2022 Tour Championship – Ronnie wins on day 3

Ronnie booked his place in the semi-finals of the 2022 Tour Championship with a 10-9 victory over Mark Williams. It was a truly magnificent match.

These are the scores:


and the stats after each session:

Here are the reports by WST:

First session

Rocket Opens Up Llandudno Lead

TourChamps2022ROSvWillo-1Ronnie O’Sullivan holds a 5-3 advantage over Mark Williams following the first session of their Cazoo Tour Championship opening round encounter in Llandudno.

The Rocket enjoys a dominant record against three-time World Champion Williams, having only lost once in a ranking event to the Welshman in the previous 20 years. The last time Williams beat six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan over two sessions in a ranking event was 22 years ago in the 2000 UK Championship semi-finals.

A cagey opening frame lasted 29 minutes today, with Williams eventually coming out on top. However, 38-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan quickly found his feet with breaks of 56, 84 and 131 to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.

Williams closed within a frame at 3-2 when play resumed, before a superb century run of 128 saw O’Sullivan regain his two-frame cushion. Williams fired in a 92 break to pull within a frame, but 89 from the Rocket in the eighth frame was enough to end 5-3 ahead.

Second session

O’Sullivan Wins Clash Of 92

TourChamps2022ROSvWillo-2Ronnie O’Sullivan fired in five centuries during a thrilling triumph over fellow Class of 92 member Mark Williams, edging the deciding frame to come through a 10-9 victor at the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno.

From the second frame onwards the Rocket never trailed this back and forth encounter, but three-time Crucible king Williams refused to let him pull away and remained in contention right until the conclusion of a nerve shredding decider.

Victory extends an undefeated streak for 38-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan which goes back 22 years. The last time he lost to Williams over two sessions was the semi-finals of the 2000 UK Championship.

O’Sullivan has also now won their last six meetings in ranking events, with Williams’ most recent win between the pair occurring back at the 2014 International Championship.

Defending champion Neil Robertson awaits O’Sullivan in the semi-finals on Friday. It is a meeting between the two tournament winners in this season’s Cazoo Series. O’Sullivan beat Robertson in the final of the Cazoo World Grand Prix back in December, while Robertson claimed the title at last month’s Cazoo Players Championship.

Williams will now turn his attentions to the upcoming World Championship. He can take confidence from a superb showing this evening and a strong season to boot. The Welshman won the 24th ranking title of his career last August at the British Open.

They came into this evening with O’Sullivan, who will return to the world number one spot at the end of this week, leading 5-3. Williams turned up the heat immediately with a century run of 103 to pull within a frame, but six-time World Champion O’Sullivan responded in kind and a break of 100 moved him 6-4 in front.

UFC star Paddy Pimblett enjoying the action.

With UFC star Paddy Pimblett watching on, these baize based prize fighters continued to trade breaks. Williams composed a run of 89, before O’Sullivan made 75 to head into the mid-session with a 7-5 lead.

When play resumed, Williams claimed two on the bounce to restore parity at 7-7. He then led 24-0 in the 15th frame, but inadvertently potted the pink when going into the pack. O’Sullivan mercilessly capitalised on his opponent’s misfortune, firing in a break of 106 to regain the lead.

Williams restored parity, before a run of 127 moved O’Sullivan a frame from victory at 9-8. The 18th frame came down to the yellow, with the outcome very much in the balance. Williams conjured a superb cut back long pot and cleared to the pink to force a decider.

After both players spurned chances to win, it all came down to the final red. Williams missed a long range attempt and O’Sullivan cleared to the pink to secure victory.

It is probably the best he has ever played against me and the best I’ve ever played against him. For us to both play well together is quite rare,” said 46-year-old O’Sullivan.

I was shocked when someone told me I will be world number one. It is a bit like when I won the world title after a year out. I was shocked I was able to do that and I am a little bit surprised that I am able to get to world number one at this stage of my career. I am going to try to be the first old aged pensioner to be in the top eight. That would be some feat.

I was feeling the butterflies. It is impossible not to. My mindset is not to get too flustered by winning or losing anymore. I am going to squeeze as much out of it as I can. The whole package is really good at the moment. I can come to tournaments and it doesn’t matter whether I win or lose, but it would be nice to win and I am competitive.

There were a lot of reactions on social media praising both players and, also, firmly stating that longer matches bring a particular type of challenge and asking for a return of the best of 19 in the UK championship and at the World Qualifiers.

Intereastingly, David Hendon had published this a few days ago:


The narratives in a long snooker match have more time to shift, often with dramatic repercussions which can define whole careers, writes David Hendon. For that reason and many others, there is value in longer encounters that truly test the players. There is only one real advantage to shortening the World Championship: it makes it easier to win.



Let’s go back 30 years to May 4th, 1992. It’s a sunny bank holiday Monday afternoon in Sheffield and Jimmy White is leading Stephen Hendry 12-6 in the World Championship final.

White is outplaying Hendry. He looks around a packed Crucible theatre and starts to think of who he should thank – and who he should leave out – in his victory speech later that night.

Darkness falls in more ways than one. Six hours later, Hendry has won 18-14. White has lost the last 10 frames. To this day, he has never held snooker’s most prized trophy aloft.

