The 2022 UK Championship Qualifiers are now over, the draw has been made and WST has published the first round draw and schedule for the main event. It starts tomorrow in York.
First Round Match Schedule In York
First round match fixtures are now confirmed for the Cazoo UK Championship in York, which starts on Saturday and runs until November 20.
First round matches are:
Saturday November 12, 1pm
Zhao Xintong v Sam Craigie
Mark Allen v Jordan Brown
Saturday November 12, 7pm
Kyren Wilson v Matthew Selt
Ryan Day v Jimmy White
Sunday November 13, 1pm
Neil Robertson v Joe Perry
Luca Brecel v Lyu Haotian
Sunday November 13, 7pm
John Higgins v Tom Ford
Barry Hawkins v Ding Junhui
Monday November 14, 1pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Matthew Stevens
Yan Bingtao v Zhou Yuelong
Monday November 14, 7pm
Mark Williams v Jamie Clarke
Stuart Bingham v Liam Highfield
Tuesday November 15, 1pm
Judd Trump v Xiao Guodong
Jack Lisowski v Xu Si
Tuesday November 15, 7pm
Mark Selby v Hossein Vafaei
Shaun Murphy v David Gilbert
Prize money this year has been increased from £1,009,000 to £1,205,000, with the first prize up from £200,000 to £250,000.
China’s Zhao Xintong is the current champion having beaten Belgium’s Luca Brecel in the 2021 final.
This is what happened yesterday as reported by WST
Brown Sets Up Allen Clash
Jordan Brown beat Zak Surety 6-3 in the final qualifying round of the Cazoo UK Championship and will now meet closest friend Mark Allen in a professional match for the first time.
Just a few minutes after Brown had won his Judgement Day battle with Surety, he was pitched against fellow Northern Irishman and practice partner Allen in the random draw for the last 32. They will meet on Saturday afternoon at the York Barbican.
“That’s the luck of the draw, it had to happen some time,” said Brown, who is in his sixth season on the tour but has never faced Allen in a pro event before. “There will be a bit of stick between us over the next couple of days. But we’ll both want to beat each other, we will be professional and get on with it.”
Brown, who won the Welsh Open in 2021, compiled breaks of 71, 89, 50 and 54 today. He added: “It’s so tough out there. I put myself under pressure. These are big matches, these are the events you want to be doing well in. I’m a big fan of York, the Barbican is my favourite venue apart from the Crucible. It will be really special with just two tables and a big crowd, that’s what we play for.”
Joe Perry and Neil Robertson will also have to put their friendship aside when they go head to head on the table on Sunday. Perry produced what he described as his best performance since winning the Welsh Open last March as he whitewashed Graeme Dott 6-0 with top breaks of 86, 102, 134 and 77.
“I was terrible in my first match here against Yuan Sijun, I was so luck to win 6-5,” admitted Perry, who failed to score a break over 50 in that match. “It was only my experience that got me through. I went home and had a few hours on my own table, I found something that work and played really well today.”
David Gilbert is currently 17th in the race to the Cazoo Masters so a deep run in York could earn him a place at Alexandra Palace in January. He thumped Mark King 6-0 today with top breaks of 56, 62, 60 and 66.
Three-time UK Champion Ding Junhui booked his return to York – where he lifted the trophy in 2005 and 2019 – with a 6-4 defeat of Robert Milkins. “I missed a good chance to win 6-3 and then I was worried because Robert is always a dangerous player,” said China’s Ding. “It has been a long time since I won anything, I don’t know what has happened. I am focussing on practice but then during a match, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
I watched the Ding v Milkins match and it was a bit disappointing. Neither played at their best, or even close to their best… Of course those are very important matches, players are bound to be tense. That said, maybe I was expecting too much and it’s only my perception expressed here.
Liam On A High
Liam Highfield completed an outstanding comeback from 5-2 down to beat Ali Carter 6-5 in the final qualifying round of the Cazoo UK Championship.
Highfield goes through to the final stages in York and will face Stuart Bingham in the last 32. Defeat from the brink of victory will sting for Carter, who could have set up a repeat of the 2020 Masters final against fellow Essex cueman Bingham. Stoke’s Highfield lost his first six matches this season but has turned his form around in recent weeks and can now look forward to an appearance on the major stage at snooker’s second biggest ranking event.
Breaks of 90 and 79 helped Highfield to a 2-1 lead then Carter took four frames in succession with top runs of 86, 91 and 61. Back came Highfield to 5-5 with 78, 50 and 54. In the decider, Highfield had first chance and made 48 before running out of position, but he soon got back in and added 20 which proved enough.
“At 5-2 down I loosened up and went for my shots, and it came off,” said 31-year-old Highfield. “When you swing your arm at a few, sometimes your talent comes through and the game flows. I just tried to get on with it and play as I do in practice. It got edgy towards the end, even in the last frame when I was 68-0 up I knew I wasn’t over the line. I feel fit and healthy, I’ve got a couple of wins under my belt here and I don’t feel tired.”
Sam Craigie showed his quality in a 6-2 win over Ian Burns, compiling runs of 80, 104, 52, 129 and 79. Craigie will now take on the defending champion Zhao Xintong in the opening session of the tournament on Saturday from 1pm.
Estonia’s Andres Petrov saw his fine run ended by China’s Xiao Guodong. Breaks of 62, 90 and 90 helped Xiao set up a match with Judd Trump.
In the last match to finish, Matthew Selt battled to a 6-4 victory over Anthony Hamilton with a top break of 140. He now meets Kyren Wilson.
I’m very happy about Liam’s result for many reasons. Liam has always been very talented but his career has been marred by ongoing health issues. I have known him for a long time, before he turned pro. He’s an outgoing, bubbly character but Crohn’s disease is a painful condition that leaves the person in serious discomfort and extremely tired. It can be managed to an extent but still flares now and again. It’s no surprise that Liam struggles to get consistent results.
Andres Petrov run came to an end. He’s in his first year, he showed his potential, he gained experience, earned some money and climbed the rankings. All of that is positive and was unlikely to happen with the flat draw with strict seeding previously used for this event.
More than ever I’m convinced that snooker should go back to a tiered system for most if not all events. It’s much better for the young players development and it guarantees the top players at the venue which is better for the sponsors, the broadcasters, the venue management and ultimately the fans. The qualifying rounds should ALWAYS be played right before the main event, in a decent venue close to the main event location (*), with good conditions and good media exposure. Everyone is a winner.
Having those qualifiers close to the main venue is important. That’s how it should be, even for events outside of UK, as it’s time to break the UK centric model if the tour has ambition to be truly a WORLD tour. It would offer many advantages. The local fans would have the opportunity to see all the players, and to support their “local” ones no matter where they sit in the rankings or if they are wildcards. Having “local” wildcards to be forced to qualify in the UK is nonsense: more often than not, they lose in the first round and don’t make it to “their” venue. The German Masters has been a prime example of such nonsense. There would be no case for “held-over” matches that complicate the schedule, and more fans would have access to live snooker at reasonable a cost, no matter where they live. The latter for now is only offered to UK/Irish fans. Having the qualifiers right before the event is important too as it ensures that it’s the form players who get through… not those who were on form two or three months before the event.
Also, several fans I know were feeling very flat about their snooker before this event, almost disinterested. But this week it was all very lively on social media. The longer format created more drama and tension. We had a lot more close matches because players were of similar abilities, and the coverage was great!