Anton Kazakov wins the 2022 World Snooker Federation Junior Championship

Anton Kazakov from Ukraine has won the 2022 World Snooker Federation Junior Championship and will get a professional tour card, starting next season, provided he accepts the challenge.

Congratulations Anton Kazakov!

KazakovWSF2022JuniorChamp

A few months ago, Ben Mertens, from Belgium, won the under-18 European Championship in Portugal. His opponent in the final was Julien Leclercq, also from Belgium. Julien’s opponent in the semi-final was from Hungary.

Ben and Julien also went on to win the team event featuring players from all age groups.

In this event, the runner-up, Jake Crofts also faced a young Belgian in his semi-final.

I’m not writing this because of some kind od “national pride” but because I feel that at junior level, players from mainland Europe, particularly from Eastern Europe and from Belgium, are getting at the same level as the UK/Irish lads or maybe even better. Whether this will translate into success on the main Tour remains to be seen because as it is, the UK centric nature of the main Tour means that it’s not a level playing field.

Here is the report by WSF:

Kazakov Claims Junior Title in Sheffield

Anton Kazakov has won the 2022 World Snooker Federation Junior Championship following a 5-3 defeat of Jake Crofts at the Ding Junhui Snooker Academy in Sheffield, England.

Held for the second time following the inaugural staging of the tournament won by China’s Gao Yang in 2020, the tournament saw over 60 of the world’s most promising junior talents battle it out for the title, with the promise of a two-year professional tour card on offer to the eventual champion.

Having eased through his group match for the loss of just one frame, 17-year-old Kazakov claimed an impressive run of victories that included the scalps of Liam Pullen, Liam Graham and Liam Davies to reach the final.

Awaiting the former Ukrainian national champion was an opponent competing far closer to home in Jake Crofts, who from Sheffield was competing in his first international competition, having previously competed in national events on the English junior tours.

The final itself would prove to be a hard fought affair, which saw the opening four frames shared as Kazakov top scored with a run of 56 in frame three, before Crofts claimed the next on the black to head into the interval all-square.

The match statistics favoured Kazakov however, who having enjoyed a significantly higher pot success rate and having potted a greater number of balls than his young opponent, would ultimately make the advantage tell by claiming three of the following four frames to secure the title and a place on the professional circuit from the start of the following season.

Kazakov was presented with both the trophy – and the formal offer of his World Snooker Tour card – by WSF President Jason Ferguson following the final, with former WSF Open finalist and countryman Iulian Boiko among those in attendance to celebrate a landmark victory.

 

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 4

Yesterday was another good day overall for the Welsh players. Here is the report by WST:

Late Arrival Allows White Lightning Quick Win

Welsh amateur Michael White required just two frames to defeat Xiao Guodong 4-0 at BetVictor Welsh Open qualifying, after Xiao was docked two frames due to a late arrival.

With Storm Eunice wreaking havoc across the United Kingdom, Xiao was caught in heavy traffic on his way to the venue in Wolverhampton. After arriving 18 minutes late, he found himself 2-0 down before the match had even started.

When play commenced two-time ranking event winner White, who dropped off the tour in 2020, only required 35-minutes to wrap up the win. A run of 64 moved him 3-0 ahead and he capped off the victory by comfortably claiming the next. White will now be in attendance in Newport later this month for the final stages.

Jamie Jones provided further Welsh success, as he recovered from 2-0 down to beat Zhou Yuelong 4-3 in a high quality encounter.

Zhou composed breaks of 66, 62, 67 and 117 during the tie, but it was to no avail. Jones rallied with runs of 67, 61 and 56 as he turned the match around.

Germany’s Lukas Kleckers edged out Cypriot Michael Gerogiou 4-3, while amateur Si Jiahui defeated former Crucible finalist Nigel Bond 4-3.

What happened is very unfortunate for Xiao. I guess that when he finally arrived at the venue he was in no state to play his match properly.

Zhou’s string of miserable results continues. I didn’t see the match and I wonder if it was a case of Zhou succumbing to pressure or Jones upping his game or a bit of both. Zhou’s confidence must be very at the moment.

Zhao Yupeng v Fan Zhengyi was a good match to watch. Both played well and positively. It’s a shame one of them had to lose.

