2022 Players Championship Schedule

WST has published the schedule for the 2022 Players Championship:

Cazoo Players Championship Match Schedule

2022PlayersChampsPosterThe match schedule for next week’s Cazoo Players Championship in Wolverhampton is now available.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Judd Trump in the stand-out first round tie at the tournament, which runs from February 7 to 13 at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.

Click here for the draw

Here’s the schedule:

Monday February 7
Neil Robertson v Kyren Wilson
Mark Williams v Gary Wilson

Tuesday February 8
Zhao Xintong v Barry Hawkins
Yan Bingtao v David Gilbert

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Judd Trump
Mark Allen v Ricky Walden

Wednesday February 9
John Higgins v Hossein Vafaei
Luca Brecel v Jimmy Robertson

Quarter-final 2
(Allen / Walden v Williams / G Wilson)

Thursday February 10
Quarter-final 1
(Zhao / Hawkins v Yan / Gilbert)

Quarter-final 3
(O’Sullivan / Trump v N Robertson / K Wilson)

Friday February 11
Quarter-final 4
(Higgins / Vafaei v Brecel / J Robertson)

Semi-final 1

Saturday February 12
Semi-final 2

Sunday February 13


Only the top 16 on the one-year ranking list are in the draw, so it’s an elite field of the best players of the season so far.

Zhao Xintong is the runaway rankings leader and number one seed, so he will face 16th seed Barry Hawkins in the first round. O’Sullivan is third on the list so will face 14th-placed Trump in a blockbuster clash.

Cazoo Masters champion Neil Robertson will be up against Kyren Wilson, while defending champion John Higgins will meet new BetVictor Shoot Out king Hossein Vafaei.

The tournament will be televised by ITV4 and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

It’s a very long shot but Ronnie could be World number one again at the end of this event … he just needs to win it! Easy …

2022 German Masters – Zhao Xintong is the Champion

Zhao Xintong won his second ranking title yesterday evening in the Tempodrom. It’s only last month that he had won his first, the 2021 UK Championship.

Congratulations Zhao Xintong!

Here is the report by WST:

Zhao Destroys Yan In Berlin Final

Zhao Xintong won his second ranking title within the space of eight weeks, as he thrashed Yan Bingtao 9-0 in an all-Chinese final at the BildBet German Masters.

The whitewash victory sees Zhao become only the second player in snooker history to score a 9-0 win in a ranking event final. The other came when Neil Robertson defeated Zhou Yuelong by the same scoreline at the 2020 BetVictor European Masters.

Talented 24-year-old Zhao has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the very top of the sport this season. Only four years ago he was relegated from the circuit and forced to come through 2018 Q School to keep his professional career alive.

Earlier in the current campaign Zhao landed a maiden piece of Triple Crown silverware with victory at the UK Championship in York, where he defeated Belgium’s Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final.

Today’s win earns Zhao £80,000, the Brandon Parker Trophy and the second ranking event win of his career. With just three tournaments to go in the BetVictor European Series, Zhao now sits in fourth position. The player who accumulates the most money over the eight qualifying events lands a bumper £150,000 bonus.

Zhao’s considerable talent was clear when he turned professional in 2016, at the age of just 18. He earned his place on the World Snooker Tour by being runner-up to Pankaj Advani at the 2015 World Amateur Championship.

He has grown up playing with today’s 21-year-old opponent Yan, who also turned professional in 2016 at the age of 15. They moved to the United Kingdom to pursue their snooker careers and have both based themselves out of Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

The conclusive nature of today’s result will be tough to take for 2021 Masters champion Yan. However, we can surely expect to see further battles between these two Chinese cueists in the years to come.

This was only the second ranking final between two players from mainland China. The first was Ding Junhui’s defeat of Xiao Guodong in the 2013 Shanghai Masters final.

The opening session saw Zhao blitz to the verge of victory with an inspired display, in which he won all eight frames. He wasted no time in completing the rout this evening. The first, and decisive, frame came down to a battle on the final red. Zhao eventually deposited it and cleared to the pink to secure the title.

It was a surprise for me tonight. I couldn’t believe the scoreline was so one-sided. Bingtao is a good player and we know each other so well. I didn’t believe I could win 9-0, but I did it,” said Zhao, who is now set to move into 8th position in the world rankings. “This is a nice venue and there are nice people here. Berlin is a good city and I really enjoyed it.

