The quarter-finals were played over the last two days and yielded our four finalists: Ronnie, John Higgins, Mark Williams and Judd Trump.
It’s a very remarkable that all three members of the class of 92 are still in the mix. All three are in their 30th year as professionals, Willo is 47, Ronnie and John will turn 47 later this year, yet all three are still in the top 8 in the World rankings and competing in the last four in this season’s World Championship,
All four semi-finalists have been World Champion before: they have 14 World titles between them: Ronnie 6, Higgins 4, Williams 3 and Trump 1. All of them are in the top eight in the rankings. After a season that produced more first time winners than any other season in recent years, and some really surprising results, we end up here with a brochette of proven prolific winners. That’s what long formats produce: the best come on top. That’s how it should be. That’s why I still want to hope that the UK will one day be restored to its best of 17 format from round 1 on.
You’ll find the WST reports and some thougths about the other QF matches below
John Higgins beat Jack Lisowski by 13-12
Higgins Edges To Lead Over Lisowski
John Higgins took a 5-3 lead over Jack Lisowski following the first session of their Betfred World Championship quarter-final.
Scotland’s Higgins booked his place in the last eight with a comprehensive 13-7 defeat of Noppon Saengkham. He’s aiming to capture a fifth world title this week, having last lifted the trophy at the Theatre of Dreams back in 2011.
Lisowski is fresh off one of the biggest wins of his career yesterday evening. The Gloucestershire cueman, who has lost all six ranking finals he has played in, overcame pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson 13-12 in an epic battle. It is the first time he has made the quarter-finals at the Crucible.
World number 14 Lisowski continued his momentum from yesterday by taking the opener with a break of 98. However, 31-time ranking event winner Higgins quickly stopped him in his tracks. Runs of 91 and 67 helped him to three on the bounce and lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
Lisowski pulled back within a frame by taking the first after the interval with a break of 77. The last three frames of the session became scrappy, with both players making unexpected mistakes.
Higgins restored his two-frame lead by winning the sixth on the black to make it 4-2. The following two frames were shared and saw play end with Glaswegian Higgins leading 5-3.
Lisowski Reduces Deficit Against Higgins
Jack Lisowski won the last two frames of the afternoon to end just one behind at 8-7 heading into the concluding session of his Betfred World Championship quarter-final against John Higgins.
Lisowski is appearing in his first ever Crucible quarter-final, following an epic 13-12 win over pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson in the last 16. He is aiming for his first ever ranking title, having been runner-up on six previous occasions.
Scotland’s four-time World Champion Higgins requires five frames to make the single table semi-finals for the 11th time in his career. A mouth-watering contest with six-time Crucible king Ronnie O’Sullivan awaits the victor.
Higgins hit the ground running this afternoon and a superb break of 123 extended his lead to 6-3. He then had the first chance in the subsequent frame, but broke down on 37 after taking on a risky double. Lisowski worked his way back into the frame and made it 6-4.
Contributions of 35 and 33 helped Higgins to restore his three-frame cushion, before Lisowski left Higgins requiring three snookers in the next. The Glaswegian got them to throw the frame back into the melting pot. However, he eventually left Lisowski a shot on the green, which he deposited to head into the mid-session 7-5 down.
A break of 56 helped to extend Higgins’ lead to 8-5, ahead of a dramatic last two frames. Lisowski fired in a break of 63, which included a daring double to the yellow pocket, to steal the 14th on the black. The next frame came down to a safety battle on the pink, where a loose shot from Higgins allowed Lisowski to pot it and close within one at 8-7. They were then pulled off a frame early ahead of this evening’s concluding session, which gets underway at 7pm.
Higgins Edges Lisowski In Classic
John Higgins defeated Jack Lisowski 13-12 in a pulsating quarter-final clash, to set up a semi-final showdown with six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The pair battled it out in a gruelling contest, which lasted eight hours and 14 minutes, over the three sessions of play. Lisowski was clinging to 31-time ranking event winner Higgins’ coattails throughout the encounter. The Gloucestershire cueman took the very first frame and never led again, until moving 12-11 up.
At that point, with the pressure at its greatest, four-time World Champion Higgins produced his very best snooker. The Scot composed breaks of 105 and 72 to get himself over the line and reach the Crucible semis for the 11th time.
