Players Championship 2018 – Ronnie beats Ding in the QF

Ronnie beat Ding Junhui by 6-3, from 2-0 down, in the quarter finals of the Players Championship in Llandudno. He also made three centuries in the process.

Ronnie will now face Judd Trump or Neil Robertson in the semi-final, tomorrow night

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan became the first player into the semi-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship as he made three centuries in a 6-3 win over Ding Junhui.

It was a slow start for O’Sullivan in Llandudno tonight as he lost the first two frames and could have gone 3-0 down. But the Rocket soon gathered pace and eventually ran out a comfortable winner to set up a meeting with Judd Trump or Neil Robertson on Friday evening (tickets still available – click here for details).

World number two O’Sullivan is into his fifth ranking event semi-final of the season – and on each of the four previous occasions he has reached that stage, he has gone on to win the tournament. Victory this week would see the 42-year-old equal the record for the most ranking titles in a single season, held by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby.

The key moments of tonight’s match came in the third frame when China’s Ding, leading 2-0, missed a pink to a centre pocket on a break of 40 and later played a poor safety on the last red, which allowed his opponent to clear and snatch the frame. O’Sullivan then made a superb 134 to level at 2-2, and he won the next as well to take the lead.

Ding hit back with a run of 119 to level at 3-3, but O’Sullivan moved up a gear and reeled off the last three frames with runs of 55, 100 and 121. The last of those breaks was his 67th century of the season and 941st of his career.

I’m pleased with how I changed the way I was playing after going 2-0 down,” said Chigwell’s O’Sullivan. “I decided to play aggressively, as if I was playing against a load of numpties in an exhibition, going for my shots and not caring if I missed. When I play my best, that’s how I’m thinking, playing the first shot that I see. That’s what helped me tonight. I wanted Ding to play well too because that spurs me on and makes it a great match.

“I’ll treat my next match like an exhibition as well, I’ll go out there and smash a few balls around and see what happens. If I lose I’ll still have fun. The key for me is to find ways to enjoy it, motivate myself and find that spark.”

Earlier, Judd Trump booked his spot in the QF, playing some good match snooker, and, quite surprisingly, Anthony McGill completely trashed John Higgins by 6-0.

Read Worldsnooker’s report here:

Anthony McGill ended a run of four consecutive defeats against John Higgins with a 6-0 whitewash to reach the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship, while defending champion Judd Trump saw off Stephen Maguire 6-4.

Higgins has been in fine form this season, winning two ranking events and earning more money than any player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams. He beat McGill at the Indian Open, Champion of Champions, the Masters and the Romanian Masters, but today the tables were turned.

World number 16 McGill goes through to face Shaun Murphy in Llandudno on Friday afternoon (tickets still available, click here for details).

In fact McGill was not at his best today but took advantage of numerous uncharacteristic errors from his fellow Scot. A break of 64 gave McGill the opening frame and he won the next two on the colours to make it 3-0. A run of 57 extended his lead before the interval.

Both players had chances in the fifth frame and it came down to a safety battle on the brown, McGill slotting in an excellent long pot for 5-0. World number five Higgins was on a break of 48 in the next when he ran out of position, and in frustration missed a near-impossible red. McGill kept his composure to clear with 61.

“It’s a strange result, especially as the way I played wasn’t incredible,” said 27-year-old McGill, who won two ranking titles last season and is chasing the third of his career this week. “We both played around the same level but I won all of the close frames. I know I’d lost four times to John this season but he’d probably do that against most players, that’s how good he is. It’s not a bad thing to lose to him because I always learn something and come away from it a better player. I tend to get more confidence from my performances than my results, although I’m delighted to beat John.”

Murphy is suffering from back and neck injuries, and McGill joked: “I’ll get him some extra hard pillows to make his neck even sorer – I’ll need all the help I can get! He has been one of the top players for well over a decade but I’ll give it my best shot.”

Higgins said: “It was a bad day at the office, my concentration was all over the place. My game wasn’t there and I didn’t put up any resistance. It’s disappointing because it’s a very big tournament. In the last couple of years I haven’t had many performances where there was just nothing there.”

Trump came through a tough battle against Maguire to set up a quarter-final clash with Neil Robertson on Thursday afternoon. World number three Trump is aiming to win the ninth ranking title of his career and to successfully defend a title for the second time this season having done so at the European Masters.