When I was 4-0 up at the mid-session this afternoon, I went out and talked to Bingtao. I could see he was under pressure. I said to him you don’t need to do this, you can play like it is a show. We are very friendly and I wanted it to be a show for the fans.

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and tonight we will go back to the UK. This tournament is very different for us because of the Chinese New Year and tomorrow we will maybe have a few drinks.

Yan said: “He played very well today. I was feeling a little bit of pressure and missed so many balls. I enjoyed playing here with a very good friend. Every time I come to Berlin I really enjoy being here and I want to thank everyone who came today. Congratulations to Zhao. He played very well and is a dangerous player. We are like brothers and I wish all the best to him.”

This is also a big win for Victoria whose academy is home for so many young Chinese talents. It’s not easy to live abroad, learn a new language, adapt to a different culture, to different food and to pursue a professional career when you are only a teenager, thousands of kilometers away from your family. It’s a very lonely place to be in. Someone like Lyu Haotian suffered badly and has, so far, never fulfilled his potential. Victoria’s academy is much more than a practice base. It’s a community, a place where support is available if needed, run by someone who has in-depth understand of both British and Chinese culture.

Today is indeed the start of the Year of the Tiger


Happy New Year Chinese Friends!

May the year of the Tiger bring you health, fulfilment and prosperity.

The conclusion of the German Masters means that the cut-off point for the 2022 Players Championship has been reached, and the draw is now known:

Cazoo Players Championship Draw

Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Judd Trump in the stand-out first round tie at the Cazoo Players Championship, which runs from February 7 to 13 at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.

Zhao Xintong will face Barry Hawkins in a repeat of their Cazoo UK Championship semi-final

This week’s BildBet German Masters was the final counting event in the race to qualify for the second event in the 2021/22 Cazoo Series. The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list now go through to Wolverhampton.

… The match schedule will be announced in due course.

Zhao Xintong is the runaway rankings leader and number one seed, so he will face 16th seed Barry Hawkins in the first round. O’Sullivan is third on the list so will face 14th-placed Trump in a blockbuster clash.

Cazoo Masters champion Neil Robertson will be up against Kyren Wilson, while defending champion John Higgins will meet new BetVictor Shoot Out king Hossein Vafaei.

The full draw is:

Zhao Xintong (1) v Barry Hawkins (16)

David Gilbert (8) v Yan Bingtao (9)

Mark Allen (5) v Ricky Walden (12)

Mark Williams (4) v Gary Wilson (13)


Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) v Judd Trump (14)

Neil Robertson (6) v Kyren Wilson (11)

John Higgins (7) v Hossein Vafaei (10)

Luca Brecel (2) v Jimmy Robertson (15)

The least I can say is that Ronnie hasn’t an easy draw: Judd Trump first, then possibly Neil Robertson followed by John Higgins … just to reach the final! In fact, with Mark Selby missing out,  the four “top ranked” players involved in the tournament are in his quarter: Ronnie is 2, Judd 3, Neil 4 and Kyren 5. That’s as brutal as it gets.


2022 German Masters – Day 4 – Semi-Finals

There was just one table yesterday at an almost full Tempodrom. The ever great German crowd supported all four players as the semi-finals unfolded to lead to an all Chinese Final line-up and the youngest one too since 2006. Indeed it’s Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao facing each other today over a possible 17 frames in the battle for the Brandon Parker Trophy.

Here is how we got there

Zhao Xintong 6-3 Ricky Walden (WST report):

Zhao Fightback Floors Walden

World number nine Zhao Xintong came from behind to beat Ricky Walden 6-3 and reach the second ranking final of his career, at the BildBet German Masters in Berlin.

China’s Zhao has undergone a sharp ascension to the very top of the sport this season. Victory at the UK Championship saw him land a first ranking and Triple Crown title in December. The 24-year-old beat Belgian Luca Brecel in York to scoop the £200,000 top prize.

That came despite the fact his career was on the line just four years ago, when he was relegated from the professional circuit. He needed to come through Q School to regain his place and is only now showing the scope of his vast potential.

Walden will be disappointed to let a 3-1 advantage slip from his grasp this afternoon, but can take solace from the fact he has comfortably qualified for the upcoming Players Championship. The elite event is reserved for only the top 16 players on this season’s one-year money list.

The Chester cueman also made the last four of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open earlier in the campaign and has enjoyed a strong season thus far. Walden, a winner of three ranking titles, now appears to be reproducing his form from earlier in his career. He endured a barren spell on the baize after suffering back problems between 2016 and 2017.

