The 2019 English Open 2019 – Day 2

The biggest upset yesterday was caused by Thepchaiya Un-nooh who beat Stephen Maguire by 4-0 and it’s nor much of an upset because Theppy on his day is a ferocious potter and a very heavy scorer. The scoreline though is severe.

Here is the report on yesterday action by Worldsnooker

Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen were among the day two winners at the 19.com English Open, with the top 12 seeds all through to the last 64 in Crawley.

All results

World number three Williams scored a 4-2 win over fellow Welshman Jamie Clarke.  After sharing the first four frames, Williams trailed 30-0 in the fifth, but came back to take it and then clinched victory in style in frame six with a 142 total clearance, the highest break of the tournament so far. He now faces Michael Holt.

“It could have gone either way, there were some close frames,” said three-time World Champion Williams, who was runner-up to Shaun Murphy at the recent China Championship. “It was scrappy though I finished it off well. I haven’t practised properly for the past year so I don’t deserve any results, how I got to the final of the last tournament I don’t know. I’ve got to get back to the practice table.”

Robertson needed just 52 minutes to beat Kishan Hirani 4-0 with breaks of 75, 71, 118 and 85.

“I stamped my authority on the match from the start and played nearly perfect snooker,” said Australia’s Robertson, who now meets Marco Fu. “I punished his mistakes and enjoyed the game.”

World number four Robertson has received plenty of joshing from his peers after driving to the wrong Barnsley for a qualifying match earlier this month.

“I was in the right postcode tonight so that was a good start,” smiled Robertson. “Joe Perry is convinced I was actually sitting at home and I made the whole thing up. I’d have to be a Hollywood script writer to make up a story like that.

“I have learned my lesson – when I set out for Crawley today I made sure I had the right postcode and I checked there is only one K2 venue in the town.”

Allen stepped up a gear from 2-2 against James Wattana to win the last two frames for a 4-2 scoreline. Breaks of 125 and 87 helped The Pistol set up a second round match with Andy Lee.

World number 14 Stephen Maguire (the 13th seed as John Higgins did not enter) was the highest ranked player to lose in the opening round. He lasted just 45 minutes against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the fastest player on the tour,  who fired breaks of 86, 65, 117 and 75 in a 4-0 success.

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei edged out Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg 4-3, making a 42 clearance in the decider to win on the final black.

Jack Lisowski top scored with 79 in a 4-1 win over Jackson Page, while Kyren Wilson saw off Liang Wenbo with a top run of 95.

Scott Donaldson suffered a 4-3 defeat against China’s Zhao Xintong in cruel circumstances. In the deciding frame, Donaldson led 64-0 with five reds left when he potted a red, but accidentally knocked the blue in. That left Zhao 59 behind with 59 on the table and he cleared to force a respotted black, which he potted to secure an unlikely victory.

China’s 17-year-old Bai Langning top scored with 94 as he enjoyed a 4-2 win over Jimmy White; a player 40 years his senior. Sussex’s Mark Davis was runner-up last year but this time he suffered a first round exit, losing 4-2 to Graeme Dott.

Here is the dramatic end of the Donaldson v Zhao match:

Again there were lots of uncomfortably close matches but in most cases the highest ranked player came on to eventually.

Something that Worldsnooker did not report is how dispirited Mark William feels, but it was reported in the press:

But afterwards Williams claimed that his love affair with the sport he has graced for 27 years has hit a rocky patch.

“I’m just not enjoying it,” said the 44-year-old from Cwm.

“I’m not putting the work in, so I don’t deserve to get anything out of the game.

“Sometimes I feel quite close to finishing, to be honest.

“I’ll see after the world championships (in April), I’ll re-evaluate then.

“I’ll probably not (retire), but we’ll see.

“It’s something I’m going to think about.”

It was however Ronnie who triggered discussions and anger on social media by, again, criticising the conditions in Crawley

Ronnie O’Sullivan not impressed by English Open venue and Judd Trump not impressed by ‘Every day in Crawley is a day lost in my life’ comment

Ronnie O’Sullivan has again blasted the venue hosting the English Open – one year after brandishing the Crawley K2 Leisure Centre a ‘hellhole that smells of urine’.