The Bristolian was off to a flying start today as breaks of 128 and 78 made it 2-0 within 13 minutes. Maguire hit back with a 129 then Trump’s 117 made it 3-1.

The high scoring continued after the interval as Maguire compiled runs of 58 and 102 to level at 3-3. The next two frames – scrappy affairs – were shared to leave the contest poised at 4-4. In the ninth, Maguire trailed by 33 points when he completely missed the last red while trying to play safe, and he conceded the frame in annoyance. Trump went on to clinch victory in the next with a 76.

“I felt good at the start, then started missing chances after the interval,” said 28-year-old Trump. “I’m happy with my game and this is an important tournament for me. I enjoy being in Llandudno, I always feel relaxed here. Neil Robertson will be a similar challenge, he plays a similar game to Stephen but scores a bit heavier when he’s playing well.”

The result means Maguire needs a deep run at the China Open – probably at least to the semi-finals – to have a chance of automatic qualification for the World Championship. Click here for the Race to the Crucible.

Thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those images

In case you missed it … as I did actually.

And this was Ronnie’s preparation this time

I have been in Llandudno a few years back and I have to say the sceneries are breathtaking in the area. This hill Ronnie is climbing is situated at the end of the beach and it’s quite the sight… and most would be out of breath just walking to the top, it’s that steep in places!


And I also visited Anglesey (we had a day off).  Follow the link to see more images of this beautiful region, well worth a visit.


Players Championship 2018 – Ronnie beats Graeme Dott in the last 16

Ronnie beat Graeme Dott by 6-1 yesterday evening in Llandudno, to book a place in the QF where he will face Ding Junhui who beat Mark Allen quite convincingly. They will play tonight. It should be a good match.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan compared himself to a Ferrari after finding top gear to beat Graeme Dott 6-1 at the Ladbrokes Players Championship.

O’Sullivan is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career, having won more ranking events, made more centuries and earned more prize money than ever before. He’s into the quarter-finals in Llandudno and will face Ding Junhui on Wednesday night in a repeat of last month’s Ladbrokes World Grand Prix final, which O’Sullivan won 10-3 (tickets still available, click here for details).

Dott had chances in the opening frame tonight but couldn’t take them and he was eventually punished as O’Sullivan made a 48 clearance to win it on the black. World number two O’Sullivan then raced into a 5-0 lead with top breaks of 106, 62 and 51.

At that stage he had won 17 consecutive frames against Dott, across four matches, and he looked set to extend that sequence until Dott came from 40-0 down to snatch frame six. Scotland’s Dott also had a chance to clear from 50-0 down in the seventh, but missed a tough last red along the top cushion, allowing O’Sullivan to seal the result.

A lot of the other players are burned out. I just chip up now and then and nick a few trophies,” said 42-year-old O’Sullivan, chasing his fifth ranking title of the season. “I’m as fresh as a daisy because you have to pace yourself. I look at myself like a Ferrari – you can’t keep driving it every day, you have to polish it, clean it, keep it in the garage and keep the miles down. If you want to put 300,000 miles on the car you will wear it out pretty soon so I try to keep my mileage down.”

Neil Robertson was in superb form in a 6-2 win over Luca Brecel, setting up a quarter-final with Judd Trump or Stephen Maguire on Thursday afternoon. Brecel made a break of 130 in taking a 2-1 lead, and he potted the first red at the start of the fourth frame, but then failed to pot a ball in the remainder of the match. Australia’s Robertson piled in runs of 75, 72, 62, 103 and 107, scoring 432 points without reply.

I played pretty much perfect snooker from 2-1 down,” said world number 15 Robertson, aiming for his third title of the season having won the Hong Kong Masters and Scottish Open. “I’m really pleased because I played that well at the Welsh Open but still lost 4-3 to Ian Burns. My game has been in great shape and I feel fantastic.

“Ronnie has been the standout player this season, then you’ve got Mark Williams, John Higgins, Ryan Day and myself who have all won a couple of tournaments. We’re all looking at the next two events as a chance to keep the momentum going heading into the World Championship. There are a lot of players feeling really good about their game, which makes it great for everyone watching.