Zhao will now face either Mark Allen or compatriot Yan Bingtao in tomorrow’s final over the best of 17 frames, with the Brandon Parker Trophy on the line.

It was Walden who made the early running this afternoon. He took the opening two frames, before Zhao compiled a run of 78 to pull within one at 2-1.

The last frame before the mid-session saw Zhao establish a 51-0 lead, before missing a pink to the middle. Walden pounced with 66 to head into the interval 3-1 ahead.

A crucial frame followed when play resumed, with Walden looking likely to establish a four frame cushion. He was in prime position, requiring just green and yellow, but a poor positional shot left himself a tricky frame ball. Walden spurned the green and allowed Zhao to steal on the black and make it 3-2.

Zhao showed no mercy in his punishment of the Walden error. The Cyclone surged to make it five on the bounce, including breaks of 65, 72 and 100, to wrap up the 6-3 win and book his place in the title match.

It is amazing to be in the final for a second time, I will enjoy it tomorrow,” said Zhao.”I want to play Bingtao, because it is very important to Chinese snooker. I want to play against him in the final.

Today we didn’t play very well and I was 3-1 down at the mid-session. The fifth frame was very important to me because he missed an easy green. It was very important to win that frame and when I made it 3-2 I thought I had a chance to win the match. I was really focussed, knew I needed to win and I did.

I liked it today. It is such a beautiful venue and there were lots of beautiful fans in there. I liked it, but it did put a bit of pressure on me.

Walden said: “If you pass up opportunities at this level it does seem to come back to bite you and losing that fifth frame was a bit of a body blow.

I think I have to look at it logically. If I could have five shots again in that game and I would probably win it. The balls don’t forgive you and the standard is too high. You get beat comfortably if you make those mistakes.

Winning events allows you to free roll. You can play shots that are more care free. It is different when you aren’t chasing rankings. It is a totally different way to come at it. He is playing great stuff and he has a great future ahead of him as well.”

It was a match in two halves really: before and after “that green”. It really turned on that single shot. It is true that neither was at his best in the first mini session, but the way Zhao took that unexpected opportunity and built on that afterwards is the mark of a champion.

He got his wich … he will face Yan Bingtao in the final.

Yan Bingtao 6-4 Mark Allen (WST report):

Yan Sets Up All-Chinese Final

China’s Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong will contest the BildBet German Masters final, after Yan scored a 6-4 defeat of Mark Allen in the last four on Saturday evening in Berlin.

The title match will be a showdown between two players who have grown up practising together at Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

They both moved to the United Kingdom as teenagers seeking careers in snooker. Yan was only 15 years old when he turned professional in 2016, while Zhao was 18 when he earned a place on the World Snooker Tour in the same year.

Both have now reached the very top of the sport and landed maiden Triple Crown titles last year. Yan became 2021 Masters champion when he beat John Higgins in the final, while Zhao defeated Luca Brecel in the UK Championship final back in December.

With Yan now aged 21 and Zhao 24, tomorrow’s match will be the youngest ranking final since Neil Robertson beat Jamie Cope at the 2006 Grand Prix.

It is only the second ranking final between two players from mainland China in the history of the sport, after Ding Junhui’s win over Xiao Guodong at the 2013 Shanghai Masters.

They will do battle over the best of 17 frames tomorrow with the Brandon Parker Trophy and a top prize of £80,000 on the line.

When play got underway this evening, a break of 75 saw Allen claim the opener, before Yan won a cagey second to restore parity at 1-1.

Allen landed a cross double on the yellow in the third to set up a frame winning run of 20 to steal on the pink. However, Yan ensured they went into the mid-session locked level at 2-2, following a sublime run of 116.

When play resumed the Tiger took to the front for the first time with a break of 53 helping him to move 3-2 ahead. Yan then added his third on the bounce to establish a two-frame cushion at 4-2.

Antrim’s Allen refused to fade away and a century break of 104 saw him claw back within a single frame. Despite that, Yan won a 30-minute eighth on the black to move to the brink of victory at 5-3. Allen won the next to keep himself in contention, before a dramatic 10th frame.

It came down to the blue, where Allen managed to get a snooker to leave himself needing the final three balls to force a re-spot. However, he squandered a chance on the pink to the middle. Eventually, Yan deposited a long range pink to get over the line and clinch his place in the final.

