2022 Ranking CLS Stage 2 – Groups B and G

Stage 2 at the 2022 ranking CLS concluded yesterday with Ricky Walden and Luca Brecel completing the line-up of the Final’s Day

Here is the report shared by WST

Walden And Brecel Complete Lineup

Ricky Walden and Luca Brecel claimed the final spots for the last day of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.

Scores and Group

Shaun Murphy took on Elliot Slessor in his opening match of the day. The Magician took the first, before Slessor hit back in the second to level at 1-1. Back to back century breaks from 2005 World Champion Murphy then gave him all three points thanks to a 3-1 win.

Walden was the main man vying for top spot with Murphy, but he was always up against it after a 2-2 draw with Anthony Hamilton despite leading 2-0. Walden did go into the evening top of the group though, thanks to a 3-0 win over Slessor.

Murphy then defeated Hamilton 3-1, before the Sheriff of Pottingham recovered to end his day on a positive note thanks to a 3-0 defeat of Slessor.

In the group decider, Walden took the early initiative with 64 in the first, but Murphy edged the second 65-56 to level and be one away from the final day. Murphy made 62 in the third and needed one red to force Walden into needing snookers. He missed his chance and Walden stole the frame before taking the third to lead 2-1. Walden needed one more to top the group and he fired in a huge winning break of 135 to seal his progression.

Walden said: “When I finished off, that’s the best frame I’ve played all day. It’s been a bit of a slog at times and I rode my luck. I was fortunate at the end and put a good break together. I thought I was done. I didn’t want to be driving home on the back of a safety shot. You get used to winning games. I didn’t play well today but luck has been with me.

Brecel started the day out against amateur Daniel Wells with a 2-2 draw. In the second contest of the day on Table 2, Chris Wakelin didn’t hang around, as he dispatched Jamie Clarke 3-0. The man from Rugby edged the opening two, before a break of 93 in the final frame wrapped up the victory. Wells was proving tough to beat and he took a 2-1 lead over Wakelin, but a crushing break of 108 restored parity to see the match end 2-2.

When the evening session got underway, Brecel whitewashed Clarke 3-0 thanks to breaks of 91 and 45 in the last two frames. The Belgian Bullet went from strength to strength to beat Wakelin by the same scoreline and top the group.

and the table

2022 ranking CLS Stage 2  Groups B and G table

Once again the table, as shown, is incorrect: although the last match of the day is shown in the “results” section, it’s not been taken into account in the table itself.

And once again, the non British winner, Luca Brecel, has not been interviewed despite him speaking English perfectly well.

I didn’t watch much of the action, not by lack of interest, but because being a grand-mother has taken priority. Mind, you, being stuck in Santorini, I hadn’t seen my now seven years old grand-son in the flesh since almost three years… and I’m unlikely to watch much of today’s “day time” action for the same reason.

One match I did watch was the Walden v Slessor one. It was absolutely terrible, so much so that it was almost hilarious. The players though weren’t seeing the funny side of it. It was a struggle fro start to finish. I had also watched the end of Walden v Hamilton. The Sheriff still has it and Ricky was lucky to get a draw out of this one.

By the end of today, the winners of Group 1 and 2 respectively will meet in the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker final in a best of 5 to be crowned champion.

I would dearly love to see Lyu Haotian lift the tropy tonight. Nothing against any of the other competitors, but Lyu had a very traumatic debut on the tour. Snooker almost lost him. He has looked much better recently, but still not as brilliant as the kid I had watched for the first time in China some 10 years ago. A title might bring that spark back and snooker would be the winner as well. He’s in a tough, tough group though.

2022RCLSFinalDay

Group 2 will be on table 1, with Zhao Xintong, Luca Brecel, Xiao Guodong, and Lyu Haotian and Group 1 will be on  table 2 with Stuart Bingham, Ricky Walden, Lu Ning, and Pang Junxu.

None of the players involved has currently qualified for the 2022 Champion of Champions.

2022 Ranking CLS Stage 2 – Groups A and D

Here is the report shared by WST about yesterday’s action at the 2022 ranking CLS

Pang And Zhao Into Final Day

Pang Junxu and Zhao Xintong won Groups A and D respectively to progress through to the final day of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.

Tables and Scores

Pang faced the tricky challenge of ousting Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ali Carter, and Yuan Sijun if he was to make the third stage on Friday. Yuan began the day with an impressive 3-0 win over O’Sullivan. Pang meanwhile took the opener against Carter, who quickly levelled. However, Pang composed breaks of 69 and 50 to wrap up a 3-1 win.

