2022 World Championship – Day 5

The last 16 round starts today at the Crucible. The tables are being recovered. That’s why we have only two sessions scheduled.

Crucible2022TablesRecovered

We still have two first round matches in progress. They will finish today whilst two second round matches will start.

Meanwhile here are the WST reports on what happened yesterday.

Morning session:

Nervy Higgins Overcomes Un-Nooh

John Higgins admits he had “crazy thoughts” after a shocking error towards the end of his first round clash with Thepchiaya Un-Nooh at the Betfred World Championship, but the four-time champion composed himself in time to win 10-7 and reach the last 16.

Higgins recovered a 5-4 overnight deficit to win six of the last eight frames, booking his eighth consecutive appearance in the second round at the Crucible and a match against Luca Brecel or Noppon Saengkham.

Higgins has lost five finals this season, though he did win the Championship League

But it was not straight-forward for legend Higgins as he suffered a nervous spell after letting Un-Nooh back into the match in frame 15. Poised to go 9-6 ahead and leading by 21 points after potting the last red, Higgins took the black and attempted to screw back for position on the yellow, but sent the cue ball into a centre pocket. The Scot lost that frame and then made several more errors in the 16th as tension took hold. But Un-Nooh couldn’t capitalise and Higgins was able to regroup.

When I went in-off in the middle bag, I felt numb at that point, as if someone had taken me out of my own body,” said Higgins. “That’s when some crazy thoughts go through your mind. But I managed to get to ten first. I’m delighted because I felt like I stood up quite well in the end.”

The business end of the tie was an uncomfortable reminder for Higgins of the recent Cazoo Tour Championship final when he let slip a 9-4 lead and lost 10-9 to Neil Robertson. But this time he crossed the winning line, which will boost the 46-year-old’s confidence as he heads into the last 16 in Sheffield for the 24th time.

Un-Nooh led 5-4 overnight and had first chance in the opening frame this morning but missed a red to a baulk corner on 32. Higgins punished him with a run of 75 to square the match. In frame 11 the roles were reversed as Higgins made 43 before missing the green to a baulk corner, and Un-Nooh capitalised with 77. Higgins dominated the next two frames with runs of 47, 53 and 100 to lead 7-6 at the interval.

In frame 14, Un-Nooh led 37-36 when he failed to pot the penultimate red, playing with the rest, handing Higgins the chance to double his lead. After his mistake in frame 15, world number six Higgins feared he had squandered the 16th as well when he missed the black when playing for the yellow. But crucially Un-Nooh rattled a tricky yellow in the jaws of one baulk corner, leaving it for Higgins to go 9-7 up. Another error from Un-Nooh, on the pink to a centre pocket early in the 17th, proved his last meaningful shot as Higgins compiled an excellent 65.

It’s always more nerve-racking in the first round because you just want to get through and get into the tournament,” said Higgins. “Every draw is tough but for Thepchaiya, it was almost like he had a free hit coming in after almost falling off the tour this season. I thought his scoring was great but he missed a couple of balls. Everyone does that – it’s difficult out there.

I feel as if I am hitting the ball well at the moment. That can get better the longer I stay in the event. It was amazing to have the crowds back, after what’s happened in the last couple of years. It adds to the tension and everything else you feel.

Un-Nooh has qualified for the Crucible four times and be drawn against Higgins twice, Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan, losing all four. He said: “John played well today, I didn’t get that many chances from him. I lost my focus near the end. The yellow I missed at 8-7, it was a really difficult shot to get the cue ball back to the green. I was thinking about where the white was going rather than aiming at the yellow. After that my head was gone, then I missed an easy pink in the next frame.

Hopefully next time I come here I can win a match. Having made it through the qualifying rounds I have a lot more confidence going into next season.

On the other table, China’s 14-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui opened up a 5-4 lead over world number five Kyren Wilson.

Ding has slid to 29th in the world rankings, requiring him to come through the qualifying stages for this year’s event. However, the last time he competed at the Crucible as a qualifier he went all the way to the 2016 final, when he was beaten by Mark Selby.

Wilson has been one of the most consistent World Championship performers in recent years, making at least the quarter-finals every year since 2016. The Warrior battled his way to the 2020 final, but fell short against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ding looks to have carried sharpness from the qualifiers and made an electric start this morning. Breaks of 64, 110, 51 and 55 helped him to move into an early 3-0 advantage. Wilson responded with a century contribution of 101 to remain in touch at 3-1 down heading in for the mid-session.