The Whirlwind would surely have been world champion had the final been played over one day, as some current players now advocate. We’re told constantly people don’t want to watch a best of 35, that their attention spans can’t take it, that they have other things to do.

But the glory of long matches comes from the investment required, from players and spectators alike. We will see this at the Crucible next month, and first at the Cazoo Tour Championship, which starts in Llandudno today and where every match is best of 19 frames.

In the early days of professional snooker, the world final was played over several weeks and could be best of as many as 149 frames. There was no supporting circuit then and no television coverage. Ticket sales was the only source of revenue so matches were dragged out for as long as possible.

Pot Black established snooker on TV using a one frame, half hour format. The staple of the circuit became best of nine frame matches but the World Championship kept a longer frames format and, since 1982, has basically remained the same apart from a decision to make the semi-finals slightly longer.

Every champion of the last four decades has therefore faced the same set of challenges: mental and, given the stamina required over 17 days, physical too.

At the Crucible a player must win 71 frames over as many as 16 sessions to achieve snooker immortality as world champion. Last summer Neil Robertson, who did just that in 2010, told the Talking Balls podcast he wants the World Championship shortened.

He said: “Personally, I don’t really like the format, I think it’s pretty dated and it can be very stale. I’ve never watched a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. You’ll never get the general public watching a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. They’ll watch the final of the Masters or UK Championship, they’ll dip in and out of the World Championship but they’ll never be engaged in the whole match.

From an entertainment point of view, the World Championship is a struggle for me to watch and I’m a top player in the game.

Really? We like to think of modern audiences as constantly distracted but they will invest in anything compelling enough to hold their interest. Robertson knows from personal experience the addictive power of video games. He is also a comic book fan: the latest Batman film is three hours long. The Game of Thrones novels he has enthusiastically devoured are all hefty tomes that can double as doorstops.

It is undoubtedly unusual and eccentric to have a snooker match lasting up to three days, but snooker is unusual and eccentric. That’s why we like it. It’s people who’ve spent too many hours in darkened rooms trying to knock balls into holes. It’s simultaneously pointless and glorious, much like existence itself.

The human dimension, the way we latch on to the players and their personalities, is given more time to take root in a longer match. Their struggle becomes our struggle. Their joy or despair is a part of us. We’ve been there, with them, day after day, sharing their journey: every unlucky nudge, kindly fluke, scorching long pot, astute safety. We see in their twitching eyelids and sweat-covered brow something of our own anxieties. We’ve all dreamed of success. We’ve all been nervous about messing up.

The World Championship is as much an emotional rollercoaster for the audience as it is the players. The most valuable commodity anyone has is their own time. Snooker fans willingly give it to the 17-day Crucible marathon and it rewards them handsomely in return.

The narratives in a long match have more time to shift, often with dramatic repercussions which can define whole careers.

Mike Hallett was poised to land one of the game’s biggest trophies at the 1991 Masters when he led Hendry 8-2, but he missed match ball pink and was beaten 9-8.


Cliff Thorburn’s days as a professional were virtually ended when he surrendered a 9-2 lead over Nigel Bond at the Crucible in 1994, losing 10-9 in the early hours.

The late Willie Thorne missed a blue to lead Steve Davis 14-8 in the 1985 UK Championship final, lost the frame and was beaten 16-14.

Equally, being on the wrong end of a drubbing in a longer match is a test of resolve. John Parrott was battered 18-3 by Davis in the 1989 world final. He bounced back by winning the title two years later.

Hendry, having lost his world No. 1 spot to John Higgins earlier in the year, suffered a shocking 9-0 defeat to Marcus Campbell at the 1998 UK Championship. It prompted him to take his game apart and put it back together. Result? A seventh world title a few months later.

With so many new events in the Barry Hearn era, shorter formats were necessary just to fit all the matches in. Best of sevens breeze along, rarely outstaying their welcome, and the Shootout is the ultimate in quick fix snooker – just 10 minute matches.

But the Tour Championship has gone the other way, with one match a day played over two sessions. It’s often said that every match at the Masters is like a final, but that’s not really true as they are all best of 11 affairs until the actual final. In Llandudno, there is no hiding place. This is the proper stuff, played over a distance which provides a proper test.

There are various theories for White’s failure to beat Hendry in 1992: pressure, how he spent his time between sessions, Hendry’s relentless obsession with winning. But the simple fact is that at 12-6 the match was only halfway done. In the 2000 final, Matthew Stevens led Mark Williams 13-7 but there were still 15 frames to play and Williams turned it round to win 18-16. Perhaps most famously, Davis led Dennis Taylor 8-0 in 1985. He couldn’t lose, except he did, 18-17 on the last black.

Snooker now has a good mix of formats catering to different audience preferences but it’s pleasing that the modern vogue for shortening everything has not completely taken hold. Fans don’t always reach for the microwave to provide sustenance. The slow cooker in time provides greater nourishment.

Robertson, a great talent, champion and role model, has been to the semi-final stage at Sheffield only once since his title triumph 12 years ago. Even this brilliant cueist has felt the unique pressure of attaining peak performance over the longer distance, which challenges every facet of a player’s make-up.

There’s only one real advantage to shortening the World Championship: it makes it easier to win.

And where’s the fun in that?

