2022 Ranking CLS – Day 1 – Groups 24 & 13

And so the new season started yesterday with a rather low key event … and two rather “low key” groups.

Here is the report shared by WST:

Robert Milkins and Aaron Hill opened the 2022/23 season with respective group wins to move forward into Winners’ Week at the 2022 BetVictor Championship League.

Results and Tables

Milkins, who emotionally claimed his maiden ranking crown at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open last season, started this campaign strongly. The Milkman made 78 in the opening frame against Sanderson Lam before clinching a 3-0 win. Former Crucible semi-finalist Andy Hicks provided the sternest opposition to Milkins and scored wins of his own against Allan Taylor and Lam to sit top of the group at the break.

When play resumed, Taylor needed to beat  Milkins if he was to progress but he succumbed to a 3-1 defeat. That set up a showdown between Milkins and Hicks in the final match to settle the Group 24 winner.

Milkins and Hicks met in the final match of the day in Group 24 to settle things a the top end of the table.The tie ended as a 2-2 draw and it was enough for Milkins to progress on frame difference.

Milkins said: “I played alright today. I played well in patches. I thought I played solid in the first two matches. Overall, I am quite pleased. I have nothing to lose now. I just keep going. Even today, I felt like the weight was off my shoulders.

Hill is freshly back on tour through Q School and he made a century run of 101 in his opening match 3-0 win over Craig Steadman. Former English Amateur champion Ben Hancorn had to settle for draws against David Grace and Steadman to leave the group open going into the evening session, but it was advantage to Hill.

Into the evening session and Hill looked to be on course for Winners’ Week with a match to spare after establishing a 2-0 lead over David Grace. The Yorkshireman hit back in the following two frames to earn a 2-2 draw and leave Hill sweating.

A 2-2 draw between Hill and Hancorn took it down to the final tie. The permutations for Grace were clear in his final match with Steadman. A 3-0 win and a high break beating Hill’s 101 was required to take him through. Grace took the opener, but Steadman poured the cold water on his hopes by drawing level. Grace went on to win 3-1 but it was to no avail..

BetVictor Championship League Snooker – Ranking Event continues tomorrow with Zhao Xintong in action on Table 1 in Group 4 live on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live in the UK and networks worldwide with Hammad Miah, Adam Duffy, and Michael Holt whilst Noppon Saengkham, Ashley Hugill, Anthony Hamilton and Steven Hallworth live on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube for free. See where to watch here.

And here is the (above linked to ) table

Ranking CLS 2022 groups 24 and 13 - table

It wasn’t the most enthralling day of snooker and I had a bit of a discussion about that with Gary Moss on twitter. Gary said that this wasn’t the actual start of the season, rather a pre-season event. I disagreed, arguing that this was actually a good event to start the season, allowing the newcomers to settle and getting familiar with pro conditions: three matches guaranteed, a streamed table but no crowd. It’s not the first time Gary and I disagree and he felt hurt. It wasn’t my intention at all, I’m sorry he felt this way and want to apologise for making him feeling uneasy. I’m quite an upfront person and working for 35 years in IT system development hasn’t made me any “softer”: it is/was a very strongly male dominated cut-throat environment, especially when I started in the mid 70th.

Anyway, Gary and I continued our discussion by messaging and what we came to realise is that we were just looking at it from two completely different standpoints, with different “goals” in mind.

As those who read this blog regularly will know, I feel that the current “system” is far too brutal and doesn’t offer a good path for development to young players and main tour rookies. The situation is made even worse by the fact that the “gap” between the “professional level” and the “top amateur level” is widening with every passing season (*). Therefore, I was welcoming this “soft start” of the season.

Gary had something else in mind: he feels that the first event of the season should be a “flagship” event, something prestigious, driving media attention to our sport. I do see his point.  With that in mind, this event isn’t filling the bill indeed, and the timing is possibly as bad as it can be… clashing with the Wimbledon Championships 🙄

Back to yesterday’s results … Robert Milkins topping his group was to be expected.

The other group looked more open. Aaron Hill played the best snooker all day and deservedly topped it. I think we will see a very different Aaron this term and the next. He fell off the tour and immediately regained his tour card via the Q-School. It was a very tough experience and Aaron rated this achievement above beating Ronnie on his debut.