The 43-year-old claimed every day in Crawley was ‘a day lost in my life’ in his sensational rant as he demanded a complete refurbishment of the venue.

O’Sullivan, a five-time world champion, came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Jamie O’Neill 4-3 in the first round on Monday.

And he even joked he would probably ‘end up with a bit of pneumonia’ in his criticism of the facilities.

“Every day in Crawley is a day lost in my life,” O’Sullivan joked to reporters in quotes reported by BBC Sport.

“It’s not changed as far as I’m concerned. You would have to change a lot in this place, a complete refurbishment probably. I’m not surprised; it’s what I expect it to be.”

“I’ve just gone from a match table, to a squash court to a toilet, where the players’ office is, from the toilet to walk around the outside of the building through the heavy rain to come here and talk to you [the press].

“I’ll probably end up with a bit of pneumonia on top of the cold I’ve already got.”

Meanwhile Judd Trump has lashed out at O’Sullivan, who also suggested the only redeeming feature of Crawley was ‘the M23 out of here’.

Trump also won his first round clash on Monday and refused to give any credence to claims made by ‘The Rocket’.

“Did he enter it this year? Well that says it all, doesn’t it,” the world champion said dismissively.

“The first time you go somewhere you never know, but if you’re entering the tournament a second time you can’t pick faults after you play for the second time.

“I want to play in every event that I can, last year was a bit disappointing here, it wasn’t quite up to scratch, but they’ve made a few changes.

“Anyone that’s entered it this year can’t really moan about conditions, they knew what they were like last year.”

Ronnie further caused outrage on social media when explaining how he deals with the frustration of playing “amateurs”

It’s of course not great to hear this if you are a low ranked player and Ronnie should be more considerate and think about how they feel hearing him there. That said, I’m certain that he’s not the only top player finding it difficult, especially the older ones. They did climb the rankings through a tiered system and earned their top player status by putting the work in and winning countless matches. For most of their careers they used to be seeded in the last 32. When there are 32 players at the venue it’s all very different: there is no need for a very big venue, it’s easier to “organise”, the officials are more available to the players needs, the players feel valued, treated as individuals, not numbers. I know for certain that Stephen Hendry hated the new system, hated the PTCs and the 128 field and it did certainly contribute to his decision to retire. John Higgins hasn’t entered this time, Mark Williams is demotivated. I’m not saying it’s because of Crawley – that would be daft – but I’m sure that the current system isn’t appealing to players their age and status.

The good thing for now though is that Ronnie knows how good Yuan Sijun is and respects him.

You can follow the tournament – with all detailed results on snooker.org

The 2019 English Open – Day 1 in Crawley

The first day at the 2019 English Open saw a good few high profile exits and close shaves… here are the results on snooker.org

You can read all about Ronnie’s narrow victory here

Ronnie wasn’t the only one to be pushed hard as  this report by Worldsnooker shows

World Champion Judd Trump eased to a 4-0 win over Peter Ebdon despite a top break of just 48.

“Hopefully I can get through the first couple of rounds and then I’ll feel like I’m really in the tournament,” said Trump, who landed his first Crucible crown in May. “There’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders now and it’s important for me to kick on. I’m young in snooker terms because a lot of players keep going until they are 45 or 50. It’s an exciting time in snooker now, there are a lot of big events. It’s important to go out and enjoy yourself.”

Defending champion Stuart Bingham had a tough battle against Kacper Filipiak, winning 4-3. Poland’s Filipiak made a break of 100 in frame four to level at 2-2 then Bingham replied with 103 to go 3-2 ahead. A tight sixth frame went Filipiak’s way but Bingham finished strongly with a run of 111.

It was still a good day for Polish snooker as Adam Stefanow scored an impressive 4-1 win over Luca Brecel.

Mark Selby compiled runs of 103 and 130 as he came from 2-1 down to beat Barry Pinches 4-2 while Alan McManus top scored with 76 as he beat Ali Carter 4-2.

China Championship winner Shaun Murphy boosted his hopes of winning back to back ranking titles as he saw off Chang Bingyu 4-2, pulling away from 2-2 with runs of 71 and 79 in the last two frames.

