And more news … very bad news – 09.12.2022

This has just been shared by WPBSA:

WPBSA Statement | 9 December 2022

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson has taken the decision to suspend Lu Ning, Li Hang, Zhao Jianbo, Bai Langning and Chang Bingyu from attending or competing on the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect.

This follows the suspension of Liang Wenbo on 27 October 2022 and a subsequent investigation which remains ongoing into allegations of manipulating the outcome of matches for betting purposes in breach of the WPBSA Conduct Regulations.

The suspensions of all six players will remain in place until the conclusion of the investigation or any subsequent charges that may or may not be brought. These players have the right to appeal this decision.

The investigation remains ongoing, and no further comment will be made until the investigation is complete.

The green background has been added by me. This part of the announcement is most intriguing and very worrying. I’m not a native English speaker so maybe I misunderstand but … the way I read this those allegations of match fixing “appeared” as part of the Liang Wenbo investigation? Is that the “misconduct” that’s been investigated?

And it comes when an amateur, Garry Coulson, has also just been suspended for “misconduct”

This is all very, very bad.

Snooker Main Tour News – 09.12.2022

WST has published an updated version of this season calendar, and the good news is that the 6-reds World Championship is going to happen after all.

Here is the announcement:

Six Red World Championship

We are pleased to announce that the previously postponed Six Red World Championship has returned to the calendar and will take place from 6 to 11 March, 2023.

Click here for the updated calendar

And for the first time, there are four places allocated for players coming through a qualifying process. These four places are in addition to those players who qualify automatically or have been otherwise invited.

We will be staging the qualifying event from 7 to 9 January. This will be followed by the BetVictor Welsh Open qualifiers from January 11 to 13.

The four players who make it through will earn a place in the final stages in Bangkok, Thailand and will join the 16 players who had already entered and been confirmed for this event.

While this is a non-ranking event, we felt it was important to give all players the opportunity to compete, earn prize money and potentially a place in the televised stages in Thailand.

This change means that the qualifying rounds for the 2023 Turkish Masters have been put back to 6 to 12 February, 2023.

I would have liked to know a bit more about the qualifying process but I suppose this will come in due time.

Speaking of “due time”, the invitational, traditional Championship League Snooker is due to start in 10 days and there is still no information about who will play in it.

Farewell Patrick Delsemme …

The Belgian snooker community is in mourning. Patrick Delsemme, one of Belgium’s leading players, was found dead this morning in Casablanca, Morocco. Patrick had travelled to Casablanca to participate in an amateur tournament. Yesterday evening, he had been unwell, suffering from an asthma attack but seemed to have recovered from it.

It was Stephane Ochoiski (father of Brian) who found him dead this morning. He was only 48.

Patrick was well loved and respected in the Belgian snooker community. He will be sadly missed by all.

He was an extremely talented player. In 1991, he was runner-up to Ronnie at the IBSF under-21 Amateur Snooker World Championship. The next year he was runner-up again, this time losing to Robin Hull. Patrick was a professional snooker player for seven years in the 90th early noughties.

My heart goes out to his family and friends in these difficult moments

Fly high Patrick … and teach those angels how the beautiful game of snooker is played 💔

Rolf Kalb reflects on the 2023 German Masters Qualifiers Fiasco

Rolf Kalb has been reflecting on the outcome of the recent German Masters qualifiers and how their outcome may possibly impact the tournament and the future of snooker in Germany.

The original text is in German but a translation is offered and here it is:

DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE GERMAN MASTERS: MORE PRIZE MONEY, DIFFERENT FORMAT?

The elimination of many top players in the qualification for the German Masters caused shock waves. This leads to discussions in the snooker world. Only six players from the current top 16 in the world rankings managed to qualify. Ronnie O’Sullivan had canceled his launch; the others failed in the preliminary rounds. As a result, critical voices calling for changes increased.