Carter’s hopes of progressing were soon ended by a 2-2 draw with Yuan. The final frame was scrappy, but Yuan edged it to seal it after 40 minutes of play.

Into the evening session and O’Sullivan knew he needed start quickly with a win over Pang in his first match. Pang took the first, before embarking on a 147 attempt in the second, failing on 104 to lead 2-0. The Rocked pulled a frame back, but it was Pang who ran out a 3-1 victor.

The 2021 Rookie of the Year knew a draw would be enough to top the group in his final match against Yuan, who needed all three points to go through. Yuan made 57 in the first to lead, but Pang came back to level at 1-1. They shared the following two frames and Pang progressed.

Over on Table 2, Zhao was in no mood to hang around as he beat compatriot Chang Bingyu 3-0 in a match which included a superb 145 break. Mark Allen was on the end of a 3-0 defeat to Gary Wilson in the next match, before he recovered to beat Chang 3-1.

Zhao knew that he could put things beyond doubt with a strong showing at the top of the evening session against Wilson and he did just in a 3-0 rout. The Cyclone fired in breaks of 123, 46, and 101 to be in an unassailable position and top the group with a game to spare. He ended with a 2-2 draw against Allen.

and the table

Screenshot 2022-07-28 at 09.04.12

Once again, all this was probably written before the end of play. Ronnie did bet Carter by 3-0 in the last match of Group A. That put him third in the table with 3 points and a frame difference of -2, whilst Carter comes last, with 1 point and a frame difference of -5.

Here are the scores of the matches played by Ronnie:

2022RCLSStage2ROSvYanSijunScores2022RCLSStage2ROSvPangJunxuScores2022RCLSStage2ROSvAliCarterScores

As I wrote in the comments section, Ronnie appeared to be in a bit of discomfort during the first session, frequently massaging his arm. Both Yuan and Pang played very well. Ronnie wasn’t at his best but he didn’t actually played that badly. He did get some slices of bad luck, a bit more than his fair share… in such short matches, it matters.

David Hendon also reflected that he may not have shown his usual level of intensity when 100% committed, but that it was to be expected. He didn’t need to play in this event, he needs neither the points, nor the money. David added that it was good to have him there and in stage 2. Higgins didn’t enter, Trump and Selby didn’t reach stage 2. Williams, like Ronnie came third in his stage 2 group.

That said, although the match didn’t matter much, he was commited and determined to win against Carter and he played really well in that one!

Matchroom Multi Sport have shared the Ronnie matches on their YouTube Channel

Today is the last day of stage 2 featuring Group G with Shaun Murphy, Ricky Walden, Anthony Hamilton, and Elliot Slessor and Group B  with Luca Brecel, Chris Wakelin, Jamie Clarke, and Daniel Wells.

No matter what will happen today, we will have 5 young Chinese players amongst the 8 who will compete on the final day (62,5%). There are 27 Chinese professionals in a field of 131 (about 20%).

David Hendon also reflected on the influence of Ding Junhui. Ding might never become a World Champion, and his form isn’t what it used to be. He’s still young though. But, no matter what happens or not for him in the years to come, he is the one that inspired the snooker boom in China. He had a major influence on snooker’s destiny as an international sport. It took more time than expected, but the current young Chinese generation now looks ready to take a lion’s share of titles in the near future. When I write “it took more time than expected” … well I will add this: those expectations were unrealistic. The difficulties those young Chinese players of the “first generation”  faced were grossly underestimated. It isn’t easy to move alone on the other side of the world, away from your family, to adapt to a different culture, diffrent food, needing to learn a different language, a different way of life. Now structures and academies are in place to help. They didn’t exist some 12-15 years ago. Most young brits wouldn’t be able or willing to do that. Neil Robertson repeatedly spoke about how hard it was for him, and it certainly was very hard. Yet, he didn’t need to learn a different language and the social and cultural gap he faced was comparatively much smaller.

 

2022 Ranking CLS Stage 2 – Groups C and H

 

This is the report shared by WST:

Bingham And Xiao Reach Final Day

Stuart Bingham and Xiao Guodong won groups C and H respectively to move into the final day of the BetVictor Championship League in Leicester.

Tables and Scores

Bingham started off positively with a 3-0 whitewash win over Ben Woolaston. Jamie Jones had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Jordan Brown, who made back-to-back centuries from 2-0 down to snatch a point. Woolaston defeated Brown 3-1 to end the afternoon with a result which left Bingham in pole position.

