner-up will get £250. The finalists and both losing semi-finalists will progress to the Wednesday “Final”.
Each Tueasday, the Monday’s losing quater-finalists are joined by 4 new players. They will compete in a mini tournament with a similar format to the Monday’s one.
Each Wednesday, the 8 players who emerged from the Monday and Tuesday, will compete in a weekly Final. The winner will take £1500 and will progress to the Grand Final. The runner-up will get £500 and the losing semi-finalists will take £150 each.
The Grand Final on November 16, 2022, will be contested by the 8 weekly winners. The winner of this Grand Final will get £5000. The runner-up will get £1500 and the losing semi-finalists will get £500.
This event is an invitational event, meaning that players are invited by Snooker Legends. It is for amateur players ONLY. No holder of a 2022/23 professional tour card is eligible. Also, players serving a WPBSA or a National Gouverning Body ban are not eligible.
Those who follow Snooker Legends on social media will have seen that quite a few players have already been invited and confirmed. They come is all forms and shapes: from juniors to seniors, able-bodied and disabled…
Luca Brecel and Lu Ning won Groups 10 and 29 respectively to progress to Winners’ Week at 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker at the Morningside Arena, Leicester live on FreeSports, Matchroom.Live and networks worldwide.
Brecel came into Group 10 alongside Robbie Williams, Zhao Jianbo, and Oliver Brown with hopes of following on from a fine season last term. The Belgian Bullet looked cool and composed throughout his opening match as he rattled off a 3-0 win in quick time over Zhao, making breaks of 76 and 85.
Williams drew 2-2 with Brown then beat Zhao 3-1, before Brecel saw off Brown 3-1 thanks to breaks of 89 and 66. Brecel met Williams in the last of the action, with Brecel needing only a draw to top the group. Williams took a 2-0 lead and needed only one more frame to finish the day at the summit, but Brecel hit back with runs of 67 and 98 to secure the 2-2 scoreline he needed. He becomes the second top 16 player to reach Winners’ Week after Zhao Xintong progressed earlier in the week.
“I played some really good stuff today,” said Scottish Open champion Brecel. “I made a lot of breaks and felt like I was the best player in the group. To be 2-0 down against Robbie, I felt like I would’ve been disappointed if I didn’t win the group. I practised a lot during the summer. I’ve been playing some good stuff in practice. It’s not a surprise. It’s always nice to do it on the match table. I feel like I am playing a lot better than last season.
“I don’t have many points to defend this season, so the only way is up. If I can get some good results, I could finish maybe top four by the end. There’s a lot to play for.”
China’s Lu got off to a fine start, beating John Astley in the opener 3-1 with breaks of 97 and 91. He went on to record a 3-0 win over Chen Zifan with a top run of 54, and he sealed the group success in style with a 3-1 defeat of Oliver Lines.
BetVictor Championship League Snooker returns on Monday with Ronnie O’Sullivan in action in Group 1 with Alexander Ursenbacher, Farakh Ajaib, and Alfie Burden. Table 2 live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube sees Jamie Jones, Sam Craigie, David Lilley and Andres Petrov do battle.
This is the table:
There isn’t really much to add to the above report. The highest seeded played the best snooker and dominated their groups. Maybe though they could have interviewed Lu Ning as well as Luca.
Mohamed Ibrahim from Egypt has won the 2022 Snooker African Championship and will be offered a two years tour card. He defeated Hesham Shawky 5-4 on the pink to win the 2022 African Snooker Championship late last night in Morocco. Mohamed Ibrahim had already qualified for the main Tour in 2018/19, by winning the same competition. However, he never played a professional match. What will happen this time remains to be seen.. All the same, congratulations to him!
No event in China at all, not even with a “to be confirmed” tag. No Gibraltar Open either. That’s maybe not that surprising after the problems players faced last season. Indeed, because of Brexit, most players now need a “Schengen Visa” just in case, because of the weather, their plane would land in Spain rather than in Gibraltar. Last season, a number of them were sent back to the UK, after landing in Spain, missing out on possibly crucial ranking points.
BetVictor Continues Partnership With World Snooker Tour
BetVictor, a leading global gambling company, will be title sponsor of nine events on the World Snooker Tour during the 2022/23 season, with the leading money winner across the BetVictor Series to earn a huge £150,000 bonus.
WST is delighted to continue its long term partnership with BetVictor, a dedicated supporter of snooker for many years.
The BetVictor sponsored tournaments will include the four BetVictor Home Nations Series events, the new and innovative BetVictor World Mixed Doubles and four others. The events are:
BetVictor Championship League, June 28 to July 29, Leicester, promoted by Matchroom Multi-Sport
BetVictor World Mixed Doubles, September 24-25, Milton Keynes
BetVictor European Masters, August 16-21, Germany
BetVictor Shoot Out, January 26-29, Leicester
BetVictor German Masters, February 1-5, Berlin
BetVictor Home Nations Series
BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, October 16-23, Belfast
BetVictor Scottish Open, November 28 to December 4, Edinburgh
BetVictor English Open, December 12-18, Brentwood
BetVictor Welsh Open, February 13 to 19, Llandudno
All of these events, other than the BetVictor World Mixed Doubles, will count towards the BetVictor Series. All money earned by every player in the eight counting events will be tallied on the BetVictor Series Rankings. The money list leader after the eighth and final event in Wales in February will earn the £150,000 bonus.
