International Championship 2019 Qualifiers – Days 1 and 2

We are two days into the International Championship 2019 qualifiers and already the combined impact of a longer format and good prize money is obvious.

All the top players – except Ronnie – have entered and those who have been in action already have all won their matches: Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Ryan Day, Barry Hawkins, Jack Lisowski … all are already through and China Bound. Even Michael White and Liang Wenbo have found something and won. Liang actually found … his scoring boots: he made 7 breaks over 50, including a 107, in winning only 6 frames. Zao Xintong and Xiao Guodong also qualified, but Lyu Haotian lost to Duane Jones

Two young players deserve a special mention. Louis Heathcote, who just turned professional last month, beat Noppon Saengkham by 6-4 to qualify for the main event. Going by the scores, it was a high quality match: Noppon had breaks of 126, 112 and 78 whilst Louis scored breaks of 67, 77, 103 and 78, the last three in the last three frames of the match. Louis, remember, did also beat Ryan Day a few days ago to qualify for the Riga Masters. Impressive from the rookie. Yuan Sijun, who attracted Stephen Hendry’s attention and is still only 19, beat Gerard Greene by 6-0 with breaks of 108, 75, 57 and 66. He also had qualified for Riga with a win over Noppon Seangkham.

I haven’t seen much of the action at all, but Mark Selby looked solid in his match against Sam Baird (who was quite poor, truth to be said). Neil Robertson demolished Oliver Lines by 6-0 with three centuries; that can’t have been too shabby.

It all continues today and tomorrow. Luca Brecel got a bye.

 

Shanghai Masters 2019 – Ronnie Interview

Ronne gave a nice, and rather long interview in the context of the 2019 Shanghai Masters Launch. He was also reunited with the kids to whom he had offered his trophies last season.

Here is the interview:

14.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference

It’s nearly one hour and a half long, but that’s also because the need for translation and the interactions with the fans.

There was also this article

“Rocket” Shanghai with “old friends”, interacting with the fans

Posted on 2019-06-14 19:28:23
Reading number: 9284

Last year, the champion of the Snooker Shanghai Masters, O’Sullivan, “airborne” Shanghai yesterday, for the 2019 World Snooker Shanghai Masters, which will be held on September 9-15 this year, and he will serve as a “mentor”. 2019 National Amateur Snooker Masters Tournament. Today, O’Sullivan has opened a new round of intimate interaction with fans to chat about his billiards story and Shanghai memories.

Shanhai Masters 2019 - Launch

        O’Sullivan, who has always performed well in the Shanghai Masters, has a large number of fans in China. Today he has a cordial exchange with some of the lucky winners who have been randomly selected through the official 2019 National Amateur Snooker Masters. Close contact with “Idol” has excited this group of lucky fans, and O’Sullivan is grateful to the Chinese fans who have always supported him.

        Many of these fans will compete in the 2019 National Amateur Snooker Masters – Shanghai Station on June 15th. This year’s competition is still divided into two stages: the trials and the national finals. The sea-selection sub-station will be increased from four stations last year to eight stations, and will be held in Shanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xi’an in June and August respectively.

Shanhai Masters 2019 Launch

        The top three players in each of the selection trials will advance to the national finals in Shanghai in September and will compete fiercely. In the end, the national finals champion and runner-up will win the 2019 World Snooker Shanghai Masters wild card seat, and compete with the snooker masters including O’Sullivan. At present, the 2019 National Amateur Snooker Masters is still in hot recruitment, and the registration method can be checked through the official WeChat public account (Snook Shanghai Masters).

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

        Fans and friends at the event also got the opportunity to ask questions to the Rockets face to face. O’Sullivan answered the questions of the fans seriously and also looked forward to this year’s war of defending. O’Sullivan said: “Shanghai Masters is always strong opponents gathered from various quarters, and at the beginning of the new season, everyone will come up with the best in the state, which is the cause of this race exceptionally people expect.” Meet On the other hand, the host also gave O’Sullivan a series of questions to test his understanding of Shanghai. O’Sullivan revealed that every time he came to Shanghai for many years, he felt the change of this vitality city. It combines the modern sense of modern city and the fireworks of the city life, so that he can enjoy the time in Shanghai.

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

        As the most successful and outstanding player in the history of snooker, O’Sullivan has played an important role in the promotion of snooker. His appearance has a special significance for the Shanghai Masters. “Rocket” has won the Shanghai Masters for two consecutive years. After winning the championship last year, he presented the championship trophy and the single-shot highest trophy to two children on the scene. The two lucky spectators were also invited to today’s fans. Meet the meeting. O’Sullivan, who was full of domineering and unruly on the court, showed a very gentle side when he saw these two “old friends”. Not only did they specially prepare gifts for them, but they also left precious photos with the small fans. “I was very happy after winning the championship last year. I want to give the trophy to the audience. I also hope to leave some good memories for them. I like to see the smiling faces of the children.” O’Sullivan said, “I think so, The trophy also has a better home, and I am more happy to make the fans happy.”

