2023 WST Classic – Ronnie wins his opening match

Ronnie has beaten Mohamed Ibrahim, the African Champion, by 4-2 to book his place in the second round of the 2023 WST Classic. He will face David Grace next. David beat him by 4-3 earlier this season in the Northern Ireland Open.

Here are the scores

Ronnie played really well during the first three frames. In the fourth, he missed a red with the rest and looked a bit nonplussed at what had happened. After that he started looking at both the rest and his cue, repeatedly, as if he tried to determine whether both were straight. It was clearly playing on his mind and he lost focus. Mistakes crept in and Mohamed, who can play, took full advantage. Being pegged back at 3-2, Ronnie seemed to regain his concentration and played a very good last frame.

WST only provided a very short report:

Ronnie O’Sullivan has won two invitation titles this season but is yet to win a ranking event, and only the trophy this week would get him into the Duelbits Tour Championship later this month. The Rocket started strongly as runs of 137 (the new target for the £5,000 high break prize) and 104 helped him to a 4-2 victory over African champion Mohamed Ibrahim.

I’m not sure that trying to get to the Tour Championship is high in Ronnie’s priorities just yet. That may change if he goes deep enough this week and reaches the final day. I believe that for now he mainly wants to get fully comfortable with his modified cue and make sure it’s 100% how he wants going into the World Championship.

Here is the last frame, shared by WST on their YouTube channel

It has been a poor season by Ronnie’s standard, no question, but the same is true for most of the top players, as Mark Allen reflected:

Mark Allen suggests “shocking” snooker conditions have played a part in standard dropping

UK Championship winner Mark Allen has ranted about the conditions on the World Snooker Tour, despite enjoying one of the best campaigns of his professional career

Mark Allen claims ‘shocking’ playing conditions have played a big part in bringing down the standard this season. 

The 37-year-old from Northern Ireland is the player of the campaign to date, having won three big titles including the UK Championship – and reached another final. But even world No 3 Allen has fielded criticism for the battling and gritty style employed to achieve all that success and already around £600,000 this term. 

One of Allen’s main rivals, former world champion Neil Robertson, insisted that: “this year has been so strange – I don’t think anyone has played to a really, really ultra elite standard. Mark Allen has had a sensational year, but he would admit himself he hasn’t played very well. Everything else, I wouldn’t say it’s been rubbish but I think it’s been a poor overall season from everyone. Shaun Murphy has played the best stuff recently.” 

There have been 14 different winners on tour this season, and Allen – who will face Mark Davis in the second round of the WST Classic in Leicester – said: “I can only speak for myself. But the conditions this year have been nothing short of shocking. The playing conditions have been terrible. I’ll probably get a fine for that, but it is the case – they have been dreadful.

That wasn’t the case at the Grand Prix – that was just me being rubbish! But the conditions do sometimes dictate how you play. People laugh and say ‘you said the conditions were bad, and someone else made three centuries in the next session’.

Every session can play different, and overall this season they have been really poor. It’s no coincidence that the old table-fitters that were here for years and years are no longer here. And now we are getting really bad conditions. Make of that what you will.”

And referencing Robertson’s comments, he added: “I’d agree with Neil. I played some really good stuff at the British Open – up until the final. There have been spells and matches where people have played well – but Shaun at the Welsh and the Players has been the most sustained high-level spell of snooker this season.”Robertson says no snooker player has found an elite standard this season 

Responding to the comments, a World Snooker Tour spokesperson said: “Our table fitters are the best in the world. The team includes fitters with extensive experience who have worked on snooker for many years. We have taken this team fully in-house in recent times and have set up our own warehouse and workshop. This is to ensure we have greater control over conditions. 

Playing conditions have improved dramatically in recent years, particularly with innovations such as the anti-static cloth which has helped to virtually eliminate kicks. There has been some outstanding snooker played this season, for example at the Masters there were 30 centuries in 15 matches, and there have already been nine maximum breaks this season.

Also insisting players were using the same equipment, the spokesperson added: “There has been no change this season in terms of the equipment from our suppliers. Our outstanding tables, cloth and snooker balls help provide the best possible conditions.”

Obviously, I’m not in a position to take sides but indeed the conditions appeared to be rather “tough” and “heavy” quite often throughout the season. It might not be the only factor that explains the unusually inconsistent performances of most of the top players though. The overall rather shambolic structure of the calendar this season probably didn’t help. The top players had very long gaps without competitive action during the first half of this season. That’s not ideal and doesn’t help to “build” a form in order to peak for the major events.

Apparently Ronnie was interviewed post-match but there are no quotes because, if this is to be believed, his interview was “vetoed”

But then Jason Francis replied this

3 thoughts on “2023 WST Classic – Ronnie wins his opening match

    • I have no idea. Apparently he spoke with two journalists but wasn’t actually interviewed by WST. We should know more in the coming days

  1. Yes, in my view the table conditions haven’t been good this season. It’s actually one of the areas where I think snooker needs to invest in some research – how to get more reliable table conditions. It might also be possible to produce cheaper, less heavyweight tables for the amateur market, with cloths that last forever. The technology has moved on a bit, but I’m sure it could go a whole lot further.

Comments are closed.