To be sitting here after getting through Q School is a much bigger achievement than beating Ronnie,”

There was much more pressure out there and I think it is probably the biggest achievement of my life. I was thrown in at the deep end on the tour and didn’t expect it to be as tough as it was. But I have got a second chance and I am determined to make the most of it.

The quote I put in bold is exactly the expression of the biggest problem in snooker nowadays. Young amateurs  arrive on tour totally unprepared for what awaits them. Some like Aaron survive it and get stronger. Others are completely destroyed by the experience and might never recover. I do have a few names in mind but will refrain to name anyone as they might feel singled out and hurt. And of course, it’s even harder for players coming from  outside UK/Ireland, having to cope with a diffrent culture, a different language, possibly administrative “hassle”, away from family and friends.


(*) This of course is a very serious, fundamental issue that need to be adressed if we want snooker to thrive in the future.

5 thoughts on “2022 Ranking CLS – Day 1 – Groups 24 & 13

  1. Whether the season has ‘really started’ or not hardly makes a difference. Anyway, before this tournament is finished there will have already been qualifiers for the European Masters, which surely is a ‘proper’ tournament. Quite a lot of players look likely to miss that tournament as well, including the defending champion. The fact is, some players, particularly overseas players, prefer to start their season later and spend a bit more time with family, etc.

    • The reason I insisted that the season started this week is because, as you know only too well, the current ranking system is such that every “ranking point” is important especially for the lower ranked players. So dismissing this event as some appeared to do is only a sign that they don’t care at all about those players despite the fact that they are the “majority” on the Tour. I hadn’t paid too much attention to the dates of the European Masters qualifiers until now. There are two “European Masters Qualifiers” spots in the calendar, suggesting it will be a 32 players event at the venue. I’m a bit baffled and disappointed at this. The venue in Fürth can easily accomodate 8 tables or more. It used to be home of the Paul Hunter Classic when it was the biggest pro-am in the calendar year with over 200 players participating. That said, there is only one “space” in the venue that is suitable for televion, the “downstair” area, where the seats are arranged as an amphitheatre, and even that one isn’t ideal: the light is tricky and camera(wo)men don’t have much space to move around the table. Two rounds of qualifiers also mean that there is a higher risk for some big names to miss out, which isn’t great commercially. It also make organising “held-over” matches a bit more difficult. Plus, Ronnie, Jimmy White, Reanne Evans and Stephen Hendry have an exhibition event in Goffs on 16 & 17 July, and Snooker Legends are unlikely to move those dates as this is already a “reschedule” of an event initially scheduled last March. This means that unless there is only one round of qualifiers spread over two periods of time, they will probably miss the European Masters. Ronnie might not be too bothered, Hendry might not want to enter anyway, but for Jimmy and Reanne it’s a different story. Both can do with every point and penny they can possibly earn.

    • According to one Chinese source on twitter, because of the delayed “Team Championship” Ding might be forced to skip the European Masters. Fan Zhengyi is also on the poster. So I asked about the defending champion. That same source said the the 4 top seeds qualifying matches would be at the venue. In which case, I can only suppose that there is just one round of qualifiers spread over 2 “slots” of three days … and then I can’t see why Ding would be unable to play – should he wish to play – unless the Team Championship clashes with the second slot. In such case of course, Ding can’t play in the first and be back in China in time to play in the event because of quarantine rules. What are the dates now for this event?

  2. I actually agree with both of you it is low key event it is pre season but a very important pre season it gives players the chance to dust off cobwebs get match practice but it can also be a springboard to other events Champion of Champions, World Grand Prix, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

    Not Playing in this last season Cost Mark Selby a place in the Players Championship he finished 1,500 behind Barry Hawkins in that race had he finished 2nd in the first stage last year he would have earned 2000 in the Players with a guaranteed £10,000 and a opportunity to win that.

    So it is Pre season springboard to better things.

    • Exactly: this is what I wanted to say that both of you can be right. Yes, it is a low key event and after buzz of the the World Championship (especially for a Ronnie-fan, LOL), this might sound rather anticlimatic and subdued, but at the same very important for players to shake off the cobwebs and for new, young pros to ease into the Tour in a smooth, not immediately cutthroat way. The timing itself (Wimbledon, middle of the summer) would not favour any real “flagship” event.

      Good for Aaron Hill: sounds like a level-headed young man: I just dislike those with a passion for whom their only claim to fame is to beat Ronnie and then bask in this glory without ever accomplishing anything else.

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