The 2022 European Masters – Held-over and last 64 round

Held-over matches

All four top seeds won their held-over matches.

Here is what WST reported after Mark Selby’s and Judd Trump’s wins

Health Is Highest Priority For Selby

Mark Selby began the defence of his BetVictor European Masters title with a 5-3 win over Matthew Selt, before putting snooker into context by opening up on his current mental health issues.

Last month, Selby posted on Twitter to reveal that he was ‘mentally not in a good place’ due to issues he had been ‘bottling it up for years.’ He has since had regular help from a specialist. After today’s result, the world number one and World Champion was asked about his current state of mind and about his decision to go public about his condition.

I am up and down, there are still more bad days than good,” said the 38-year-old from Leicester. “That’s what I’m working on, to turn that around. I am doing online sessions with a doctor from London. I have one tomorrow morning. I am trying, and that’s the main thing.

For years I have been struggling, on and off. (Wife) Vicky said to me I should just come out and say it. I have never been one to expect sympathy from people, that wasn’t why I did it. We were on the way home from the Masters, we stopped at motorway services and Vicky went inside to get a coffee

I was sitting in the car, staring into space, and realised I couldn’t carry on like this, botting it all up, I needed to get it out there. If I had said it all in an interview I probably would have broken down, so I thought it was better to say it on social media. Since saying that I feel better. Half the battle is won by speaking out. There is still a long way to go and I am working on that with the doctor.

I have a different perspective on snooker now. I put my health first. Obviously I try my hardest in every match, but it doesn’t matter as much whether I win or lose. The main thing is to get myself better and get on to the right track, and snooker is secondary. I still love the game and still want to play, if I can still compete without feeling it’s too much mentally, then I will carry on. But I’m taking it one day and one match at a time.”

Breaks of 70, 79, 69, 128 and 58 helped Selby to victory today as he set up a last 64 clash with Jordan Brown.

Trump’s only title so far this season came in the invitational Cazoo Champion of Champions

Judd Trump took just 53 minutes to beat Michael Judge 5-0, rattling in breaks of 66, 93, 53 and 129.

I’m glad that Mark doesn’t have to cope with the kind of scorn Ronnie had to face for years: people saying that he’s just a spoiled bratt, that he hadn’t worked a single day in his life and should get a “proper” job to learn what life is about.

Michael Judge made it very easy for Judd Trump. He never settled and gave him a zillion opportunities.

And here is their short report on Neil Robertson’s win:

Neil Robertson, the player of the season so far having landed three titles, kept his hot streak going with a 5-2 victory over Lei Peifan. Breaks of 130, 98, 67 and 52 helped the Australian set up a match with Alfie Burden on Tuesday evening.

To read about Ronnie’s win over Nigel Bond, click here

The last 64 round concluded yesterday evening. Most top players went through. The exveptions were Jack Lisowski, losing 5-3 to Ashleigh Hugill, Shaun Murphy, losing 5-3 to Noppon Saengkham who scored his 100th century in the process, and Mark Selby, the defending champion, going out by 5-3 to Jordan Brown who seems to be in the kind of mood to got him to win the 2021 Welsh Open.

Other results worth noting were

Neil Robertson completely demolished Alfie Burden. Neil had 4 centuries in the first 4 frames. The first (105) was a max attempt. He scored 505 unanswered points  before a foul on the black that gave Alfie the only 7 points he registered in the match; Alfiedidn’t pot a single ball.

Wu Yize, only 18 years old, beat the vastly experienced Fergal O’Brien by 5-3. Wu had 4 breaks over 50, including a maximum attempt in frame 3.

Matthew Stevens and Thepchaiya Un-nooh both lost their last 64 match. Both are in serious danger to drop off the tour. The Shoot-out champion, Hossein Vafaei, was whitewashed bu=y Anthony Mc Gill who scored his 200th competitive century in the process.

Judd Trump at 4-2 down looked is serious danger to go out early. My feeling as I watched the match was that Jak Jones really should have won it, but nerves got the better of him, Judd sensed it and took advantage.

All about Ronnie’s hard-earned win over Zhang Anda is here.

 

The 2022 European Masters – Ronnie wins his last 64 match beating Zhang Anda in a decider

Ronnie won a hard fought, high quality match to book his place in the last 32 of the 2022 European Masters. He beat Zhang Anda by 5-4 and here are the scores:

2022EuroMastersROSL64-Scores

Here is the report by WST:

2022EuroMastersROSL64-1O’Sullivan was pushed all the way by China’s Zhang but survived to set up a match with Wu Yize on Wednesday afternoon. After sharing the first four frames, Zhang had a chance to go 3-2 ahead but missed a straight-forward final black. O’Sullivan slotted in the black to take the lead then made a 128 to go 4-2 ahead.

