I always feel that round 3 is a pivotal moment at Q-school. Not sure why.
Yesterday we lost Martin O’Donnell, Rory Mcleod, Sean Maddockx and Gao Yang. There will be no immediate return on tour for them. Among the young promising players, we lost Ross Bulman, Stan Moody, Ben Mertens and Niel Vincent.
Maflin Marches On
Norway’s Kurt Maflin booked his place in the penultimate day of Q School 2022, with a 4-1 defeat of Leone Crowley in event three in Sheffield.
Maflin was competing in the quarter-finals of the World Championship just two years ago, but a slump in form has seen the 38-year-old drop off the circuit at the conclusion of the 21/22 campaign.
The heat is on now for Maflin, who must win his next three matches to earn an immediate return to the circuit next season. He lost in the last 16 of event two and crashed out in his opening match of event one.
Maflin composed a break of 73 in the first frame of his win today and now faces China’s Liu Hongyu in the last 32.
Germany’s Lukas Kleckers made a gutsy break of 62 to edge the final frame with Martin O’Donnell and emerge a 4-3 victor. He now plays Hamim Hussain.
Thailand’s Sunny Akani whitewashed Callum Beresford 4-0 to set up a meeting with Umut Dikme of Germany, while Ukrainian Iulian Boiko beat Billy Castle 4-2 and will now play George Pragnall.
The last four professional tour cards will go to the four semi-finalists in event three, which runs until Thursday.
The win over the more experienced Billy Castle is a very good one for Iulian Boiko. Iulian cme back from 2-1 down, winning a couple of close frames before clinching victory with a break of 87.
I watched the match between Ben Mertens and Steven Halworth. Steven payed very well actually. He didn’t make any break over 50, but controlled the table throughout the match, except in the one frame that Ben won with a beautiful 107. Ben is very good to watch when in a break, but needs to improve when it comes to tactical nous and shot selection. His current approach works well at amateur level, but will not do on the pro tour.
I also watched most of the Sean Maddockx v Zhao Jianbo match. Zhao won 4-1 and Sean made the only 50+ break in the only frame he won. Basically what I said about Ben above, also applies to Sean. The differences though are that Ben is 17, Sean is 20 and Ben has never been a pro, Sean has spent two years on the main tour. You would expect him to have learned something from that experience and to have made some changes to shot selection and general approch to the game.
We have two rounds on our plate today and many very good players still in the draw. Some sections are brutal. One in particular stands out: of Eden Sharav, Zhao Jianbo, Andrew Higginson and Steven Hallworth, only one will reach the last day!