Snooker News – 19 January 2023

This is a kind of “low key” post as I must confess that what was revealed yesterday regarding the match fixing enquiry has been affecting me.

In relation to that, WST has announced changes in the draw of upcoming events. Nothing unexpected here of course.

Updated German And Shoot Out Draws

The draws for the BetVictor Shoot Out and BetVictor German Masters have been updated.

Zhao Xintong has been withdrawn from the BetVictor German Masters in Berlin, and his opponent Tom Ford will receive a bye into the next round.

Click here for the updated draw
Click here for the updated format

Zhao Xintong and Zhang Jiankang have been withdrawn from the BetVictor Shoot Out, and replaced with a straight swap in the draw with the next available players on the Q School 2022 Order of Merit. Zhao Xintong is replaced by Haydon Pinhey and Zhang Jiankang is replaced by Michael Georgiou.

Click here for the updated draw

There was actually one good news coming out today

Jessie May Donation Boosted To £15,000

WST has decided to increase its donation to official charity Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home to £15,000, based on the number of century breaks made at the Cazoo Masters.

Before the tournament at Alexandra Palace started, WST pledged £500 for every century up to a maximum of £10,000. But the final century tally was 30 and WST will now donate the full total based on £500 per century, which is £15,000.

Bristol-based charity Jessie May provides nursing care at home for children and young people with life limiting conditions who are not expected to live beyond the age of 19.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “After such a fantastic Cazoo Masters tournament and a barrage of centuries, we have decided to boost the donation to Jessie May up to £15,000. We know what amazing work they do for vulnerable children and their families. The pandemic has really affected their funding and we urge everyone to have a look at what they do and dig deep to support them because private donations are vital to their future.”

Kim James-Coggins from Jessie May said: “All of the team at Jessie May are truly grateful for the support from WST. The impact your support has on our nurses and families is incredible.”

To find out more about Jessie May, visit jessiemay.org.uk

I’m glad that WST took that decision considering that many families, especially the most “vulnerable” ones, continue to suffer from the combined effects of the pandemic and the Brexit induced economic crisis in the UK. There is nothing worse for a parent than to lose a child, or to raise a child knowing that their life expectancy is limited and every day is a struggle. Well done WST, well done the players who scored as many as they could.

As for the match fixing issue, I can only urge everyone to wait for the results of the hearing and the full facts before asking for “life bans” … What annoys me is that some of those taking the harsh stand are the same who regularly pleaded leniency for Stephen Lee, asking for him to be allowed back “because he has such a Rolls-Royce cue action”. There should be consistency, no matter the nationality of the players.

IF it is proven that some of the older players in that group lured/coerced their young compatriots into a match fixing scheme, yes, they should get a life ban and should be sent back to China with no possibility to return to the UK or anywhere in Europe. Not just because of the match fixing, but more importantly because the vile betrayal of confidence. I’m sure that many parents of Chinese teenagers sent to the UK to play professionally were glad to know that their kids weren’t alone and that older, more experienced fellow citizens would be there for them. It’s only normal. It would be the same for UK parents if their teenagers were sent to live as ex-pats in Asia. That betrayal, above all, IF true, is unforgivable.

Snooker will survive. Cycling survived the countless doping scandals. The Tour the France is still watched by millions. Formula One survived despite the terrible decisions that deprived Lewis Hamilton. A couple of heads fell and the circus goes on. Snooker is much cleaner than most sports, especially those that attract the BIG money.

Snooker News – 06.12.2022 mixed bag

This one is really a mixed bag …

Let’s start with the “neutral” bit.

WST has published the draw and format for the 2023 German Masters at the Tempodrom

BetVictor German Masters Final Stages Draw

Defending champion Zhao Xintong faces Tom Ford in the opening session of the BetVictor German Masters at the magnificent Tempodrom venue in Berlin in February.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Zhao beat Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the final last year and he’ll be back at the Tempodrom to defend his crown, starting against Ford at 3pm local time on Wednesday February 1st.  On the same day in the evening session, BetVictor European Masters champion Kyren Wilson is up against Sam Craigie, while legend Jimmy White takes on Peng Yisong.

Standout matches on Thursday February 2nd include Neil Robertson against Joe Perry, and Luca Brecel facing Matthew Stevens. The final takes place on Sunday February 5th.

