The Shoot Out is coming …

WST has published the first round draw and format some days ago

The random draw for the first round of next week’s BetVictor Shoot Out has been made, with top stars including Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy in the field.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Click here for the rules

The tournament has a unique format with all matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes within a single frame, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five. The world ranking event runs from February 20 to 23 at the Watford Colosseum, with every match televised live on Eurosport.

O’Sullivan, set to compete in the event for the first time since 2015, will face former Masters champion Alan McManus in the opening round in the evening session on Friday February 21st.

World women’s champion Reanne Evans will take on Ian Burns in the afternoon session on the same day. The other female player in the field, Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai, will take on Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong during the evening session on Thursday February 20.

Other intriguing first round ties include Jimmy White against Matthew Stevens, Mark Williams against Luca Brecel and defending champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh against Alex Borg.

The tournament is the third of four events in the BetVictor European Series, with the leading money winner across the series to earn a bonus of £150,000.

And, as I pointed out before, Ronnie isn’t safe yet for the 2020 Players Championship.

Here is WST analysis confirming mine 

This week’s BetVictor Shoot Out is the final counting event in the race to qualify for the for the Coral Players Championship in Southport, with only the top 16 on the one-year ranking list to make the cut.

The Watford Colosseum hosts the fast and furious BetVictor Shoot Out from Thursday to Sunday this week, with 128 players in the field.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s run to the semi-finals of last week’s ManBetX Welsh Open earned him £20,000 and boosted him from 20th to 16th with £97,000. He won both the Coral Players Championship and the Coral Tour Championship last year, and is now on track to have the chance to defend the first of those titles at the Southport Waterfront next week (February 24 to March 1).

However, O’Sullivan is not safe yet, as a top prize of £50,000 is up for grabs in Watford, which means that if he loses in the opening round, there are 20 players below him who could jump into the top 16.

O’Sullivan’s closest challenger is Gary Wilson in 17th place and £6,000 behind; he would need to reach at least the semi-finals in Watford, worth £8,000, to have a chance. Everyone down to Ricky Walden in 36th place, £49,250 behind O’Sullivan, is still in contention.

BetVictor Shoot Out prize money:
Winner: £50,000
Runner-up: £20,000
Semi-finals: £8,000
Quarter-finals: £4,000
Last 16: £2,000
Last 32: £1,000
Last 64: £500

As it stands there are four players inside the top 16 of the one-year list who are outside the top 16 of the official two-year list: Graeme Dott, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Yan Bingtao and Joe Perry.

And three players inside the top eight of the one-year list who are outside the top eight of the official two-year list : Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao. Only the top eight after the BetVictor Gibraltar Open will qualify for the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17-22).

Shaun Murphy won the ManBetX Welsh Open, his second ranking title of the season, and his £70,000 top prize lifts him one place to ninth on the two year list. He remains second on the one-year list but closes the gap on leader Judd Trump.

Kyren Wilson reached the final, earning £30,000 which lifts him from 15th to 11th, improving his hopes of qualifying for all three Coral Series events. Yan Bingtao was a semi-finalist and he’s up from tenth to seventh.

There are four events to go in the Race to the Crucible – with Ali Carter currently in 16th spot, £14,000 ahead of 17th-placed Joe Perry.

There are four events to go before the Crucible, yes, but two of them will feature only 16 and 8 players respectively. So, in effect, for the vast majority of the players, there are only two, and this “circus” is one of them. With  £50000 for the winner, and only £8000 for reaching the SF, the Shoot Out is even more top heavy than most other events. Actually, given the nature of the event, they might as well sell lottery tickets “earning” players ranking points. I’m sure that the bookies are over the moon though. I’m not.

If Ronnie, after his efforts last week, misses out the Players Championship, where he is defending Champion, or if anyone has to qualify for the Crucible because someone else was propelled into the top 16, all because of this random tripe, I will be sick!

Shame on you WST, this is making a mockery of the rankings.