I didn’t see the match – I’m in Scunthorpe for the World Seniors Championship – but from what I understood, based on the pundits commentary, Ronnie played some excellent match snooker, relying on very strong safeties to give himself the chances he needed whilst restricting his opponent’s opportunities to a minimum. Nevertheless, century n° 938 duly came too …

And a few more pictures, thanks to Tai Chengzhe!

Elsewhere, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams and Ryan Day also progressed. Ryan beat Mark Selby fair and square and is on course for a third consecutive title after winning the Romanian Masters last week!

Apparently this was Ronnie”s preparation… he likes to cook “in batches” and take his own food at tournaments


Players Championship 2018 – Draw and Format

Now confirmed by Worldsnooker

The full line up of snooker’s top stars for next week’s Ladbrokes Players Championship has now been confirmed.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The race to qualify for the tournament in Llandudno, North Wales, began at the start of the season and finished with the Gibraltar Open last weekend. Only the leading 16 players on the one-year ranking listnow go through to Venue Cymru for the £380,000 world ranking event which runs from March 19 to 25.

Green baize kings including Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, Mark Selby and defending champion Judd Trump are now set to battle for the £125,000 top prize.

The first round matches are:

Monday March 19

Shaun Murphy v Kyren Wilson
Ding Junhui v Mark Allen

Tuesday March 20

Mark Selby v Ryan Day
Mark Williams v Yan Bingtao

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Graeme Dott
Luca Brecel v Neil Robertson

Wednesday March 21
John Higgins v Anthony McGill
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

It’s a fantastic chance for fans to see the sport’s biggest names competing for a coveted title. Tickets, starting at just £15, are still available although certain sessions are expected to sell out fast now the format has been released. For details call 01492 872 000 or CLICK HERE

Players Championship 2018 – Latest

So, after the completion of the Gibraltar Open, the line-up for the Players Championship 2018 is known and here is how it pans out (source Worldsnooker)

The line up of 16 stars for the Ladbrokes Players Championship is now complete, following the conclusion of the Gibraltar Open.

These 16 go through to Venue Cymru in Llandudno for the world ranking event which runs from March 19 to 25. The top eight have already had their matches scheduled, for details click here. The full draw and format will be released shortly. Tickets for tournament are still on sale – for details click here.

Ronnie O’Sullivan
Mark Williams
John Higgins
Judd Trump
Luca Brecel
Shaun Murphy
Mark Selby
Ding Junhui
Mark Allen
Ryan Day
Kyren Wilson
Neil Robertson
Stephen Maguire
Anthony McGill
Yan Bingtao
Graeme Dott

Which means that currently the draw looks like this:

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Graeme Dott (16)

Ding Junhui (8) v Mark Allen (9)

Luca Brecel (5) v Neil Robertson (12)

Judd Trump (4) v Stephen Maguire (13)


John Higgins (3) v Anthony McGill (14)

Shaun Murphy (6) v Kyren Wilson (11)

Mark Selby (7) v Ryan Day (10)

Mark Williams (2) v Yan Bingtao (15)

However there could be another twist as Shaun Murphy, suffering neck and back injuries, cast doubts over his participation (source Worldsnooker)

Shaun Murphy has admitted that he faces a race against the clock to overcome back and neck problems ahead of next week’s Ladbrokes Players Championship in Llandudno.

The world number seven was unable to compete and defend his title at the ManBetX Gibraltar Open at the weekend after the recurring problems flared up. He has also pulled out of the upcoming Romanian Masters, which starts on Wednesday. Murphy is scheduled to play his first round match in Llandudno next Monday evening.

Murphy said: “It is really bad. I have had some physiotherapy treatment and have a session tonight, as well as another later on in the week. It needs to improve quite substantially if I am to make it to Llandudno.

“I have had this for years and normally the way it would go is if I had a warning sign then I would call up the physio and go for an appointment. However, If I am being totally honest I probably haven’t been to the physio as much as I should have recently. I am still trying to find out what the root cause of the problem is. It has been allowed to get out of control and create a bit of trouble. I thought I had staved it off. I haven’t and I’ve paid the price.

“I really wanted to go and defend my title in Gibraltar and not being able to do it was extremely frustrating. I self-punished myself by watching every ball at the weekend out of a self-loathing and annoyed perspective. I just have to get to the bottom of it and free it up. I am hoping to make it to Llandudno. However, if things don’t improve then I will find that very difficult.”