OF ROLF CALF PUBLISHED 07/12/2022 AT 16:02 GMT+2

Judd Trump indicated to the portal “The Sportsman” that he might not take part in the German Masters next year. He demanded more prize money and that the top players didn’t have to play a qualifier. He also criticized that the German Masters had not developed further.

Of course, the many failures in qualifying cannot be explained away. It’s annoying for the fans. One explanation for the cancellations is that the qualification was played immediately after the UK Championship. One week on the big stage at an outstanding tournament, the other week in the prosaic qualifying environment, with practically no spectators and, above all, no atmosphere. This is worse than a cold shower. That can be demotivating. 

However, the many surprises at the subsequent Scottish Open naturally put this finding into perspective.Of course, more prize money is always great for the players. Nobody has anything against that. But the money has to come from somewhere. There’s nothing left to get from the fans. The income from TV rights cannot be increased indefinitely either. So only sponsors remain. In view of the currently very difficult economic environment, however, there are also limits in this area.

Then there is the question of qualifying the top players. Should the top 16 no longer have to qualify, that would mean 32 more matches in the Tempodrom. However, it is not possible to set up more tables in the Tempodrom (you tried it once and then rightly left it again very quickly). So the tournament would have to be extended. The Tempodrom is a great location, but unfortunately also an expensive one. I doubt that the ticket sales for Monday and/or Tuesday will cover the additional costs. 

In addition, other events usually take place in the Tempodrom on the weekend before the snooker. And the expansion for the German Masters now takes two days. So where are the extra tournament days supposed to come from? Apart from the fact that there is still the question of whether the team, which consists largely of volunteers, is able to handle it.Looking for another venue for the German Masters is also not a good idea. 

The Tempodrom in particular gives the German Masters a special status. As a result, the tournament has an extremely high recognition value. Not doing so would devalue the German Masters extremely.One suggestion was that four players only have to play one qualifying match. After that, you would first play the first qualifying round completely. The top four who have reached the second round then play their next match in Berlin. 

However, this has the disadvantage that the players who are not financially well off would have to stay for up to a week in the qualification and not just two days. They also say thank you in view of the costs incurred.

So it’s a dilemma. The only option I see right now is a staggered betting system similar to that of the World Championship or UK Championship. The top 16 would then be seeded for the final round and would definitely play in the Tempodrom. But that should raise concerns on the World Snooker Tour that this could be the beginning of the end of the flat draw.

I think Judd Trump’s suggestion to give the German Masters more event character through additional activities and attractions is very good. But you also have to consider that the foyer in the Tempodrom does not offer many spatial possibilities.But I’m sure of one thing: A cessation of the German Masters would be a disaster for snooker Germany. 

But it would also be a serious setback for the World Snooker Tour in the internationalisation of the sport.

It’s certainly no coincidence that at this moment I’m thinking about how much we miss Brandon Parker.

Best regards

Yours, Rolf Kalb

The green background has been added by me. Yes, this is indeed the only solution and by far the best format as the UK Championship has proven. I would be very happy to see the end of the flat draw for all tournaments except the British Open and the Home Nations. When/if snooker returns to China the tiered system should be the format as well.

I would however want to see that “qualifying week” systematically played just before the event and at or close to the main event location. I really want to see the end of the UK centric organisation of snooker. The dates would be known from the start of the season, with plenty of time to get the required documents (i.e VISAs) and organise the travels.

The form players would be at the main venue, instead those who were on form two months before the event. We wouldn’t have the absurd situation where young “local” players are offered a wildcard, allegedly to promote snooker “locally”, only to have to travel and lose in soulless qualifiers in the UK.

And if the calendar is planned properly, traveling can be limited by having a UK/Irish leg, a mainland Europe leg and an Asian leg. Yes, it will mean being away from home longer for the UK players, and it will be more expensive for them too. But, hey, that’s been the fate of everyone else until now, as under the current organisation, most non UK players have to live as ex-pats in the UK … Remember it’s called WORLD snooker.

Snooker News – 06.12.2022 mixed bag

This one is really a mixed bag …

Let’s start with the “neutral” bit.

