Taking stock of the 2023 WST Classic so far

After three full days of action in Leicester, we are only at mid point of the second round of the 2023 WST Classic. You can follow all the results on snooker.org.

The tournament is over for Ronnie: after winning his opening match, he was forced to withdraw because of an elbow injury. This means that he won’t be playing in the 2023 Tour Championship, his next competitive match will be at The Crucible, on the opening day when he will start his World Title defence. I’m 100% certain that Ronnie will do everything in his power to be well prepared but there is no denial that the return of the elbow injury is a serious concern.

The first round at the 2023 WST Classic didn’t throw too many surprise/upsets, but there were still a few unexpected “casualties”, most notably Ding Junhui and Luca Brecel.

Here are the WST reports on the first three days:

17 March, 2023 – Round 1 (minus the part about Ronnie’s match)

Trump Reaches 900 Landmark

Judd Trump became the third player in snooker history to make 900 career centuries, during his 4-1 opening round victory against David Lilley at the WST Classic in Leicester.

Trump’s break of 113 put him 2-1 up on Lilley and saw him join Ronnie O’Sullivan (1,198) and John Higgins (928) as the only players to have crossed the 900-ton threshold. For good measure, he made a 131 in the last frame of the match to bring his tally to 901.

The Bristol cueman turned pro in 2005 so has averaged around 50 centuries per year over that 18-year spell. He could be on track to eclipse O’Sullivan as the all-time heaviest scorer, by the end of his career.

Steven Hallworth scored one of his best career wins as he beat Ryan Day 4-1 with a top break of 72. Amateur Hallworth, who had spent the opening day in the commentary box broadcasting for Matchroom.Live, showed his quality on the table as he reached the last 64 of a ranking event for the fourth time this season.

“I hit the ground running in the first couple of frames and let Ryan know he couldn’t walk over me,” said Hallworth. “He has had an incredible season, winning the British Open. But I knew if I played my best I would have a chance. I really enjoy the commentary and hopefully I can offer insight because I’m a player so I know what the others are going through. But what I want to do is to get back on the tour and play snooker, that’s what I practise hard for every day.”

Haydon Pinhey was another amateur to register a surprise win as he beat Luca Brecel 4-2 with top runs of 115 and 113.

Jackson Page came from 3-1 down to beat Anton Kazakov 4-3, making a 56 clearance in the decider, and he now meets close friend Mark Williams who edged out Sean O’Sullivan 4-3.

Kyren Wilson compiled runs of 105 and 101 in a 4-1 victory over Dean Young while Jimmy White added another notch to his impressive season as he beat Graeme Dott 4-2. Gary Wilson boosted his hopes of a top 16 seeding for the Crucible as he saw off Lei Peifan 4-0.

18 March 2023 (Round 1)

Higgins, Selby And Murphy Reach Round Two

Big guns continued to fire at the WST Classic in Leicester as John Higgins, Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy all took their place in a strong second round line up.

The world’s top eight players are all in the last 64 of the world ranking event, with the second round to start on Sunday afternoon. The tournament concludes on Wednesday with a top prize of £80,000 up for grabs.

Higgins won the recent BetVictor Championship League but has struggled this season in ranking events, so a 4-3 victory over Michael White gave the Scot a much-needed boost. White made an 82 clearance to level at 3-3, but Higgins got the better of the decider with a top run of 53.

Selby top scored with 95 in a 4-1 win over Robbie McGuigan, a result which boosts his chances of keeping his top-eight ranking on the one-year list and qualifying for the Duelbits Tour Championship in Hull .

In-form Murphy, winner of the recent Duelbits Players Championship, needed just 53 minutes to beat Oliver Brown 4-0 with runs of 78, 87, 83 and a 140 total clearance which leaves him tied with Mark Joyce on a tournament high-break chart.

Ding Junhui lost 4-3 to Xu Si, who made a 138 in the decider, and that could leave Ding in danger of missing out on both a place in Hull and a top 16 seeding for the Crucible – he will have to watch results over the coming days to discover his fate.

Matthew Selt came from 3-1 down to beat Michael Holt 4-3, winning an epic 75-minute deciding frame by potting the final brown and blue. Selt recently equalled the record for the most centuries made in a single tournament during the BetVictor Championship League, though in ranking events he has suffered five first round defeats this season.