Sussex ace Jimmy Robertson made a 134 as he came from 2-0 down to beat Robert Milkins 4-2, while Ding Junhui’s hopes of regaining a top 16 place took a blow as he lost 4-3 to Dominic Dale

Judd was very far from his best – he didn’t have a single break over 50 in the match – and he was very lucky that Peter Ebdon played awful because he kept giving him good opportunities.

I saw nothing from the Bingham match, but I watched most of the Murphy one and he too was nowhere near the form that brought him to three finals already this season, including the 2019 China Championship title.

All this only confirms what Ronnie suggested in his postmatch: in those short format comps, the first matches are banana skins!

Both China top players, Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao are already out, as are Ali Cater, Anthony McGill and Luca Brecel. At the time of writing it seems the Stephen Maguire is heading out as well.

The 2019 English Open – Ronnie wins on day 1.

English Open 2019 - ROS Last 128 scores

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan avoided a shock exit on day one of the 19.com English Open in Crawley as he came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat former tiler Jamie O’Neill 4-3.

All results

EnglishOpen2019ROSL128-1World number 105 O’Neill had a golden chance to register his biggest career win in the sixth frame until he accidentally fouled on 33. O’Sullivan, ranked 103 places higher, punished him to progress to the last 64 at K2 Crawley. He’ll be back in action on Wednesday – tickets are still available –  click here for details.

O’Neill, who had been working on roofs for the past five years before regaining his pro status at Q School last May, coped well with the dizzy heights of the televised table in the early stages tonight, winning the opening frame with a break of 114, then dominating the second.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan hit back with runs of 90 and 102 for 2-2 then O’Neill made a 59 as he regained the lead in the fifth. In the next he was 33-0 ahead when he accidentally grazed a red he was cueing over. O’Sullivan replied with 54 then got the better of a safety battle on the last red and capitalised for 3-3.

O’Neill had two further chances in the decider but could only muster 15 points and had to watch as his opponent rattled off 81 to seal victory.

Ronnie O’Sullivan V Jamie O’Neill | English Open 2019 – Last 128

Here is Ronnie’s postmatch:

And couple more pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Ronnie is right in saying  that the top player is on a hiding to nothing in those matches. They have all expectations on them, and their opponents usually can just play with freedom and enjoy the occasion. We saw it in other matches yesterday too as many top seeds struggled to win or actually lost like Ding Junhui, Yan Bingtao, Ali Carter and Anthony McGill. The very short format doesn’t help the best players either: yesterday Ronnie was 2-0 dow; in a best of seven, without interval, that a very perilous situation.

Inevitably, when Ronnie is struggling, there are people on social media who immediately claim that he isn’t bothered. It’s stupid and it’s unfair. If he hadn’t been bothered yesterday, he would have lost. It’s that simple. It’s unfair on Ronnie – or on any top player in the same situation – because they are human and form is not a tap they can turn at will. It’s unfair on their opponent, because they are pros or top amateurs and most of them can play. Jamie O’Neill never really made it as a pro, although he has been on and off the tour since 2003, but he has won two big titles as an amateur: the 2003 Under-19 European Championship and the 2006 English Open. He came back on the tour last May, via the Challenge Tour Event 1. He played very well yesterday. Presenting him only as a “former tiler” is reductive and a bit misleading as for most of his adult life he’s been a professional snooker player.

Also lets hope that the bad neck issue is solved asap.

 

Championship League Snooker 2020 (!) – Groups 1 and 2

The Championship League Snooker usually starts early January. This season, due to the congested schedule at the start of next year, it started this week. Groups 1 and 2 were played in Leicester from last Monday, till yesterday.

Neil Robertson won Group 1 (Worldsnooker)

Neil Robertson fought back from 2-0 down to defeat Ryan Day 3-2 in the Group One final of BetVictor Championship League Snooker and become the first player to make it through to Winners’ Group.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Day raced to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five final at Morningside Arena in Leicester, making a break of 126 in the second frame. Robertson hit back with a 79 and capitalised in the fourth to draw level after Day had missed opportunities to see out the match. Robertson then made a decisive 56 break to take the fifth frame 80-1.