The tournament will be screened by Eurosport, discovery+ and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

This event could well be a big opportunity for one of the mid-ranked players as there is no “Class of 92” in the draw, no Mark Selby, no Judd Trump, no Mark Allen , no Shaun Murphy… But it could also be a real nightmare for the promoters that so many big names miss out. The Tempodrom is an extraordinary venue, but not a cheap one. We could lose this one if it becomes financially un-sustainable. Time for a “tiered” format? I would say yes.

WST attempted to move the cut-off point for the 2023 Players Championship and faced a social media riot

This was the initial announcement:

Players Championship Cut Off Point

Thursday 1 Dec 2022 08:50AM

The seeding cut off point for the 2023 Players Championship, which runs from February 20 to 26, will come after the 2023 BetVictor German Masters.

Our calendar previously stated that the cut off point would fall at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19. However we have now moved the cut off point back to end of the BetVictor German Masters which finishes on February 5. This means that the draw and format for the Players Championship can be announced well in advance.

Only the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list, as it stands at the end of the BetVictor German Masters, will qualify for the Players Championship, which returns to Aldersley Village in Wolverhampton, where Neil Robertson won the title last season. 

And the “reversal” of the decision on the next day…

Updated Players Championship Cut Off Point

Friday 2 Dec 2022 03:29PM

Following the announced change to the seeding cut off for the 2023 Players Championship, the decision has today been taken to revert to the original seeding cut off point of after the 2023 BetVictor Welsh Open.

The announced change was made for good reasons to assist scheduling and planning for players; however, it is recognised that it is mid-season, and this decision should be considered at the end of the season and in advance of a full calendar.

The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19, will qualify for the Players Championship which runs from February 20 to 26.

It’s not often that you see all the players agreeing on a topic and actively opposing one of WST decisions, but it did happen this time. Indeed the initial decision to “move the goalpost” for the Players Championship qualification, by excluding the 2023 Welsh Open from the list of qualifying events proved to be extremely unpopular. As Mark Williams wrote on social media, players plan their season and enter events, or don’t, based on their goals, the season calendar and the prize money schedule. Changing the “rules” mid-season is not on.

The 2022 English Open will be played in Brentwood , Essex next week. This, for Ronnie, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Mark King will really be a “home” event.

It’s the last qualifying event for the 2023 World Grand Prix and WST has been looking at the implications of this for various players.

Race To Cheltenham Concludes In Brentwood

Gary Wilson has leapt to fifth place on the one-year ranking list with just one counting event to go before the field is confirmed for the World Grand Prix.

Wilson won the first ranking title of his career by beating Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Edinburgh on Sunday. The £80,000 top prize boosted him up 47 places from 52nd.

At the end of next week’s BetVictor English Open, the top 32 players on the one-year list will qualify for the World Grand Prix, to be staged in Cheltenham from January 16 to 22.

O’Connor earned £35,000 for reaching his first ranking final, so he’s up from 69th to 13th and is now sure of a place in Cheltenham. Neil Robertson reached the semi-finals and leaps from 43rd to 24th, while Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also made the last four and he’s up from 59th to 31st with a total tally of £30,500. Robertson is £4,500 ahead of Un-Nooh, with Mark Selby a further £1,000 inside the safe zone. Ronnie O’Sullivan is in 17th spot with £37,500.

Jamie Clarke and Jordan Brown are tied in 32nd spot, but both failed to qualify for the BetVictor English Open in Brentwood so in fact they are out of the running.

Big names currently outside the top 32 and in need of a deep run in Brentwood are Yan Bingtao (42nd with £21,500), Zhao Xintong (44th with £21,500) and John Higgins (74th with £12,000). Four-time World Champion Higgins will have to reach the final in Brentwood to get into the top 32.

BetVictor English Open prize money:

Winner: £80,000
Runner-up: £35,000
Semi-finals: £17,500
Quarter-finals: £11,000
Last 16: £7,500
Last 32: £4,500
Last 64: £3,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £427,000

The same one-year list will be used to determine the field for the other two events in the Players Series. The top 16 at the the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open in February will qualify for the Players Championship  at Aldersley Village, Wolverhampton (February 20 to 26) and only the top eight will go on to the Tour Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull (March 27 to April 2).

On the official two-year list, Wilson climbs from 32nd to 18th, while O’Connor jumps from 55th to 40th. Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the official world number one, with a lead of £211,000 over Judd Trump.

