Ronnie being the defending champion played his first round match to a finish on the first day of the World Championship. He beat Pang Junxu, who was making his Crucible debut, by 10-7.
Here are the scores:
It was a lengthy match, far from easy, and as you can see Pang was the heaviest scorer of the two. Ronnie didn’t make s century in the match, something that hadn’t happened at the Crucible since the SFs in 2023…
As it transpired, Ronnie was battling though illness and really struggling physically. He was also full of praise for his young opponent.
Here are the reports by WST:
Defending Champion O’Sullivan Leads Pang
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan made a strong start to his Cazoo World Championship campaign, emerging from the opening session with a 6-3 lead over debutant Pang Junxu at the Crucible Theatre.
This morning’s tie saw O’Sullivan break the record for most appearances at the Crucible. It’s the Essex cueman’s 31st time competing at the Theatre of Dreams, surpassing Steve Davis’s previous record of 30.
O’Sullivan’s 18-13 win over Judd Trump in last year’s final earned him a record equalling seventh Crucible crown, drawing level with Stephen Hendry. The Rocket came out of the traps quickly this morning in his bid for an eighth world title.
China’s Pang, who reached a maiden final at the recent WST Classic, took some time to settle on the sport’s grandest stage and even walked out through the wrong entrance to the arena after he was introduced to the crowd. However, a strong rally at the end of the session saw Pang stay in touch.
The first chance of the morning went to Pang, who crafted a run of 50 to take control of the opener. O’Sullivan got himself back into the frame and a missed blue from Pang allowed him to deposit the last three balls and move 1-0 up.
Further breaks of 61, 53 and 71 helped 47-year-old O’Sullivan to secure a commanding 5-0 lead. However, those who were expecting 23-year-old Pang to wilt in the Crucible cauldron were mistaken.
A stunning run of 133 earned Pang his first frame. Despite O’Sullivan then moving 6-1 ahead, the momentum was with his opponent. Pang shut the 39-time ranking event winner out for the following two frames and made breaks of 83 and 44 to come out of the session just three behind at 6-3. The match will be played to a finish this evening at 7pm.
O’Sullivan Sets New Crucible Record
Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved a new record for appearances at the Crucible as he battled to a 10-7 success over Pang Junxu in the first round of the Cazoo World Championship in Sheffield.
O’Sullivan made a fast start and went 5-0 ahead but as the day went on he struggled with the affects of illness and fatigue. He looked vulnerable in the closing stages when he was hauled back from 9-4 to 9-7, but eventually made it through to the second round for the 27th time.
“I am relieved it’s over,” the 47-year-old told Eurosport. “I’ve got a bug. Everything has gone, I was just hanging in there. In the end I was just desperate to get over the line, it was a horrible feeling. I can’t wait to get back to bed. At least I can have a few days of rest now.”
O’Sullivan first played at the Crucible in 1993 and has been ever present since; 31 appearances puts him one ahead of Steve Davis. He could have reached another landmark as a century today would have made him the first player to make 200 tons at the Crucible, but his highest break was just 82.
Having equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles last year, today’s victory was the first step in his quest to win an eighth Crucible crown and he now faces another tough test in the last 16 against Ding Junhui or Hossein Vafaei.China’s 23-year-old Pang, who was Rookie of the Year in 2021, impressed on his Crucible debut, showing his charisma around the table.
He led 6-3 after the first session then that 82 extended his advantage. Pang had a chance to snatch the next from 54-0 down but ran out of position with two reds left, and later played a loose safety which handed his opponent the chance to extend his lead to 8-3.
Frame 12 came down to the last red and Pang enjoyed a handy fluke, slotting it into a top corner when attempting safety, which allowed him to pull one back. O’Sullivan dominated the 13th for 9-4 but the tide turned after the interval as Pang reeled off three in a row with 78, 70 and 73. His hopes of an upset were ended in frame 17 by O’Sullivan’s 81.
“When you are feeling good, you are enjoying every moment,” added world number one O’Sullivan. “But tonight I felt as if I was sliding about. It feels like glandular fever, it saps the energy out of you. Sometimes you just have to get through those situations. You fight, that’s what you do. Tiger Woods won a tournament on one leg, Stephen Hendry won the world title with a broken arm.
“I believe in the snooker Gods, if I had lost tonight they would have determined that. I turn up and try my best, and if that’s not good enough I have to move on. I never get down or frustrated or worried.”
Asked about Pang, he added: “He’s a phenomenal player, a joy to watch. I was like him 30 years ago. It was lovely to see.”
WST shared the last frame on the YouTube channel
There were loads of pictures floating around as you would expect
A big big thanks to my friend Tai Chegzhe for these, much appreciated!
And more shared on social media by WST, Matt Huart and other various sources:
Ronnie doesn’t play before Friday so, hopefully he will get enough time to rest and recover.