 

2020 Welsh Open – Shaun Murphy is our Champion

Shaun Murphy won the 2020 Welsh OPen Final, beating Kyren Wilson by 9-1/

He received the Ray Reardon Trophy, presented by the great man himself.

WelshOpen2020MurphyWin

Congratulations Shaun Murphy!

Here are the WST reports on the final:

Shaun Murphy 7-1 Kyren Wilson (afternoon)

Shaun Murphy needs just two more frames to win the ManBetX Welsh Open for the first time, leading Kyren Wilson 7-1 after the first session of the final in Cardiff.

The Magician was runner-up to Stephen Lee in 2006, but this is his first visit to the final since then. Wilson is also aiming for his maiden Welsh Open title.

Murphy left Wilson trailing in his wake with a devastating blitz in the opening exchanges. The 2005 World Champion composed breaks of 108 and 84 to move 2-0 ahead. Murphy then stole the third on the pink, before adding a further frame to lead 4-0 at the mid-session interval.

When they returned, Murphy composed further breaks of 76 and 134 on his way to building the 7-1 advantage. Wilson got his solitary frame on the board with a run of 43.

They will return at 7pm to play the match to its conclusion, the first player to reach nine frames will win the Ray Reardon Trophy and the £70,000 top prize.

Shaun Murphy 9-1 Kyren Wilson (evening)

A stunning performance from Shaun Murphy saw him thrash Kyren Wilson 9-1 to win the ManBetX Welsh Open for the first time at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

It’s the ninth ranking event victory of 2005 World Champion Murphy’s career, which draws him level with fellow Crucible winners John Parrott and Peter Ebdon in the all-time ranking tournament winner’s list.

After the match Murphy was presented the trophy and his £70,000 winner’s prize by legendary Welsh six-time World Champion Ray Reardon, who the trophy is named after.

Having already been victorious at the China Championship earlier in the season, this is the first time Murphy has won two ranking titles in a single campaign. World number 10 Murphy has reached four finals in total this season and sits in second position on the one-year-list.

Despite the emphatic nature of Wilson’s defeat, it has still been a memorable week for the Warrior. He composed the second 147 break of his career in his opening round win over Jackson Page and beat Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan on his way to the final.

Murphy only required two frames coming into tonight after securing a 7-1 lead in this afternoon’s first session. He wasted little time in wrapping up the win. Breaks of 102 and 73 saw him claim the first two frames to secure the title in just over 26-minutes.

“It is fabulous. I’m absolutely overjoyed and over the moon,” said 37-year-old Murphy. “This is what we play for. This is it. This winning feeling when you get handed the trophy at the end of the tournament. All those boyhood dreams, all those hours of practise they are for this so it is very special.

“It was a real thrill to put on a show for that great crowd out there. I’ve said for years that I love coming to South Wales and play snooker. It is fantastic to finally put on a good show for them.

“I’ve been where Kyren is now and it is a disappointing place to be. I know he is made of strong stuff. We come from a similar area and I know he has some good people around him. He will probably watch the game back and see where he could learn from his few mistakes. In fairness I thought I played well and kept him at bay for a lot of the day. On another day I would be standing there as the runner-up.”

Wilson said: “I was completely outplayed in many departments. I said earlier on in the week that pinching those tight black ball frames can be more important than centuries, I didn’t do that today. That was probably the difference early on. Shaun is too strong to have a lead like that and let it slip, he played tremendously.

“It was very disappointing to not feel like I was more involved. I let a couple of frames slip. You have to convert frames and when you don’t they hurt.

“This era in snooker is so difficult. If you can’t be pleased with beating the players I have this week and making maximums there is something wrong. I am gutted to not win. I feel I am a winner and I want to win titles. It is going to hurt for a few days, but I’ve got to get back to work as we have some big tournaments coming up.”