Last season, going into the final event there were 11 players still in with a chance of banking the bonus. In a dramatic finish, John Higgins came out on top and won the £150,000. Judd Trump captured the bonus in both 2020 and 2021.
All of the BetVictor-sponsored events will be broadcast live to hundreds of millions of snooker fans across the globe.
Discovery-owned Quest and Eurosport are the host broadcasters for the BetVictor Home Nations Series. Eurosport are also host broadcasters for the BetVictor Shoot Out, BetVictor European Masters and BetVictor German Masters.
The new BetVictor World Mixed Doubles will be live on ITV and ITV4, featuring the world’s top four men and top four women players. The BetVictor Championship League will be broadcast by streaming partners including Matchroom.Live
The events will also be shown around the world on WST’s broadcast partners which include TrueSport, SportCast, Now TV, Astro SuperSport, CCTV5, Liaoning TV, SPS Mongolia, Pakistan TV Sports, Premier Sports Philippines, Hub Sport and DAZN as well as various streaming partners including Huya, Youku, Migu and Matchroom.Live.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “BetVictor has been a fantastic and welcome part of the snooker family for many years and we are thrilled to continue our partnership with them. In the coming season they will sponsor a wide range of events with a variety of formats. Every tournament will feature the very best players in the world at a time when the entertainment delivered by our sport is stronger than ever.
“The BetVictor bonus has provided a fascinating extra element to our tour over the past three years. From the first event, players are striving to top the leaderboard and put themselves in line for the £150,000. To have 11 players in the race over the final three days of the series last season gave us a thrilling conclusion and we hope for a similar story next time.
“Snooker continues to grow in terms of our worldwide television and digital audience, with new and younger fans discovering the enthralling nature of the sport every year. BetVictor have joined us on that journey, bringing their brand to hundreds of millions of followers. They are a great team to work with and we look forward to developing our relationship for many years to come.”
Hull To Stage Tour Championship For The First Time
The Bonus Arena in Hull will host the world’s best snooker players next year, when the Tour Championship comes to the city for the first time.
The tournament is one of the biggest on snooker’s global circuit and features an elite eight-man field. Only the top eight on the 2022/23 season one-year ranking list will qualify for the world ranking event.
Running from March 27 to April 2 in 2023, the event will be televised live by ITV and a range of other international broadcasters.
Neil Robertson won the title last season in Llandudno, beating John Higgins in the final. Also in the field were Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Mark Allen, Zhao Xintong and Luca Brecel. A stellar field of the sport’s all-time greats is expected again in 2023.
World Snooker Tour Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are excited about going to the Bonus Arena in Hull for one of our biggest events for the first time as it is a fabulous venue and the atmosphere when it is packed out is going to be incredible. For the very best players on the planet and for the fans lucky enough to get tickets this is going to be a special experience.
“From the moment the first balls are struck this season, the players are in a race to climb high on the one year list, because only those in form qualify for the elite events in this series. The top 32 make it to the World Grand Prix, then 16 qualify for the Players Championship and by the time we get to the eight-man Tour Championship it really is the cream of the crop.
“We look forward to working with the team at the Bonus Arena and the people of Hull on delivering a sensational event.”
Hull, and this venue in particular, have hosted several important “Seniors” events. It’s a great venue and Hull is a very nice and interesting city to visit. It has both “historical” and “mordern” sides. The locals are particularly wellcoming, and helpful if you get lost! If you plan to go … take some warm clothes with you! The sea coast climate is “tonic” but not exactly hot!
Day 3 at the first ranking event of this season yielded some surprises.
With Kyren Wilson in action in Group 6, most fans probably expected him to dominate this group. Not so. Instead it was Michael Judge, the 2019 Seniors UK Champion, who booked his place into the final week. Group 26 featured three seasoned professionals and Anton Kazakov, a 17 years old rookie from Ukraine. Against all expectations, it was Anton who won the first match of the day, against the highest ranked player in the group, Tom Ford.
Judge was up against Kyren Wilson, Zhang Anda and Luke Simmonds in group six, which was a tightly contested affair. The first three fixtures all ended in 2-2 draws.
The evening action continued in the same manner after Wilson and Judge shared the spoils, the tie ended in a 2-2 draw after Wilson squandered a 2-0 lead. That result left all four players on two points.
Irishman Judge then crucially sealed the first win of the day, a 3-1 victory, to move top of the table with what proved to be the only win of the day.
Wilson needed to beat Zhang in the final game of the day, but he failed to convert a 2-1 lead and ended level at 2-2. That result saw Judge secure his progression.