“It wasn’t going too well for me yesterday and I lost my first two group matches,” said Robertson, who won £6,100 during the group. “From that point on you’re trying to scrape through and maybe take fifth but today I played much better. If I’d lost to Mark Selby yesterday I’d probably have been out but that gave me a chance and I played much better today.

“I am really pleased to get through. Ryan was looking good at 2-0 up and cruising but he missed a tough black and I was able to capitalise.”

Having earned £4,800 during Group 1, Day has now won over £100,000 from Championship League Snooker since its inception in 2008.

Barry Hawkins had topped the group table having won all six of his league phase matches, but lost 3-0 in the semi-finals to Day, who had scraped into the final four having won one frame more than Jack Lisowski. Robertson beat Mark Selby in the deciding frame of their best-of-five semi-final. Selby took the group high break prize of £500 for his 131 against Neil Robertson in the group phase.

Having finished fifth in the round-robin group table, Lisowski will return to compete in Group Two tomorrow, along with Day, Hawkins and Selby. They are joined by three new players; Stuart Bingham, Gary Wilson and Kyren Wilson.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Group Two continues at 11am on Wednesday. For live scores click here and for group fixtures and results go to http://www.championshipleaguesnooker.co.uk

Semi-Finals
Barry Hawkins 0-3 Ryan Day
17-75, 1-68 (Day 68), 25-71

Neil Robertson 3-2 Mark Selby
15-81 (Selby 77), 111-0 (Robertson 111), 88-4 (Robertson 59), 64-75 (Selby 52), 69-9 (Robertson 50)

Group Final
Ryan Day 2–3 Neil Robertson
63-24, 126-8 (Day 126), 49-85 (Robertson 79), 38-50, 1-80 (Robertson 56)

Here are the full GR1 results on snooker.org

Stuart Bingham won Group 2 (Worldsnooker)

Stuart Bingham defeated Mark Selby 3-1 in the Group Two final to join Neil Robertson in the Winners’ Group of BetVictor Championship League Snooker.

The Essex potter came third in the round-robin group phase with four wins from his six matches to set-up a semi-final clash with tournament debutant Gary Wilson, who he then defeated 3-0 with breaks of 96, 108 and 118.

Bingham, who won Championship League in 2015 before going on to win the World Championship later that season, met Selby in the group final after the Leicester man defeated Kyren Wilson 3-1 in his semi-final.

‘Ball-Run’ Bingham took the first frame of the final but was pegged back by Selby. However, the Essex man took the subsequent two frames to secure victory and a place in March’s big-money Winners’ Group.

“Something clicked today,” said Bingham, who now heads to Crawley to defend his 19.com English Open title. “My manager said ‘whatever you had for dinner, put it on the menu and we’ll have it all the time’ because after dinner I hardly missed a ball.

“I got through to the Winners’ Group last year and have won the tournament before, so it’s nice now to be able to look forward to coming back for the final group.

“I feel like I have been playing pretty well recently. There have been a couple of bad results here and there but all-in-all beating the likes of Gary Wilson and Mark in the final shows that my game is there.”

Staged at Morningside Arena, Leicester, BetVictor Championship League Snooker is broadcast on a host of betting websites and on zhibo.tv, one of the biggest sports streaming platforms in China.

Selby, Gary Wilson, Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins, who finished fifth on the group table, will now return for Group Three later this month, where they will be joined by Ali Carter, Graeme Dott and David Gilbert. Having finished sixth and seventh respectively in Group Two, Ryan Day and Jack Lisowski are eliminated from the competition.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker is a venture between Matchroom Sport and Perform where 25 of the game’s elite players compete for their share of a total prize pot of up to £205,000.