This isn’t the first time the 2005 World Champion has been an injury doubt due to the problem. Murphy’s 18-15 Crucible defeat to Stuart Bingham in 2015 was one of the best World Championship finals in recent years. However, the 35-year-old has admitted that he was very close to being unable to take to the baize.

“On the Sunday morning before the final I was lying on the floor of the practice room so my coach Chris Henry could walk on my back to get it right. I was unable to hit any balls that morning and thankfully through intense physio work and Chris walking on my back, sticking his elbow in key places, I got myself in a position to be able to play. While having breakfast that morning, I was contemplating becoming the first person to pull out of a world final.”

The Triple Crown winner is hopeful that treatment can cause the problem to subside and allow him to compete in what is a huge climax to the season with the China Open, which has become snooker’s second most lucrative tournament, and the World Championship to follow next week’s Players Championship.

“The primary goal for me now is to get through the next few days, get my cue out and try to get back to hitting some balls. The Players Championship is a fantastic tournament to be in. You work all season to get into the top 16 of the one-year list to be there. The China Open is now a massive event for our tour and then there is obviously the World Championship. This is the end of the season. This is where you want to be in good health. I’ve a bit of work to do.”

If Shaun has to withdraw, then the player ranked n°17 in the one year list is Martin Gould. I’m not sure if Martin would just replace Shaun in the draw, or if the draw would be “reworked” in which case it would look like this …

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Martin Gould (17)

Mark Allen (8) v Ryan Day (9)

Luca Brecel (5) v  Stephen Maguire (12)

Judd Trump (4) v Anthony McGill (13)


John Higgins (3) v Yan Bingtao (14)

Mark Selby (6) v  Neil Robertson (11)

Ding Junhui (7) v  Kyren Wilson (10)

Mark Williams (2) v Graeme Dott (15)

Players Championship 2018 – how things stand before Gibraltar …

Here is Matt Huart (WPBSA) explaining what is at stake in Gibraltar and how the draw pans out for now … 

Race to Llandudno: Live Gibraltar Blog

8th March 2018

The line-up is now taking shape for the Ladbrokes Players Championship with just this weekend’s ManBetX Gibraltar Open to be played before the all-important qualification cut-off.

View the current one-year ranking list

View the playing schedule for the top eight players at the Players Championship

As was the case in 2017, the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list following the Gibraltar Open will qualify to play at the Players Championship in Llandudno.

Updated position as of 04/03/2018:

14th – Anthony McGill – £114,000
15th – Yan Bingtao – £114,000*

16th – Graeme Dott – £113,500*
17th – Martin Gould – £109,500*
18th – Cao Yupeng – £96,000
19th – Jack Lisowski – £94,600
20th – Joe Perry – £93,000
21st – Li Hang – £89,000

*player has not entered Gibraltar Open

Following a record fifth Welsh Open victory for John Higgins in Cardiff, the position is now relatively straightforward with just four players who can still mathematically break into the top 16 on the one-year list in Gibraltar this weekend.

Each of those players, namely Cao Yupeng, Jack Lisowski, Joe Perry and Li Hang must win the tournament in Gibraltar, with nothing less than the £25,000 first prize enough to see them overhaul 16th placed Graeme Dott for the final qualifying position.

Provisional Players Championship draw

As well as the 16 qualifiers, the order on the one-year ranking list will also determine the draw for the Players Championship, with seeds 1 v 16, 2 v 15 and so on set to meet in the opening round…

Updated draw as results stand (following the Welsh Open):

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) v Graeme Dott (16)

Ding Junhui (8) v Mark Allen (9)

Luca Brecel (5) v Stephen Maguire (12)

Judd Trump (4) v Ryan Day (13)


John Higgins (3) v Anthony McGill (14)

Shaun Murphy (6) v Neil Robertson (11)

Mark Selby (7) v Kyren Wilson (10)

Mark Williams (2) v Yan Bingtao (15)

This is provisional and subject to change throughout the weekend depending upon results in Gibraltar. Players with their names bolded cannot now move in the draw.

Although we already know the identities of 15 or the 16 players who will be competing in Llandudno, there is still much that can change in respect of the Players Championship draw with only three players guaranteed to remain in their current positions heading into Gibraltar.

With ninth placed Mark Allen and those below him unable to overtake eighth placed Ding Junhui however, World Snooker have been able to schedule the matches of the top eight seeds and you can view the details HERE.

