Tour News – 9.3.2022 – Marco Fu returns, World Champs Wilcards, Gibraltar Open Draw

Whilst the Turkish Masters continues in Antalya a few interesting news have emerged regarding the rest of the season.

Marco Fu, who hasn’t played in a professional event at all for about 2 years, has announced that he has entered the 2022 World Championship. The news was received with joy by fans as well as by fellow pros. Marco is currently LAST in the professional rankings, having not played at all in the previous and this seasons. He is facing a very tough task. Should he manage to reach the Crucible however, he would of course get a new 2 years tour card.

Also, about the World Championship, it has been confirmed that the format will be only best of 11 in the early rounds, which is a shame. There will be 128 players in the draw including 16 wildcards, that will be selected following these published criteria:

Amateur Players For World Qualifiers Announced

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and World Snooker Tour have today announced the qualification criteria for the 16 amateur qualifiers who will be offered the chance to compete at next month’s Betfred World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

The qualifying rounds for this year’s Championship will return to the English Institute for Sport, Sheffield from 4-13 April and be contested by a field of 128 players. The field will include professionals ranked outside of the world’s top 16 following the Cazoo Tour Championship and amateur top ups from the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

They will be joined by 16 elite amateur players selected by the WPBSA, based on their performances at recognised international competitions held this season. For the first time this includes players from the new WPBSA Q Tour, who will be confirmed following the fourth and final event of the season which is set to conclude on 20 March 2022.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are delighted to be able to announce today the qualifiers who have earned their chance to compete at this year’s professional World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

“Each player has earned their chance following their performances at the sport’s leading amateur competitions, including the recent World Snooker Federation Championships – the biggest international amateur event held in many years with over 300 players having taken part – as well as WPBSA Q Tour, our sport’s premier amateur tour.

“These prestigious events are now leading the way in providing a direct pathway to the World Snooker Tour, whether through two-year tour cards, or other opportunities to compete in major events including the World Championship.”

Full WPBSA Qualifiers list:

  • Si Jiahui – 2022 WSF Championship Winner
  • Lee Stephens – 2022 WSF Championship Runner-up
  • Daniel Wells – 2022 WSF Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Michael White – 2022 WSF Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Anton Kazakov – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Winner
  • Jake Crofts – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Runner-up
  • Liam Davies – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Yorrit Hoes – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Nutcharut Wongharuthai – 2022 World Women’s Snooker No.3 / World Champion
  • Rebecca Kenna – 2022 World Women’s Snooker No.4
  • Dylan Emery – 2021 EBSA European Under-21 Championship Winner
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.1 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.2 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.3 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.4 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.5 (decided after 20 March)

All players selected will appear subject to acceptance of their place and any travel restrictions in place. Any replacement players will be selected from a reserve list to include performances at World Snooker Federation and recognised regional events.

Any current professional players who do not enter the tournament will be replaced from the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

I have put the last line in bold as this is important to understand. Last year, players high in the Q-school order of merit felt aggrieved because they had not been invited, whilst amateurs emerging from other comps had. Some said the WST was contractually bound to take them in, rather than those guys. This was a misunderstanding. WST is bound to take them as replacement for pros who opted not to enter the event, but those 16 spots are something else. Their “aim” is to promote deserving amateurs who did well in big amateur competitions.

Finally, WST has published the draw for the 2022 Gibraltar Open, and much to my and other’s surprise, Ronnie has entered it.

BetVictor Gibraltar Open Draw

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Kyren Wilson, Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy and defending champion Judd Trump are among the star names competing in the BetVictor Gibraltar Open later this month.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The tournament runs from March 24 to 26 at the Europa Sports Complex. Tickets start at just £20 and it’s a fantastic opportunity to see many of the world’s most decorated players.

Ronnie action WSTTrump has won the title in each of the last two years and this time he starts his defence against Andrew Higginson. O’Sullivan, playing in this tournament for the first time, will meet Ben Woollaston in the first round, while Robertson will take on Liang Wenbo.

The world ranking event has a top prize of £50,000 and it’s also the eighth and final event in the 2021/22 BetVictor Series, with a £150,000 bonus up for grabs. No fewer than 11 players can still win the bonus by topping the BetVictor Series rankings. Higgins and Allen currently top the list but with nine players in pursuit it’s sure to be a dramatic conclusion to the series.

The tournament has been running since 2015, when it was won by Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. Shaun Murphy, Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham lifted the trophy in the following three years, then in 2020 and 2021 the event was dominated by Trump.

A spokesman for WST said: “This is without question the strongest field we have ever had for the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, with so many of our sport’s all-time greats in the draw. For snooker fans in the region it’s an incredible opportunity to see the top stars of snooker’s golden era for the price of a single ticket.

And with so much at stake including a prestigious title and the massive BetVictor Series bonus, it promises to be three days of great excitement and top class live sport.”

Ronnie certainly never showed any interest for this competition and many are wondering why he entered it now, including me. I’m slightly nonplussed. I can only think of two things that could explain this move: the tournament is played right before the Tour Championship and he might want some competitive snooker in order to sharpen for that big one and, maybe, now being single, staying home just hasn’t the much appeal right now.

10 thoughts on “Tour News – 9.3.2022 – Marco Fu returns, World Champs Wilcards, Gibraltar Open Draw

  1. Ronnie with draw-calculations…? : )) Maybe have mathematics support for the schedule-managament, but…aah, no, nay! John is the best opponent for him. A noble match. (Yeah, is a single roaming. : ))
    Walden, Perry,…Fu. (Yes! : ))

  2. Has WST or the WPBSA issued a statement as to why we’re getting best-of-11s for the third year in a row for the early qualifying rounds of the WC? Surely they can’t STILL be blaming it on covid protocols, for which the measure was only supposed to temporary for.

    I’m guessing after the 2020 WC, they realised it suits TV/app (Eurosport) coverage for them.

  3. What Selby news? I know he stated he is having psychological challenges but has he pulled out of events altogether for a while? Surely he will defend his world title?

    • He’s said he won’t play until the World’s. So all points for Gibraltar and Tour Championship are essentially ‘uncontested’. Ronnie will lose 500k points when WC starts so, given he’s saying he’s only got 3 more World’s in him, this is likely his last realistic chance of being World Number One (unless he wins WC this year) for a long time

  4. I had the same thought about how staying home might not have much appeal for Ronnie right now.

    Perhaps he also has at least a little interest in trying to win the 150k bonus.

    On a Tour Champs related note, I have been following with interest the possibility that Ronnie will have to play Higgins in the first round…

  5. With the Selby news he’s got a half decent chance of being World Number 1 going into the Crucible doesn’t he?

    A half decent run in Gibraltar plus just one win at the TC might be enough (unless Judd wins in Turkey) to do it by maths?

  6. But he does not need the possible points from Gibraltar to qualify for the Tour, does he?

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