Wilson clawed another frame back on the black and he then levelled at 3-3 with break of 95. Ding took back the momentum and runs of 54 and 82 helped him to move 5-3 ahead. However, Wilson took a 31-minute last frame of the session to end one behind at 5-4.  They return at 7pm this evening to play to a conclusion.

Afternoon session

Lisowski: I Played With Fear

Jack Lisowski admits he tightened up and stopped playing with freedom at the business end of his match with Matthew Stevens in the first round of the Betfred World Championship, but he did enough to score a 10-8 success.

From 9-6 ahead, Lisowski needed several chances to cross the winning line, but eventually made it through to the second round at the Crucible for the third time in his career. The 30-year-old has never been to the quarter-finals, and will have to beat tournament favourite Neil Robertson to make that breakthrough.

There is no doubting Lisowski’s natural talent and break-building skills, but he acknowledges that he lacks a trait of the elite players: the killer instinct to consistently close out matches. He is working with 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon with a view to sharpening that part of his game. A best-of-25 match against Robertson, the player of the season so far, will be a fascinating test for Lisowski.

I am drained,” said the world number 14 after today’s contest. “I was gone at the end. I couldn’t see shots and couldn’t make my mind up. I had done some good things earlier in the game to get a lead, and I was able to hang on and fall over the line. I was playing with fear and expecting Matthew to come back, I was guarding the lead which is the worst thing you can do. I need to play freely, when I tighten up it just doesn’t suit me. Hopefully I can look back and learn from this game. If I had lost it would have been a dark one.

Stevens trailed 6-3 overnight but dominated the early exchange today, making breaks of 54, 99 and 69 as he fought back to 6-6. Lisowski regained the lead with a run of 78 to make it 7-6 at the interval.

The vital 14th frame came down to the colours and Welshman Stevens, leading 55-52, missed an awkward mid-range pink to a top corner. Lisowski slotted in pink and black to double his lead. An early chance for Stevens early in frame 15 yielded just 4 points before he failed to convert a red to centre and, after a rerack, Lisowski punished him with a break of 83 for 9-6.

Gloucestershire’s Lisowski had a match-winning opportunities in the next two frames, but missed a red to corner and pink to centre, and Stevens took advantage with 71 and 65 to close to 9-8.

Both players passed up chances in the 18th, Stevens notably missing the penultimate red to a top corner when he trailed 59-33. A relieved Lisowski potted red, blue, red and black for victory.

I was disappointed with the way I started today, but at the end I showed a bit of character to take a lead,” said Lisowski. “Peter Ebdon is making a big difference to my game – especially the mental side. He helped me last night at the mid-session interval when it was 2-2. I spoke to him and something clicked. I played three good frames and I owe that to him. I don’t know if I’d have done that without him.”

I’ve got to play very well to beat Neil. He’s going to make it difficult for me. His record is not the best here – this is his worst venue. If there’s anywhere I’d want to play him then it’s here. I’ve got to step up my game, got to play very good snooker to beat him. But I think I have it in me.

I pushed him to 13-9 last year, I think I’ve got what it takes to beat him now – my all-round game is better now compared to then. I’m still trying to win my first title, if it was to be at the World Championship then it would be fantastic – that’s what I’m gunning for.

Stevens, Crucible runner-up in 2000 and 2005, said: “I didn’t feel under any pressure. I could see he was feeling a bit because I started to come back at him. I know the feeling – it’s the worst in the world. I’m disappointed but I put up a good fight from 6-2 down.

Jack makes it look ridiculously easy, he pots them off the lampshades – and at a quick speed as well. I enjoyed the pace of the game, I enjoyed watching him, he is a tremendous player.

On the other table, 2019 World Champion Judd Trump established a 6-3 advantage over Crucible debutant Hossein Vafaei.

Iranian Vafaei is the first player from his country to compete at the Crucible, making Iran the 20th nation to be represented at the Theatre of Dreams. The world number 18 proclaimed during qualifying that he was “born to make history” and that he would give his last blood in a bid to earn a Crucible spot. He defeated Lei Peifan 10-9 in the final round.

Trump took an early 3-0 lead with a top break of 110, before Vafaei won frame four by clearing from green to pink. After the interval, the Prince of Persia added the fifth frame then made a 99 in the sixth to restore parity at 3-3.

However, Trump regained control and breaks of 56 and 73 helped him to take the following three frames and end with a 6-3 lead. They return for the concluding session on Thursday at 7pm.

It’s worrying for Jack if he’s already drained at this stage of the competition. I can’t help to wonder how much damage the illness that almost killed him as a teenager has done to his body and to his mind. He often seems to struggle for concentration. If Peter Ebdon can help him, great … I just hope Jack doesn’t buy into Peter’s ideas outside snooker!