A further point of interest is that Anthony McGill and Yan Bingtao are currently tied for 14th place on £114,000, with Yan ranked ahead on countback having progressed further at the previous ranking event, last week’s Welsh Open. However, with Yan not competing in Gibraltar and McGill in action, it will be the Scot who is set to move in front following the tournament on account of having played in the event.

So basically, Ronnie will face Graeme Dott first UNLESS one of  Cao Yupeng, Jack Lisowski, Joe Perry or Li Hang win the title. Anything less and Graeme stays in the draw at spot 16.

It would only take two wins for Ding to overtake Mark Selby, who hasn’t entered, which then would mean that, should Ronnie win his first match he would face the winner of Selby v Allen next. Doesn’t come much harder than that!

John Higgins and Judd Trump have not entered, which means that Luca Brecel could overtake them both: he needs two wins to overtake Trump, he needs the Final to overtake Higgins and climb to n°3. In that case, as n°3, Luca Brecel would move to the other half of the draw, with Higgins coming to Ronnie’s half.

Shaun Murphy has announced on twitter that he has withdrawn as well – he is the defending champion – so Ding is certain to climb to n°6 with three wins. He can’t overtake Luca Brecel though.

Update (09.03.2018) : Ding is marked as “No Show” in Gibraltar, so he can’t overtake Mark Selby, let alone Shaun Murphy. This means that, should Ronnie win his first match, his next opponent will be Allen or Ding. 

Players Championship 2018 – some schedule info

Worldsnooker has just published some info about who – from the top 8 – is playing when in Llandudno

Eight of snooker’s top stars have had their first round matches scheduled for the Ladbrokes Players Championship which takes place in Llandudno later this month.

The tournament runs from March 19 to 25 at Venue Cymru in North Wales and features the top 16 players on this season’s one-year ranking list. The cut off point falls after the Gibraltar Open which finishes on Sunday March 11.

The top eight on the list are already sure of qualifying and their opening matches will take place as follows:

Monday March 19

Former World Champion SHAUN MURPHY v opponent
13-time ranking event winner DING JUNHUI v opponent

Tuesday March 20

Current World Champion and world number one MARK SELBY v opponent
Two-time World Champion MARK WILLIAMS v opponent

Five-time World Champion RONNIE O’SULLIVAN v opponent
China Championship winner LUCA BRECEL v opponent

Wednesday March 21
Four-time World Champion JOHN HIGGINS v opponent
Eight-time ranking event winner and defending champion JUDD TRUMP v opponent

The full draw and format will be released once the complete line up of 16 players is known, after the Gibraltar Open.

The ITV4-televised world ranking tournament features a top prize of £125,000 and a total prize fund of £380,000. It’s a fantastic chance for fans to see the sport’s biggest names competing for a coveted title.


John Higgins is the 2018 Welsh Open Champion

Congratulations to John Higgins, 2018 Welsh Open Champion

John Higgins won a record fifth Welsh Open title yesterday evening, beating Barry Hawkins by 9-7 in the Final in Cardiff. This was John’s 30th ranking title.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

John Higgins beat Barry Hawkins 9-7 in the final of the ManBetX Welsh Open, becoming the first player to win the title five times.

Higgins came from 4-2 down to win seven of the last ten frames of a high quality final in Cardiff to take the Ray Reardon Trophy and a top prize of £70,000. The Welsh Open is snooker’s longest running ranking event other than the World and UK Championships, and Higgins now goes one ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan with five crowns, having previously triumphed in 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

Scotland’s Higgins captured his second ranking title of the season, having won the Indian Open in September, and 30th of his career. That leaves him just two behind O’Sullivan on the all time list and six behind Stephen Hendry.

At the age of 42, Higgins remains one of the fiercest competitors on the tour, and his renowned all-round game is as strong as ever. The trio of greats who turned pro in 1992 – Higgins, O’Sullivan and Mark Williams – have now won eight of this season’s 16 ranking events between them. All three play with the demeanour of men who have achieved plenty in their careers and are now enjoying what is left, without the pressure that usually comes with intense competition at the top level.

Higgins remains at number five in the world rankings but closes the gap on fourth-placed Ding Junhui.