Zhang hit back with 114 and 91 for 4-4, and he had a match-winning chance in the decider but ran out of position when he trailed by a single point with two reds left. A tactical exchange ended when Zhang played a loose safety which left his opponent a mid-range red to a top corner, and O’Sullivan cleared the table to reach the last 32.

Ronnie didn’t look happy all match. He appeared to be upset by the lighting after the MSI. That dark mood was confirmed in his post-match interview. Here is what he had to say as reported by Hector Nunns:

Ronnie O’Sullivan Uneasy In The Spotlight As ‘Snooker Depression’ Strikes

Ronnie O’Sullivan for once looked uncomfortable in the spotlight on Tuesday and after scraping into the last 32 of the European Masters claimed he has “snooker depression”.

The Rocket emerged a 5-4 winner from a battle royal against China’s world No104 Zhang Anda at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. But six-time world champion O’Sullivan, 46, looked dazed and confused at times – troubled by the glare while sitting in his chair midway through the match.

Snooker’s No1 box office star spent several minutes holding both his hand and then a towel up to protect his eyes from lighting at the baulk end of the table. And with the problem at its worst, world No2 O’Sullivan should have lost the fifth frame to fall 3-2 behind, but Zhang gifted him a way back in by missing the final black.

O’Sullivan, who was next due to face another Chinese player in Wu Yize, still rattled in breaks of 86, 51, 69, 55 and 128.

Afterwards he said: “I find it hard to talk about my games, I have snooker depression for two or three hours after my matches. Talking about it puts me in a bad place.

I call it snooker depression because it is depression due to snooker. I don’t just wake up and say ‘I’m depressed’. You aren’t when you are doing something you enjoy.

You might afterwards, but you can get it doing this job if it bothers you and you are not enjoying it. And that happens to me. Snooker plays on the mind.

If you love your job, any job then you wont suffer with it – unless you are totally detached from your feelings. Let’s call it sports depression, across the board.

It’s up to you to find ways to deal with it, and I am going to smash the gym, feel better, eat nice food, get into my spa and sauna and watch it disappear. Don’t talk to me about snooker now.

I don’t know why there was the glare off the light, someone must have turned them up brighter than usual. I could hardly look at it, but they did sort it out so I could look at the table.

Zhang could probably have done with the money from this match and had a run, so I felt a bit sorry for him. Let’s hope they get the China events back for these guys, the tour is reliant on them.

O’Sullivan’s definition of what he calls ‘snooker depression’ appears to be of a different type to that spoken about publicly and recently by rival Mark Selby – and other snooker players over the years.

The Rocket admits he feels low if he is not enjoying playing the game, and failing to hit his frequent high standards has been a part of that issue.

Selby, though, has admitted to a serious deterioration in his mental health triggering bouts of what many would better understand as depression in a wider sense – in his case, by his own admission, brought about and sparked by events in his own past and childhood.

Ronnie’s depressive moods are not exclusively related to snooker. I have seen him very low, even crying, in circumstances that had nothing to do with snooker. His depression though is indeed different from what Selby goes through. Ronnie suffers from bipolar disorder, he goes through sudden and violent mood swings. We had an example of that early in the season when, as reported by David Hendon at the time, he arrived to play in the Pro Series in good mood, got depressed and negative suddenly mid-day, still won his group, but then, in the evening, withdrew from the event and from the British Open as well. Of course, his recent break-up probably isn’t helping.

Mark Selby suffers from a more “classical” form of depression, characterised  by lasting sadness, tiredness and a total lack of mental and physical energy. It was plain to see yesterday as he lost by 5-3 to Jordan Brown. He obviouly tried but looked very flat.

Here are two videos, shared by Eurosport on their YouTube Channel

Ronnie’s marvellous 128 break

The conclusion of the deciding frame:

Today, Ronnie will play Wu Yize. The very talented teenager beat Fergal O’Brien yesterday.

 

 

The 2022 European Masters – Ronnie wins his held-over last 128 match

Ronnie won his 2022 European Masters’ last 128 held-over match, beating Nigel Bond by 5-1.

Here are the scores:

2022EuroMastersROSL128-Scores

As Athar mentioned in their latest comment, Nigel still has a very good snooker brain, and he still loves the game. The main issues when players get older are lapses in concentration, and, diminished scoring power. The two are linked of course.