Wilson is up to second place in the BetVictor Series Rankings, just £7,000 behind leader Kyren Wilson. Mark Allen is third, just £1,000 behind Gary Wilson. There are four events to go in that race, with the money list leader after February’s BetVictor Welsh Open to bank the massive £150,000 bonus.

Ahead of the event, Ivan Hirschowitz, WST press officer, has been speaking on “Phoenix FM” , the local radio station.

You can read and listen here:

World Snooker Comes to Brentwood – Ivan Hirschowitz

Written by Bob Simpson in One 2 Three👁 843

Monday 5 December 2022, 3.59pm

Snooker’s top stars will be heading to the Brentwood Centre for the first time next week and tickets are on sale now.
The Essex venue will host the BetVictor English Open, a world ranking event and part of the Home Nations Series, from December 12 to 18.
Over 70 players including the top 16 seeds will be on the green baize at the Brentwood Centre. Winners in recent years and include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, and current champion Neil Robertson.
Today the Head of Media for the World Snooker Tour – Ivan Hirschowitz, joined me in the studio to tell us all about it.

You can listen to our chat here

Phoenix FM was created by Paul Golder who, with Django Fung, started “The Grove”, a snooker club and a management team. They currently manage Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, Ali Carter and Michael Holt. Their first player though, about 15 years ago, was Ronnie, who remains on friendly terms with both of them.

And finally a personal concern that may or may not be justified

This season, a number of snooker players, top players, have embraced pool as an alternative: Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Mark Allen to name a few. Judd Trump played in a major Pool event last season too. Nothing wrong with that as the early season has been very start/stop with long gaps for them to fill.

However, at the same time, I also sense a change of priorities at Matchroom. Emily Frazer, Matchroom’s Managing Director is a very dynamic and proactive person. I’ve met Emily a few times at the Premier League Snooker years ago (2007-2011) and I can only admire her. She does a sterling job. Her priority however is pool, not snooker. This is very obvious to anyone following her twitter account. She clearly has Barry Hearn’s support. Eddie Hearn is only interested in boxing… If Matchroom priorities, and with it, their investments, shift mainly to pool, it could be very bad news for WST and snooker because, actually, Matchroom owns 51% of the WST shares. Barry Hearn “bought” snooker in 2010. At the time he literally saved it of course, but …

Thoughts?

The 900 week 6 and other news – 27.10.2022

The 900 – week 6

Week 6 at the 900 concluded yesterday and it provided great entertainment again.

On Monday… Ant Parsons emerged the winner, beating the legend that is Les Dodd in the final. Here is how it unfolded:

It was however Tam Mustafa who stole the show… playing with incredible flair.

On Tuesday, it was Lenny Baker who prevailed.

George Pragnell, who currently dominates the Q-Tour was the favourite. He was beaten in his first match though. Of course, over just one frame, about anything can happen. Tam Mustafa delighted the fans all evening but Lenny Baker eventually had too much for him.

On Wednesday …

The winners of the previous days met in the final, with Ant Parsons emerging the winner

The 900 proves to be a very interesting, diverse and highly appreciated event. this is what Matt Andrews, a mental coach who helped Ronnie in the past, and David Church, a WDBS player, had to say:

Here are some more images shared by Jason this week:

Jason now “plots” a “Junior 900” and a “Legends 900”. Bring it on!

News from the Barbican …

Mark Williams’ reaction to this tweet was immediately calling for a return of the “best of 17” format. I agree with him and I would like to see a return of the tiered format in the majority, if not all, events.

Some players, notably Barry Pinches, brand it unfair. I don’t think it is, especially if players losing their first match, no matter the round, get no ranking/rating points. That removes the “protection” that was, maybe, a problem in the past. What Barry seems to overlook is that the majority of the current top 16, grew through the tiered system and started at the very bottom, and that includes someone as young as Judd Trump. They weren’t privileged or protected, they were better than the rest and that’s why they are there. Barry, and many others in his generation, had exactly the same opportunities.

What I do see is that the vast majority of the current top 16 who have grown and developed through the tiered system, have been there for many years, despited the alleged “protection” being removed long ago. What those players have, that the younger ones seem to struggle with is consistency and consistency comes from a solid foundation. The current system doesn’t offer a good path for development. It’s too brutal. It’s mentally bruising. Playing more matches, and more winnable matches is what builds a good foundation and grows confidence. It’s naïve to believe that players who qualify for the main tour are “ready” or should be “ready” from day one. Experience matters in all walks of life and in every profession or job.