The first session of his last four clash with O’Sullivan will take place tomorrow at 7pm and the tie will be played out over the best of 33 frames. The other semi-final sees three-time World Champion Mark Williams take on the 2019 winner Judd Trump
Higgins and O’Sullivan are responsible for what is arguably modern snooker’s most iconic rivalry. The pair have 69 ranking titles and 10 World Championship wins between them. Although Higgins has won five of their last six meetings, it is O’Sullivan who leads the head-to-head standings 35-33.
The last time they met at the Theatre of Dreams was back in 2011, when Higgins prevailed 13-10 and he went on to lift the title for a fourth time. The Scot is aiming to pick up a fifth Crucible crown this week.
Higgins was O’Sullivan’s opponent in the final when he won his first world title back in 2001, with the Rocket prevailing 18-14. Fast forward 21 years and they now meet again in the hallowed single table set up at the sport’s most famous arena. O’Sullivan is gunning for a record equalling seventh World Championship win.
This evening’s defeat will be tough to take for Lisowski, who showed great character to stay with his opponent throughout the match. The 30-year-old has recently started working 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon, who himself is famed for his iron will and temperament. The benefits of their partnership have never been more apparent.
Lisowski can reflect on a memorable run, which has seen him make the quarter-finals of the World Championship for the very first time. He scored a superb 13-12 win in the previous round against pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson and leaves Sheffield with the consolation of £50,000.
They came into this evening with Higgins leading 8-7, following an afternoon session which had to be cut short prior to the last frame to allow the players to prepare for this evening. When play got underway, Higgins extended his advantage by taking a scrappy 27-minute opening frame.
Lisowski pulled one back, before a break of 70 saw Higgins restore his two-frame cushion at 10-8. The dogged Lisowski refused to fade away and again clawed back within a frame, but breaks of 72 and 55 gave Higgins the 20th to lead 11-9.
From there Lisowski burst into life and three on the bounce moved him to the verge of victory at 12-11. Higgins forced the decider, where Lisowski had the first chance. He spurned a tricky red to the top left corner on 18 and Higgins ruthlessly punished that mistake with a match winning run of 72.
“I don’t know how I’ve won that really. I went 12-11 behind and I had chances all day to really get a lead on Jack. I didn’t take them and Jack was getting stronger. When it went 12-11 I was thinking ‘put me out of my misery’. I made a good break to make it 12-12. I was thinking he deserved to clear up in the decider,” said 46-year-old Higgins.
“This season has been pretty tough and I’ve had some bad losses. Getting to this one table set up makes all of that worth the while. To play against Ronnie as well is brilliant and I can’t wait. I think I’ll play better. The conditions are always good for the one table setup here. He looks great and he looks tuned in. I will have to raise my game.
“It would be amazing to win, when you think about it after all of these years. We all have our own motivation, Judd is trying to win for a second time, Mark wants to get four, I want to get five and Ronnie wants to get seven. Everyone has their own wee aim.”
Stephen Hendry in commentary branded Jack Lisowski “infuriating”. I do understand where he comes from. Jack has so much ability, so much talent, and hasn’t done it justice so far. He has played much better in this event than he did in the past, he has been more reliable and more consistent but he could and should have won this match. He’s working with Peter Ebdon and it showed, but he isn’t quite where he could and should be just yet.
Judd Trump beat Stuart Bingham by 13-8
On the other table, 2019 World Champion Judd Trump came from 2-1 down to earn a 5-3 lead over 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham.
The pair’s only previous meeting in Sheffield came at the 2015 World Championship, when Bingham prevailed 17-16 in an epic semi-final on his way to claiming the title.
Trump booked his slot in the last eight with a hard fought 13-11 win over Anthony McGill, while Bingham beat Kyren Wilson 13-9.
The Ace in the Pack compiled breaks of 105, 50 and 75 on his way to establishing a 4-2 advantage this afternoon. Bingham hit back with a century run of 106 to pull within a frame. However, Trump claimed a 35-minute final frame of the session to end 5-3 ahead.
Trump Rescues Session With Bingham
Judd Trump came from 8-5 down to level at 8-8 in his Betfred World Championship quarter-final against Stuart Bingham, leaving the match perfectly poised going into the concluding session which starts at 7pm on Wednesday.
Trump was all at sea for much of the morning session at the Crucible as he lost five frames in a row to go 8-5 down. But a late rally got him back on equal terms in a battle between the 2015 and 2019 champions.
Breaks of 89, 54, 53 and 58 helped Bingham to take the first five frames of the morning. He had another scoring chance in frame 14 but missed the black off its spot and Trump finally got going with a run of 41 to pull back to 8-6.
That changed the momentum as breaks of 89 and 55 gave world number four Trump the last two frames for 8-8.