WST has published the draw and format for the 2023 German Masters at the Tempodrom

BetVictor German Masters Final Stages Draw

Defending champion Zhao Xintong faces Tom Ford in the opening session of the BetVictor German Masters at the magnificent Tempodrom venue in Berlin in February.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Zhao beat Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the final last year and he’ll be back at the Tempodrom to defend his crown, starting against Ford at 3pm local time on Wednesday February 1st.  On the same day in the evening session, BetVictor European Masters champion Kyren Wilson is up against Sam Craigie, while legend Jimmy White takes on Peng Yisong.

Standout matches on Thursday February 2nd include Neil Robertson against Joe Perry, and Luca Brecel facing Matthew Stevens. The final takes place on Sunday February 5th.

The tournament will be screened by Eurosport, discovery+ and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

This event could well be a big opportunity for one of the mid-ranked players as there is no “Class of 92” in the draw, no Mark Selby, no Judd Trump, no Mark Allen , no Shaun Murphy… But it could also be a real nightmare for the promoters that so many big names miss out. The Tempodrom is an extraordinary venue, but not a cheap one. We could lose this one if it becomes financially un-sustainable. Time for a “tiered” format? I would say yes.

WST attempted to move the cut-off point for the 2023 Players Championship and faced a social media riot

This was the initial announcement:

Players Championship Cut Off Point

Thursday 1 Dec 2022 08:50AM

The seeding cut off point for the 2023 Players Championship, which runs from February 20 to 26, will come after the 2023 BetVictor German Masters.

Our calendar previously stated that the cut off point would fall at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19. However we have now moved the cut off point back to end of the BetVictor German Masters which finishes on February 5. This means that the draw and format for the Players Championship can be announced well in advance.

Only the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list, as it stands at the end of the BetVictor German Masters, will qualify for the Players Championship, which returns to Aldersley Village in Wolverhampton, where Neil Robertson won the title last season. 

And the “reversal” of the decision on the next day…

Updated Players Championship Cut Off Point

Friday 2 Dec 2022 03:29PM

Following the announced change to the seeding cut off for the 2023 Players Championship, the decision has today been taken to revert to the original seeding cut off point of after the 2023 BetVictor Welsh Open.

The announced change was made for good reasons to assist scheduling and planning for players; however, it is recognised that it is mid-season, and this decision should be considered at the end of the season and in advance of a full calendar.

The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19, will qualify for the Players Championship which runs from February 20 to 26.

It’s not often that you see all the players agreeing on a topic and actively opposing one of WST decisions, but it did happen this time. Indeed the initial decision to “move the goalpost” for the Players Championship qualification, by excluding the 2023 Welsh Open from the list of qualifying events proved to be extremely unpopular. As Mark Williams wrote on social media, players plan their season and enter events, or don’t, based on their goals, the season calendar and the prize money schedule. Changing the “rules” mid-season is not on.

The 2022 English Open will be played in Brentwood , Essex next week. This, for Ronnie, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Mark King will really be a “home” event.

It’s the last qualifying event for the 2023 World Grand Prix and WST has been looking at the implications of this for various players.

Race To Cheltenham Concludes In Brentwood

Gary Wilson has leapt to fifth place on the one-year ranking list with just one counting event to go before the field is confirmed for the World Grand Prix.

Wilson won the first ranking title of his career by beating Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh on Sunday. The £80,000 top prize boosted him up 47 places from 52nd.

At the end of next week’s BetVictor English Open, the top 32 players on the one-year list will qualify for the World Grand Prix, to be staged in Cheltenham from January 16 to 22.

O’Connor earned £35,000 for reaching his first ranking final, so he’s up from 69th to 13th and is now sure of a place in Cheltenham. Neil Robertson reached the semi-finals and leaps from 43rd to 24th, while Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also made the last four and he’s up from 59th to 31st with a total tally of £30,500. Robertson is £4,500 ahead of Un-Nooh, with Mark Selby a further £1,000 inside the safe zone. Ronnie O’Sullivan is in 17th spot with £37,500.