Bingham began the evening knowing he needed just one more win. Ball Run delivered just what was needed with breaks of 51 and 73 on his way to a 3-1 defeate of Jones. The day was complete by Bingham drawing 2-2 with Brown.

Bingham: “It’s important to get off to a good start and the 3-0 over Ben put me in good stead for the rest of the group. I didn’t really put my cue down. The longest I put it down for was six days. I had a few exhibitions. I’ve hit the ground running. It’s a very good start. Getting through the European Masters and the next stage of this. I am taking it game by game. My game is getting stronger. I just need to relax and calm down and get a bit of confidence. I didn’t have the best of years last year. The world’s saved me.”

Xiao meanwhile had the tough task of toppling reigning champion David Gilbert, Robert Milkins, and Michael White. Welshman White was in the best position early on ,after beating Gilbert 3-1 early doors in a high-quality affair.

Milkins drew with Xiao 2-2 in the second match. The Milkman’s hopes of progression were firmly halted by White though, who was on a mission in a 3-0 victory. White was sitting pretty at the top on six points going into the evening, knowing a point could be enough in his final match of the day against Xiao.

Gilbert’s hopes of retaining the title were ended with Xiao defeating him 3-1 thanks to a deciding 69 in the final frame. With that win, Xiao knew a win over White would see him top the group. White took the opener but it was his last meaningful contribution after Xiao made 78 in the second, 68, and then 32 and 66 to win it 3-1 and move through.

and the table

Screenshot 2022-07-27 at 08.15.57

Again, no interview with Xiao Guodong. Toppling Gilbert was relly no tough task yesterday as he looked out-of-sorts, bored and disinterested righ from the start. He won the last 2 frames on the day, but only after Rob Milkins got the two frames he needed to secure third place in the group. It had been some time since I had watched Xiao play and I was impressed by his tactical nous all day. He wasn’t going to out-pot White or Milkins, but he outfoxed them…

Stuart Bingham is a hard worker, he knows how to win these comps and he proved it again. Group C was a high scoring group. There were 6 centuries on the day, three of them by Jordan Brown… who still finished last in the table.

Today features Group A with Ronnie, Ali Carter, Yuan Sijun, Pang Junxu and Group D Zhao Xintong, Mark Allen, Gary Wilson, Chang Bingyu. Two very tough groups and it’s a shame that they are played on the same day!

2022 Ranking CLS Stage 2 – Groups E and F

Both groups yesterday delivered an unexpected but fully deserving winner.

Here is the report shared by WST:

Lyu And Lu Reach Final Day

Lu Ning and Lyu Haotian won groups E & F respectively to move into the final day of the 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker in Leicester.

Scores and Tables

Lu came through a group of Mark Williams, Stephen Maguire, and Aaron Hill to book his spot in Friday’s final stage. Williams began the day with a rapid 3-0 win over Hill in one of the quickest matches of the tournament so far. He took just half an hour thanks to breaks of 76, 61 and 133.

Williams set the early pace with that win, but Lu responded by beating Maguire 3-1. Maguire got his own win to end the afternoon session, beating Hill 3-0 to keep the group wide open.

The picture became clear at the top of the evening session, as Lu moved up a gear against Williams. Breaks of 70, 61 and 94 gave him a 3-0 win and left him needing just a draw with Hill to go through. He did just that, sharing the frames to end 2-2 and progress.

Over on Table 2, Lyu battled with Hossein Vafaei, Jimmy Robertson, and Michael Judge to make his way into the next phase. Vafaei started with an impressive 3-0 defeat of Judge, firing in breaks of 117, 89, and 123.

Lyu came into the group as the third seed and battled to a 2-2 draw with Robertson in his opening match. The group was wide open going into the evening and Lyu made sure he would stay in the picture thanks to a 3-0 win over Vafaei.

That victory for Lyu meant he had the group in his hands, as he went head to head with Judge in the penultimate match of the group. Lyu took secured a 3-1 win to top the group.

No interview with either winner. They both played very well and, above all, stayed focussed from start to finish. Phil Yates suggested that the Chinese players doing well was to be expected as they didn’t go home and had more time for practice… I’m not sure if Lyu and Lu stayed in the UK all summer, but whatever they did, the UK based players certainly had every opportunity to practice just as much if they so wished.