I am very good friends with Zhao, we have practised together and played phone games together for so many years. We are always together. We will both enjoy tomorrow,” said Yan, who won his maiden ranking title at the 2019 Riga Masters.

I am very happy tonight, because Mark is a great player. He is always difficult to play because I have lost to him a few times. I knew tonight would be hard and I needed a lot of difficult pots to get the win.”

Allen said: “I struggled from start to finish. I should have gone 2-0 up and never recovered. I tried really hard, but nothing came easily to me. As much as I felt really confident in the first three matches and things were coming naturally, it was hard work today. I should have made it 5-5, but I was nowhere near my best and Yan thoroughly deserved to win.

I think this season Yan and particularly Zhao Xintong have shown those levels of consistency. Everyone knew how good they were, but the consistency has come on. Everyone else has to catch up.

Actually, it wasn’t a great match, neither of them was at his best. It was to be expected from Yan because he had been involved in two really hard-fought, long matches on the previous day. He had certainly spent a lot of energy en route to the semi-final. Mark however had a rather easy passage and it’s hard to explain why he couldn’t reproduce the form he had shown in the previous days. Every day is different and form is not a tap you can turn at will.

There was however a comical element to this match as Alan McManus was in the commentary box really struggling to predict Yan’s “next shot”. Obviously their minds don’t work in the same way and the usually excellent “Angles” sounded baffled and mystified at the mike…

Today’s final is a clash of styles but those two know each-other’s game inside-out. Zhao will be the fresher of the two but it would be foolish to write Yan off because he has such a strong, stubborn will to win …

Tomorrow we enter the “Year of the Tiger” as China will celebrate its New Year. Is it a sign? We shall see. Whoever wins tonight, this match is indeed important for snooker in China. It is important because it gives hope to all the young aspiring Chinese players. Ding has been the trailblazer but he has been a bit of a “mental block” for many of the Chinese players that are currently in their late twenties/early thirties. Such is his status in China that they didn’t really believe they could beat him, or even emulate his successes. Zhao and Yan are currently breaking that invisible barrier. Their successes should actually be seen as a tribute to Ding. They wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for him.

Good luck to both players!

Yesterday’s results mean that, unless something unexpected happens, Ronnie is due to face Judd Trump in the first round of the Players Championship.


2022 German Masters – Day 3

Yesterday saw the conclusion of the last 16 round, in the afternoon, and the completion of the quarter-finals round in the evening. It was an interesting, and thrilling day of snooker. Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session:

Yan Rallies To Beat Selby

Yan Bingtao rallied from 4-2 down to beat Mark Selby 5-4 at the BildBet German Masters, ending the World Champion’s hopes of qualifying for the upcoming Players Championship.

Selby needed to progress to remain in the hunt for a place at the Wolverhampton based event, which is reserved for only the 16 top players on this season’s one-year list.

Despite occupying the top of the world rankings, Selby currently finds himself in 18th position in terms of this season’s money list.

Former Masters champion Yan produced a gutsy break of 95 to remain in the contest in the seventh frame, making it 4-3. He then pulled off a superb clearance from brown to pink, which included two doubles, to force a decider.

It was Selby who looked set for victory when he led 47-0. However, he inadvertently knocked in a red whilst going into the pack off the blue. Yan ruthlessly pounced with 69 to secure the win. He faces Ryan Day in this evening’s quarter-finals. Day thrashed Sam Craigie 5-1 this afternoon.

Mark Allen edged out close friend Shaun Murphy 5-3 in another thrilling contest, which was clinched on the black in the eighth frame.

Defeat for Murphy also ends his hopes of qualifying for the Players Championship, while Allen progresses to face China’s Fan Zhengyi in this evening’s quarters. Fan reached the first ranking quarter-final of his career thanks to a 5-3 win over Andrew Higginson.

Allen crafted breaks of 118, 116 and 99 on his way to establishing a 4-2 advantage. However, a break of 85 saw Murphy take the seventh and remain in the contest.

Murphy had looked to be in position to force a decider before breaking down on a run of 63. Allen eventually cleared to the black and edged to victory.

Here is the last frame of the Yan v Selby match shared by ES on their YouTube channel

This was a hell of a match but not one for those who are after blitz action and sending balls three times around the table every shot. It was a very tactical slow burning affair. Yan showed incredible resilience. As mentioned above, defeat for Mark Selby means that he will not be in the Players Championship this season. The match was extremely long: the players had the Tempodrom for themselves for more than an hour after the end of all the other matches in that session.