Hawkins, who moves up one place to seventh thanks to his £30,000 runner-up prize, missed the chance to win a fourth ranking title and first since the World Grand Prix a year ago. This season has been a tough one for the 38-year-old Londoner on and off the table as he has had to come to terms with the tragic death of his brother in law.

As he explained after his semi-final match yesterday, only in recent weeks has he been able to focus on snooker. A welcome return to form in Cardiff will give the former Crucible finalist confidence for the rest of the season. However he misses out on a place in the Players Championship in Llandudno later this month – only the top prize tonight would have jumped him into the top 16 of the one-year ranking list.

Tied at 4-4 after the first session, Higgins took the opening frame tonight, then came from 44-10 behind in the next to win it with a 49 clearance, going 6-4 ahead. Hawkins hit back superbly with back to back centuries, 103 and 138, to level at the interval.

In frame 13, Hawkins had what looked like a handy 44-4 lead with several reds close to the top cushion, only for Higgins to make a trademark 66 clearance to regain the lead. The 14th came down to a safety battle on the last red and Hawkins, trailing 59-38, converted a cracking long pot to set up a chance to clear, and he got to the pink before missing a tricky pot to a baulk corner. After a brief tactical exchange, Higgins knocked in the pink to lead 8-6.

Back came Hawkins with a break of 82 to draw within one frame. But the Englishman botched a safety early in frame 16, letting Higgins in for a break of 64 which ended when he missed a tough red to a baulk corner. Hawkins had one more chance but missed a red to centre, and Higgins added the points he needed to win a Home Nations tournament for the first time.

That was one of the most enjoyable finals I have played in and it’s fantastic to win,” said four-time World Champion Higgins. “There were a couple of really tight frames towards the end. Barry will be kicking himself that he didn’t go 7-6 up or win the next frame to go 7-7. It seemed destined to go to a decider and the match probably deserved that. But I made a good break in the last frame.

“I’m over the moon, it will sink in over the next couple of days. To get to 30 ranking titles is beyond my wildest dreams. Who knows how many more I can win but I have managed to win two this season.

“After losing the World Championship final last season (to Mark Selby) I got a bit down on myself in private moments, thinking it was a great chance to win. But now I have proved I am still capable of winning events. I haven’t done that at the Masters, UK or World for seven years so that’s my goal now.

“Walking out for the final session tonight at 6-6, there’s nothing to beat that. Your adrenaline is going, you’re nervous, short of breath and you want to be sick. There are a whole range of emotions. But when you’re actually down on the shot you’re enjoying it and loving the situation you are in. I can’t replicate that in anything else I do in my life. It’s like a drug, you want to try it again and again.

Hawkins, who has now lost three of his six ranking finals, said: “I am a bit gutted. I feel as if I played well but John was more clinical. I can’t beat myself up too much because John is one of the all-time greats and I pushed him all the way. I kept fighting and didn’t give up.

“I had a chance to go 5-2 up in the first session and you have to take those sort of opportunities against John. I felt very good in spells and there are definitely positives to take from the week. I feel as if my game is in good shape.”

This brings the tally of the “class of 92” to 82 titles, 20 for Mark Williams, 30 for John Higgins, and 32 for Ronnie. They also own an incredibly 33 triple crown titles between them: 6 for Williams, 9 for Higgins, 18 for Ronnie. Together they have won half of the ranking events this season so far: 2 for Williams, 2 for Higgins, 4 for Ronnie. They are 42, with Willo turning 43 in a fortnight. They are number 1, 2 and 3 in the one year list. Where is the opposition? Where is the allegedly “higher standard”? Down the rankings, probably, yes, not at the top. Mark Selby is having a rather bad season by his standard, and there seems to be nobody else really to challenge the “old boys”.

It also raises the question of how much each of them could have won without the other two being around. It is my firm opinion that both Ronnie and Higgins would have won significantly more than Stephen Hendry. We shouldn’t forget that Hendry won all but one  of his triple crowns, and 29 of his 36 ranking titles,  before those three even turned 22, in fact when he won his 6th World Title in 1996, Williams had just turned 21, Higgins and Ronnie were 20, and himself was only 29, bang in his prime. The “92 boys” were certainly very good, Higgins had won several ranking titles already, as had Ronnie who had won the UK and Masters as a teenager, but they were far from their mature best, nobody is at that age.

WelshOpen2018Higgins Winner.jpg