Most fans, and pundits, expected a very close match. It was as one-sided as it gets. It’s hard to explain sometimes, but it may be a case of feeling a bit flat or “empty” after a big win that took a lot out of him. Beating Ronnie in a decider, after the heavy defeats he had suffered at his hands, may have done that to Kyren (*). That said, Shaun Murphy played superbly and, on that form, would probably have beaten anyone on the day.

Eurosport put together those nice features about the great Welsh Champion, and 87 years young, Ray Raerdon, who was in the studio with them after the trophy ceremony.

This is Ray Reardon intervied by WST before the match:

Ray Reardon interviewed in the ES studio before the evening session:

The  trophy ceremony with the players interview:

The post-match interview, with Shaun and Ray Raerdon in the studio

(*) and beating Mark Selby, needing the win to get in the one year list, may have taken more out of Ronnie than we, and himself, realised.

 

2020 Welsh Open – Day 6 – SFs

It will be Kyren Wilson v Shaun Murphy in the Final today in Cardiff … 

This is how we got there (WST reports)

Kyren Wilson 6-5 Ronnie (afternoon)

Kyren Wilson edged out Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 in a thrilling contest to book his place in the ManBetX Welsh Open final in Cardiff.

The win acts as revenge for gut-wrenching defeats Wilson suffered in his previous two meetings with the Rocket.

They met in the final of last season’s Champion of Champions, where O’Sullivan came from 9-8 down to win 10-9. Most recently they faced off at the Shanghai Masters earlier in this campaign, where O’Sullivan came from 5-1 down to win 6-5.

Wilson now faces either Shaun Murphy or Yan Bingtao over the best of 17 frames tomorrow, with £70,000 and the Ray Reardon Trophy on the line. The Warrior is aiming to land a fourth career ranking title, with his most recent tournament win being the 2019 German Masters.

O’Sullivan’s performance this week has edged him into 16th position on the live one-year-list. He heads into next week’s Shoot Out hoping to remain in the top 16 and qualify for the upcoming Players Championship.

There was a dramatic opening frame to this afternoon’s action. Wilson spurned two opportunities on a re-spotted black. O’Sullivan deposited it to take a 1-0 lead.

O’Sullivan doubled his advantage, before Wilson hit back with a run of 94 to make it 2-1 and stay in touch. However, five-time World Champion O’Sullivan produced a century break of 100 to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.

When they returned Wilson reduced his deficit, only for O’Sullivan to fire in a sublime contribution of 125 to make it 4-2.

Breaks of 52 and a superb 136 from Kettering’s Wilson restored parity at 4-4. O’Sullivan was first to the verge of victory after compiling a break of 81 after Wilson missed a red to the middle on 30.

Despite that 28-year-old Wilson refused to buckle. He forced the decider and made a steely break of 59 to secure the win, punching the table with delight after depositing match ball.

Wilson said: “It is hard to erase what has happened in the past. You can’t get away from it and it has made me the player that I am today. If anything it taught me what I did wrong in the past couple of times we have played. Today was all about getting through a semi-final and getting to the final of the Welsh Open.

“I’ve fallen victim of going into my shell in the past and wanting it to fall into my lap. Today I just wanted to go for it. You can’t back down to these top players or they will just walk all over you. They sense when you may be feeling a bit weak. That is how they have got to where they are so I am learning from those guys.

“I’ll love every minute tomorrow, win or lose. It has been a fantastic week for me. The crowd in Cardiff have turned out in their numbers as they always do. I’ve had great support on and off the table and I just hope we put on a good final.”

Shaun Murphy 6-5 Yan Bingtao (evening)

Shaun Murphy battled through an epic late night clash with China’s Yan Bingtao 6-5 to reach the ManBetX Welsh Open final.

With the clock past midnight, 2005 World Champion Murphy steeled himself to fire in a century run of 109 and emphatically clinch the deciding frame. Both players struggled to produce their best form in a clash which lasted four hours and 13 minutes. However, it was Murphy who held his nerve in the crucial closing stages.