Here is the table

2022RCLSStage2Day1Table

As you can see, it’s “incomplete”: at this stage, second place earns the player £3000, third place £2000 and fourth place £1000. If someone from Matchroom reads this… you really need to improve your service. Yesterday, at the start of play, Matchroom.live wasn’t working, thoughout the event, there have been many mistakes and missing information in the tables. and this…

RCLSinGibraltar

Gibraltar… 😂

Both Mark Williams and Hossein Vafaei – the groups “leaders” – started impressively. Then both had a long break, their second match being scheduled in the evening, and I had the feeling that the “intensity” was gone.

The last match in Group E was speed snooker. Mark Williams in particular couldn’t wait to get out of there. I didn’t time it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the last frame lasted less than 5 minutes. Cheeky Willo still “wasted” a few seconds pretending he wanted to play for snookers at the end of the last frame. To say that Maguire looked nonplussed is an understatement.

In Group F, the last match was to decide second and third places and it was contested very seriously. Hossein Vafaei is currently just outside the top 16, he’s 17th, provisionnaly 16th as, as it stands, he is set to overcome Anthony McGill.  Jimmy Robertson is 25th. Both are provisionnaly inside the top 16 in the “end-of-season” projection having had a good season last term. Of course it’s very early days but, obviously, every pound will count for both of them this season, and the £1000 difference between second and third place mattered to both.

Today we have Group C with Stuart Bingham, Jordan Brown, Jamie Jones, and Ben Woollaston and Group H with David Gilbert, Robert Milkins, Xiao Guodong, Michael White.

The 2022 European Masters Qualifiers – Day 6

Yesterday was the last day of the 2022 European Masters qualifiers and it yielded a few surprises. Here is the report by WST:

Whirlwind Set For Furth

Jimmy White rallied from 4-2 down to beat Andrew Pagett 5-4 at BetVictor European Masters qualifying in Leicester and earn a place in the final stages.

The ten-time ranking event winner struggled for large parts of last season and today’s victory is a first match win since the British Open last August.

With Pagett needing just one frame for victory, the Whirlwind fired in breaks of 58 and 133 on his way to three on the bounce to secure the win.

Scott Donaldson scored his first ever win over Scottish compatriot and four-time World Champion John Higgins, battling to a 5-3 victory. The Perth cueman crafted contributions of 51, 52 and 60 on his way to the win.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel put on a break building blitz to brush aside Andy Lee 5-1 and book his place in Furth. Trailing 1-0, Brecel proceeded to compose breaks of 65, 59, 87, 69 and 53 to take five on the bounce and secure the win.

Aaron Hill top scored with a break of 103 during his 5-1 defeat of Chen Zifan, while Graeme Dott stormed to an impressive 5-0 whitewash win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Yes, Jimmy White did play very well to come back and beat Pagett. At 60 he still has it, albeit not consistently. When on form he remains a fantastic player and entertainer.

Graeme Dott played well also but he was helped by a very out-of-sorts Theppy, who was struggling AND got several slices of bad luck too.

I didn’t watch the Donaldson v Higgins. It was an extremely slow match, at least before the MSI. That probably means that either it was very scrappy or Donaldson dictated the pace, or both.

Again some matches are not mentioned at all.

Li Hang came back fro 2-0 down to beat Craig Steadman by 5-3. That’s not an easy thing to do against such an experienced opponent.

Ricky Walden beat Alfie Burden by 5-1. I only saw the end of the match. At that stage it was clear that Alfie had lost hope and wanted to be out of there.

Matthew Stevens had to battle hard to defeat Florian Nüssle by 5-4. Florian is clearly getting better with every match but seems to struggle a bit to get over the line. One good win however could change that, and when it comes, he will be a serious contender to get and stay on tour.

Oliver Lines beat Tom Ford by 5-3. When Oli got first on tour there was a lot of hype around him, but it didn’t quite happen for him. I have a strong feeling though that this year migth well be the year of his breakthrough.

The 2022 European Masters Qualifiers – Day 5

The qualifiers for the 2022 European Masters continued yesterday and here is the report by WST:

Murphy Continues Strong Start

Shaun Murphy continued his strong start to the new season with a 5-3 win over Dean Young at BetVictor European Masters qualifying in Leicester.

The 2005 World Champion was plagued with back and neck problems last term but he is hopeful that those issues have lessened over the summer break. He started this season well by coming through his BetVictor Championship League group with two wins and a draw.

Murphy constructed contributions of 90, 55 and 68 on his way to this afternoon’s victory and he can now look forward to a trip to Furth for the final stages.

Scotland’s Anthony McGill edged past Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher 5-4 in a keenly contested encounter. World number 16 McGill had trailed 4-3, but took the final two frames to edge through.