The Trump v Vafaei match was just terrible for most of it, although Judd improved after the MSI. They were lucky to play each other because ayone else I watched earlier in the week would have destroyed them, certainly during the first mini-session. So much for being “the best player”.  That said, it’s a long tournament of course and whoever goes through has time to improve. In 2019 Judd was very lucky that Theppy suffered a slice of misfortune in round 1, he would probably have lost that match otherwise but he won itand went on to win the tournament.

Evening session

Wilson Beats Ding In High Quality Tussle

Wilson was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in Sheffield in 2020

Kyren Wilson came from 3-0 down to beat Ding Junhui 10-8 in the best match of the Betfred World Championship so far, featuring five centuries and 12 more breaks over 50.

Wilson has been among the most consistent performers on the Crucible stage in recent seasons, having reached at least the quarter-finals every year since 2016. He’ll keep that record going if he can beat Stuart Bingham in the second round this time.

World number five Wilson saw his name pulled out of the hat against three-time UK Champion Ding when the random draw was made last week, but approached a difficult task with a positive attitude and reaped the rewards of an excellent performance.

It was awesome, I loved every minute of it,” he said. “When you’re both scoring well and feeding off each other, it’s going to produce good snooker. I felt like it was fast, attacking, flowing – a great match.

Some players wouldn’t have wanted to draw Ding in the first round. You can’t view it that way. I knew I’d have to play well and if I won it would set me up for the rest this tournament. That’s the way I viewed it and I’ve come out on top.

In fact Wilson’s game has been sharp for most of this season – only Neil Robertson has made more centuries. He hasn’t added to his collection of trophies – the runner-up spot at the Gibraltar Open was his best run – but he could yet end the campaign with the trophy he craves the most.

The opening frame of the concluding session came down to a long safety battle on the colours, and Wilson made a fine clearance from green to black to level the match at 5-5. The next four frames were shared, with high scoring from both players, as Ding fired runs of 96 and 122 while Wilson replied with 85 and 99. Wilson’s 126, the 40th century of the tournament, put him ahead for the first time at 8-7.

Looking to continue his momentum in frame 16, Wilson made 22 before missing a red to a centre pocket and Ding punished him with a 117 clearance. In the 17th, Ding had a chance to clear from 65-0 down, and got to the final pink before missing a mid-range pot to a top corner. There was more pain for the Chinese ace as, attempting safety, he went in-off the pink, handing Wilson a 9-8 lead.

A run of 62 gave Wilson control of frame 18, and Ding’s chance to counter ended when he missed a difficult pink to centre with one red left.

This must be up there with one of my best victories,” said Kettering’s Wilson. “I was involved in a similar game last year against Gary Wilson where I found myself down in the first session and I managed to win that 10-8. Sometimes those games are good stepping stones for what you would like to be a long tournament.

It’s going to be another tough game against Stuart. He knows what it takes to win this event, he got to the semi-finals last year, the same as myself. Every year I’m knocking on the door. I always come here believing that this is my year. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when for me. I’ll just keep trying.

Ding, who was runner-up in 2016, said: “I’m not disappointed, but I had a lot of frame winning chances which I didn’t take. Kyren is playing well.

I’m going to stick with my family, it’s easy to become a robot, doing the same things all the time. I’ve now got more time to be myself.

On the other table, Noppon Saengkham took a 6-3 lead over Luca Brecel in a battle between players from Thailand and Belgium. Saengkham’s wife gave birth to their first child on Tuesday night but he has decided to keep playing in the event and it could be a double celebration for the world number 38 if he can add the four frames he needs when they return to the baize on Thursday at 1pm.

After losing the first frame, Scottish Open champion Brecel had a golden chance to level at 1-1 but missed the final black from close range and instead fell 2-0 behind. He pulled one back but Saengkham cleared from yellow to pink to win frame four, then made a 110 in the fifth and got the better of a scrappy sixth for 5-1.

Saengkham, who beat Shaun Murphy in the first round in 2020 before a narrow 13-12 defeat against Mark Selby, threatened to run away with the tie when he made a 127 to lead 6-1. But world number 11 Brecel took the last two frames of the session to raise his hopes of a fight-back.

I couldn’t actually watch anything yesterday late afternoon/evening. So this is based on what I read and snippets I watched this morning.