Fans’ reactions on social media yesterday completely vindicated Dave’s opinion.

2022 Tour Championship – Day 2

Day 2 in Landudno saw Neil Robertson prevail as he beat Mark Allen by 10-6. It was however a rather strange match.

I wasn’t able to watch anything from the first session as life is coming in the way of snooker at the moment … we are in the middle of moving to a new house. Neil must have been in outstanding form and/or Mark Allen in poor form because Neil lead 7-0 and scored 3 centuries before, crucially, Mark managed to take advantage of a rare miss by Neil to get on the scoreboard.

I did however watch the first mini-session in the evening. Mark Allen was struggling but he battled with all he had. He also played significantly slower than usual, probably giving every shot extra attention. Mistakes crept in Neil’s game – there were many – and Mark came back to 7-5, winning all four frames in that mini-session without actually playing well.

Unfortunately tiredness and time difference prevented me to watch the end of the match Neil must have rediscovered his top form towards the end as, from 8-6 up, he finished the job with two more centuries.

Here is the report by WST:

Robertson Survives Pistol Fightback

Defending champion Neil Robertson held off a gutsy Mark Allen, having led 7-0, to emerge a 10-6 victor and earn his place in the semi-finals of the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno.

Robertson is riding the crest of a wave at the moment and has enjoyed a superb season thus far. This week’s event hosts only the top eight players on this season’s one-year list and Robertson is the second seed, after winning ranking titles at the English Open and Cazoo Players Championship earlier in the campaign.

The Australian produced a supreme display this afternoon to establish his 7-0 lead, before Northern Irishman Allen claimed the last of the session to end 7-1.

That left Robertson requiring just three frames this evening to close out the tie. However, his tenacious opponent typically refused to back down and surged back into contention when the final session got underway.

A run of 66 saw Allen take the first frame and he then closed to 7-3, before a dramatic 11th. Robertson cleared from the green to force a re-spot, but a loose shot left the black at Allen’s mercy over the left middle to deposit and make it 7-4.

Robertson crucially then won a 41-minute frame to regain breathing space at 8-4, although Allen remained undeterred. The Pistol reeled off two on the bounce, including a run of 70, to pile on the pressure at 8-6.

It was at that point 2010 World Champion Robertson summoned his best snooker, crafting back-to-back century runs of 121 and 130, to close out the 10-6 win.

Next up Robertson faces either Mark Williams or Ronnie O’Sullivan, who he defeated in last year’s final. The semi-final contest will be played out on Friday over the best of 19 frames.

“I’m very proud because Mark asked many questions of me tonight. I had many answers, but he had answers to those! His safety was incredible and shut me out,” said 40-year-old Robertson.

“The key is to be patient and to not lose your cool. I didn’t make any disastrous mistakes, I missed a couple of tricky balls and that was it. I am experienced enough to know things can turn around, but the most important thing is to be ready when that mistake comes.

“This evening provides more information than if I coasted through 10-1 tonight. The fact I came up with the goods when it really mattered sends a lot of positive signals to me, knowing I can withstand anything. I can put my foot down and run away and I can respond really strongly when someone comes back as well.”

A lot of important news were shared by WST yesterday and today, amongst other things the World Qualifiers draw and the long-awaited Asian Q-School. I will post about all of that on Monday.


2022 Tour Championship – Day 1

John Higgins came from 8-4 down to beat Zhao Xintong by 10-9 on the first day of the 2022 Tour Championship. This is the report by WST:

Wizard Fightback Foils The Cyclone

John Higgins summoned an epic fightback from 8-4 down to beat Zhao Xintong 10-9 in what the four-time World Champion described as one of his ‘best ever wins’, to reach the semi-finals of the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno.

The win caps an eventful few days for Higgins, who picked up £150,000 on Saturday after finishing top of the BetVictor Series standings following the Gibraltar Open.

This evening’s victory is the first time Higgins has won a Tour Championship match, having bowed out in the first round in 2020 and 2021.

Zhao arrived in North Wales as the number one seed, after landing a maiden Triple Crown win at the Cazoo UK Championship and claiming a second ranking title at the German Masters. With only the top eight on the one-year list qualifying for this elite event, Higgins narrowly edged Ricky Walden out to clinch the last place.

Scotland’s Higgins now moves 5-3 ahead of Zhao in the head-to-head standings, they’ve met three times this season. China’s Zhao defeated Higgins on his way to capturing the UK Championship title the end of last year. However, the Wizard of Wishaw exacted his revenge with a first round win at the Cazoo Masters in January.

This afternoon’s action saw Zhao establish a 5-3 lead in a session which he dominated, but Higgins crucially claimed the last frame to remain in touch.

When play got underway this evening, 31-time ranking event winner Higgins won a nervy opener on the pink to reduce his arrears to just a single frame at 5-4. From there 24-year-old Zhao appeared to take a stranglehold on proceedings.

The Cyclone fired in breaks of 128 and 71 on his way to three on the bounce to move 8-4 ahead. Zhao then started to spurn opportunities and Higgins used his experience to claw his way back into contention.

Higgins racked up three consecutive frames to pull within one, before a run of 83 restored parity and made it 8-8. Momentum appeared to have completely switched when Higgins claimed his fifth frame in a row, to lead for the first time in the entire match at 9-8.