Judge said: “I felt I played quite well in patches and I am already a lot better than last year. I have been practising hard. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and I have even been swimming. I am going to give this year a proper go and show that I can still play this game like I used to. It was like coming back to a new tour. The game changed when I fell off.”
Wakelin had a much clearer path to victory in group 26, where he finished ahead of Tom Ford, Ian Burns and Anton Kazakov. In a group of Tom Ford, Ian Burns, and debutant Anton Kazakov. Morning victories against Burns and Kazakov put Wakelin into the ascendancy early on.
Ford and Burns finished 2-2 after a brilliant 131 from Burns had put him 2-0 ahead. That was short lived when Ford claimed the last two frames to end 2-2. The remaining results went Wakelin’s way and he secured his place in the next phase.
2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues tomorrow with Luca Brecel in action on Table 1 in Group 10 live on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live in the UK and networks worldwide with Zhao Jianbo, Robbie Williams, and Oliver Brown whilst Lu Ning leads Group 29 with John Astley, Oliver Lines, and Chen Zifan live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube for free. See where to watch here.
This is the above linked table
Despite winning the first match in Group 26, Anton eventually came last and will get nothing for his efforts. It’s very rare that a player winning a match comes last in a group but it happened yesterday and I feel something isn’t quite right here.
Barry Hearn’s motto has always been that you need to win a match to earn money and ranking points. Yesterday, in Group 6, only Michael Judge actually won a match, yet Kyren Wilson got £2000 and Zhang Anda got £1000. The day before, Ashley Hugill also earned £1000 without winning a match. Yet, Anton, who did win a match – his first as a professional actually – got nothing. As I wrote above, it doesn’t feel right.
I believe there is a case here to, maybe, “disconnect” money from ranking points in this format. Maybe something like this: win a match you get £1000 and 3 points, draw you get £200 and 1 point and so does your opponent, lose you get nothing. That would reward winning, whilst keeping the “order of merit” as it is now.
Snooker Breaks New Ground With BetVictor World Mixed Doubles
As one of the few major sports where men and women can compete together on an equal footing, snooker will showcase its inclusivity in September with the BetVictor World Mixed Doubles.
The pioneering tournament will see the world’s top four men – Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson – each paired with one of the top four women – Reanne Evans, Ng On Yee, Nutcharut Wongharuthai and Rebecca Kenna.
Televised live by ITV, the invitation event will take place over the weekend of Saturday September 24 and Sunday September 25 at the Marshall Arena at MK Stadium in Milton Keynes. Ticket details will be announced soon.
The random draw will take place in advance of the event, with one man drawn to play alongside each woman. The four pairs will compete over two days in a round-robin format, followed by the final with the winning team to be crowned inaugural champion.
Each round-robin match will be four frames, with all frames to be completed. Teams will score one point for each frame. At the end of the group phase, the top two teams will go through to the final, which will be best of seven frames. The two players in a team will make alternate visits to the table (rather than alternate shots).
Session times are 1pm and 7pm on both days. Each of the first three sessions will feature two group matches, so all eight players will be in action. The final will then take place on Sunday September 25 from 7pm.
Ronnie O’Sullivan – current World Champion, world number one and crowd favourite Judd Trump – 2019 World Champion known for his flamboyant style Mark Selby – four time Crucible king and current world number three Neil Robertson – the best player of the 2021/22 season, winning four titles Reanne Evans – the most successful ever World Women’s Snooker player with 12 world titles Ng On Yee – three-time World Champion and one of Hong Kong’s most famous sport stars Nutcharut Wongharuthai – up-and-coming talent from Thailand who won her first world title in 2022 Rebecca Kenna – women’s world number four and multiple title winner
This will be the first televised mixed doubles snooker event since 1991 when Steve Davis and Allison Fisher joined forces to win the title in Hamburg.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “This is the first time that a mixed doubles snooker event will be broadcast live on free-to-air television so it’s a very significant moment for our sport. We’re delighted to partner with ITV and BetVictor for this fantastic tournament.
“Snooker is a game for everyone, regardless of age, gender and nationality, and we have proved this with the expansion of our tour and of the sport at grassroots level. There is no reason why men and women can’t compete together and we are thrilled to have – for the first time – four women on our professional tour in the coming season.
“The BetVictor World Mixed Doubles will be an opportunity for the eight players to compete in pairs, creating a different dynamic to the usual individual formats. It will be fascinating to watch both for the live audience and television viewers.
“We look forward to delivering a high quality event and we hope to make this a regular fixture on the circuit.”
Global Sponsorship manager Sam Boswell from sponsor BetVictor added: “We’re proud to be sponsoring the BetVictor World Mixed Doubles in September, it’s an event that showcases how the game is for everyone, and we look forward to growing our presence in world snooker by supporting this unique tournament.”
Well that’s terrific news! I only hope that the event will also be shown on Eurosport or stremead on Matchroom.live … because, well, ITV is very much UK only.
If snooker is for everyone, it should be for every fan as well, right?