As much as I feel that neither Trump, nor Vafaei deserve to win going by what they showed so far, I also feel that neither Kyren nor Ding deserved to lose yesterday. But it is what it is… Even if Ding never wins the World title, his legacy is already immense. He has really put snooker on the map in China and inspired the next generations of Chinese players. It took a bit more time than many expected, but we are seeing the results now with players like Zhao and Yan. What Ding has done for snooker in China is similar, if not bigger, than what Alex Higgins did in UK/Ireland in the 70th.

On another subject, the discusssions around the Crucible adequacy as a venue for the World Championship pop up every year, but seemed to have been even more present this year…

Now we have this in the press:

Barry Hearn reveals talks over new Crucible to host World Snooker Championship

World Snooker Championship - Day Ten
Barry Hearn does not want to see the World Snooker Championship leave Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn says talks have begun over the possibility of building a new Crucible in Sheffield, creating a bigger and modern venue for the World Snooker Championship.

There have been calls from some players for changes to the sport’s biggest tournament, with Neil Robertson suggesting playing it over two venues to avoid the cramped nature of the two-table set-up.

Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire have suggested the tournament moves to a bigger venue, allowing for larger crowds and, arguably, a better atmosphere. While Shaun Murphy believes the current venue lacks the hospitality services required for an elite tournament.

It must be said that many snooker fans would hate to see the World Snooker Championship leave the Crucible and there are economic factors – mainly WST not paying to hire the Crucible – that make it an ideal venue, despite its relatively meagre capacity of just under 1,000.

Anthony McGill and John Higgins are two players that have spoken out for the Crucible and want the World Championship to stay where it is.

Hearn has listened to all the arguments and feels that a new venue in Sheffield could be the best option and talks are underway with the city’s council over how that could work.

My heart tells me that Sheffield and snooker deserve each other – it is a wonderful marriage,’ Hearn told BBC Sport.

We have an agreement with the council for the next four years or so to stay here, and that of course will be honoured.

I think we are synonymous with Sheffield and the history we have created with the Crucible is without doubt a very important part of the brand of snooker.

Early talks at the moment with Sheffield council are why don’t we look at perhaps building a new Crucible in Sheffield so we do not have to think about going anywhere else?

If I could do anything on the existing site, of course I would. But there simply isn’t space.’

The Crucible
The World Snooker Championship has been held at the Crucible since 1977 (Picture: Getty Images )

It would be a serious undertaking, but Hearn, as ever, is confident. He would like to see some government funding, though, for the prestigious, iconic and global event.

I would rather stay here and my heart tells me this is where Sheffield and snooker deserve to be,’ he continued.

It just needs a little bit of understanding and investment of people’s time, people’s heart and maybe a few quid from central government.’

Now I can’t help to wonder … you know … like the egg and chicken story: what came first?  Where all those talks this year build-up into this announcement, or is this announcement an answer to the talks?

3 thoughts on “2022 World Championship – Day 5

  1. ’92 Titans, and other 20th century players all they are retiring, than maybe the change can come. Why not? For example like Tennis ATP Finals move O2 Arena to Turin. The event is identical, the venue is moving. (Nadal’s hard luck, the surface not,…and now already all GS is indoor arena,…with o-glasses and projectors : )) Like F-1…with rotation between new and traditional circuits, or between national rings. And to tender the venues! Or always in famous theaters and arenas (Sydney opera house, N.Y. Guggenheim Museum, and other architectural curiosity, a bit like (7) wonders of the world,…ok, which is basically qualified. : )) But sorry, it’s too arty…and not my profession, so come on spin doctors! P.S.: or Crucible forever, AND olympic games!

  2. Just look at it…Century-inflation?! IMO Hendry’s 16 be in danger…and – under radar – evolve exciting race, who will made most of the season. (NR58, KW55, JH53, RO’S50, but it’s just numbers, and now the least interesting. Enjoy “Mate”! ; )))

  3. Yes, it’s questionable how definite Barry Hearn’s plans are, and questionable whether Government funding would be available. But if a new venue in Sheffield were built, that would be ideal, and address all my concerns about the inadequacy of the existing building. Those arguing for ‘no change’ aren’t putting the integrity of the game (best table conditions) or the future of the game (as a major 21st century global sport) at the top of their priorities.

    The Wilson-Ding match was much anticipated and proved dramatic. Unfortunately the outcome was all too predictable. At 7-7 I was convinced Wilson would win, because Ding looked under too much pressure. Indeed, he had a great chance to go 9-8, but failed to clear the colours – a terrible choke. I think Ding really lost the match in the first session when his 5-4 lead needed to be more.

    There will always be some error-strewn matches, perhaps where both players drag each other down. For the likes of Lisowski, Trump, Brecel (if he can come back), it’s just about getting through. Their level might improve.

Comments are closed.