Zhao showed his character and stopped the rot with a contribution of 64 to take the match to a decider. However, with several reds glued to the top cushion, Higgins used all of his considerable matchplay nous to pick off points over three contributions and get over the line and reach the semi-finals. He will face either Judd Trump or Luca Brecel in the semis on Saturday.

It was a brilliant win, probably one of my best wins ever to come from four down against someone like Zhao, who was hitting the ball great,” said 46-year-old Higgins.

I brought him down to my level. It was as simple as that really. He was playing like the world class player he is and I was just playing like a club player. It was embarrassing really at 8-4. I can’t believe I’ve won the game. I don’t know how I have because my play wasn’t great all day. I am delighted to be through.

The way I’d played and if it was a heavy defeat I’d be going to the Crucible on bad vibes. I’ve got a second life here now. I need to go home and put some serious hours in to try to give Judd or Luca a game on Saturday.”

Zhao was by far the better player for most of the match. However his game deteriorated after the last MSI. He was 8-4 up at that time. Mistakes crept in Zhao’s game and, Higgins being Higgins, as soon as he came back within 2 frames, hence still 8-6 down, I expected the Scot to win. Zhao did well to force a decider after losing five consecutive frames but it was to no avail.

I’m not sure that it was a case of Zhao being dragged to John’s level. I’m more inclined to believe that John’s vast experience of multi session matches was an important factor here. Maybe it’s just me, but it felt to me as if Zhao was becoming a bit impatient and tried to close the match as soon as possible. Then, when Higgins started to come back he became nervous.

I was a good match to watch. The only thing that really annoyed me was Phil Yates commentary, both the hyperbolic style and the lack of objectivity/neutrality. He has his favourites and you can’t ignore it.


Robert Milkins wins the 2022 Gibraltar Open

This quite extraordinary season brought us yet another first time winner in Robert Milkins. This time it’s not a young Chinese talent, nor is it a player who has been “knocking on the door” for a long time … it’s a 46 years old, who, before this week, had only won three matches all season.

Congratulations Robert Milkins!

Here is the report by WST:

Milkins Rules The Rock With First Ranking Crown

Robert Milkins won the first ranking title of his 27-year career, beating Kyren Wilson 4-2 in the final of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

Gloucester’s 46-year-old Milkins turned pro back in 1995 and had previously appeared in six ranking event semi-finals but never a final – until today as he enjoys undoubtedly the best moment of his career. He becomes the oldest first-time winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy at the 1988 UK Championship.

And his success is all the more remarkable given that he had won just three matches all season prior to this week. Seven victories on the bounce have given him by far his biggest pay-day of £50,000.

Milkins’ triumph also comes just three weeks after one of the lowest moments of his time in snooker: drunken escapades during the opening ceremony of the Nirvana Turkish Masters for which he faces WPBSA disciplinary action. That incident was perhaps the result of the pressure the father-of-three felt to turn his form around and provide money for his family. One of the sport’s more naturally talented players who is popular with his peers for his usually affable nature, Milkins can now look forward to a brighter future having fulfilled at least part of his potential.

Having joined a list of first-time winners this season – alongside David Gilbert, Zhao Xintong, Hossein Vafaei, Fan Zhengyi and Joe Perry – Milkins will earn a debut in the Cazoo Champion of Champions later this year and shoots up the world rankings from 43rd to 28th.

Other than Milkins, no one had more cause to celebrate the day’s results than John Higgins. The 46-year-old Scot banked the huge £150,000 bonus for topping the BetVictor Series rankings after the eight counting events. Higgins had a nervous wait for most of the day, but was sure of the bonus after Ricky Walden lost narrowly 4-3 to Wilson in the semi-finals. Read more on that story here.

Wilson could have leapfrogged Higgins in the race to qualify for the Cazoo Tour Championship by winning the final, but misses out on that eight-man event which starts on Monday in Llandudno. World number five Wilson reached his first ranking final of the season and earns £20,000 as runner-up, but the Kettering cueman will surely see this as an opportunity missed. He has now lost seven of his 11 career ranking finals.

Wilson looked on course to take the opening frame until he missed a tricky black to a top corner on a break of 59, letting Milkins in for an excellent 71 clearance. The second came down to a long safety battle on the yellow, and Wilson, trailing by 19 points, created a chance but then failed to clip the yellow into a baulk corner, and Milkins took advantage for 2-0.

Early in frame three, Wilson overcut a red to a centre pocket on 14, and once again his opponent punished him, making 62 which proved enough to put him three up with four to play. Milkins had a brief glimpse of the finish line in the fourth, but failed to convert a tricky red to a top corner, and Wilson’s 65 made it 3-1. Another chance came and went for Milkins in the fifth as he missed the pink to a centre pocket when he trailed 27-18, and eventually lost the frame after being trapped in a tough snooker on the last red.

Wilson had the chance to extend the fight-back in the sixth, until he missed a difficult pink to centre when he trailed 30-10. This time there was no mistake from Milkins as he kept his composure in a match-winning run of 44.

Milkins is the fourth fastest player on the tour this season, with an average shot time of 19.29 seconds

It has been a long time coming,” said the player nicknamed the Milkman. “I have worked all my career for this, it’s a dream come true. It’s hard to keep practising and not getting the rewards, but a moment like this makes it all worth it. To be honest I didn’t think I’d ever see this day. Things haven’t been going well for me recently and I couldn’t see it coming.