The Holt v O’Donnell match in the evening was a strange affair. It was extremely scrappy. After nearly one hour it was still 1-0 and no where near the conclusion of frame 2. Holt always looked like the winner but he had to show a lot of patience. Bizarrely both played at pace … by their own standards anyway: 23.3 sec/shot is proper speeding from the Minister of Denfence!

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 3

The 2022 Welsh Open qualifiers continue and here is the WST report on day 3:

Day Secures Welsh Open Spot

Welshman Ryan Day booked his place in the final stages of this year’s BetVictor Welsh Open after putting on a fine display of break building to beat China’s Chang Bingyu 4-2.

Day now joins compatriots Matthew Stevens, Jak Jones, Jamie Clarke and Andrew Pagett in qualifying for their home event. However, fellow Welshmen Lee Walker and Jackson Page have fallen at the first hurdle. Duane Jones also lost his clash with Ashley Carty 4-2 this afternoon.

Day took the opener with a break of 134, before losing the following two to trail 2-1. However, further contributions of 51 and 116 helped the three-time ranking event winner to three frames in a row which saw him win 4-2.

Ali Carter earned his place in Newport with a 4-2 defeat of Lei Peifan. The Captain made the quarter-finals 12 months ago, before being forced to withdraw and hand Ronnie O’Sullivan a bye due to suffering from migraines.

Graeme Dott edged out Steven Hallworth 4-3 to secure a trip to Newport. Iran’s Soheil Vahedi eased to a 4-1 win over 12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans.

Yuan Sijun whitewashed Fraser Patrick 4-0, while Zak Surety defeated Barry Pinches 4-2 and Hammad Miah defeated Ross Muir 4-2.

I swapped a bit between the Day-Chang and the Carter-Lei matches. Day played ok, scored well in patches but the match score could easily have been closer. Carter was certainly beatable. Other than in the first frame he failed to build any telling break all match. In both cases, their young Chinese opponent left them off the hook. There is no questioning their abilities, but, in Lei’s case in particular, their shot selection surprised me. Trailing 3-2, Lei had an opportunity to force a decider. The balls were nicely open, except for one red that was in a awkward place, near but not very near to the side cushion, on the rigth side as we look , between the middle and top pockets. It was awkward as I said, even for a right-handed player like Lei, and all the more so because Lei isn’t very tall. He could have opted to take all the other reds, with high value colours, to make the score close, and then play safe off that last red. Instead, he tried to move that red on nearly every shot, unsuccessfully, running more and more out of position with every attempt. Eventually, he did move it, from the yellow, bringing it closer to the top pocket. But from where he left the white, the only shot on offer was a thin cut, requiring a full stretch even with the mini butt on his cue. Of course he missed … leaving frame and match at Carter’s mercy. I’m certainly not a proper snooker player so I probably miss something here  … thoughts?

The less said about the Reanne Evans v Soheil Vahedi match, the better. That was painful. Both are under huge pressure and looked clearly extremely stressed.

 

 

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 2

Day 2 at the 2022 Welsh Open qualifiers was marked by issues with streaming and scoreboards in the afternoon … then outage for me in the evening. I didn’t see much at all.

Here is the report by WST:

Surprise Defeat For Brecel

Luca Brecel’s hopes of winning back-to-back Home Nations titles ended prematurely as he lost 4-2 to Rory McLeod in the qualifying round of the BetVictor Welsh Open.

Belgium’s Brecel won the BetVictor Scottish Open in December, but this time he won’t even be at the final venue having lost to a player ranked 66 places below him in world number 82 McLeod.

A break of 54 helped McLeod build a 3-1 lead. Brecel pulled one back and had chances to make it 3-3, but McLeod eventually took frame six on the final black to progress to the last 64.

BetVictor Shoot Out champion Hossein Vafaei narrowly avoided defeat as he came from 3-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-3. Breaks of 74 and 64 got Vafaei back to 3-3, then he won an exciting decider on the final black after both players had missed chances.

Anthony Hamilton top scored with 105 in a 4-3 defeat of Lyu Haotian while Mark Davis made a 124 in the decider to edge out Alfie Burden 4-3. Two Welsh players secured places in their home event as Andrew Pagett saw off Simon Lichtenberg 4-0 and Jak Jones earned a 4-1 victory over Sunny Akani.