Some “better” news about the status of snooker in Hong Kong

This was published in the South China Morning Post today

Snooker gets stay of execution from funding cuts with Hong Kong government set to delay sports review

Three ‘Tier A’ sports facing demotion from elite status in April will get one more year if review is extendedElite Sports Committee will discuss the subject at its meeting next month, source tells the Post

by Chan Kin-wa

The recent Hong Kong Masters helped snooker’s cause as it fights to retain top-tier funding, the local governing body said. Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Three sports facing funding cuts in April are set to be given a stay of execution for one more year, with the government planning to push back a planned review following the postponement of the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Cue sports, gymnastics and tennis were all set to be demoted to “Tier B” programmes at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in the new financial year, having not met the required results to continue in the elite Tier A bracket.

But it is believed the government is now likely to start its review after the Hangzhou Games, which China pushed back to 2023 amid a rise in Covid-19 cases, meaning the three sports will all get an additional year to stay in the programme.

The government’s Elite Sports Committee will discuss the matter next month and it is likely they will push back the review for another year,” said a source.

Asian Games results are a benchmark for all of these elite sports to measure their success, and with the Hangzhou Games now being postponed to 2023, it is logical that the government will also extend the review period.

Commissioner for Sports Yeung Tak-keung did not respond when asked to comment on a possible postponement of the review.

Cue sports have been an elite programme at the Institute for more than a decade, as they met the prerequisite of taking part in three Asian Games since 1997, as well as achieving other results-based benchmarks.

However the government’s Sports Commission changed the prerequisite requirements in April, and as a result, cue sports were set to lose their status next year in the latest review.

Their future hinges on whether they can gain readmission to the Asian Games in 2026. After last featuring in 2010, they will return in 2030 in Doha, but are not included, as yet, in the 2026 edition in Nagoya, Japan.

The rules state that, to avoid demotion to Tier B next April, a sport must have featured in, or expect to feature in, at least three Asian or Olympic Games between 2010 and 2030.

Billiards and snooker were part of the Asian Games four times in a row from 1998 to 2010, with Marco Fu leading Hong Kong’s haul of four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

If the review is being postponed for one year, we can stay as a Tier A programme at least until March 2024,” said Vincent Law, chairman of the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council. “Of course this is something good to hear, but we will not just stay there and do nothing.

We want to lobby the 2026 Nagoya Asian Games organisers to include snooker into the medal programme so that we can satisfy the prerequisite. However, this is not going to be easy as it requires a joint effort from other Asian countries to support the move.

The rules state that, to avoid demotion to Tier B next April, a sport must have featured in, or expect to feature in, at least three Asian or Olympic Games between 2010 and 2030.

Billiards and snooker were part of the Asian Games four times in a row from 1998 to 2010, with Marco Fu leading Hong Kong’s haul of four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.

At the same time we will try to prove to the government that snooker, as a sport, can make a great impact on the community. The recent Hong Kong Masters has been a great success, not only for the sport itself but also in creating a strong awareness in the community and promoting the name of Hong Kong through international media.

The government’s three main strategies for sports development are to promote sports in the community, to support elite sports, and to develop Hong Kong into a prime destination for major international sports events – and this is exactly what we have illustrated through the Masters.

Exactly as I expected, the fantastic success of the Hong Kong Masters might prove to become an important factor to help snooker keeping its Elite Sport current status. Vincent Law can now make a much stronger case for the sport we love than a few months ago.

Farewell to a Queen

Queen Elisabeth II died peacefully in her Balmoral residence yesterday afternoon. She was 96 tears old. She was a queen before I was born … and I’m a grand mother. Immediately, all over the Internet, respects were paid, tributes were written, and pictures were shared. Most of those images showed her, smiling, wearing her crown with pride… the only one that was in my mind, was of her, petite, frail, all dressed in black, wearing a mask, alone, mourning her husband, the man she had loved since she was 13. Alone, following the rules while those who set those rules were partying in Downing street. Those were the same people who were now flooding social media with tributes. It angered me beyond words. It saddened me beyond words.

Of course, there were also many thousand of sincere tributes, notably from snooker players, including Ronnie.