The 2019 Indian Open champion said: “It’s a massive win in the context of my season, I would have stayed out there eight hours to try to win it. I have played a lot better than my results have shown this season. It hurts to lose in the first round because it’s hard to get any momentum. The Championship League has bailed me out in terms of money earned on the table. But the big one is still around the corner. When you have had a poor season results wise, there is no better tournament in terms of trying to rectify that than the World Championship. If I can win a few more matches here that will give me momentum. There is a lot of snooker to be played over the next few days.”

Stephen Maguire completed an even better fight-back as he recovered a 3-0 deficit to beat Alexander Ursenbacher 4-3 with a top break of 137, while BetVictor Shoot Out king Chris Wakelin top scored with 115 in a 4-1 defeat of Reanne Evans.

!9 March 2023 (rounds 1 and 2)

Top Seeds Fall In Leicester

Oliver Lines scored one of his best career wins at the WST Classic, beating Neil Robertson 4-3 in the second round to improve his chances of avoiding tour relegation at the end of the season.

There were several big names casualties on day four in Leicester as Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Mark Williams and Barry Hawkins all lost, while Ronnie O’Sullivan pulled out with an elbow injury.

Lines is currently 64th in the provisional end of season rankings, with only the top 64 sure of keeping their tour card after the Cazoo World Championship, so every result is important for the Leeds cueman. Breaks of 64 and 67 helped him get the better of Robertson today to set up a last 32 meeting with Lyu Haotian.

To beat a player of Neil’s class is great,” said Lines. “It’s hard for the big boys here with no crowd but I’m not taking anything away from myself because I needed that win and I managed to get it. I love Neil’s cue action, it’s the best I’ve ever seen by a mile. I have lost a lot of first round matches this season so it’s nice to see the practice pay off and beat one of the top boys.

Judd Trump needs to reach the final this week to qualify for the eight-man Duelbits Tour Championship later this month and he kept his hopes alive with a 4-1 defeat of Wu Yize.

Masters champion Trump said. “It’s been a tricky season and I am not overly confident of doing anything. If I get through to the Tour Championship it’s a bonus, if not I could do with a break and then I can look forward to the World Championship. So I’m relaxed because I know I need a break, it has been a tough season for everyone. A lot of top players have struggled, but when we get to Sheffield the best players will come alive.

Jackson Page scored a 4-3 victory over close friend Mark Williams, gaining revenge for their Crucible clash last season which Williams won 13-3. This time, Page came from 3-2 down to take the last two frames with breaks of 97 and 51.

The two amateurs in the field kept their runs going as Haydon Pinhey beat Elliot Slessor 4-1 and Daniel Wells made a 141 – new front runner for the £5,000 high break prize – during a 4-3 defeat of Xiao Guodong. Si Jiahui top scored with 123 in a 4-2 win over Lisowski while BetVictor Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins earned a 4-2 success over Mink Nutcharut.

One player who – surprisingly – isn’t mentioned in the above report is Jimmy White who defeated Joe Perry in a deciding frame yesterday evening, to reach the third round (last 32) where he will face Judd Trump. Jimmy, who is 60 years old, is currently 50th in the one year list and second, only behind Daniel Wells, in the list of four, not in the top 64 at the end of the season but will awarded a new professional tour card for their performance this season. It’s quite remarkable.

The tournament was overshadowed by the WST statement announcing Mark King’s suspension for suspected match fixing.

3 thoughts on “Taking stock of the 2023 WST Classic so far

  1. Not for us (for me) to say, as it is Ronnie’s choices and his preferences, but I for sure don’t think this 6-red was worth postponing treatment for and risk health in Sheffield.

    Obviously Ronnie winning in Sheffield would put this whole disappointing season into a very different light, but that aside so far the only good thing for me would be Jimmy retaining his card on his own effort and not having to beg for another wildcard and I was happy that Bulcsu Révész won the U-18. He did not do bad with 14 half centuries during the tournament, but watching some matches of his, made me wonder when they actually start scoring: safeties and tactical play was fine, but it reminded me very much of the women’s game, except they have not really started scoring, while the men eventually do.

  2. You underlined the Ding-Xu match. As has unfortunately become normal for this time of the season, everything is commented by ‘Tour Championship qualification’ or ‘Crucible seedings’. Actually, that great performance by Xu Si gives him a chance of tour survival. Had he lost, he would have been overtaken by Carrington and Joyce on the 1-year list (they had easy first round matches), which would mean Xu would have needed to win an extra match in Sheffield against someone like Maguire or Selt. Ding was probably tired after just returning from Thailand. Players aren’t used to doing so much travelling after spending so much time without.

    • You are right of course Lewis. I watched that match and Xu Si played well. He looked calm too. I really hope he can stay on tour.

Comments are closed.