2023 WST Classic – Onto the Last Day

Tonight one player will walk away with the inaugural WST Classic title and trophy. Indeed, three rounds will be played today. Here is the draw of the quarter-finals:

As you can see it’s a very “unbalanced” draw, with three former World Champions and a multiple World finalist in the lower half, whilst the upper half features only one top 16 player, Gary Wilson. Pang is 41st in the ranking and the highest ranked of the other 3.

Here is WST report on what happened yesterday:

White: I’ll Make The Crucible

Jimmy White insisted that he believes he will qualify for the Crucible this year, after his fine run at the WST Classic came to an end at the last 16 stage with a 4-1 reverse against Pang Junxu.

White, age 60, knocked out Graeme Dott and Joe Perry in the first two rounds in Leicester then scored one of his best wins in recent years earlier on Tuesday when he beat Judd Trump 4-2. But the Whirlwind missed out on a first ranking quarter-final in seven years as he lost 4-1 to China’s Pang.

I’m really disappointed that I didn’t compete,” said White. “I won the first frame then I should have gone 2-0 up. I felt mentally drained. The buzz should get you through that, but I was tired and I was cueing poorly from the second frame onwards. Pang is one of my favourite Chinese players and I wish him all the best because he’s a hard worker. To beat the three players I have beaten this week and then not produce tonight is a disappointment.

Crowd favourite White has enjoyed impressive results this season, reaching the last 16 of two ranking events and the last 32 of another. He’ll now look ahead to the Cazoo World Championship qualifiers which start on April 3, with the goal of reaching the final stages for the first time since 2006. “I am playing ok, I just ran out of steam,” he added. “I’ll take a couple of days off now and get back to practice on Friday. I’ll be getting to the Crucible, I am playing too well.

Gary Wilson reached the quarter-finals by beating David Grace 4-1 with a top break of 135, and his results on Wednesday could determine whether he plays at the Duelbits Tour Championship and the Crucible in the coming weeks.

Wilson won his first ranking title at the BetVictor Scottish Open in December and is into the last eight of a ranking event for the third time this season. If he goes on to reach the final in Leicester, he will leapfrog Ding Junhui in the Race to Hull and earn a place in next week’s conclusion to the 2023 Duelbits Series, and will be sure of a top 16 seeding at the Cazoo World Championship for the first time in his career. But if Wilson falls at the quarter or semi-final stage tomorrow, then Ding will go to Hull and could also go on to earn that Crucible spot.

Wilson’s next opponent will be Germany’s Lukas Kleckers, who made a breakthrough by reaching the first ranking event quarter-final of his career. The 26-year-old from Essen beat Jackson Page 4-0 with top breaks of 88, 63 and 83.

Pang, a semi-finalist at the BetVictor Welsh Open, now meets Oliver Lines, who reached his second ranking quarter-final, and first since the Turkish Masters a year ago, with a 4-0 thrashing of Scott Donaldson.

John Higgins, winner of the recent BetVictor Championship League, is playing his best snooker of the season so far and reached his first ranking quarter-final of the campaign by making breaks of 121 and 126 in a 4-2 win over Kyren Wilson. In a clash of two four-time World Champions, Higgins now meets Mark Selby, who beat Robbie Williams 4-3 by taking the 67-minute deciding frame on the final pink.

Stuart Bingham saw off Noppon Saengkham 4-2 and now faces an Essex derby against Ali Carter, who edged out James Cahill 4-3 with a top break of 106.

Jimmy White’s fairy tale run came to an end yesterday evening and it was plain to see that he “hit the wall” there, as he admits himself. Jimmy badly wants to make it to the Crucible and, no doubt, that would be an extraordinary and much needed “fell good” snooker story given Jimmy’s popularity with the fans. He still has the game. Does he have the stamina? I’m not sure, especially considering that we are back with the best of 19 format from round 1. Whatever happens from here, Jimmy is almost certain to qualify for next season as a professional “on merit”.

WST focus has been on the Gary Wilson v Ding Junhui “battle” for the top 16 and the 2023 Tour Championship. It really isn’t a battle because Ding is out of the tournament and it’s out of his hands.

Whilst that is important for those two, I feel that this weeks results are equally if not more important for the lower ranked players still in the draw.

The above report mentions that Lukas Kleckers is in his first quarter-finals, but that’s not all that is worth mentioning. Indeed Lukas’ results this week mean that he’s now assured to be in the top 80 of the rankings going into the 2023 World Championship. This means that he will not need to play the first round of qualifiers and is guaranteed £5000 in prize money, albeit not counting towards his ranking unless he wins his first match in Sheffield. Oliver Lines and Jimmy White are also certain to start in round 2, whilst Pang, currently ranked 41st will start in round 3 with £10000 guaranteed.

2 thoughts on “2023 WST Classic – Onto the Last Day

  1. Best of 7?(I thought it was best of 9)
    Too bad Jimmy not going further. (I think this was the best chance he suppose going further as frames needed to win is greatly reduced)

    Hold on… Best of 11 in final? (feel neutral to it, but why?)

    And still world championship ahead!!!!!!!! He still needs to get in 10,000 to feel safe…
    (It is more possible for others to get into last 16… especially this year! the suspension!!!)

  2. A pity about the end of Jimmy’s fairy tale run and like said above, it is difficult to see him win best of 19-matchs, although I always feel that it can be helpful for players that they know they will play a fixed number of frames at least in the first session. But I’m happy he retains his card on merit and does not have to beg for another wildcard and you bet I celebrated his victory over Trump yesterday. 🙂 And people will already have a taste of seeing what would happen if top players really went on strike, watching the Tour Championship. 🙂

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