This is the report by WST:

Bond’s Time To Die As O’Sullivan Strolls Through

Ronnie O’Sullivan eased into round two of the BetVictor European Masters in Milton Keynes as he beat Nigel Bond 5-1 in the first meeting between the pair in 24 years.

O’Sullivan, chasing his second title of the season having won the Cazoo World Grand Prix in December, will face Zhang Anda in the last 64 on Tuesday afternoon

Bond lost to O’Sullivan six times between 1994 and 1998, and after waiting nearly a quarter of a century for another crack at the Rocket, was unable to score a first victory over his illustrious opponent. O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 82, then added two scrappier frames to lead 3-0. Bond took frame four on the colours to keep his hopes alive, only for O’Sullivan to compile a run of 132 to lead 4-1, and he soon sealed the result in frame six with a break of 50.

I’m happy to be through,” said world number two O’Sullivan. “I’m in a good place all the time. I focus on feeling good and doing the things I want to do. I love what I do, love my life and I want to enjoy every moment of it. I have done so much in the game and won so much, I have hit the ceiling. I don’t get excited about it any more, it’s a way of life and I enjoy it.

At the start of my career I was excited because I wanted to achieve. But when you have broken every record you wonder why you are still doing it, so I have to find other reasons to do it, and that is just to enjoy what I do and get away from home. I will hit some balls tomorrow and have some fun.

More complete quotes were reported by David Caulfield:

I don’t really like talking about my performances, other than just leave it out there. It was what it was, and I’m happy to be through,” O’Sullivan told the World Snooker Tour after reaching the last 64.

I’m pretty much in a good place all the time really. If I have a bad moment it affects me, so I focus on feeling good all the time and on doing the things I want to do.

It might sound selfish, but I love what I do. I love my life and I just want to enjoy every moment of it.

Sometimes there are things that you’re not going to want to do, but I’ve just accepted that as long as that’s maybe 10% of my life, then I suppose we all have to do some things at some part in our life that we don’t want to do.

I couldn’t give a monkey’s (about the World Snooker Championship). I’ll just go, have good fun, enjoy it.

It’ll be a nice little road trip, I’m looking forward to spending 17 days in the great city and just having fun – come what may.

I just don’t care. I’ve done so much in the game and won so much, I’ve hit the ceiling and I don’t want to keep going through the roof.

It gets boring after a while and I just don’t get excited. I’m sorry, but if you’d won as much as I’d won, you’d probably feel the same.

It’s just a way of life, I enjoy it. I take it for what it is – that’s why I was so excited at the start of my career, because you want to achieve.

When you’ve broken every record and done everything there is to do in the game, you kind of think ‘why am I still doing it?’.

I have to find other reasons to do it and winning is not one of them. I enjoy just doing what I do.

I personally think that we should keep the recent changes in Ronnie’s private life in mind when considering these quotes, and judging his current priorities.

Here is the interview on WST YouTube Channel

And here is the end of the match as shared by Eurosport on their YouTube channel

I have absolutely no doubts that Ronnie still loves snooker and cares about the future of his sport. WST interviewed On Yee after her first professional win and amongst other thins, here is what she told them:

One of her most significant experiences so far was receiving an invite for a game with six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. She admits it was a nerve wracking practice session.

I was so nervous to play with him. It was very exciting and nice that he offered me a game. I think I was 6-2 up and then went on to lose 10-7. At the beginning, he wasn’t really used to the table speed. After he got used to the table speed I was just picking balls out for him. He scores so fast.

He said that next time he could spend a few days with me because we only played for a few hours that day. He did suggest that with some breaks I could go into the pack earlier, rather than trying to play the accurate shots for position. I think he thought I could generally be more aggressive.”

Ronnie has also helped Zhao Xintong, amongst other young players, in the past. That’s not the attitude of someone who doesn’t care for his sport, never mind someone who hates it as some suggest he does.

 

 

The 2022 European Masters starts today …

The event was initially scheduled to be played in Fürth, Germany, but the covid circumstances forced in “back” in Milton Keynes. The main event starts today with the top 4 in action as their first round matches were held-over at the venue.

Ronnie is due to face Nigel Bond tonight… the last time they played each other was in 1998!

WST spoke to Nigel:

Veteran Bond Relishes One More Crack At The Rocket

In 1998, Tony Blair was just a year into his spell as Prime Minister, Google was registered as a private company for the first time, Zinedine Zidane led France to World Cup glory and the pop charts were topped twice by The Spice Girls.

Remarkably, that was also the same year in which Nigel Bond and Ronnie O’Sullivan, two stalwarts of the snooker circuit for three decades, last crossed cues in a professional match. The pair met six times between 1994 and 1998 (O’Sullivan winning all six) but have not played since. That spell will end next week when they face each other in the first round of the BetVictor European Masters in Milton Keynes.