Fan Zhengyi reaching the quater-finals might prove very important come the end of the season. Indeed, as it stands, he’s currently joined first with Oliver Lines in the group of four players who would be awarded a new tour card based on thei season results. Fan had never been past the last 32 of any event before this week. Big congratulation to him.

Evening session:

Zhao Overpowers Trump To Reach Semis

UK Champion Zhao Xintong put on an inspired display to beat Judd Trump for the first time in his career, easing through by a 5-1 scoreline at the BildBet German Masters in Berlin.

The only other previous meetings between the pair came at the 2018 English Open and the 2020 Championship League, with Trump getting the better of both encounters. Today’s win over Trump sees Zhao make the semi-finals of a ranking event for only the third time.

China’s Zhao has experienced rapid rise to the top of the sport this season. Just four years ago he was relegated from the circuit and forced to regain his place at 2018 Q School.

However, the 24-year-old sensationally captured maiden Triple Crown silverware at the UK Championship earlier in the campaign, beating Luca Brecel in the final.

Zhao had already been displaying signs of his best form this week after beating Mark Williams 5-3 and Tom Ford 5-1. Breaks of 57, 57, 59, 58, 52 and 84 saw the Cyclone speed to victory against 22-time ranking event winner Trump this evening. He now progresses to the single table semi-finals, where he will face Ricky Walden.

“It is amazing. I can’t believe it. When I got the last frame I didn’t think I’d won. I had to check it wasn’t a best of 11 game. I am very happy,” said world number nine Zhao. “Judd is the best player in the world, so this match is a big deal for me. I can have more confidence to win more matches now.

“Winning the UK Championship was very important for me. I think I’ve grown up and I’m playing better than last year. I am confident now and I believe that I can do it.

“I am so happy to be in the semi-finals in the best venue in the world. I hope that I can play well and I will enjoy it tomorrow.”

Walden booked his progression with a 5-1 defeat of former German Masters winner Kyren Wilson.

The Chester cueman has been enjoying a strong season and a return to form following several years plagued by back problems. He also reached the semi-finals at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open earlier in the campaign.

Walden composed breaks of 60, 61, 74, 63 and 69 on his way to this evening’s victory.

Mark Allen made the last four of the German Masters for the first time in his career with a quick-fire 5-0 whitewash win over Fan Zhengyi, who was competing in his maiden ranking quarter-final.

The Pistol had endured a torrid run of results in Berlin, having previously not won a match at the Tempodrom since 2015. However, wins over Lyu Haotian, close friend Shaun Murphy and today’s victory have rectified that.

Allen made contributions of 86, 59, 69, 52 and 68 during this evening’s rout and will face Yan Bingtao in the semis.

Allen said: “I’ve heard so much about the one table setup and what the atmosphere is like here on Saturday and Sunday. I’m really excited to go out and experience that. Hopefully that will spur me on to do well but I came here to win the tournament.

“I want to play on the biggest stages against the best players. I’m sure a lot of guys will say the same things. It can either inspire you or make you crumble. I’ve crumbled a few times in the past but I’d like to think it has inspired me more often. The German crowd are so good and I’ve given them nothing the other times I’ve been in Berlin. It would be nice to give them something to shout about over the weekend.”

Yan came through two dramatic deciders today to book his place in the semi-finals. The former Masters champion defeated Mark Selby 5-4 this afternoon, having trailed 4-2. He was also 4-3 behind this evening against Ryan Day, but again showed his steel by taking the last two frames to run out a 5-4 victor.

Zhao comfortably outplayed Judd Trump. I’m sick and tired hearing Philip Studd going about Judd Trump being the “best player in the World for about two and a half years”. No, he is not.  He has been the dominant player on tour during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons but, by his then standard, he has done very litlle since winning the 2021 German Masters – behind closed doors in Milton Keynes – a year ago. The fact that he’s 14th on the current one year list is proof of that. He has only won one ranking title in the last year: the low-key Gibraltar Open, that is basically a PTC, being best of 7 from start to finish. And even that was a while ago: it was on the first week of March 2021. Yes, he won the invitational 2021 Champion of Champions, but he has not progressed past the QFs in any ranking event in the last 10 months.

Zhao now sits pretty at the top of the one year list, a 48000 points cushion separating him form Luca Brecel, second.