I have had times in my career where I have felt I had a chance to win tournaments, but recently I haven’t even seen myself winning a match. The standard is so good now, and next season I could have been struggling to stay on the tour. I’m glad this has happened now because I certainly haven’t got much time left! This has changed things for me. I love Gibraltar, it’s one of the best venues and a place to enjoy. Thank you to the fans because they have been great.

I would like to dedicate this trophy to the people around me I have lost and who can’t see me here today – my mum and dad, and other people.

Wilson said: “This is a special moment for Rob so congratulations to him. I wasn’t there at all, I lost my cueing in the final. If I had taken the first frame I might have settled and left Rob cold, but he made a really good clearance. After that it was very twitchy. I tried to make a fight of it from 3-0.

Once again, there is inaccurate information in this post by WST: Joe Perry’s Welsh Open title was not his first as he had won the Players Championship Grand Final back in 2015.

One comment by Lewis suggests that he feels that Robert should not have been allowed to play in this event. Personally, I disagree. What happened was a one-off incident, it didn’t put the integrity of the sport in jeopardy. Robert didn’t look for any excuses: he knows he messed up, he admitted to it, he was genuinely sorry and, this week he did put everything he had to try to redeem himself. I write this confidentely because I have known Robert personally for many years and he’s just a “what you see is what you get” type of bloke and a nice guy. He will be punished and will take his punishement without a complain.

For all players but 8, this was the last event before the World Championship and what happened at the table was largely overshadowed by all the talks about the various possible implications of this otherwise rather “low-key” tournament.

The big loser this week is Ricky Walden and I really feel for him. He prepared well. Going into the semi-finals there was a lot at stake for him: reaching the final would have put him into the Tour Championship and in the top 16, with a direct seeding at the Crucible. That alone would have been worth a guaranteed 40000 pounds and 20000 points, and spared him the harrowing World qualifiers. Ricky knew it, it had been the main talking point all week, it got at him. It pained me to watch him sweating in his chair during the semi-final and I’m not sure how he found the courage to smile at Kyren Wilson whilst extending his hand at the end of the match … he walked away, looking terrible, with a paltry 6000 pounds, and the prospect of playing  qualifiers at the EIS in a week’s time.

Another very disappointed player was Mark Allen, who found himself ex aequo with John Higgins in the race to the European Series bonus and was convinced that they would share it … instead John Higgins got it all, on countback.

BetVictor £150,000 Bonus Goes To Higgins

John Higgins won the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus for topping the ranking list despite not hitting a ball in Gibraltar on Saturday.

Scotland’s Higgins lost in the last 32 at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open on Friday but none of the players chasing him were able to surpass his total, so the 46-year-old banks the massive bonus for the first time.

Surprisingly, Higgins has finished top of the list despite not winning any of the eight events in the 2021/22 BetVictor Series. He was runner-up at three of the four BetVictor Home Nations events and reached the last 32 of three other tournaments.

He finishes the series tied with Mark Allen with £101,000, but ahead of Allen on countback, having gone further at the BetVictor European Masters. Both players reached the same stage of the subsequent events in Wales and Gibraltar.

Ten players could have overtaken Higgins in Gibraltar and captured the bonus, but all of them fell by the wayside. Ricky Walden was the last man standing and would have taken the £150,000 by winning the title, but his semi-final defeat against Kyren Wilson was good news for Higgins’ bank balance.

Four-time World Champion Higgins becomes the first player to win the BetVictor Series bonus other than Judd Trump, who topped the list in 2020 and 2021.

John Higgins, 2021/22 BetVictor Series

BetVictor Northern Ireland Open: Runner-up
BetVictor English Open: Runner-up
BetVictor Scottish Open: Runner-up
BildBet German Masters: Last 128
BetVictor Shoot Out: Did not enter
BetVictor European Masters: Last 32
BetVictor Welsh Open: Last 32
BetVictor Gibraltar Open: last 32

I can understand the countback rule when it comes to ranking and seeding, but here I feel that they should have been sharing the money, especially in the light of the alleged “reward the winners” WST/Hearn philosphy as Allen, contrary to Higgins, has actually won one of those events.

So John Higgins is actually the big winner at the end of this week, not just because of the bonus but also because defeat for Kyren Wilson in the final kept him in the Tour Championship.

Yan Bingtao is also a winner, despite not entering the event because, eventually, he kept his top 16 seeding at the Crucible AND spared himself all the travel hassle that so many other Asian players had to face because bad weather landed them in Spain … and in visa issues.

Tomorrow the 2022 Tour Championship will start in Llandudno and on ITV.

Cazoo Tour Championship Schedule Confirmed

The match schedule for next week’s Cazoo Tour Championship is now confirmed, following the completion of the final counting event, the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

The elite eight-man tournament runs from March 28 to April 3 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

Kyren Wilson could have earned a place in the field if he had beaten Robert Milkins in the final in Gibraltar, but defeat for Wilson meant that John Higgins held on to the eighth and last spot. So the line-up is (seeding in brackets):

Monday March 28
Zhao Xintong (1) v John Higgins (8)

Tuesday March 29
Neil Robertson (2) v Mark Allen (7)

Wednesday March 30
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) v Mark Williams (6)

Thursday March 31
Judd Trump (4) v Luca Brecel (5)

Friday April 1

Saturday April 2

Sunday April 3

All matches take place over two sessions and the best of 19 frames. Session times are 1pm and 7:30pm.