BetVictor Gibraltar Open champion Robert Milkins scored a 5-0 whitewash victory against Lu Ning. Andrew Higginson beat Joe O’Connor 5-2.

Barry Pinches recorded a 5-1 defeat of Rebecca Kenna with a top run of 138, while Mitchell Mann beat Mink Nutcharut by the same scoreline.

Mark Joyce top scored with 82 in a 5-0 whitewash of Stephen Hendry.

Probably the best matches of the day are not mentioned in this report, likely because their latish finish:  Jak Jones beat Ben Woollaston by 5-3, in a match where both players scored 4 breaks over 50 and Jordan Brown beat Cao Yupeng by 5-4. Jordan was 4-2 up in that match, only for Cao to force a decider. Jordan scored 5 breaks over 50, including a 64 in the deciding frame, whilst Cao had 3 50+ breaks.

No mention either of Lei Peifan’s whitewash of Rod Lawler.

Andrew Higginson is far too good to be out of the main tour, and without the ranking points pressure he is out to do some damage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he requalified via the one year list come the end of the season.

Rebecca Kenna started playing better towards the end of her match. Later, on social media, she admitted to have felt very nervous, and to have struggled with the speed of the table. She is a fighter and a quick learner. I expect her to improve as the season advances.

As for the Mark Joyce v Stephen Hendry match … what can I say? Stephen does not seem to be willing to compromise on his style of play. I’m afraid this won’t get him anywhere for a number of reasons: his long potting is nowhere near as reliable it was when he was in his pomp, his tactical game, when he accepts that he has to play safe, isn’t good enough and the standard of the mid-ranked players is much, much higher than it used to in the 90th.  I will never tell a player, never mind a great champion like Hendry, that they should retire. But this was painful to watch …

All detailed results are on snooker.org

 

The 2022 European Masters Qualifiers – Day 4

The qualifiers for the 2022 European Masters resumed yesterday.

Here is the report by WST:

Ajaib Stuns The Pistol

Amateur Farakh Ajaib scored a stunning 5-3 win over former Masters champion Mark Allen to reach the final stages of the BetVictor European Masters.

Ajaib lost his professional status at the end of last season, when he was relegated following a campaign which saw him win only five matches. Defeat for Allen will come as a huge surprise after the Northern Irishman progressed from his BetVictor Championship League group yesterday with three wins from three matches.

Breaks of 52, 62 and 87 had given world number 14 Allen a 3-1 advantage this afternoon. However, Ajaib rallied to claim four on the bounce and snatch victory. He capped off the win by taking the eighth frame on the black.

Zhou Yuelong, who was runner-up to Neil Robertson in this event in 2020, was made to work hard for a 5-4 win over John Astley. China’s Zhou had led 4-1, before Astley came roaring back to force a deciding frame. It was Zhou who held his nerve to secure a trip to Furth.

Jack Lisowski sealed his spot in the final stages with a 5-1 defeat of Zhang Jiankang. The six-time ranking event finalist compiled breaks of 55, 76, 73 and 136 on his way to victory.

 

As usual, a lot of matches are overlooked in this report.

Mark Allen didn’t look too aggrieved. To be fair Farakh Ajaib, free of the ranking points’ pressure, played extremely well, particularly after the MSI. Actually, I’m not sure that playing in the CLS the day before on a Rasson table, did Mark any favour.

The same applies to Julien Leclercq who struggled badly yesterday. The young Belgian couldn’t reproduce the form he showed in the CLS and he certainly would have needed it against an excellent Ashley Hugill, who beat him 5-1. Hopefully, Julien can later analyse this match with his coach/team because he could learn a lot from it.

Steven Hallworth is another ex-pro who got a win yesterday against Robbie Williams who didn’t play badly himself.

Michael White got a 5-0 win over Martin Gould. Michael played OK, without reproducing the heavy scoring he had shown in the CLS. Martin however was completely out of sorts. Maybe he was unwell? We don’t know, but, for sure this is the worst I have ever seen Martin play! It was painful.

Chris Wakelin beat Jamie Clarke by 5-4. This was an extremely close and tense match. Both players produced very good snooker. This was a though draw for both of them and it’s a shame that Jamie won’t be in Fürth.

I can’t comment on the other matches as I didn’t see any of the action.

All detailed results are available on snooker.org

On a diffrent topic, Ronnie was yesterday doing a charity event to help a family of friends who are facing very difficult times. Pete Cohen is a mental coeach who helped Ronnie, notably when he went through a bad patch in the mid noughties

Screenshot 2022-07-23 at 08.00.28RonnieHannahCohenCharity