It’s amazing that we haven’t played for that long,” said Bond, who is the only player to have turned pro in the 1980s and kept his place on the tour until now, without needing a wild card. “I remember we had some close matches, he beat me 6-5 in the semi-finals of the Masters and the Scottish Masters. But he also trounced me a couple of times.

It will be great to play him next week, I’ll look forward to it. Ronnie is the best of all time, in my opinion. To play him on the TV table, live on Eurosport, in front of a big crowd – I will enjoy the occasion and relish the opportunity.

At the age of 56, Bond is able to produce only glimpses of the ability which won him the British Open in 1996 and took him to the final of the World Championship in 1995. But little more than two years ago, he reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, beating Judd Trump, Luca Brecel and Gary Wilson in York before a narrow 6-5 defeat against Mark Allen.

I rate those wins among the best of my career given how good those players are,” said Bond. “And I proved to myself that I can still play. You don’t forget the shots as you get older, it’s just harder to play them consistently. I don’t put the hours into practice any more, if I’m playing on my own then a couple of hours is enough. And it’s harder to focus and concentrate as you get older.”

Bond’s 33-year unbroken spell on the tour is under threat as he currently lies 76th in the provisional end-of-season rankings, and would need to either get into the top 64 of that list or become one of the four next-best on the one-year list.

I realise this could be my last season,” said the former world number five. “I’m going to enjoy what’s left of it. If I could have one good week as I did in York a couple of years ago, it could give me another two years. I would like to keep my tour place, but if I drop off then I can put more time into coaching.

Bond won the Shoot Out in 2011

Based at Lennon’s Pool and Snooker club in Chesterfield, Bond enjoys helping players of all levels to improve their game. He also helps deliver courses as part of the official WPBSA Coaching team. From 2017 to 2019, he made a series of trips to Thailand to work with Nutcharut Wongharuthai, who has now fulfilled her potential by winning the World Women’s Championship for the first time earlier this week.

I help players of all ages and standards, if they put their trust in me then I want to get the best of of them, whatever their level,” said Bond. “It might be they can make 20 breaks and they want to make 30s and 40s. At the other end of the scale I would be open to coaching more tour players, but that may not happen until I drop off the tour myself as I wouldn’t want to be coaching a player and then draw him in the next tournament!

It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see players improve when I coach them, and that’s something I will always enjoy.

 

 

Ronnie wins the 2022 Meyerside Masters

Whilst the latest of the 2022 Welsn Open Qualifiers were played in Wolverhampton, Ronnie, Jimmy White, Reanne Evans and Stephen Hendry were in Liverpool to play a two days long Snooker Legends tournament.

The venue was St Georges Hall, an iconic snooker venue where Jo and Fred Davis played in 1952 …

Liverpool-History -1952
Image credits – Thurston Snooker

This magnificent venue hasn’t changed much.

The event was played over four sessions, two days. Snooker Legends events are not actually professional tournaments: the offer the righ mix between “exhibition” entertainment and serious, high quality snooker.

On Saturday, Stephen Hendry faced Jimmy White in the afternoon over best of 11; Jimmy won by 6-1. In the evening Ronnie defeated Reanne Evans by the same score; he made a century, two breaks over 90 and three breaks over 80. In the last frame of the day, he missed on 88 whilst on a maximum. Not bad!

On Sunday, the afternoon started with a bit of “cabaret” and trick shots by John Virgo. A best of 7 match between Stephen Hendry and Reanne Evans followed. Stephen won it by 4-3. In the evening Ronnie faced Jimmy for the title. Jimmy made the better start and lead by 3-0, before Ronne stopped the rot by taking the last frame before the MSI. He then won the next three to lead by 4-3. Jimmy wasn’t going to roll over though and the match went to a deciding frame. Eventually Ronnie won it by 6-5.

Here are some images, shared by Jason and fans on social media.

The event wasn’t streamed as this isn’t allowed by the professional players  contract.

But this video, recorded by a fan, emerged on social media

If anyone wonders about the scores… remember that this is an exhibition event. When Ronnie and Jimmy play in those events, their priority is to give the crowd a good time and they both go for spectacular shots, which are not always the “right” shots. Also, from my own experience, in a more relaxed environment, Jimmy can still play at a very high level much to the delight of his faithful fans.