At least three events will be played in China next season
World Snooker Tour Set To Return To China With Three Events In 2023/24
The World Snooker Tour will stage a minimum of three tournaments in China later this year, including the first world ranking events since 2019.
CLICK HERE for the 2023-24 WST Provisional Calendar
Aside from the 2022 Hong Kong Masters which was an eight-player invitation event, these will be the first professional snooker events hosted in China for four years.
The tournaments are:
Shanghai Masters – invitational with 24 players. September 11-17
Wuhan Open – world ranking event. October 9-15
International Championship – world ranking event. November 5-12. Host city to be confirmed
Total prize money for these three events combined will exceed £2 million. The provisional calendar for the 2023/24 season has now been released.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “This is a momentous announcement for our sport as we ramp up our return to staging events in Asia. To have a minimum of two world ranking events, plus a major invitation tournament, in China later this year is fantastic for the players and fans.
“Throughout the pandemic we have maintained dialogue and relationships with the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association as well as our key partners and promoters across China. This has allowed us to make a fast return to staging key events now that travel restrictions have lifted.
“We promised our players that this was top of our agenda and we have delivered on that promise, adding more than £2 million in prize money to the tour. We will continue to explore opportunities to stage further events in China and beyond.
“We are excited to host a tournament for the first time in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and a vibrant city of 11 million people. The Shanghai Masters has a long history and is renowned for its prestige.
“There is a vast appetite for snooker among fans in China and they will keenly anticipate the return of our star players. We look forward to working with our partners on building a bright future for snooker in the region.”
That’s, of course, excellent news.
9 thoughts on “2023 Crucible – Day 1 – Ronnie’s Win and Tour News”
I wonder what the protocols are for sick players. It seems a bit strange that a player is allowed to play when they are sick, especially in early round matches at the Crucible when the players sit immediately next to each other (without wearing masks), and especially with COVID still going around.
Anyway, while I’m sure the players will be pleased that some (presumably lucrative) Chinese events are returning to the calendar, it seems less than ideal that the 3 events are in 3 consecutive months (thus requiring most players to make trips to China and back from the UK in 3 consecutive months), and it’s also less than ideal that each of the 3 Chinese events starts and/or ends a day before and/or after other events.
Regarding the Chinese events, it’s always been that way. There were talks about grouping Asian events to minimise traveling. That only makes sense if the qualifiers are played in Asia as well BTW otherwise some players could be stuck there, idle, for weeks in a row. That is IMO how it should be anyway … but guess what? When the idea was discussed most UK players disliked it … because it would mean being away from “home” for too long. If it was for me I would have a full season in Asia every odd year. They would then maybe appreciate how much more difficult it is to succeed for non-UK players the way the tour is now …
wow so you are apparently still terrified of covid in 2023 (major 🤡 move) but you don’t mention that one of the tournaments will be held in Wuhan where the whole damn thing came from in the first place
First I’m not terrified of covid at all. Covid, like all viruses has evolved and has become more contagious but less dangerous, notably because our bodies have been exposed to it for 3 years now. Second, I do know it started in Wuhan. Does that make the place more dangerous NOW? I don’t think so. It has spread everywhere by now and if anything it’s probably been more closely monitored in Wuhan than in most other places around the world.
hey Monique I wasn’t making the comment to you I was making it to Mark. I just think it’s an exaggerarion to associate whatever Ronnie’s bug was with covid. but on a sidenote I also think that no serious sporting event should be placed in Wuhan (or really in China) until the exact origin of the virus is clarified, which I doubt it will be. I just don’t think it makes World Snooker look great
Yeah, last time he was ill at the Worlds, he went out to Cahill, so a much better result now. Fortunately Pang made many mistakes in the beginning and when he started getting into the groove, the first session was over. The end of the match raised the spectre of a decider for me, so mighty relieved it did not happen: Ronnie was sometimes still very good and certainly applied himself. Hope he can get better soon and be strong on Friday.
Pang actually scored more points in the match than Ronnie. He lost 3 early frames that he might have won, and that proved to be the difference between the two players. Pang seemed to enjoy the experience, although I haven’t heard any interview with him. But the performance doesn’t matter, it’s the result that counts in these first round matches.
There are two ‘ranking’ events and one ‘invitational’ scheduled for China in the Autumn. The ranking events of course follow the same old pattern of qualification rounds in the UK, according to the schedule, a few weeks ahead of the event. I assume that a few top players will get held-over first round matches: the promotional video claims that Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Ding Junhui are expected to take part.
I don’t know what is this illness but the good news is he has 4-5 days to recover from it. Hopefully this is enough for him.
SOmething similar in 2019 because he had a food poison(?) but he once said if he had won his first round match he should have reach the closing stages there
Anyway: does anyone know why the evening session (in European version of Eurosport) didn’t show the studio?
More likely something like a serious bout of flu. He said he like when he had glandular fever a few years back. Absolutely exhausted.
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