The Magician will now face Kyren Wilson over the best of 17 frames in tomorrow’s final, with £70,000 and the Ray Reardon Trophy on the line. There will be a maiden Welsh Open title for whoever wins tomorrow. However, Murphy has previously competed in the final of this event, when he was runner-up Stephen Lee in 2006.

Yan, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Sunday, had taken the first two frames, before four on the bounce from Murphy saw the Englishman lead 4-2. Riga Masters champion Yan battled back to lead 5-4, but Murphy claimed the last two frames to seal his place in the final.

“The match didn’t go the way either of us wanted. You just have to play what is in front of you,” said eight-time ranking event winner Murphy. “When we started the game he was 19, not that I would say it was a long game, but he did have a birthday half way through it! He is a phenomenal player and he is going to be around forever.

“It is a good thing that I have a decent trophy cabinet at home because on that performance Kyren will be licking his lips. If he plays like he did today and I play like that there is only one winner. He has been on red-hot form in recent weeks.

“Relief is the overriding feeling. I am looking forward to getting some rest and coming back tomorrow.”

I both matches, the players struggled badly with the conditions. I’m not in a position to judge whether the the table was good or bad – Ronnie in his post match interview said it was good – but it played definitely differently from how it had all week. None of the players appeared able to consistently keep optimal position. Cushions were very reactive, side wasn’t taking on the same way it had in previous days. As a result, both semi finals were error ridden, even if there were some good breaks and brilliant shots.

Ronnie was very honest in defeat and you can read more about the first semi final here (with images and coverage)

Yan Bingtao turned 20 in the middle of the match. He will be disapointed right now, but he’s having a very good season. He has won his first ranking title, the Riga Masters. He has qualified for the Players Championship, and is well placed for the Tour Championship as well: he’s currently 7th on the one year list, and he will almost certainly get into the top 16 soon.

Happy Birthday Yan Bingtao!

 

2020 Welsh Open – Kyren Wilson beat Ronnie in the SF

Kyren Wilson booked his spot in the final tomorrow with a 6-5 deserved victory over Ronnie.

Screenshot 2020-02-15 at 19.05.12.png

Ronnie lead 2-0 and 4-2, but never looked comfortable in the match. He probably did miss more easy balls today than he had all week. There were moments of brilliance, but overall it was a bad day in office. Kyren Wilson was a lot more reliable, even if he missed a few aswell. But Kyren got better as the match went on, Ronnie got worse.

Ronnie never stopped trying but he looked very unhappy and frustrated, annoyed with himself. Towards the end the belief wasn’t there anymore. Kyren was solid and deserved the win. Good luck to him tomorrow.

This is the match

Ronnie was very honest in his assesment of his own performance

To be honest, as a Ronnie fan, I found it hard to watch. And if it was pressure that caused Ronnie’s collapse, it doesn’t bode well for the Crucible … IF he enters it. Or for the 37th ranking title come to that. Yes, I’m feeling quite dispirited, not because he lost, but because the way he lost.

Anyway … here are some great pictures, thanks to Tai Chengzhe

This result means that although Ronnie is currently 16th on the one year list, should he lose early there are 20 players who could overtake him.

Screenshot 2020-02-15 at 19.54.28

Gary Wilson needs the SF (8000), Tom Ford, Jack Lisowski and Zhou Yuelong need the Final (20000), everyone else down to Ricky Walden need the title (50000).

Ronnie’s participation in the Players Championship is far from certain. And, should he qualify, he’s due to play Judd Trump in the last 16, unless himself goes deep in the Shoot Out.

 

2020 Welsh Open – Day 5 – QF

It was QFs day in Cardiff yesterday, and one that provided very pleasing results, at least for me.

Here is the report by WST

Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime performance to beat Mark Selby 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.

Victory for O’Sullivan crucially moves him into 16thposition on the live one-year money list. That means that as things stand he is set to edge into the upcoming Players Championship. The top 16 at the end of next week’s Shoot Out will earn a spot.