Unfortunatelt, Brecel’s defeat is no surprise to me. It has been the story of his career so far. Every good spell and big win(s) were followed by a sharp slump. The signs were there as early as the World Grand Prix. I can just hope this one won’t last for too long…

From what I was able to watch – not much – Jak Jones played well. Defeat for Sunny Akani is bad news though. He’s currently only 4000 points ahead of Oliver Lines, provisionally 65th on the “End of Season” list, which is nothing. He has failed to qualify for the Turkish Masters as well. All Thai players have been struggling in the past two years. Snooker is popular in Thailand and it would really be a big shame if we lost them.

 

 

2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers – Day 1

The 2022 Welsh Open qualifiers started yesterday with just 6 matches, three sessions, 2 tables. There are no spectators, just four chairs, two for each player’s companions. It looks pretty depressing I must say … probably bringing memories of the Pontin’s cublicles to those who where around back then.

The only plus side is that all matches can be watched on stream.

Here is WST report on yesterday’s matches:

Stevens Books Newport Spot

Home favourite Matthew Stevens secured his place in the last 64 of the BetVictor Welsh Open as he fired four breaks over 50 in a 4-1 win over Joe O’Connor.

The qualifying round runs throughout this week in Wolverhampton, with players needing to win one match to book a place at the final stages at ICC Wales in Newport. The top 16 seeds are seeded through to the final stages which run from February 28 to March 6.

Former UK and Masters champion Stevens lost the opening frame against O’Connor but battled back to win four in a row with runs of 53, 96, 62 and 66.

In-form Jimmy Robertson, semi-finalist at last week’s Cazoo Players Championship, kept his moment going with a hard-fought 4-3 win over Peter Devlin. From 2-0 down, Robertson hit back to take four of the next five frames with top breaks of 57 and 53.

Welshman Jamie Clarke top scored with 99 in a 4-2 defeat of Farakh Ajaib, while Mark Joyce saw off Jackson Page 4-1 with a best break of 76.

Jimmy Robertson looked anything but in-form in yesterday’s match. It was a terrible match for most of it. I suppose that going from playing a semi-final in the Players Championship, an elite tournament, to playing qualifiers these cubicles isn’t exactly thrilling. Peter Devlin, playing as an amateur was always very easy on the eye, but all the fluency and confidence seem to have deserted him. This match was quite depressing to watch.

In the evening, Mark Joyce beat Jackson Page easily. Again, the Jackson Page I saw at the table yesterday had little in common with the young lad who thrilled us playing as a wilcard in his home tournament five years ago. It’s sad.

Really there should be no qualifiers, even if that means events go for 9 or 10 days.

2022 Welsh Open – Held-over Matches Schedule

The 2022 Welsh Open Qualifiers are about to start.

The top 16 seed have their matches held-over.  They will be played on the first day at the main venue, Celtic Manor.

Here is the Schedule for theses matches (source: WST)

Top 16 Schedule Confirmed For BetVictor Welsh Open

The match schedule for the top 16 seeds, plus the two local wild cards, has now been confirmed for the BetVictor Welsh Open which runs from February 28 to March 6 at ICC Wales in Newport.

First round matches for the top 16 have been held over to the final venue and those matches will be played on the opening day of the tournament. They are:

Monday February 28
10am
Jordan Brown v Mitchell Mann
Shaun Murphy v Andy Hicks
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien
Anthony McGill v Zhang Anda

Not before 1pm
Judd Trump v Dean Young
Kyren Wilson v Dominic Dale
Barry Hawkins v Alexander Ursenbacher
Liam Davies v Iulian Boiko

Roll on Roll off
Neil Robertson v Jimmy White
Mark Williams v Michael Judge
Yan Bingtao v Ashley Hugill
Stuart Bingham v Sean Maddocks

Not before 7pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Sam Craigie
Zhao Xintong v Oliver Lines
Mark Allen v Ken Doherty
Elliot Slessor v Dylan Emery

Not before 8pm
Mark Selby v Chen Zifan
John Higgins v Pang Junxu

Welsh Open 2022 Jordan Brown defending

Everyone else will need to win one match in Wolverhampton to qualify.

Really, no matter where the tournament is due to be held,  there should be NO qualifiers at all unless the tournament has a tiered structure, something Joe Perry, speaking in the latest WST podcast, and not for the first time, said he would welcome back.