Bingham Frozen Out By Trump Hot Streak
Judd Trump won eight consecutive frames as he beat Stuart Bingham 13-8 to reach the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time since he won the title in 2019.
Trump was floundering in the second session on Wednesday morning when he lost five frames in a row to trail 8-5, but the 32-year-old turned the match around with resounding effect and controlled the remainder of the contest. He goes through to the last four to face three-time Crucible king Mark Williams over 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
This has been a mercurial season for world number four Trump – he has won two titles, but also had spells where he has lost his enthusiasm for competition. After defeat to Luca Brecel in the first round of the recent Cazoo Tour Championship, a dejected Trump hinted at taking a long break from the sport.
But the trip to Sheffield has revived his fervour and the left-hander seems to be building momentum as the tournament comes to its fascinating conclusion. The weight of expectation on his shoulders is less this year than it was in 2020 and 2021 when he arrived at the Crucible at the end of dominant seasons. Trump’s performance over the last eight frames today will give him a huge confidence boost as he looks to become only the seventh player to lift the trophy more than once at the Theatre of Dreams.
Bristol’s Trump took the opening frame of the concluding session with a break of 78 to lead 9-8 and got the better of a scrappy 18th frame to double his advantage. In the 19th, Bingham trailed 56-23 when he missed a straight-forward pink with one red left, and that cost him the frame as Trump moved 11-8 in front.
Again in the 20th, 2015 champion Bingham had a scoring opportunity, but made just 13 before missing the black off its spot. Trump’s 73 made it 12-8 at the interval, and he soon sealed victory in frame 21 with a top run of 59.
“At one point it looked as if I was going out of the tournament, so to get over the line comfortably in the end was a bonus,” said Trump. “I started to feel like myself again, the long pots were going in. Stuart missed a black at 8-5 and I knew that was a big moment, I had to dig in. I was so happy to get out of the session at 8-8.
“I knew I wasn’t one of the favourites coming in because I wasn’t playing well. I have enjoyed the challenge more than I have in the last couple of years. I have got through the rounds quietly, without playing my best. I am playing with freedom and a smile on my face. It’s probably the most excited I have been for a while, to be down to the one table.
“I’ve seen how well Mark Williams is playing. I just wanted to be part of the semi-finals, with Ronnie still in, and either John Higgins or Jack Lisowski. It’s a dream line-up and hopefully both matches will live up to the billing. Mark will feel like the favourite because of the way he’s playing. For me it’s a free shot.”
Bingham said: “I’m disappointed for it to finish up that way. If someone had said at 8-5 that I’d lose 13-8 I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s my own fault, I missed the black at 8-5 when I had the momentum and could easily have been 11-5 up. That’s snooker, you need to take the good times with the bad. I collapsed like a cheap tent, but I was trying my hardest.
“The season hasn’t been great. I’ve got some glasses to try for next season because I’ve been struggling with my eyes for five or six years now.”
Stuart Bingham’s honest admission is admirable. Still that match really turned on one shot and Stuart couldn’t string three balls together towards the end of the match. It’s quite baffling, and unsettling, when you consider how much experience Stuart has.
Mark Williams beat Yan Bingtao by 13-11
On the other table, three-time World Champion Mark Williams continued his superb form to establish a 6-2 cushion against Yan Bingtao.
Welshman Williams has composed 11 century breaks so far during this year’s event and is well placed to beat Hendry’s record of 16, set in 2002, if he can progress further.
Yan is coming off the back of knocking out defending champion Mark Selby 13-10 in the previous round. Williams secured his place in the quarters with a 13-3 win over protege Jackson Page.
Williams took the opening two frames this morning, but Yan responded well with breaks of 105 and 82 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session. When play got back underway Williams assumed command of the tie and contributions of 60, 106, 72 and 77 saw him take four on the bounce and end 6-2 in front.
On the other table, Yan Bingtao battled back from 6-2 down to level at 8-8 against three-time Crucible king Mark Williams.
China’s 22-year-old Yan is playing in his first Sheffield quarter-final having beaten Mark Selby in the second round, and he looks capable of knocking out another multiple champion having out-played Williams for most of the evening.
They are back on the baize on Wednesday at 2.30pm, with the winner to go through to a semi-final against Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham.
Having lost the first session 6-2, Yan needed a fast start tonight, and he dominated the opening frame, then took the next with a break of 80 to reduce the deficit to 6-4. Frame 11 came down to a safety battle on the green and Yan, trailing by 23 points, attempted a long pot to a baulk corner but the green stayed out and rolled over the opposite pocket, handing Williams the chance to go 7-4 up.