Today’s win also enhances O’Sullivan’s head-to-head record in his momentous rivalry with Selby, which has included Masters, UK Championship and World Championship finals. The Rocket is now 15-10 ahead in contests between the pair.

Selby can reflect on his defeat with the knowledge that he still made Home Nations history this season. The Jester from Leicester became the first player to win two events in a single campaign, with victories at the English and Scottish Opens.

O’Sullivan produced spellbinding snooker to storm into a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session. He compiled breaks of 142, 95 and 85 to rapidly move to the verge of victory.

Selby kept himself in the tie by edging a narrow fifth frame. He was first in again in the next, but cruelly went in-off to afford O’Sullivan an opportunity to close out the match. He left Selby needing snookers, which he got. However, a second stroke of hard luck saw Selby go in-off in an attempt to develop the green. O’Sullivan made no mistake from there and secured victory.

O’Sullivan said: “I tried to take the game to Mark as much as I could and be prepared for a battle. It is always hard against Mark and he never makes it easy for you.

“I got off to a good start and managed to get amongst the balls and score some good breaks. I came out after the interval and it started to go itsy bitsy. I kept saying to myself that if I managed to find one good frame I should be fine.

“I enjoyed the match. It was tough and I haven’t faced players of Mark’s calibre regularly. It was a test for me to see where I was, so it was nice to come out on top today.”

O’Sullivan’s semi-final opponent will be Kyren Wilson, who recorded an impressive 5-0 whitewash victory against 18-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson.

The result acts as revenge for Wilson, who suffered a 6-4 defeat to Robertson in the semi-finals of last week’s World Grand Prix.

Defeat for Robertson ends a brilliant run of consecutive final appearances. He lifted the title at the European Masters and the World Grand Prix and was runner-up at the German Masters.

The evening action saw 2005 Crucible king Shaun Murphy defeat World Champion Judd Trump 5-3 to secure his spot in the last four.

It’s a second consecutive victory for Murphy against Trump, following a 6-3 win in the first round of the Masters in January.

He will face Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao in the semis. Yan beat four-time World Champion John Higgins 5-2 to secure his place.

You can find out more about Ronnie’s win here (including images and coverage)

Kyren Wilson played well to beat Neil Robertson, but the latter had nothing left in the tank. He might not have felt physical tiredness, but he ran out of mental resources. Every time a player says he’s fatigued, there are people on social media coming up with “how would they feel if they had to dig holes, built roads, or move heavy bulks”. These remarks just show that those who make them have no understanding of how much sustained concentration under pressure can take out of a person. Neil spoke to Rachel from ES after the match, saying that he colud not “get up for it” and basically “felt nothing”. That’s what mental faigue does to you. You can hear Neil here (ES afternoon session review)

Shaun Murphy played very well to beat Judd Trump. Since he’s practising with Fergal O’Brien, he’s massively improved in the safety department and it was key to yesterday’s win. The way he won frame four, from 70 points behind, was definitely very significant. If you didn’t see the match, here is that key frame:

Judd was the heaviest scorer, he had two centuries and two other 50+ breaks, but he lost. Just as he had in the 2020 Masters, despite making three centuries that time. I like a century as much as anybody else, but I feel that there is now far too much emphasis on them nowadays. They only win you one frame.

I haven’t watched the match between Yan Bingtao (yet), but I’m very pleased with the result. Going by the frames scores, Yan’s breakbuilding is in good shape, but there is more. He managed to steal the last frame from way behind, after Higgins had a break of 51. It wasn’t straightforward: there was one red on the side cushion above the left middle pocket (as we see it on TV).

Here are the highlights of this match:

It’s a pity that we don’t have some quotes by Yan after his win.

 

2020 Welsh Open – Ronnie beat Mark Selby in the QFs

Ronnie won his all important quarter finals match against Mark Selby.   He beat him by 5-1. Here are the frames scores.

WelshOpen2020ROSQFScores

After a lenghty first frame that went his way , Ronnie found form and won three frames in quick succession playing some marvellous snooker. At that stage he looked unplayable. He probably didn’t want the interval to come.