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

        The 2019 World Snooker Shanghai Masters will be held at the Regal International East Asia Hotel from September 9th to 15th. The competition will still be in the form of a 24-player tournament. The players invited to participate will be ranked by the top 16 players in the world, the top four Chinese players in the world (if the rankings in the top 16 are postponed), two from the China Billiards Association and two national amateur masters. . The event will continue to maintain a high level of lineup, attracting the world’s top snooker players to fight for the fight, for the championship glory and rich bonuses.

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

At present, the tickets for the competition have been officially opened for sale. Fans and friends can log on to the official ticketing website of the event, http://www.jusstickets.com or call 021-962123 for ticketing consultation. In September, let us join the Regal International East Asia Hotel to experience the infinite charm of this gentleman movement. Pay attention to the official WeChat and Weibo platform “Snook Shanghai Masters”, or visit the official website of the event: http://www.snookershanghai.com for more information.

Plus some more pictures shared on weibo …

and here is Ronnie’s message to the fans:

16.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference.

Enjoy!

Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers conclusion and aftermath

The Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers concluded yesterday evening and yielded a few surprising results, even considering that most top players are probably rusty.

Ian Preece 4-3 David Gilbert: Preece is an amateur, but of course he’s sharp from the Q_school. Still, it’s unexpected especially considering that Gilbert was 3-0 up!

Jamie O’Neill 4-1 Barry Hawkins: Jamie just requalified for the main tour via the Q-school, so he’s sharp, and Barry always seems to start his season slowly; all the same it’s a bit surprising, especially the score.

Li Hang 4-1 Stuart Bingham:  Li Hang played in the China national event in Xi’an last week, so he would be sharp, but also jet-lagged. Not jet-lagged enough for Stuart Bingham liking I guess…

Zhang Anda beat Zhao Jianbo 5-3 in the final to win his second China Billiards And Snooker Association ranking title in Xi’an.

Chinese professional players Xiao Guodong, Li Hang, Zhou Yuelong, Yuan Sijun, Zhao Xintong and Lu Ning were among the 64 competitors at the five-day main event. Zhao Jianbo, age just 15, showed his potential with a fine run to the final, after becoming Asian Under-21 champion last month.

Zhang Anda knocked out the likes of Zhang Jiankang and Li Hang to reach the final, then beat Zhao with top breaks of 74, 80 and 75.

“I’m happy with my performance today, I made a few decent breaks,” said 27-year-old Zhang. “My young opponent played really well this week. I expected a tough final.

‘I’m not happy with my results on the professional tour so far. There have been a lot of ups and downs. I’m flying to the UK tomorrow and the new season begins next week for me. There are more tournaments and higher prize money nowadays. I believe this title will give me confidence.”

Zhang announced on social media last week that he was recently married, and he dedicated this title to his wife.

He added: “Also thanks to my family. I thought about giving up snooker countless times because I’m still waiting for my breakthrough and I’m not young any more. But the ones close to me have always encouraged me.”

Zhang received a cheque for 50,000 RMB, while Zhao Jianbo won 20,000. Fan Zhengyi made the highest break of 143, earning him a 5,000 bonus.

Zhang Anda 4-3 Shaun Murphy: Zhang was the winner of the Xi’an event and it seems that he had too much for Shaun Murphy! Shan recently stepped down from his position on the board of Directors to concentrate on his career. After last season disaster that sounded reasonable. However it seems that shaun has other ambitions … 

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy will temporarily swap the baize for the links later this month, as he launches an ambitious bid to qualify for golf’s 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

In his spare time, Murphy has managed to obtain a scratch golf handicap. That means he is eligible to enter qualifying for this year’s Open Championship as an amateur. The 36-year-old will tee it up in the regional event at County Louth on June 24th.

We caught up with Triple Crown winner Murphy, to look ahead to his debut in one of golf’s greatest tournaments…

Shaun, what is it that made you want to try your hand at Open Championship qualifying?

“I caddied for one of my friends, Graham Neville, a few years ago at Open qualifying. He got to the final stages and was playing in the group ahead of former US Open winner Michael Campbell. That was a fantastic experience. I thought it would be nice to have a go myself, just to say I had played in it. It is very hard to maintain a scratch handicap whilst having a full time snooker career, a young family and all the rest of it. I won’t be off scratch for much longer so I thought I should take my opportunity while I am still eligible.”

What do you think your chances of progressing are?

“It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that I could go out there and shoot level par and get through to the final stage of qualifying. That would be extremely unlikely, but I have done it before. My best round of golf is four under par.