The Welshman looked set to extend his lead until he over-cut a thin red to a top corner on 48 in frame 12, and Yan cleared superbly with 72 to narrow the gap. After the interval, 2021 Masters champion Yan continued his fight back as a 103, his seventh century of the tournament, made it 7-6. Frame 14 lasted 49 minutes and was resolved at the end of a tactical exchange with four reds left, when Yan knocked one in to a baulk corner and added the points he needed to square the match for the first time since 2-2.
Williams was on 15 in the next when he missed the black off its spot, and that proved costly as Yan took it with breaks of 42 and 20 to lead for the first time at 8-7. In the last frame of the session, Yan led 38-29 when he missed a tough pot on the black with two reds left, and his opponent cleared to leave them perfectly poised overnight.
Superb Williams Into Semis
Mark Williams came from 10-8 down to beat Yan Bingtao 13-11 in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship, becoming the oldest player to reach the single table situation at the Crucible for 37 years.
At the age of 47, Williams is playing some of the best snooker of his career, having made 12 centuries in his three matches so far in Sheffield. The record of 16 tons in a single Championship, set by Stephen Hendry 20 years ago, is well within his grasp.
The Welshman is into the semi-finals for the seventh time and will now face either Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham. He becomes the oldest player to appear in the last four since Ray Reardon, who lost to Steve Davis in 1985 at the age of 52.
Just like his contemporaries Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, Williams remains a potent force at snooker’s top level. If Higgins can get the better of Jack Lisowski tonight, it will be the only time other than 1999 that all three have reached the semi-finals.
Williams, who won the British Open earlier this season, is aiming for a fourth world title, having triumphed in 2000, 2003 and 2018. That would bring him level with Higgins and Mark Selby; only Hendry, O’Sullivan and Steve Davis have won more at the Crucible.
China’s Yan, who won the Masters last year, was contesting his first Sheffield quarter-final, and though he was outplayed in the closing stages, his second round victory over Mark Selby and impressive performance against Williams suggest the 22-year-old could be a strong contender for the title in years to come.
Yan took the first two frames of the concluding session with breaks of 62 and 102 to lead 10-8. Williams pulled one back with a 135, then dominated frame 20 to leave the interval score at 10-10.
Frame 21 came down to a tactical battle on the last red and Yan, leading by 27 points, enjoyed a slice of fortune as an attempted safety shot came off two cushions and travelled the diagonal length of the table before dropping into a top corner pocket. That put Yan 11-10 ahead and he had a scoring chance in the 22nd frame but, trailing 41-10, he overcut the green to a baulk corner, handing Williams the chance to make it 11-11.
An excellent long red early in frame 23 set Williams up for a break of 66 to put him one up with two to play. And when Yan missed a long red in the 24th, Williams grasped the opportunity again with a match-winning 78.
“I’m over the moon because I thought it was going to be another close game that went against me,” said Williams. “I’ve had a lot of close games all year and lost them all. I did not feel under pressure at all, I just tried to get some momentum going.
“Last night I was dead on my feet. Two sessions in one day absolutely killed me. I was 6-2 in front, then it was 8-8, but I have never been so glad to lose a session 6-2 because it could have been worse.
“This is where the tournament becomes the best venue in the world for me. I have always said that the one table set-up is something everyone must try and play once in their career.
“I am just so happy to get to the semi-finals. I am here 30 years on after turning pro and still trying my best. Whoever I play next – they are all former World Champions, so it does not matter, it is going to be tough.
“At the minute I am playing some of the best stuff I have ever played. I am scoring as well as I have ever scored.”
Yan said: ‘’It was a very close game. I was nervous because I was so close to my first Crucible one table match. At 11-10 I had a chance to make it 12-10, but I was thinking too much and lost the cue ball. Yesterday morning I lost my concentration and went 6-2 behind, then brought it back to 8-8 in the evening session. I believe in myself, I can do anything.’’
Mark Williams admission that two sessions in the same day was too much for him and that he was “dead on his feet” is a bit of a worry. He will have to play four sessions in the next three days, and, should he come out the winner in his semi-final, he then will have to play four more sessions over two days. Mark was hit hard by covid earlier this season and has admitted that it had left him vulnerable to tiredness. He has struggled in evening sessions in the aftermath of the illness. I can’t help wondering if it still affects him to an extend. I hope not.