It was all so quick that it triggered this tweet by Neil Robertson whose match was coming next.

WelshOpen2020ROSQFNeilQuote

The interval though broke Ronnie’s rhythm. It gave him time to reflect on what was happening and when they came back, the fluency was gone and Ronnie looked a bit anxious. Errors crept in and Mark Selby took advantage. His highest break was still only 37, but he won the first frame after the resumption. Ronnie was still 4-1 up, but looked edgy. In the next, Mark Selby was unlucky to knock a red in whilst splitting the pack from the blue. Ronnie constructed a good break to get to the snookers required stage, with one red remaining. It was only one snooker to tie though. Instead of just rolling the red into the pocket, Ronnie played it harder than necessary to get position on a colour. As a result he missed it… a few minutes later Mark Selby had got the penalty points he needed, when Ronnie was unlucky to pocket the white, off another ball. Luckily for Ronnie, Mark Selby had a similar misfortune whilst playing the last green. This time Ronnie made no mistake.

This is the report by WST

Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime performance to beat Mark Selby 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.

Victory for O’Sullivan crucially moves him into 16thposition on the live one-year money list. That means that as things stand he is set to edge into the upcoming Players Championship. The top 16 at the end of next week’s Shoot Out will earn a spot.

Today’s win also enhances O’Sullivan’s head-to-head record in his momentous rivalry with Selby, which has included Masters, UK Championship and World Championship finals. The Rocket is now 15-10 ahead in contests between the pair.

Selby can reflect on his defeat with the knowledge that he still made Home Nations history this season. The Jester from Leicester became the first player to win two events in a single campaign, with victories at the English and Scottish Opens.

O’Sullivan produced spellbinding snooker to storm into a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session. He compiled breaks of 142, 95 and 85 to rapidly move to the verge of victory.

Selby kept himself in the tie by edging a narrow fifth frame. He was first in again in the next, but cruelly went in-off to afford O’Sullivan an opportunity to close out the match. He left Selby needing snookers, which he got. However, a second stroke of hard luck saw Selby go in-off in an attempt to develop the green. O’Sullivan made no mistake from there and secured victory.

O’Sullivan said: “I tried to take the game to Mark as much as I could and be prepared for a battle. It is always hard against Mark and he never makes it easy for you.

“I got off to a good start and managed to get amongst the balls and score some good breaks. I came out after the interval and it started to go itsy bitsy. I kept saying to myself that if I managed to find one good frame I should be fine.

“I enjoyed the match. It was tough and I haven’t faced players of Mark’s calibre regularly. It was a test for me to see where I was, so it was nice to come out on top today.”

O’Sullivan’s semi-final opponent will be Kyren Wilson, who recorded an impressive 5-0 whitewash victory against 18-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson.

Here is the match

And some great images thanks to Tai Chengzhe

This win puts Ronnie on place 16th in the one year list, 6000 points ahead of Gary Wilson. As  it stands, he is in the mix to play in the 2020 Players Championship, where he is the defending Champion. He would face Judd Trump in the first round (last 16). He isn’t completely safe though as the points of the Shoot Out will also come into play.

If he could win his semi finals match tomorrow, he would climb to spot n°15, ahead of David Gilbert, with a 16000  cushion and the prospect to play Shaun Murphy, first in Southport.

Ronnie will play Kyren Wilson tomorrow as Kyren did beat Neil Robertson by 5-0 this afternoon.

This is the evening session preview, with the ES pundits assessment of the afternoon matches and Ronnie’s interview

2020 Welsh Open – Day 4

The Thursday at the Home Nations tournament is always very busy, as two rounds are played: 32 players start in the morning, only 8 remain in the evening.

The remaining 8 in Cardiff are: Judd Trump, Neil Robetson, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, Kyren Wilson, Yan Bingtao and Ronnie. All of them are in the current ranking top 16, except Yan Bingtao (20th) and all of them are in the one year list top 16 except Ronnie (17th). Ronnie of course in there because he hasn’t played as much as the other ones this season, and because the only title he won was in an invitational event.