Mark Allen had far too much for Fan. The young Chinese was probably a bit tired as well: he’s not used to play in the latter stages of events in front of big crowds, and this was his second match of the day. Mark Allen scored heavily. The worse of his legal concerns are  behind him, he’s hungry and his focus is on his snooker again. That makes him very dangerous.

Ricky Walden’s win means that as it stands now, Ronnie is set to play Judd Trump in the first round of the coming Players Championship. That could still change if Mark Allen was to win the title tomorrow as he would climb to third in the one year list. Should that happen, he would then play Judd whilst Ronnie would face Gary Wilson.

Also, Neil Robertson came on social media yesterday, sharing the news that he is ill with covid-19 and is “feeling crap”. Of course, I hope that it will not get too bad and that he will recover quickly and fully. That’s the most important thing. However, in case Neil would not feel well enough to play in the Players Championship, that would open a spot for Mark Selby who currently occupies the 17th place in the one year list.



2022 German Masters – Day 2

This is WST report on what happened yesterday at the Tempodrom:

Playing On A Tough Call – Selby

World Champion Mark Selby eased through to the last 16 of the BildBet German Masters with a 5-0 win over Barry Pinches, but afterwards he admitted it was a tough decision to keep playing amid mental health difficulties away from the table.

Following the Masters earlier this month, Selby bravely revealed on his Twitter page that he is going through a difficult time with his mental health. However, after seeking help from a specialist, he has decided to keep competing for the time being.

The world number one wasn’t troubled during a routine victory this morning. He composed breaks of 50, 61, 75 and 77 on his way to completing the rout. Next up Selby faces a last 16 clash with Yan Bingtao, who defeated David Gilbert 5-3.

In his post-match press conference Selby spoke very openly about the deliberations he had before entering the recent BetVictor Shoot Out and making the trip over to Berlin.

Hopefully I can get myself better and by speaking out I can help a lot of other people. There are a lot of people out there that you don’t know are suffering,” said 38-year-old Selby.

I’ve been speaking to a specialist since just after the Masters. I have had two sessions already and I’ve got another later on today on Zoom. He was asking me all sorts of questions and I said that ideally I’d like to try and carry on playing with the help. I said if I feel like it gets too much I’ll step back and have a break to sort myself out.

If it wasn’t for speaking to the doctor before the Shoot Out I probably wouldn’t have played in that and possibly even this. He said to take it one step at a time and see how I go. I still love the game, but it is such a tough sport you need to be mentally in the right place. It is hard enough as it is without also being mentally not in the right place. It is just one day at a time.

Don’t get me wrong it probably isn’t the snooker that is the reason why I am in this position. I can accept winning and losing. It is probably my past experiences and my upbringing. Even though I grieved after my father, I bottled a lot of it up and felt I couldn’t talk about it without getting emotional and thinking of it as a negative, rather than remembering him in a positive way. That is something we are trying to work on.

There are a lot of highs and lows in snooker and that can trigger emotions. I need to put snooker second, concentrate on myself and try to enjoy it. For years I’ve been going out there and bottling it up and only really Vikki and my close family knew what was happening. It is good that I can now go out there and say that I’m not feeling great. Before I would say I was fine, when I wasn’t. I’m not hiding behind the mask anymore and I’m being myself.

Mark Allen booked his last 16 slot with a comprehensive 5-1 defeat of China’s Lyu Haotian.

Allen is currently in a strong position in this season’s BetVictor European Series, which will see the player who tops the money list over the eight counting tournaments scooping up a bumper £150,000 bonus.

The Antrim cueman is in third place as things stand having landed the title at his home event, the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open. Three tournaments remain after this week, with the BetVictor European Masters, BetVictor Welsh Open and BetVictor Gibraltar Open to come.

The Pistol fired in two century contributions of 107 and 106 en route to victory this morning. He faces close friend Shaun Murphy up next.

Murphy came through a nerve-shredding encounter with Kurt Maflin 5-4 to seal his progression.

The Magician conjured breaks of 74 and 124 on his way to establishing a 4-2 advantage. However, Maflin provided stern resistance with a fine break of 122 to make it 4-3.

The Norwegian then won a back and forth eighth frame, in which both players spurned clear cut chances, to force a decider. It was 2005 World Champion Murphy who landed the decisive blow, crafting a match winning contribution of 67.

Defending champion Judd Trump clinched a quarter-final berth with an emphatic 5-0 win over Zhou Yuelong.