Jamie Clarke and Jordan Brown are tied in 32nd spot, but both failed to qualify for the BetVictor English Open in Brentwood so in fact they are out of the running.

Big names currently outside the top 32 and in need of a deep run in Brentwood are Yan Bingtao (42nd with £21,500), Zhao Xintong (44th with £21,500) and John Higgins (74th with £12,000). Four-time World Champion Higgins will have to reach the final in Brentwood to get into the top 32.

BetVictor English Open prize money:

Winner: £80,000
Runner-up: £35,000
Semi-finals: £17,500
Quarter-finals: £11,000
Last 16: £7,500
Last 32: £4,500
Last 64: £3,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £427,000

The same one-year list will be used to determine the field for the other two events in the Players Series. The top 16 at the the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open in February will qualify for the Players Championship  at Aldersley Village, Wolverhampton (February 20 to 26) and only the top eight will go on to the Tour Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull (March 27 to April 2).

On the official two-year list, Wilson climbs from 32nd to 18th, while O’Connor jumps from 55th to 40th. Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the official world number one, with a lead of £211,000 over Judd Trump.

Wilson is up to second place in the BetVictor Series Rankings, just £7,000 behind leader Kyren Wilson. Mark Allen is third, just £1,000 behind Gary Wilson. There are four events to go in that race, with the money list leader after February’s BetVictor Welsh Open to bank the massive £150,000 bonus.

Ahead of the event, Ivan Hirschowitz, WST press officer, has been speaking on “Phoenix FM” , the local radio station.

You can read and listen here:

World Snooker Comes to Brentwood – Ivan Hirschowitz

Written by Bob Simpson in One 2 Three👁 843

Monday 5 December 2022, 3.59pm

Snooker’s top stars will be heading to the Brentwood Centre for the first time next week and tickets are on sale now.
The Essex venue will host the BetVictor English Open, a world ranking event and part of the Home Nations Series, from December 12 to 18.
Over 70 players including the top 16 seeds will be on the green baize at the Brentwood Centre. Winners in recent years and include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, and current champion Neil Robertson.
Today the Head of Media for the World Snooker Tour – Ivan Hirschowitz, joined me in the studio to tell us all about it.

You can listen to our chat here

Phoenix FM was created by Paul Golder who, with Django Fung, started “The Grove”, a snooker club and a management team. They currently manage Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, Ali Carter and Michael Holt. Their first player though, about 15 years ago, was Ronnie, who remains on friendly terms with both of them.

And finally a personal concern that may or may not be justified

This season, a number of snooker players, top players, have embraced pool as an alternative: Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Mark Allen to name a few. Judd Trump played in a major Pool event last season too. Nothing wrong with that as the early season has been very start/stop with long gaps for them to fill.

However, at the same time, I also sense a change of priorities at Matchroom. Emily Frazer, Matchroom’s Managing Director is a very dynamic and proactive person. I’ve met Emily a few times at the Premier League Snooker years ago (2007-2011) and I can only admire her. She does a sterling job. Her priority however is pool, not snooker. This is very obvious to anyone following her twitter account. She clearly has Barry Hearn’s support. Eddie Hearn is only interested in boxing… If Matchroom priorities, and with it, their investments, shift mainly to pool, it could be very bad news for WST and snooker because, actually, Matchroom owns 51% of the WST shares. Barry Hearn “bought” snooker in 2010. At the time he literally saved it of course, but …

Thoughts?

Gary Wilson is the 2022 Scottish Open Champion

Gary Wilson beat Joe O’Connor by 9-2 yesterday evening in Edinburgh to win his first ranking title, the 2022 Scottish Open. Congratulations Gary!

Here is the report by WST:

Wonderful Wilson Crushes O’Connor In Scottish Final

Gary Wilson won the last six frames in a row as he beat Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final of the BetVictor Scottish Open, to capture his first ranking title 18 years after turning professional.