Semi-Finals
Mark Selby 3
-1 Kyren Wilson
95-0 (94), 133-0 (133), 8-96 (58), 65-56 (Selby 54)

 Stuart Bingham 3-0 Gary Wilson
104-36 (96), 109-19 (108), 126-1 (118)

Final
Stuart Bingham 3-
1 Mark Selby
68-28, 1-70 (61), 74-51, 92-0 (92)

Here are the full GR2 results on snooker.org

I have very mixed feelings about this competition. This is a tournament tailor made for the bookies and only shown on bookies websites. It’s also a tournament where players can earn more money by losing cleverly, and playing in successive groups, than by winning. On the other hand, because of the nature of the competition and it’s “elite” field, it often produced very entertaining matches where players really go for their shots and show the full extend of their skills. It also used to have good commentary by the likes od David Hendon and Clive Everton. Unfortunately, this time, I was not able to see a single ball of it.

Are the results an indication of the players form ahead of the English Open next week? I’m not sure. In 2010, Ronnie and Mark Selby played in Group 2, the week before the Masters. They finished at the two last places after the round-robin phase and were relegated. The next week, the two played each other in the Final of the Masters

Nevertheless, clearly Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson are in good form. But what do we make of Ryan Day, reaching the final in Group 1 and being relegated in Group 2? Or of Barry Hawkins, not losing a round-robin match in Group 1 and just avoiding relegation in Group 2?

World Open 2019 Qualifiers – Day 4

The last day of the World Open 2019 Qualifiers produced a few not-s–expected tresults.

There were five Chinese players involved, all very young except Xiao Guodong – who is only 30 himself actually, same as Judd Trump – and all but Yuan Sijun qualified. Yuan was beaten by Igor Figueiredo.

Harver Chandler had a very good win against Kurt Maflin. He needed it: his first season has been anything but a success. It went to a decider and Harvey held his nerves.

Ellliot Slessor beat Ryan Day by 5-4, from 4-2 down. He played very well in the last three frames, getting the better in the early safety exchanges, and scoring heavily once in.

James Cahill on the other hand was outplayed by Mark Allen who had five breaks over 50 in the match.

Ali Carter and David Gilbert both need all nine frames to get through, as did Fergal O’Brien. This means that Ronnie, should he beat Dominic Dale in his held-over match, will play Fergal next. I’m sure he’s thrilled!

All detailed results are on snooker.org

World Open 2019 Qualifiers – Day 3

There weren’t any real surprises yesterday in Barnsley, at least at the tables. Here are the results on snooker.org. Elliott Slessor played extremely well to come bacj from 4-2 down to beat Ryan Day 5-4. Li Hang celebrated his 29th birthday with a good win over Mark King.

The story of the day was Neil Robertson failing to show up for his match against Ian Burns. He went to the wrong place… trusting his satnav blindly in went to “another” Barnsley.  Asked how that was possible, he said that usually a friend would drive him, but he’s entered Challenge Tour 3 … so he let him down.

Neil has some history of missing – or near missing – matches for, well … unexpected reasons.

World Open 2019 Qualifiers – Day 2

There were  a few unexpected results again yesterday, and again Chinese players were involved…

The first “shock” came when Mei Xiwen beat Gary Wilson soundly by 5-2. Mei is a competent, well respected, player but he’s never been a top player, and he’s never been past the top 16 in any tournament and he’s 36. Yesterday though he scored heavily: he had four breaks over 50 including a 136. Certainly  unexpected.

Next Xu Si came back from 3-0 down to beat Mark Joyce, the Riga Masters runner-up, by 5-3. Mark Joyce had started the match with a 96 break, then stolen the second frame despite a 51 by Xu. Without seeing the match, it’s quite hard to explain what happened there.

Not really a surprise but still shocking, Micael White was beaten, again, and quite comprehensively. This time by Jordan Brown, who won 5-2. Jordan is clearly improving in recent months, but Michael White spiralling down that is still surprising and worrying. Michael is still only 28, he was in the top 16 at the end of the 2015/16 season. He was a big prospect as a junior. Now he’s in serious danger to drop off the tour. What happened there? We know that he has suffred bouts of depression in the past, and I suspect there has been some heavy drinking on occasions as well. Is that it? If so it’s very sad.

Finally Nigel Bond beat Daniel Wells by 5-2. At 53 Nigel remains an excellent tactitian, but his consistency and potting tend to let him down rather often nowadays. It was a hard fought match, going by the scores. This is a very good win for the veteran.

You can find all detailed results on snooker.org.