 

 

Mink is the 2022 Women World Champion

Nutcharut Wongharuthai, Mink, won a hard fough and tense final yesterday evening to become Women World Champion for the first time and earn a two years tour card for next season. She beat Wendy Jans on the last black. Wendy, from Belgium in a 13 times European Women Champion. Mink had beaten On Yee Ng in the quarter finals, whilst Wendy had beaten Reanne Evans, the defending champion, at the same stage.

Congratulations Mink!

Here is the report on WWS website:

Wongharuthai is World Women’s Snooker Champion

Nutcharut Wongharuthai has won the World Women’s Snooker Championship for the first time following a dramatic 6-5 victory against Wendy Jans decided on the final black at the Ding Junhui Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Staged for the first time since Reanne Evans’ claimed a record 12th world title in June 2019, the tournament saw 50 of the best female players from around the world compete across four days to lift the Mandy Fisher Trophy.

A breakthrough victory for Wongharuthai sees the 22-year-year-old become the 13th different winner and the first ever Thai player to win the world title. She also becomes the first new winner of the tournament since 2015 and the first player other than Reanne Evans or Ng On Yee to win the title in 19 years.

She is now set to join Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee as the latest female player on the World Snooker Tour, as she will be offered a two-year professional Tour card from the start of the 2022/23 season.

The world number three came into the tournament in a rich vein of form following her second ranking success at last month’s British Women’s Open and her run to the quarter-finals of the WPBSA Q Tour event just two weeks ago, during which she defeated five male players.

With the top two seeds Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee having exited at the quarter-final stages on a thrilling Sunday evening, a new champion was guaranteed as the tournament entered its final day. Jans booked her place in the final for the first time with a 5-2 victory against English debutant Jamie Hunter, while Wongharuthai secured comfortable passage to the title match with a 5-1 success against Rebecca Kenna.

It was the third seed Wongharuthai – also known as Mink – who made the stronger start as she claimed two of the three frames, looking to improve upon her final run at the 2019 edition when she lost out to Reanne Evans in the final.

Back came Jans with a match-high break of 97, before she added each frame either side of the mid-session interval to lead by two for the first time at 4-2. As the next two frames were shared, Jans moved to the brink of the title for the first time at 5-3, but Wongharuthai, who cites Mark Selby as one of her snooker heroes, would display Selby-like qualities to hit back to force what would prove to be a nail-biting decider.

Both players had chances and it appeared as though Wongharuthai was over the line – only for Jans to earn the penalty points she required on the final brown in order to be able to win the match having needed a snooker. Having potted brown, blue and pink however, a long black would elude her and it was Wongharuthai who would sink the final ball to become world champion for the first time.

Her coronation represents the completion of a journey for a player who began to play snooker aged at 10 years old, before making her debut at the 2017 World Championship, during which she showed her potential by completing the tournament high break of 90. A year later she would reach her first ranking event final at the British Open, before contesting the World Championship final for the first time on home soil in 2019, losing out to Reanne Evans at the Hi-End Snooker Club.

She is now looking forward to joining the World Snooker Tour for the first time from the start of next season and believes that she can be successful and continue to improve her game on the professional circuit.

Wendy Jans 5-6 Nutcharut Wongharuthai

40-51; 72(31)-38; 46-60; 84(84)-4; 69-44; 71-32; 39-67; 74(30, 39)-15; 18-69; 13-81(32); 53-65(30)

I’m not too sure where the “97” in that report comes from. Wendy’s highest break in the final was 84, and it was also her highest break in the tournament. The only 97 made during this event was made by On Yee Ng.

The match was streamed on Facebook, with a lot of Thai supporters active in the “chat” despite the ungodly hours in Thailand.

It wasn’t the greatest standard and it attracted derogatory comments from some male alledged snooker fans. It angered me, although this was to be expected. Those two women were competing for a tour card. It was probably the biggest match of their life, they were under pressure. They were playing on a star table, fitted to the main tour competitions standards. These are circumstances and conditions they are certainly not very used to. Some guy was saying that he has seen similar standard in the club. Well, possibly, by guys playing for fun under “club standards”. This is something else. Those guys would likely overhit everything on a very fine cloth and find out that the pockets are quite unforgiving on the competition tables.

Mink can play better. She played in the Q-tour recently, as mentioned. Amongst the 5 male players she beat, twowere two former pros: Daniel Wells and Billy Castle.  Yesterday she was understandably tense and so was Wendy as well.