“If I even managed to progress to the next stage it would be crazy really. There are some amazing players in those final qualifiers and I would feel like a bit of an imposter, but I’m only 18 holes away. It is all a bit tongue in cheek and a bit of a laugh, but this will be a fantastic experience. I think the one thing I do have going for me is that I already have a full time job. Golf isn’t my livelihood. Relative to the other players I will be playing against, it doesn’t really matter to me if I win or lose. I won’t be under the pressure they are under. Most of them are trying to win the Open Championship. I am just trying to have a good day out. I could knock it round in anything from 68 to 108!”

Do you think your experience of climbing the mountain in snooker and becoming a World Champion will help you out at all?

“My experiences on the snooker tour certainly give me a bit of an inside track of what goes on inside these player’s minds when they are walking down the final fairway of a major tournament. In some ways, I would say that the mental side of snooker is more difficult. We don’t have a caddy out there with us. When you are in a deciding frame at Alexandra Palace, you are out there on your own. There is nobody to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, snooker is truly a single person sport. I know that my mentality won’t be what lets me down, it will be my lack of ability!”

Was there ever any point where you had to make a decision between pursuing snooker or golf for your career?

“Well there was never a career crossover point as such, but once I turned 17 and started driving it did become all too easy for me to sneak off to the golf course. There was a bit of an emergency meeting called with my sponsors, friends and family. I was playing far too much golf and it definitely cost me a few results. I obviously managed to reel things in after that.”

Can you see many technical similarities between golf and snooker?

“There are some quite staggering similarities. Even to the point that when I was a young boy growing up there were some golf training techniques that I brought into my snooker, things like timing exercises and drills. The fact that it is a still ball game, you have to impart the spin and you have to move the ball. Those parts are identical. Most snooker players make good putters as well. We are used to looking at a perfectly flat six by 12 foot area of green baize. When it comes to a putting green, any breaks or variations tend to stick out like a sore thumb.”

How much are you looking forward to teeing off at County Louth in two weeks’ time?

“Well the Open Championship is one of those perennials. Much like the World Snooker Championship, when it is on that is it and you get totally consumed by it. I love everything about it, the fact that it is played on links courses make it even more special as well. Links golf is the original test and challenge. I can’t wait to get out there.”

I find this all a bit baffling, including the fact that Worldsnooker publishes this…

Kacper Filipiak 4-3 Zhao Xintong: not a big shock, but still not what I expected. Could Kacper finally be over the disappointment of his first experience of the tour? I hope so. He was far too young when he got his first tour card, and  it was a disaster that left him very dispirited.

The whole event was plagued with scoreboard issues, that seriously disrupted several matches. On at least one occasion the players had to move to another table mid-match. During the Wilson v Wakelin match, things were appearing on the screen that clearly put the players off but they had to continue to play through it. They were clearly annoyed, frustrated, missing things they never would miss normally and the match was a start-stop affair as, at times, they just had to wait for the scoreboard to “behave” before being able to play their shots.

The whole situation is totally unacceptable in a professional sport.

The above results mean that only three of the top 16 qualified for the main venue: Jack Lisowski, Kyren Wilson and Luca Brecel. To that trio one must add Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and Mark Selby whose matches have been held over. Not great for the tournament and the organisers.

 

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

Worldsnooker has today published this:

A press conference for the 2019 World Snooker Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters was held at the Regal International East Asia Hotel today, attended by defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and China’s top player Ding Junhui.

Tickets for the tournament are now on sale – fans can buy them at http://www.jusstickets.com or call 021-962123.

This year’s Shanghai Masters is sponsored by the Bank of Shanghai and will run from September 9-15 at the Regal International East Asia Hotel. It will be a 24-man invitational event, featuring the world’s top 16 plus the next four highest ranked Chinese players, two CBSA nominations and the two winners of the Amateur Masters.

O’Sullivan and Ding were announced as the mentors of the Amateur Masters. The amateur events will be officially launched on June 15 and will be divided into two stages: the trials and the national finals. The trials will be held in Shanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xi’an in June and August. The top three players in each of the trials will enter the national finals in Shanghai in September. The champion and runner-up of the national finals will receive the 2019 Shanghai Masters wild cards, to compete with the world’s top stars.

Speeches were made by Luo Wenhua, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau, Liu Chunsheng, deputy secretary general of the China Billiards and Snooker Association and Yang Yibin, deputy general manager of Shanghai Juss Sports Industry Development (Group) Co., Ltd. Barry Hearn, Chairman of World Snooker, also expressed support and greetings to the event and the fans through a video.

The press conference also featured an exhibition match, involving Ding, O’Sullivan and eight amateur players.