It’s the final event of the 2021/22 Cazoo Series, with only the top eight from the one-year ranking list in the line-up.

ITV provides a great coverage but is not available in many countries unless you “cheat”.  It’s not on Eurosport. It is on Matchroom.live but the quality of the streaming there has been really terrible in some events this season with the footage resembling more to a psychedelic trip than anything else.

Whatever happens in the coming days, Ronnie will go at the Crucible as World Number One. Not bad at 46 years of age. Of course, at the end of the event, he will lose the 500000 points earned in 2020, and would need the title to keep that ranking, but hey!





2022 Gibraltar Open – Day 2

Ronnie’s first ever participation in the Gibraltar Open was a short one as he was beaten by Ben Woollaston by 4-3 in the first round.


It was in many way a strange match.

Here is the report published by Eurosport:


The second seed Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a surprise 4-3 defeat to Ben Woollaston on Friday in the first round of the Gibraltar Open. The Rocket had been expected to cruise through and secure his place in the second round, but Woollaston produced a stunning upset as he held his composure in the deciding frame. 


Ronnie O’Sullivan was dumped out of the Gibraltar Open in the first round after a shock 4-3 defeat to Ben Woollaston.

O’Sullivan was ahead for most of the match but then let Woollaston recover to level at 3-3 and then eventually clinch a stunning victory in the deciding frame.

This was O’Sullivan’s first appearance in the event, but he will go no further in the competition on a forgettable day for the world No. 2.

The rocket cruised to a 71-9 win in the first frame, storming to a 70-0 lead which included a break of 26, and with Woollaston needing snookers, he conceded the frame.

But Woollaston bounced back in an impressive second frame, taking it 77-1 with a very impressive break of 65 to level the game up at 1-1 and made the Rocket sweat, briefly.

Ronnie stormed back to claim the third frame 110-19 with breaks of 51 and 49 to retake the lead in the match, before taking the fourth frame 91-42 with an even bigger break of 60.

But the match was taken to a sixth frame thanks to some impressive snooker from Woollaston, who romped home to an 88-0 victory to halve the deficit at 3-2.

That came at the end of a long safety battle, with O’Sullivan clipping the pink on his way back to baulk. Woollaston then sealed the win in the frame by getting the last couple of reds to end with a break of 39.

This was not vintage Ronnie by any means, as he showed glimpses of brilliance without completing the job in the ruthless fashion which we have come to expect.

The Rocket took to the table first and reached 13 before potting a superb three-ball plant on a red. However, the break ended at 21 after missing the next red to leave a chance for Woollaston to reclaim a foothold in this contest.

He replied by missing an ambitious red to the yellow pocket, as O’Sullivan then pulled a double out of the bag, only to miss a black to the right corner.

Woollaston’s safety game was strong, but he knew that he would need to open up the reds on the table to have a realistic chance of winning the frame. However, he failed to do that off the black, which ended the break.

However, he did go on to win the frame with an impressive break of 48 to claim the sixth game 96-30 and leave the pair facing a final frame shootout.

It was to be Woollaston’s day, and his break of 61 was enough to win the final frame 79-6 and set up a second-round meeting with either Barry Pinches or Peter Lines later this afternoon.

I hate the “hyperbolic” style so often used in snooker report. Yes, it was a surprise defeat, especially from 3-1 up, but Ben Woollaston is a very capable player, he’s 30th in the one year list and on the up recently. He’s a very reliable potter. He has been in a ranking final and has beaten Ronnie before: in fact their head-to-head is 3-2 in Ronnie’s favour and 4 of their 5 encounters have been close. Maybe significatively Ronnie won the two “best of 11” they played, but lost two of their three “best of 7”. So it’s not a huge shock.

The thing is that yesterday, Ronnie simply made too many elementary mistakes whilst Ben was very reliable in the balls. When I wrote that this was a strange match it’s because Ronnie, for once, played some excellent break-offs, his safety was good too, he pulled off some great shots only to ruin the opportunities he had created for himself by missing simple shots. When this happens it’s usually a sign that the player’s concentration isn’t good.

Anyway, Ben won the match deservedly and went on to win the next two as well. He was behind and eventually won in all three matches he played yesterday. That doesn’t happen “by chance”.

As for Ronnie, I’m still not sure why he entered this event for the first time this season and would be surprised if he enters it again…

Anyway …

Here is WST report on what happened yesterday:

Trump On Course For Gibraltar Treble

Defending champion Judd Trump kept his hopes of a third consecutive BetVictor Gibraltar Open title alive with a 4-1 win over Sanderson Lam to make the last 16.

The 23-time ranking event winner is also aiming the scoop the lucrative £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus for the third year in a row. The bumper payout is awarded to the player who amasses the most prize money over the eight counting events, with this week marking the series finale. Trump knows he must take home the title in order to top the rankings.