The Ace in the Pack has won the title for the last two years in this event. He picked up the trophy here at the Tempodrom in 2020 when he defeated Neil Robertson in the final and beat Jack Lisowski behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago.

Trump fired in breaks of 130, 70, 55 and 50 on his way to this evening’s straightforward win. It sets up a mouth watering last eight tie against UK Champion Zhao Xintong, who beat Tom Ford 5-1.

Ryan Day progressed courtesy of a 5-2 win over Noppon Saengkham, while Sam Craigie defeated Ken Doherty 5-3.

When Ronnie first spoke about his mental struggles – years ago – there were a lot of very negative reactions coming his way. People saying that everyone has their problems, that he should just get on with it, that he was a privileged spoilt brat, that he should get a “real work” to see how life is for most … and more. Fortunately, the mentality is evolving and Mark is getting a lot of support instead.

Mark having dark thoughts is nothing new. I remember having a chat with him on the first day of the 2011 German Masters. He looked flat. his eyes were empty. He was dispirited. He was doing well on the table though. He had done extremely well in the PTCS, he was very consistently reaching the latter stages of events. He reached the final of that event only days later and became World Number 1 in September of the same year. His state of mind surprised me, I reflected that he had been quite succesful in the last 18 months … “if you say so … ” was his answer.  Depression can’t be “rationalised”.

Surely it’s not just a coincidence that they both suffered separation from their father as teenagers and it had a huge impact on them both. Mark suffered poverty and deprivation on top of his bereavement. Ronnie had to cope with his father and mother imprisonments and he had to deal with it in the public eye. He was already “a star” and the “yellow press” never left him alone. Both have coped remarkably well despite the inevitable setbacks.

I’m wishing Mark the best.

As for what happened at the tables, here are my thoughts

In the morning, I watched Fan Zhengyi beat Liam Highfield. Fan played really well. He’s coming to age and I’m very happy for him after all the sacrifices he made to stay on the main tour.

In the afternoon, I watched the Yan Bingtao v David Gilbert match. Yan was unspectacular but extremely solid. It was a good match overall.

In the evening I only watched the first mini-session of the Judd Trump v Zhou Yuelong match. I didn’t enjoy that one at all. Zhou had opportunities, especially in the first frames. He can play much better than this. He never looked settled. He really seems to struggle on the big stage against the top players: he was (in)famously whitewashed by Neil Robertson in the January 2020 European Masters Final. Both Neil, back then, and Judd, yesterday, played well but that’s what happens when top players sense weakness in their opponent.



2022 German Masters – Day 1

The first day at the 2022 German Masters, the first day of tournament play outside the UK in nearly two years, threw some unexpected results, most notably the early exits of both Neil Robertson and Mark Williams.

It also allowed Dave Hendon to come up with one of those dark statistics he so loves: Kyren Wilson had been the last player to lose a match outside the UK before this event and became the first player to win a match outside the UK by beating Jimmy Robertson by 5-1 in this event.

Here is the report by WST:

Wilson Aiming To Honour Parker In Berlin

Kyren Wilson is off to a winning start in Berlin after a 5-1 defeat of Jimmy Robertson at the BildBet German Masters. He later admitted he has an extra incentive for success to honour his former manager Brandon Parker, who sadly passed away in 2020.

Parker, who was a WST Director, took the German Masters to the Tempodrom when it was first staged there in 2011. Since then enthusiastic crowds have regularly hit the 2,500 mark and the event has become a highlight on the snooker calendar. As a result, the German Masters trophy was named after Parker.

Wilson won the 2019 German Masters after beating David Gilbert 9-7 in an enthralling title match. It was the last time he lifted ranking event silverware with Parker by his side.

This year’s tournament is the first trip to Berlin since the 2020 edition. The coronavirus pandemic forced proceedings behind closed doors in Milton Keynes 12 months ago.

The Warrior produced an inspired display this evening to ease into the last 16. Kettering’s Wilson fired in breaks of 58, 64, 94 and 117 on his way to victory in just under an hour and 45 minutes. He now faces Craig Steadman as he continues his quest for the Brandon Parker Trophy. Steadman defeated Michael Georgiou 5-2.

“I know that his wife Charlotte is coming over and presenting the trophy. I would love to be the person she is presenting that to. It is really important to make sure he is remembered for this tournament, because we are very lucky to have it,” said 30-year-old Wilson.