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 6

The qualifiers round for the 2022 Welsh Open concluded yesterday. It brough some important wins. Here is the report by WST:

On Yee Scores First Pro Win

Ng On Yee scored her maiden victory on the World Snooker Tour, beating Wu Yize 4-2 in the qualifying round of the BetVictor Welsh Open.

Hong Kong’s On Yee, a three-time World Women’s Champion, scored breaks of 84 and 82 in an excellent performance as she earned a place in the final stages of the world ranking event. She will face Ali Carter in the last 64 in Newport.

On Yee, age 31, is playing on the World Snooker Tour for the first time this season as one of two women on the circuit, alongside Reanne Evans.

Twice this season On Yee has suffered narrow defeats, losing 5-4 to Craig Steadman in the BildBet German Masters and 4-3 to Shaun Murphy in the BetVictor Scottish Open. She now has a win under her belt having got the better of China’s world number 83 Wu.

After losing the opening frame, On Yee hit back with a run of 84 to take the second, then got the better of a scrappy third. In the fourth she trailed 43-16 but recovered to take it with runs of 37 and 33 to lead 3-1. Wu pulled one back but On Yee sealed victory in frame six with a break of 82.

Since the 1990s, Evans is the only other female player to score wins over male opponents in pro events. She beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the 2013 Wuxi Classic and Robin Hull in the first qualifying round of the 2017 World Championship.

Marco Fu, who practises with On Yee when she is in Hong Kong, tweeted: “What a win sis, will be your first win of many.”

Thailand’s Un-Nooh scored an important 4-2 win over Robert Milkins to secure his place in the final stages. Former Shoot Out champion Un-Nooh in danger of losing his place on the circuit as things stand in the provisional end of season rankings. However, he showed his class today, crafting contributions of 91, 73 and 112 on his way to the win.

Scott Donaldson edged out Leicester cueman Tom Ford 4-3 to qualify for the final stages. Donaldson had led 3-0, before a three-frame blitz saw Ford set up a deciding frame. The Perth potter compiled a crucial break of 59 to get over the line.

Liang Wenbo put on a supreme display of break building to ease into the main event with a 4-0 win over Zhang Jiankang. The Firecracker crafted breaks of 105, 134, 73 and 85 during the tie, which lasted just 55 minutes.

Ricky Walden emerged with a comfortable 4-1 victory against Gerard Greene, while Ben Woollaston defeated Martin Gould 4-2.

Norway’s Kurt Maflin beat teenager Jamie Wilson 4-2 and Craig Steadman came through with a 4-1 win over Ian Burns.

On Yee played a really good match yesterday. Some time ago, Lewis was reflecting that, statistically, if the draw is “random”, a low ranked player should only meet a top 16 player in the first round twice in a season. Howevrer, On Yee, who, because of the pandemics circumstances, has played in only 6 events so far, got Stuart Bingham, Yan Bingtao and Shaun Murphy in the first three events she was able to enter, with only the UK Championship going by strict seeding… On Yee is a level-headed,  hard working person,  and she’s a fighter at the table. Personally, I think that she has a better chance to do well on the professional tour than Reanne Evans, if only because she is younger. She practices with Marco Fu when in Hong Kong and works with Wayne Griffiths. She has the right people around her.

 

 

 

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 5

This is WST report on the fifth day at thev2022 Welsh Open qualifiers:

Ding Set For Newport

China’s 14-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui earned his place in the final stages of the BetVictor Welsh Open after scoring a comfortable 4-0 win over Gao Yang.

A difficult couple of years for Ding have seen him slide down to 31st position in the world rankings. After spending so long as China’s leading player, he now has four compatriots ranked higher than him. Ding will require a very strong end to the season to avoid having to participate in the qualifying stages for the World Championship.

This afternoon’s performance proved to be a strong start in that quest for Ding. He composed breaks of 59 and 134 on his way to the comprehensive victory.

Jack Lisowski recovered from 2-0 down to beat Stuart Carrington 4-2. Lisowski produced a break building barrage, firing in runs of 76, 87, 102 and 65 in consecutive frames to seal victory with four on the bounce.

Englishman Chris Wakelin eased to a 4-0 defeat of Ireland’s Aaron Hill. He fired in a run of 105 during the whitewash win.

Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham secured a trip to Newport with a 4-2 win over Tian Pengfei, while Zhao Jianbo beat David Grace 4-3.

It’s a bit strange that nothing is said about the 4-2 win by Joe Perry over David Gilbert. Joe produced a very solid performance, including a 142 total clearance that is currently the tournament high break.

Jack Lisowski produced a typical “Jack Lisowski” performance: from the start, he was going for everything, and missing about everything for two frames, then something clicked, and he was still going for everything … and eveything went in.