Tributes and token of respect came from all over the world. The flags were taken at half mast in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK people and shared their sorrow.

Rest in peace Elisabeth Windsor, Queen, mother, grand-mother, grand-grand-mother … a formidable woman in a male dominated world, a unifying force in a profoundly divided country, a beacon of dignity in the face of a deeply corrupted political class. I hope you are now reunited with your love.

Snooker News – 08.08.2022

Live snooker returns tomorrow with the 2022 British Open qualifiers. Among the players scheduled to play tomorrow is Stephen Hendry. His opponent is Zhang Anda, the man who pushed Hendry all the way in the first round at the Crucible in 2010. Zhang, at the time was only 18.

But will Hendry be there? And if he plays, what can we expect? Those are the questions going through my mind after WST announced that Hendry has withdrawn from the 2022 Northern Ireland Open:

Stephen Hendry has pulled out of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and has been replaced in the draw by Zhao Jianbo.

Hendry was due to face Aaron Hill in the qualifying round later this month in Wigan. Hill will now take on Zhao instead.

Click here for the updated draw

 

No reason has been given, and maybe something important and unexpected happened forcing Hendry to withdraw. We don’t know of course, but I haven’t a good feeling about this, and going by reactions on twitter, I’m not the only one.

The 2022 European Masters qualifiers have been played already of course, and now WST has shared this trailer about the main event:

I’m glad to see snooker returning to Fürth and the event should be well attended but I’m still sad, and to an extend angry, at the way WST actually “killed” the biggest and best European Pro-Am by turning it into a ranking event.

Finally, after a long silence that triggered fears about the future of the World Seniors Tour, some reassuring news have emerged: dates, venues  for the 2023 World Seniors Championships and its qualifying events

Tour Qualifying Events 2022 News – 12.06.2022

The Asian Q-Schools 2022 finished yesterday, with Dechawat Poomjaeng and Himanshu Dinesh Jain earning a two years tour card.

Congratulations to them!

Here is WST report about the final day:

Poomjaeng Earns Tour Return

Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng has regained his professional status with a 4-1 win over compatriot Narongdat Takantong in the final round of Asia-Oceania Q School in Bangkok.

Poomjaeng lost his place on the World Snooker Tour at the conclusion of the 16/17 season and has not regained his professional status since then. He has now earned a fresh two-year card.

The 43-year-old is a fan favourite and is fondly remembered for his run to the last 16 of the 2013 World Championship, where he scored a thrilling 10-9 win over Stephen Maguire.

He had to recover from the setback of losing out in the final round of event one, where he was defeated by fellow Thai Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon. After losing the opening frame today, Poomjaeng held his composure to rack up four on the bounce and emerge victorious.

India’s 30-year-old Himanshu Jain came through an epic clash with former professional Kritsanut Lertsattaythorn 4-3 to earn the other place. The pair battled for over four hours, with Jain eventually winning the deciding frame on the final pink.

Jain earns a place on the tour for the first time and will become the first professional from India since Aditya Mehta left the circuit in 2018.

Many will be happy to see “Poomy” back … but Stephen Maguire is probably not one of them. I’m happy for Poomy but, well, he’s another rather “old” qualifier.

Himanshu was very emotional at the end of the match. It obviously meant a lot to him. I do hope that he will adapt to the life in the UK. Indian players, notably Pankaj Advani, have often felt very homesick living as expats in the UK. They were missing their family, the food, the sun, the different social life.

The 2022 EBSA under-21 Championship has now reached the semi-finals stage, where Florian Nüssle from Austria will face Aidan Murphy from England and Ben Mertens from Belgium will face Liam Pullen from England. Ben beat Iulian Boïko in the quarter-finals, putting an end to the young Ukrainian hopes of an immediate return to the Main Tour.

That said the 2022 EBSA men Championship is now underway. It’s called “men” championship, but, unless things changed as compared to last year, it’s actually open to both genders. There isn’t a single female in the draw though. Most of the youngsters who played in the under-21 event entered this one as well. Former professionals Robin Hull and Eden Sharav are in the draw. I’m not sure if this event carries a tour card for the winner. It used to be the case.

There are also separate Women and Seniors events, as well as Team events. I noticed that there are only three female players under 30 years of age in the women’s draw and that’s actually a big concern. The youngest one is 23. Young girls are not getting into snooker it seems, quite the opposite.

You can follow the EBSA championships on this site.