So it’s really the best players right now battling it out in Cardiff.

Here is WST report on the last 16 round:

Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan will meet in the quarter-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open after both players secured last 16 wins in Cardiff.

The pair have already faced each other in a Home Nations quarter-final this season. On that occasion it was Selby who prevailed with an enthralling 5-4 victory at the Scottish Open in Glasgow, where he went on to lift the title. Overall O’Sullivan has the edge in his head-to-head record with Selby, leading 14-10.

This evening Selby came through a thrilling encounter with China’s Zhao Xintong 4-3 to book his place in the last eight.

The Jester from Leicester had moved himself to the verge of victory at 3-1 ahead. He compiled breaks of 55, 66 and 83, before crafting a run of 60 in the fifth frame. However, after Selby fell out of position, Zhao cleared with a brilliant break of 74 to keep himself in the match.

Zhao then fired in a contribution of 76 straight from Selby’s break-off to level the tie at 3-3. Despite the spirited fightback, it was Selby who showed his typical nerve under pressure, controlling the decider to progress 4-3.

“Zhao is so talented, he just sees the shots very quickly, is a great talent and is brilliant for snooker,” said Selby. “Whenever you play Ronnie at any tournament it is always a great game and a great occasion. It was a good game at the Scottish Open. I gave him the rock-paper-scissors at the start of the match, because he tried to fist bump me!”

O’Sullivan booked his place in the quarters with a 4-0 defeat of Iran’s Soheil Vahedi.

His run this week could prove to be crucial in the race to earn a spot in the upcoming Coral Players Championship. Only the top 16 players in the one-year list will qualify, O’Sullivan currently lies in 17th position in the live rankings.

The Rocket wasted little time in progressing this evening. He top scored with a break of 131 in a victory which took under an hour to complete.

O’Sullivan said: “I’m pleased to get the win and happy to be in the next round. I managed to pinch the second frame to go 2-0 up. I played a good third and the fourth was in and out, I am really pleased to get through.”

Defending champion Neil Robertson continued his phenomenal run of form to whitewash Gerard Greene 4-0 and seal his place in the last eight.

The Thunder from Down Under has been in the last three consecutive finals, winning the BetVictor European Masters and the Coral World Grand Prix and losing the German Masters final.

This evening he produced a near flawless display, making breaks of 116, 121 and 85 on his way to victory.

Robertson will face tough opposition in the quarters against Kyren Wilson, who defeated Ding Junhui 4-2.

World Champion Judd Trump is searching for his maiden Welsh Open title this week and he moved one step closer with a 4-1 win over Stephen Maguire.

Trump faces fellow Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy in the quarters, who is also hoping to land a maiden Welsh Open title this week. The Magician defeated the only remaining Welshman Dominic Dale 4-1.

John Higgins required a final frame decider to beat Belgian Luca Brecel 4-3. He will face Yan Bingtao in the last eight, who edged out Anthony McGill 4-3.

There was no WST report on the last 32 round.

You can read more on Ronnie’s last 32 win here (with images and coverage)

And you can read more on Ronnie’s last 16 win here (with coverage)

Judd Trump was pretty awful in defeating Stephen Maguire who was plain terrible himself. Judd was the first to admit to it when assessing the match with the ES pundits, stating that if he had faced anyone with some fight in them, he would have lost. Well, I’m not sure what to make of that exactly, but it’s quite damning!

You can hear this by yourself here:

It’s always very hard to make an opinion when a player appears not to try properly. I remember one occurence at the Crucible, where Ryan Day was well ahead in his match and  lost, playing a terrible last session. There were all sorts of speculations, and, of course, people going about his “lack of bottle”. The next day, it transpired that he was suffering from a very bad bout of migraine. Believe me (I have experience in this!) there is no way you can win a match of snooker if your head is pounding like hell, you eyesight is messed up and you fight nausea.