The Wallsend cueman first appeared on the World Snooker Tour in 2004, after winning the World under-21 championship. Since then he has competed in two ranking finals, suffering defeat at the 2015 China Open to Mark Selby and the 2021 British Open against Mark Williams.

Wilson also graced the hallowed single table setup at the Crucible in 2019, following a fine run to the World Championship semi-finals. The 37-year-old beat Luca Brecel, Mark Selby and Ali Carter, before losing to eventual winner Judd Trump. Those near misses made this evening’s emphatic triumph taste all the sweeter.

Wilson pockets a top prize of £80,000 and will now move up to 18th position in the world rankings. It also catapults him to second place in the BetVictor Series, where the player who accumulates the most money over the qualifying events will scoop a bumper £150,000 bonus.

O’Connor’s first foray into a ranking final ends with disappointment. The 27-year-old has spent four seasons as a professional and enjoyed the finest run of his career thus far.

He dumped out a star studded cast across the week, beating Zhao Xintong, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams and Ricky Walden to make the semis. O’Connor then scored a sensational 6-3 defeat of 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson. He leaves Edinburgh with the consolation of the £35,000 runner-up prize.

Much of the damage was done in the afternoon session, where Wilson clinically moved to a 6-2 lead and punished any errors made by his opponent.

Wilson took the first frame this evening, before crucially stealing the next on the black to move one from the win at 8-2. He wasted no time getting over the line, firing in a match winning break of 94 to capture his first major title.

It means the world. Many times over my career I’ve thought I would never get to this stage. You watch people do it on the telly and it seems harder and harder. It is getting harder. The standard is so good,” said an elated Wilson.

It is unbelievable to think that after the career I’ve had, which has been so up and down, I’ve finally won a tournament. I’ve fulfilled a lifelong ambition from when I was eight years old, I’ve done it.

I purposefully tried to put no expectation on myself. I’ve been in a couple of finals and lost situations in matches where I should have won. Even at 8-2 you are still thinking the worst could happen, but you are concentrating and plowing on to the line. It is just something that I have learned to do over the years. After so many years of defeats you learn to accept anything that comes.

I reckon you can get about six or seven pints at least in this trophy. So I am going to give that a go tonight and see what happens.

O’Connor said: “I have had an amazing week. I’ve beat a lot of top 16 players. Unfortunately today, I didn’t play my best. Congratulations to Gary, he was amazing and fully deserved the win.

“I loved every minute. I’d like to say a big thanks to my family and friends who came down to watch and thanks to the crowd, you’ve been amazing.”

The first frames of the final were very high quality from both. After that, Joe appeared to feel the pressure more and started to miss balls he hadn’t missed all week. This was his first ever final of course and it’s understandable. He will learn from the experience.

Gary also paid tribute to Stan Chambers, a man who did a lot for snooker in his area.

Gary Wilson pays emotional tribute to mentor Stan Chambers after maiden title at Scottish Open

Phil Haigh Sunday 4 Dec 2022 11:34 pm

Gary Wilson won the first ranking title of his career at the Scottish Open on Sunday night, and his former coach Stan Chambers who sadly passed away last year was on his mind.

In a classy winner’s speech, The Tyneside Terror hailed O’Connor, but also paid tribute to Chambers who was a huge figure in North East snooker, coaching players of all ages, doing a huge amount of charitable work, organising tournaments and dedicating his life to the baize.

He died last year at 85 years old and was well-deserving of the brilliant words from Wilson in Edinburgh.

I want to make a special mention to Stan Chambers who was a massive North East snooker fanatic for years and years and years,’ Wilson told Eurosport after his victory.

He sadly passed away last year and he would have really liked to be here, he believed I could win one and there was times when I believed maybe not.

Just a massive shout out to Stan, wherever he is, I know he’s looking down, and he’ll be proud.’

Jimmy White added on Eurosport: ‘I’m glad he mentioned Stan Chambers from the North East, because Stan did a lot for kids, got kids going.