The Ace in the Pack progressed through his first two matches today with ease, whitewashing both Andrew Higginson and Simon Blackwell 4-0 to make the last 32. Trump then defeated Lam 4-1 to book a clash with Ricky Walden in the last 16. The remaining four rounds will be played out Saturday.

Walden is also still in the running for the bonus, but like Trump he will need to win the event. The Chester cueman booked his place in the last 16 with a 4-2 defeat of Zhou Yuelong. Walden looked to be in fine touch this evening, firing in runs of 54, 80, 140 and 65 on his way to the win.

John Higgins remains in pole position for the bonus after reaching the last 32, but a 4-2 defeat to Jimmy Robertson means his fate is out of his hands. The Scot leads Mark Allen on countback, after the Northern Irishman bowed out to Robert Milkins by a 4-3 scoreline.

Stuart Bingham defeated Yuan Sijun 4-2 to progress to the final day. The 2015 World Champion crafted the ninth 147 break of his career earlier in the day against Gerard Greene. Bingham’s last 16 assignment is a clash with Iran’s Soheil Vahedi.

Ben Hancorn reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time after beating Michael White 4-2. World number 86 Hancorn is currently battling for his tour survival and a deep run this weekend could prove to be extremely helpful to his ranking. Next up he faces Ben Woollaston, who defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan on his way to the last 16.

It’s fair to say that Judd had it easy so far: he has played two amateurs and Andrew Higginson who is struggling badly: other than in the best of 4 CLS in the summer, and the one frame Shoot-out he has only won 6 matches all season.

Stuart Bingham made a 147 

Bingham On Cloud Nine With 147

Stuart Bingham made the ninth maximum break of his career to round off his 4-1 win over Gerard Greene in the first round of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open on Friday.

World number 13 Bingham potted 15 reds with blacks and cleared the colours to thrill fans at the Europa Sports Complex.

Only Ronnie O’Sullivan (15), John Higgins (12) and Stephen Hendry (11) have made more maximums, and in fact Basildon’s Bingham has made six 147s since 2018.

He is now in line for the tournament high break prize of £5,000. It’s the 174th maximum in snooker history and eighth so far this season.

It’s was great to finish the match off that way,” said Bingham, who has now made six of the last 37 official maximums. “When I’m in the mood I do go for them. Early in the break I knew it was on and I had to go for it. I think I’ve had around 300 maximums in practice. It’s nice to make one for the crowd – a fan came up to me afterwards and said it was the first tournament he had been to and he’s seen a 147.”

Here it is shared by Eurosport on their YouTube channel:

WST also summarised what is at stake today:

Bonus And Llandudno Races: The Final Day

Saturday is the final day of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, with the destination of the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus, as well as the line-up for the Cazoo Tour Championship, to be decided.

Higgins faces an anxious wait

The last 16 onwards will be played on the Rock, and the player who tops the BetVictor Series rankings at the end of the day will capture the bonus. Going into the event, 11 players were in the running, but Hossein Vafaei was forced to pull out, while John Higgins, Mark Allen, Fan Zhengyi, Luca Brecel,  Zhao Xintong, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Joe Perry have all lost in the early rounds.

Higgins remains on top with £101,000 and will win the bonus if none of the three chasers reach the final. They are:

Neil Robertson, £96,000. Must reach the final to have a chance.

Judd Trump (£75,500) and Ricky Walden (£61,000), both need to win the title…and they meet in the last 16.

Meanwhile, the top eight players on the one-year ranking list at the end of Saturday’s action will qualify for next week’s Cazoo Tour Championship, which starts on Monday in Llandudno. Defeat for Higgins in the last 32 on Friday has left him in eighth place and uncertain of qualification. Walden, Kyren Wilson and Jimmy Robertson could overtake him, but only by winning the £50,000 top prize in Gibraltar.

Last 16 line-up:

Judd Trump v Ricky Walden
Jordan Brown v Jamie Jones
Jimmy Robertson v Ding Junhui
Tom Ford v Kyren Wilson
Neil Robertson v Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham v Soheil Vahedi
Lyu Haotian v Robert Milkins
Ben Hancorn v Ben Woollaston

BetVictor Gibraltar Open prize money:
Winner: £50,000
Runner-up: £20,000
Semi-finals: £6,000
Quarter-finals: £5,000
Last 16: £4,000
Last 32: £3,000
Last 64: £2,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £251,000

About the coming Tour Championship …

Judd Trump is currently fourth in the one year list. He will stay there unless he wins the title. If he does that, he will climb above Ronnie and he could also overtake Neil Robertson if Neil were to lose in the last 16 or in the QF today.

Ricky Walden, Kyren Wilson and Jimmy Robertson could still overtake John Higgins and deny him a spot in the 2022 Tour Championship. Ricky would actually climb to sixth in the one year list if he did that, overtaking Mark Allen and Mark Williams as well.

A win for Ricky today would also see him overtake Yan Bingtao and Mark Allen in the provisional Crucible seedings. Yan would then need to qualify for the television stages of the World Championship.




2022 Gibraltar Open – Day 1

The least I can say about the first day in Gibraltar is that is was a shambles in so many accounts.