“It was really tough walking through the venue actually. There is a dressing room near the player’s lounge and I can remember speaking to Brandon in there before my final with Dave. He was talking me through how to keep calm. I actually went in there today to put my bow tie on in the mirror and realised that is one of my most cherished memories of him. It is great to be back here and have the fans back. I really hope that Brandon’s name his echoed around the arena this week.”

UK Champion Zhao Xintong put on a fine display to beat an in form Mark Williams 5-3.

China’s Zhao defeated the likes of John Higgins, Barry Hawkins and Luca Brecel on his way to sensationally landing a maiden Triple Crown win at the UK Championship in December.

The talented 24-year-old stamped his authority on three-time World Champion Williams early on, moving 3-1 ahead at the mid-session.

When play resumed Williams surged back into contention. Runs of 65 and 61 saw him draw level at 3-3. However, Zhao showed his steel and composed breaks of 89 and 70 to cross the line a 5-3 victor. Next up he faces Tom Ford who defeated Stephen Maguire 5-2.

Ricky Walden secured a shock 5-3 win over recently crowned Masters champion Neil Robertson.

It’s the second time Walden has beaten the Australian this season, having also secured a 4-1 win during his run to the semi-finals of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open back in October.

Walden produced a superb blitz to the line from 3-2 down this evening. Breaks of 71, 79 and 124 saw him take three on the bounce to secure the 5-3 victory. He now faces a last 16 tie with Luca Brecel.

Brecel booked his place in the last 16 with a 5-3 defeat of Zhang Anda, while Zhou Yuelong defeated Anthony McGill 5-2.

Kyren will not be the only player struggling with the memories of Brandon Parker this week and wanting to honour him. Shaun Murphy will surely find it difficult as well.

For most of it, the Robertson v Walden match was an error strewn affair as both players struggled with the pace of the table. It’s easy to forget how good Ricky can bee when on form. He was a top 8 player before injuries ruined it for him. He’s also very good to watch when in full flow. I am happy for him and that’s nothing against Neil who I like as well.

When Zhao lost early in the 2021 Scottish Open, then in the 2022 Masters and World Grand Prix, some were prompt at branding his UK win a “flash in the pan”. But he played a really good match yesterday to beat Mark Williams. It was a mature performance. He’s only young and needs to adjust to his recently gained “top player” status and the expectations that come with it.

Zhou Yuelong’s win over Anthony McGill definitely put an end to Ant’s hopes to play in the Players Championship.




2022 Turkish Masters – Draw and Format

The 2022 Turkish Masters Draw and Format are out:

Nirvana Turkish Masters Draw

The inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters will have a fantastic field of the world’s top players including Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Kyren Wilson.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Antalya is a fabulous destination for tourism

The draw and format for the £500,000 world ranking event has now been made, with the final stages to run from March 7 to 13 at the fantastic Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel in Antalya.

It will be the first world ranking event played in Turkey and tickets are available now – for details click here. Antalya is renowned as one of Europe’s outstanding destinations, known for its culture, history and ideal location on the Mediterranean coast.

Matches involving the top four seeds have been held over to the final stages. They are:

World number two Judd Trump v Michael Georgiou
World Champion and world number one Mark Selby v Wu Yize
Masters champion Neil Robertson v Iulian Boiko
World number five Kyren Wilson v Rory McLeod

Matches involving the local wild cards have also been held over. Enes Bakirci will face new Shoot Out champion Hossein Vafaei while Ismail Turker will take on Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Prior to that, a qualifying round will be staged from February 2 to 6 in Leicester, with all players needing to win one match to make it to Turkey. Notable ties include:

Former World Champion Shaun Murphy v legend Jimmy White
Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams v Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans
All-time great John Higgins v Barry Pinches
UK Champion Zhao Xintong v Louis Heathcote

All qualifying matches are best of nine frames.

WST has agreed a four-year deal with the Turkish Billiards Federation and Big Break Promotions to stage the Turkish Masters every season until at least 2024/2025. Overall prize money will increase each year.

The final stages will be televised by a range of broadcasters worldwide including Eurosport and Matchroom Live.

Ronnie hasn’t entered despite not needing to play in the qualifiers. I’m not overly surprised: he’s not the best of travelers and his win at the 2021 Grand Prix has given him a ranking points “safety net”. He already said, just after winning the World Grand Prix that he didn’t intend to play on it unless the promoters really wanted him there enough to pay him something substantial. I don’t think he actually expected or hoped that to happen though but it’s a shame. I’m sure the local cuisine would have been to his tates (he loves greek food).