He was there with Gary when he was 12 or 13, I played exhibitions for him. Unfortunately he passed, but I’m glad Gary gave him a mention because fantastic for snooker he was, Stan.’

That was a nice touch and you could see that it came from the heart.

And on a different subject ….

Happy 47 Ronnie!

Ronnie wasn’t in the studio yesterday night. He was looking forward to spend his birthday with his family, a rare occurrence as he’s usually detained in York for the UK Championship at this time of the year. No cakes for the media this time then!

2022 Scottish Open – The Semi-finals

I’m not sure how many would have predicted the Final line-up we have today but surely this must be the most unexpected Final in a long time. Indeed Gary Wilson will face Joe O’Connor today as both will try to win their first ranking title.

Here are the reports by WST:

Gary Wilson 6-4 Thepchaiya Un-nooh

Wilson Powers To Scottish Final

Gary Wilson is through to his third ranking event final, after battling past Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-4 in the last four of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh.

Wilson is bidding for a maiden ranking crown and will now face either Neil Robertson or Joe O’Connor for the Stephen Hendry Trophy tomorrow. The final will be contested over the best of 17 frames, with a top prize of £80,000 on the line.

The Wallsend cueman’s previous final appearances ended in disappointment. He was soundly beaten 10-2 by Mark Selby in the 2015 China Open final and lost out by a 6-4 scoreline against Mark Williams in the title match at the 2021 British Open. Wilson will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes tomorrow.

Former Shoot Out champion Un-Nooh is still yet to win a full format ranking title. He was runner-up to Judd Trump at the 2019 World Open. The Thai leaves Edinburgh with £17,500 in prize money.

Wilson led 2-1 after a fiercely contested first three frames, before Un-Nooh embarked on a maximum break attempt. A final red on the right hand cushion was the last obstacle, but he couldn’t get position and his run ended on 112. As a result, they went into the mid-session locked level at 2-2.

World number 32 Wilson stepped it up a gear when play resumed, a break of 88 saw him regain the lead at 3-2. However, Un-Nooh immediately replied to make it 3-3. It was from there that 2019 Crucible semi-finalist Wilson made his move. Back-to-Back century runs of 122 and 130 saw him move to the verge of victory at 5-3.

Wilson was in with the first chance in the ninth, but missed a red to the middle on 64 and Un-Nooh cleared with 68 to steal the frame. Wilson was undeterred and made a nerveless 115 to close out the 6-4 win.

Wilson said: “I was just trying to play on instinct, keep potting the balls and keeping going. I think because it was going so quickly, that helped. It got myself into a rhythm and a flow. I was 5-3 up before I knew it.

He’s absolutely outstanding, so much natural ability. Makes the game look so easy and probably like a few players he just has to tighten up a bit. That is what I’ve worried about doing. By playing on instinct you can leave yourself open to mistakes.

It would mean the world to win. It is a cliché but it is what we play for growing up. Playing tournaments and picking up trophies. I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I know my game isn’t at the level to warrant winning a tournament in my own head. I have to continue what I did in the last few frames there. If the frames rack up then great, hopefully I can do it.

Ronnie had a heartwarming discussion with Gary in the Eurosport studio after the match. Keep in mind that Gary is the one who beat him here in the last 32 round, and he might well face him again next week at the same stage in the English Open. Despite this, Ronnie praised Gary and encouraged him to play more on instinct because that’s when he’s at his best. Yes, there are risks attached, but rewards as well. Earlier in the week, Gary had admitted that he rarely feels comfortable at the table. Ronnie told him that he’s awesome and should allow himself to play with more freedom. It was very obvious that Ronnie was completely genuine and eager to help a player who plays the game “in the right way” (in Ronnie’s views) and has all the talent in the world but, maybe, not the mental approach to really unleash this talent.

I’m pretty sure that neither Steve Davis, nor Stephen Hendry would have done such a thing while they were still winning, or hoping to win.