First here is WST statement about so many players withdrawal:

Unfortunately due to bad weather in Gibraltar, certain flights from the UK have been diverted to Malaga. Players travelling on non-British passports and without a Schengen Visa do not meet the Spanish visa entry requirements and therefore have had to fly back to the UK and some will not able to compete in this week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

This affects a relatively small number of players. Their opponents at the tournament will receive a walkover into the second round and these will be confirmed as and when we know that the player is unable to make their match. WPBSA Players representatives are contacting affected players and assisting with alternative plans where possible.


It wasn’t such a small number of players actually. Going by posts shared on Facebook by Soheil Vahedi, there were about 30 affected. About of them stayed, waiting for some kind of solution, a the other ones were sent back to Manchester. Actually Soheil himself eventually was able to play.

Here is WST report on the day:

Robertson Remains In Hunt While Zhao Bows Out

Masters champion Neil Robertson maintained his hopes of scooping the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus, while UK Champion Zhao Xintong’s chances of the payout were ended on day one of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

Australia’s Robertson had to negotiate three matches to secure his place in the final day of play on Saturday, where the event will be played to its conclusion form the last 16 onwards.

Robertson, who won the BetVictor English Open earlier in the season, scored 4-2 wins over Liang Wenbo and Oliver Lines to set up a last 32 tie against Jamaica’s Rory McLeod.

He ensured his progression by crafting breaks of 61, 78 and 102 on his way to a 4-1 victory. Robertson’s next opponent on Saturday will be Jak Jones, who defeated BetVictor Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel 4-3 in the last 32.

Robertson must make at least the semi-finals to stand a chance of scooping the lucrative bonus, which will go to the player who has accumulated the most prize money across the eight counting events.

Robertson said: “This season has been awesome. My strike rate has been incredible and I have played really well with a good brand of snooker. That has been pleasing. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with the Tour Championship, where I’m looking to defend my title and then the World Championship. Things are getting serious again.”

China’s Zhao had placed himself in a strong position in the series standings, after winning the BildBet German Masters in January. He got off to a good start today, with a 4-1 defeat of Jamie Clarke in the opening round. However, a 4-1 reverse at the hands of Chris Wakelin saw him crash out.

Iranian amateur Soheil Vahedi put paid to Wakelin’s hopes of making the final day, beating him 4-2 in the last 32. Vahedi also scored wins over Lyu Haotian and Sean Maddocks.

World number five Kyren Wilson booked his place in the last 16 thanks to a 4-1 defeat of four-time ranking event winner Ali Carter. Wilson dropped just one frame in his three matches and top scored in this evening’s tie against Carter with a run of 88.

China’s 14-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui and former Welsh Open winner Jordan Brown secured their passage to the final day. Ding defeated Aaron Hill 4-1 in the last 32, while Brown whitewashed Louis Heathcote 4-0.

The above report is inaccurate: Lyu Haotian is actually through to the final day, it’s Noppon Saengkham who was beaten by Soheil.

If I correctly understand the commentators, Zhao was one of the players sent back to Manchester, but he managed to come back in time for his first round match, and won that one convincingly: he had 5 break over 50 in beating Jamie Clarke by 4-1. In the late afternoon though he coudn’t pot a ball for his life… he was probably exhausted.

And the weather was acting up as well …

No it’s not photoshopped. This is called blood rain. The colour comes from red sand carried by the winds from the Sahara desert … and then falling with the rain.


Even more withdrawals at the 2022 Gibraltar Open … high winds, visa issues, no practice tables and crisps-loving birds.

Yesterday WST announced more withdrawals at the 2022 Gibraltar Open 

Updated Gibraltar Draw

Several players have withdrawn from this week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, and have been replaced in the draw by the next available players on the Q School 2021 Order of Merit.

Liam Highfield is replaced by Dylan Mitchell (Match 5)
Dean Young is replaced by Joshua Cooper (Match 22)
Sean Harvey is replaced by Hamim Hussain (Match 29)
Billy Castle is replaced by Phil O’Kane (Match 13)
Shaun Murphy is replaced by Lee Stephens (Match 12)
Kurt Maflin is replaced by Jamie Curtis-Barrett (Match 37)
Zhang Jiankang is replaced by Stuart Watson (Match 39)

Click here for the updated draw

Click here for the format

Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Kyren Wilson, Mark Allen and defending champion Judd Trump are among the star names competing in the tournament which runs from March 24 to 26 at the Europa Sports Complex.

and today there were even more withdrawals, including some of the “replacements”:

  • Jamie Jones W/O – Phil O’Kane
  • Matthew Stevens W/O  – Hamim Hussain
  • Fraser Patrick – Steven Hallworth W/O
  • Chang Bingyu – Sanderson Lam W/O

And there might be a lot more to come if this post by Soheil Vahedi on Facebook is anything to go by:

Screenshot 2022-03-23 at 18.16.24

So apparently the windy weather brings a double issue. Some “last minute” players seem to be unable to travel, and others are detained at the Malaga Airport because of passport/visa issues.

What a mess!

One player who did arrive in Gibraltar is Neil Robertson! He has a lot of time on his hands because there are NO PRACTICE TABLES. As a result he apparently decided to have a vegan burger at a terrace but even that proved to be more complicated than expected. Voracious pigeons decided that the burger and crips were to there liking  and Neil had to retreat abandonning the crisps…

What’s coming next ???