The start of the season has been very slow and start/stop. We have hard long periods with not much going on if anything at all. And now, this week-end we had the qualifiers of the second biggest event of the season clashing with the final stages of the Champion of Champions. It’s unfortunate … to put it mildly.
We are already in the middle of the third round of the tiered qualifiers, so let’s have a look at what happened so far.
You can follow all detailed results on snooker.org
As a first observation, we had 13 amateurs in the draw, all playing against the lowest ranked professionals. Only 3 of them went through and one of those is Martin O’Donnell who has been a pro for years. The second one is Calum Beresford. Both of those two were beaten in round 2, Callum getting trashed by 6-0. Martin beat rookie Ben Mertens by 6-4. Martin typically has the kind of game that will derail very young players who are more used to an open game. Hopefully Ben will learn from the experience. The third amateur to go through was Farakh Ajaib from Pakistan, who is also a former pro.
A number of players got their first win as professionals, or a “first” of a kind:
- Peng Ysong won a very hard fought contest against Himanshu Jain by 6-4. Peng doesn’t score heavily. He has to improve on that. He practices at Vic’s academy where he will certainly get opportunities to improve.
- Asjad Iqbal from Pakistan also won his first match as a pro, beating the vastly experienced Barry Pinches in a match that over-ran and went to a decider. Asjad confirmed his value by beating Gerard Greene by 6-4 in round 2.
- Mohamed Ibrahim, the African Champion from Egypt, beat rookie Julien Leclercq from Belgium by 6-3. Julien didn’t play as well as he can, but he still had to be beaten and this was Mohamed only second match as a pro.
- On Yee Ng won her first match in a triple crown event beating Jenson Kendrick by 6-4. The match was extremely hard-fought and over-ran.
Muhammad Asif, another rookie, and another player from Pakistan, beat Aaron Hill by 6-2. Muhammad has, so far, played 4 matches as a pro and won 2 of them. Players from Pakistan have impressed me this season. They consistently do well in IBSF comps as well. Its’s probably only the UK centric nature of the so-called “World” tour with the associated costs and administrative burden that prevents more of them to be on tour.
Notable results on round 2 include
- Zak Surety beating Elliot Slessor by 6-2. Slessor clearly can’t find the motivation he needs outside the big stages.
- Cao Yupeng beating Callum Beresford by 6-0 with breaks of 87, 72, 74, 84, 144, 67. The 144 is provisionally the tournament highest break.
- Andres Petrov, the rookie from Estonia, beating Jackson Page by 6-5. Following this win, Andres got involved in a discussion with Mark Williams on twitter. Willo stressing that the tiered system is much, much better for the development of young players. He’s 100% right and Andres approved, joking that it’s much better indeed than playing Willo in half of his first round matches. Andres was beaten by Willo in the first round of the British Open, and is due to face him again in the Scottish Open. He’s also pitted against Shaun Murphy in the German Masters first round, and possibly Zhao Xintong in the English Open. That’s NOT helpful when it comes to young players development and confidence.
I do believe that the significant factors in this event are the tiered structure, the longer format, and the interval. It really does help new players to learn and develop not to be pitted against top players right away, and there are fewer “shocks” overall as the better players tends to get on top when the format gets longer.
Round 3 … so far
Now then… The BIG surprise of round 3 so far is that Jimmy White is still in the draw, having won three matches: in R1 6-0 over Victor Sarkis, in R2 6-0 over Mitchell Mann and in R3 6-4 yesterday over former UK Champion, Stephen Maguire. Maguire lead 3-1 and 4-3. Jimmy won the last three frames of the match. Take a bow Jimmy White. Invitational tour cards are controversial with many fans but if someone deserves one it’s Jimmy. He still loves the game, he still has the passion, he still puts the work in and he still serves us some great shots now and again. “The Wind” will now face Dominic Dale for a place in the main draw.
The other big surprise in this round so far was brought by Duane Jones as he beat Anthony McGill by 6-2.
The action continues today…