It’s great news and at the same time you have to wonder why this is happening now, at the same time as the Riga Masters and International Championships qualifiers as obviously neither Ding nor Ronnie can be in two places simultaneously. There are plenty of “gaps” available in the summer calendar… Ding of course would always have his matches held over in “Chinese” events, but there would be no such certainty for Ronnie.  Anyway…

Here are a few images that were shared on weibo:

And some short videos…

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 1

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 2

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 3

Big thanks to a very good friend who is helping me so that I can bring these to this blog to share them with the fans. He’s doing a stirling job!

Hopefully more will emerge in the coming hours, and maybe, even the full exhibition…

If so that will come in another post tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

 

World Cup 2019 News

Worldsnooker has yesterday announced the teams for the 2019 World Cup

The 24 teams for the Sports Lottery Cup Wuxi World Cup have been announced.

The tournament runs from June 24 to 30 in the city of Wuxi in China’s Jiangsu Province. The line up of players for the two-man teams will be announced soon.

The event will be televised on Eurosport.

China have won the last three World Cups, with Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo lifting the trophy in both 2011 and 2017, while Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong took the glory in 2015.

The 24 teams this time are:

China A
Wales
Scotland
Northern Ireland
England
Belgium
China B
Thailand
Iran
Cyprus
Norway
Republic of Ireland
Malaysia
Poland
Hong Kong
Germany
Israel
Australia
Saudi Arabia
Switzerland
Malta
India
Austria
United Arab Emirates

The teams will be split into four groups, each of six teams, for the round robin phase. The top two in each group will then go through to the quarter finals.

Click here for the competition rules.

Earlier this year,  it was announced that Wuxi will host the tournament every two years for the next decade. The total prize money this year will be $800,000.

What’s a bit funny is that they don’t say anything about the groups whilst some people on social media already know and posted about them:

A: China A, Thailand, Poland, Austria, Norway, Germany

B: Northern Ireland, England, Iran, Ireland, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia

C: Scotland, Belgium, Malaysia, Israel, UAE, Cyprus

D: Wales, China B, Switzerland, Malta, Australia, India

Luca Brecel and Ben Mertens will represent Belgium.

Mark Allen and Jordan Brown will play for Northern Ireland.

Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski for England

Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong for China B

Thor Chuan Leong and Moh Keen Ho for Malaysia

Marco Fu will not play for Hong Kong, by Andy Lee will.

Day 2 of the 2019/20 season…

The Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers continued in Ponds Forge. Here are the results worth noting:

Rookie professional, Brandon Saergent, who qualified for the main tour via the Challenge Tour, won his first match as a professional: he beat Ashley Carty by 4-2.

Adam Stefanow, Alexander Ursenbacher and Luckas Kleckers both won as well, boosting mainland Europe representation in Riga. Adam beat Michael White by 4-0, which is  by certainly a good encouraging result. Michael White could be in danger of dropping off te tour this season – quite incredibly.

Jack Lisowski is one of the top 16 player who was in action yesterday and he beat David Lilley by 4-2. David certain didn’t make it easy for him.

Dominic Dale – who will be fighting for his pro status this season – lost by 4-3 to Craig Steadman, despite scoring a 141 that is – for now – the tournament high break.

Liam Highfield beat Stephen Maguire by 4-2. A bit of a surprise although some top players are very rusty this early in the season. Graeme Dott survived Robbie Williams challenge (4-3).

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh came from behind to beat Eden Sharav by 4-3; Theppy made two centuries during the match, one being a 147 attempt (he missed the last red with the rest).

2019 Riga Masters: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 147 attempt – Eden Sharav

 

First Day of the 2019/20 Season…

Yesterday was the first “playing” day of the new season … with the qualifiers for the 2019 Riga Masters underway at Ponds Forge.

You can follow the tournament on snooker.org and here are yesterday’s results

There were a few interesting results:

Rookies Louis Heathcote and Chang Bingyu both won their first match as professionals, against Ryan Day and Ian Burns respectively. Chang’s match wasn’t streamed in Europe, by Louis’ one was and he played extremely well. Ryan Day himself wasn’t playing badly at all. Si Jiahui on the other hand was beaten soundly by Ricky Walden; Ricky, for what I saw of the match, played really well which pleased me because it’s always sad when a player of Ricky’s quality struggles badly because of injuries.

Returning professional Chen Zifan also started his season well with a win over Michael Georgiou.  Xu Si however was beaten by Ali Carter, who looked very strong.

Luca Brecel looked sharp as well, whitewashing And Hicks.  Yuan Sijun, who caught Stephen Hendry’s attention, also won, beating Noppon Saengkham by 4-2.

Yan Bingtao – seeded 16 here – beat Anthony McGill – seeded 18 – by 4-2 in a rather painful match. Yan is on the back of a poor season, ans so is McGill. Both probably lack confidence and both struggled.