Day 1 at the 2023 Shoot Out

After one day at the Shoot Out in Leicester, we are only half-through the first round.

All detailed results are available on

There were 32 “matches” played yesterday, and the reports by WST only cover a fraction of it. That’s understandable. Here goes anyway…

Afternoon session:

Moldovan Sensation Sets New Record

Vladislav Gradinari, who turned 14 just three months ago, became the youngest player to win a televised match in a ranking event by beating Ng On Yee in the first round of the BetVictor Shoot Out.

The Moldovan teenager, who moved to England two years ago, is into the last 64 in Leicester and will play his second round match on Friday. Despite his inexperience and the pressure of the shot clock, Gradinari looked calm and composed at the table, and a break of 21 helped him to victory over three-time Women’s World Champion Ng.

It feels amazing, I played my best game,” said Gradinari, who won an English Under-14 event to earn a wild card into this week’s tournament. “I had some shots and I potted them.

Snooker is not really popular in Moldova, we only have three or four tables there. We are trying to improve the level there.  I started watching on TV because my mum and grandad watched snooker. I started playing snooker at the age of seven. I am now living in Leeds and practising at the Northern Snooker Centre. I am doing everything possible now to become a professional player. I can’t wait for the second round here.

Defending champion Hossein Vafaei fell at the first hurdle, losing to Shaun Murphy. Both players missed chances before Murphy snatched the tie in the last two minutes with a break of 28.

Amateur Robbie McGuigan, the 18-year-old two-time Northern Ireland Amateur champion, beat Hammad Miah with a break of 39.

Ben Mertens came from 21-0 down to beat Anthony Hamilton with a break of 34, while BetVictor Welsh Open champion Joe Perry compiled a run of 58 to knock out Luca Brecel.

Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams, runner-up to Vafaei last year, set an early target for the £5,000 high break prize with a 98 to beat Craig Steadman.

Shared by ES on their YouTube channel

Hossein Vafaei suffered a big piece of bad luck

This is Vladislav winning contribution

For some reason Vladsislav reminds me a young Stephen Hendry. I was not around snooker in the Hendry late 80th, early 90th but I’ve watched quite a few footages and, yes, there is that intensity, the focus, the will to win and the courage to take the shots to do just that.

Evening session:

Brazil-iant Debut Win For Vitinho

Victor Sarkis is living his dream by playing on the World Snooker Tour, and scored his first win by beating Mark Joyce to reach the second round of the BetVictor Shoot Out in Leicester.

Sarkis, known as Vitinho in his native Brazil, won the Pan-American Championship in 2021 to earn a tour card. The 31-year-old wasn’t able to make it to the UK until late 2022 but is now playing in every tournament and the charismatic cueman was thrilled to beat Joyce 18-14 in a low-scoring frame and earn a place in the last 64.

I really enjoyed it and I’m very excited to play again on Friday,” said Sarkis, who now lives in Darlington. “I really like the atmosphere with a lot of noise, I am comfortable with it. I used to look at the TV or YouTube when I lived in Brazil, and see Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Williams. Three months ago I was flying to England to dream my big dream, and now I’m here. In my first match, I was playing Xiao Guodong. I looked at the WST logo and it was real. Now I’m really enjoying it and I want to get more experience and share that with my friends in Brazil.

Here is Victor’s postmatch (WST)

One of the most dramatic matches saw Jack Lisowski beat Mark Allen (shared by ES on their YouTube Channel).

And Willo’s 98

Overall I enjoyed that first day. There were some lovely moments in addition to Victor’s and Vladislav wins. Ken Doherty dancing whilst joining Rachel and Jimmy in the studio, totally unaware that is was live on TV was hilarious. We got to see a lot of young players in action. Ben Mertens played a very good frame to beat Anthony Hamilton (But why had they to meet in the first round ??? 😢)

Overall the crowd wasn’t too bad. I saw nothing aggressive, nor did I see drunks misbehaving badly. Janie Watkins and myself have very bad memories of the second shoot out in that respect. We were there to do a job, we were abused, showered in beer whilst trying to protect our cameras, idiots threw broken glass at us. WST security had to step in in the person of big Mark Williams to protect us.

3 thoughts on “Day 1 at the 2023 Shoot Out

  1. I can only watch it with sound off, but I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 or 4 frames I saw: the Murphy-Vafaei was really good, because it was so “anti-shootout”: instead of being (as advertised) fast and furious, nothing was potted for the first 5 minutes and a half. Of course, it was also because of mistakes, but there were some good safeties and I always enjoy when such myths as the shootout being the place for fast potting are refuted. 🙂

    Gadimari was impressive, just as Powell today: I’m sure I missed it, but how are these youngsters selected for this?

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