Ronnie has often been criticised for not doing enough for his sport. Other than the fact that he has kept it in the spotlights for over thirty years, even, almost singlehandedly, through the ‘noughties’ dark period, he’s regularly been helping individual players. That’s his way. Other players do it differently, by contributing to the sport’s governance, by advocating for changes they believe would bring more fans to the game, by focusing on coaching when they come to the end of their competitive career … All that is good and useful. Some ways are more “visible” than others and some suit “extravert” players more.

Joe O’Connor 6-3 Neil Robertson

Outstanding O’Connor Reaches Maiden Final

World number 55 Joe O’Connor stunned 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson 6-3 to reach his maiden ranking event final at the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh.

After four years as a professional, 27-year-old O’Connor will contest a title match for the first time tomorrow when he takes on Gary Wilson. It will be the first time they have faced each other on the World Snooker Tour.

With Wilson himself vying for a first ranking title, there is guaranteed to be a maiden ranking event winner tomorrow. The pair will do battle over the best of 17 frames, with the Stephen Hendry Trophy and a top prize of £80,000 on the line.

O’Connor first qualified as a professional in 2018, when he came through the EBSA Playoffs to earn a tour card. The Leicester cueman sensationally reached a maiden ranking semi-final a year later at the 2019 Welsh Open, where his run was ended by Stuart Bingham. This evening he went one step further by ousting 23-time ranking event winner Robertson.

The result is the latest in a superb run this week, which has also seen O’Connor defeat Zhao Xintong, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams and Ricky Walden.

Tonight’s victory marks O’Connor’s first ever win over Robertson. Their only other meeting came at the 2014 UK Championship, when Robertson prevailed in a 6-0 whitewash. A vastly improved O’Connor fared far better this evening.

Melbourne’s Robertson misses out on a second Scottish Open title. However, the £17,500 earned this week could prove to be important with it putting him into the top 32 on the one-year list. That means Robertson moves into position for a World Grand Prix spot ahead of the qualification cut off at the end of the English Open.

Robertson could hardly have got off to a better start tonight, firing in a break of 137 to take the opener. However, O’Connor is made of stern stuff and wasn’t going to be intimidated. He claimed the next two frames to move 2-1 ahead, before a break of 127 from Robertson made it 2-2 heading into the mid-session.

When play resumed the Australian composed his third century of the match, a break of 116, to lead 3-2. It would turn out to be his last frame won in the tie.

O’Connor restored parity with a fine break of 137 to take the sixth frame. Robertson led 60-14 in the seventh, but O’Connor summoned one of the clearances of the season with 47 to steal on the black. He then moved a frame from victory and stormed over the line with a superb break of 71.

I’m absolutely buzzing and over the moon, what can I say,” proclaimed a jubilant O’Connor.

It would mean everything to win tomorrow. It is what you play for. It is why you pick up a cue. You look at the top boys on TV and think that you want to be there one day. After watching Mark Selby’s success, it has inspired me more. He is someone I look up to that has achieved so much in the game. I want to be like that.

I’ve been waiting for my game to click. I don’t think it has clicked, but somehow I keep clinically getting over the line. I might look back next week and think everything went right. It feels like I’ve got an extra 10 or 20 percent in there, but that might sound mad.

I will just concentrate on my own game. I’ll make sure I prepare and eat close to the match and get some practice in. I will just trust myself. I’ve prepared well for this tournament. Hopefully my action can hold up and take me through.

In many ways Joe reminds me of a young Mark Selby, maybe unsurprisingly as he’s from Leicester too.He’s quite slow-going (AST over 30 seconds), he carefully considers his shots but his shot selection isn’t actually negative. Neil Robertson made a century in each of the three frames he won, he lost all the close ones. Without diminishing Joe’s merit, maybe Neil was still not 100% physically (he had a chest infection coming into this event) and struggled to keep full concentration in the closer frames, especially towards the end of the evening. . The reason I write this is because, on social media, I read suggestions that he might have “fixed” the match and should be investigated. That’s preposterous.