The 2023 Players Championship so far

I haven’t got much time to watch the action this week, but here is how the 2023 Players Championship unfolded so far. All reports below were shared by WST.

Monday 20 February – evening

O’Connor Stuns The Pistol

World number 37 Joe O’Connor took full advantage of narrowly qualifying for this week’s Duelbits Players Championship by beating top seed Mark Allen 6-3 in Wolverhampton.

With the best performing 16 players of the season earning a place in this week’s elite event, O’Connor only just gained his spot by edging out three-time World Champion Mark Williams by £500.

The Leicester cueman clinched qualification with a fine run to the quarter-finals of last week’s Welsh Open. He has had the best campaign of his career so far this term, having also been runner-up to Gary Wilson at the Scottish Open before Christmas.

This evening’s win means O’Connor will now rise to a career high ranking at the end of the week. He’s guaranteed to move to at least 33rd position in the world rankings.

Meanwhile Allen will remain comfortably in first place on the one-year list and is assured of being top seed at the Duelbits Tour Championship in March. The Antrim potter has enjoyed a superb season, having racked up silverware at the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and Duelbits World Grand Prix.

Breaks of 63 and 64 helped O’Connor make a flying start this evening by moving 3-0 ahead. Allen showed his steel and fired in 85 to stay in touch at the mid-session, trailing 3-1.

When play resumed O’Connor re-asserted his authority and went 4-1 up. However, Allen immediately responded with a run of 91 to claw another frame back.

O’Connor moved to the verge of victory with a superb break of 132 to make it 5-2. Although Allen took the eighth, a clearance of 45 saw O’Connor steal the ninth on the colours and emerge a 6-3 victor. He now faces either Jack Lisowski or Luca Brecel in the quarter-finals.

I’ve played a pretty solid match. I don’t think Mark was at his best, but fortunately he gave me a couple of chances I wouldn’t get when he is at his best and I managed to punish him,” said 27-year-old O’Connor.

This is massive for me. It is my first time at the Players Championship, on the main table against the best player of the season by a mile. I’ve turned up, played some good stuff and nicked some frames.

In practice I have been working on shots that have cost me frames and matches. That seems to have instilled a little bit of confidence knowing I have an all-round game now. My game has been at a good place for a while now and it has just been about waiting for the wins to come.”

On the other table, second seed Ryan Day scored an impressive 6-2 win over recently crowned Shoot Out champion Chris Wakelin.

Day has enjoyed a fine season thus far. It was highlighted by winning his fourth ranking title at the British Open, where he defeated Allen in the final.

The Welshman top scored with a break of 103 this evening. He progresses to the quarter-finals, where he takes on either Mark Selby or Shaun Murphy.

Tuesday 21 February afternoon

In Form Murphy Ends Selby Streak

Shaun Murphy ended a four-game losing streak against Mark Selby, emerging a 6-3 victor in their first round clash at the Duelbits Players Championship in Wolverhampton.

It’s Murphy’s first ranking event win over Selby on UK soil in 18 years, a run dating all of the way back to the 2005 Grand Prix. Selby’s recent four-game win streak against Murphy in all tournaments included a famous 18-15 win at the Crucible in the 2021 World Championship final.

However, today’s loss is a big blow for the Leicester cueman’s chances of qualifying for the Duelbits Tour Championship. Only the best eight players on the one-year list earn a place in Hull. Selby remains in seventh position, but Murphy is now hot on his heels in eighth.

The win sees Murphy recover quickly from a disappointing loss on Sunday evening in the Welsh Open final, where he was on the wrong end of a 9-7 scoreline against Robert Milkins. The Magician now progresses to this week’s quarter-finals and will play Ryan Day next.

Breaks of 72 and 75 helped nine-time ranking event winner Murphy to take the first three frames of the afternoon, before four-time World Champion Selby stole the fourth on the black to head into the mid-session 3-1 behind.

When play restarted, Murphy fired in a break of 92 to move 4-1 ahead and the 40-year-old was soon one from victory when he made it 5-1.

Selby showed his usual grit and determination to take the seventh and the eighth frames, but Murphy wasn’t to be denied and came through a 6-3 victor.

I’m very happy. The result on Sunday against Robert had a huge impact on the draw. I then had to face one of the hardest players in the tournament and one of the hardest players of my career,” said 2005 World Champion Murphy.

I certainly know that he has had the better of me more times than the other way round. We’ve been playing each other since we were ten years of age and we know each other very well on and off the table. I would pay tribute to Mark by saying that, for all those young players watching and trying to improve, he has never played a single shot in his life he hasn’t given 100% attention to.

Anyone who plays accuracy sports understands that one of the big pats on the back you give yourself is where shots go exactly where you want them. Not just in the pocket, but exactly where you aim. A lot of my shots are going exactly where I want them. There are a few that aren’t which are a bit rogue, but I am working on them. In general my form has been good all season. It feels as if I’m getting to a crescendo moment and a win is around the corner.

On the other table, world number seven Kyren Wilson eased to a quarter-final berth with a 6-2 defeat of Zhou Yuelong.

Wilson is the third seed this week after securing the European Masters title earlier in the season, thrashing Barry Hawkins 9-3 in the final.

The Warrior showcased his break building best this afternoon, firing in breaks of 76, 50, 100, 63, 121 and 51 on his way to victory. Next up Wilson plays either Ding Junhui or Gary Wilson in the last eight.

Tuesday 21 February Evening

Milkins Maintains Winning Feeling

Man of the moment Robert Milkins admitted that the thought of defeat was a distant one this evening, as he kept up his momentum with a 6-5 win over Tom Ford at the Duelbits Players Championship in Wolverhampton.

The Gloucester cueman enjoyed the biggest moment of his career on Sunday, when he claimed his second ranking title after defeating Shaun Murphy 9-7 in the final of the Welsh Open. Following this evening’s deciding frame win he said: “When you are winning, it is hard to lose.”

Milkins scooped a huge £230,000 payout following his triumph in Llandudno, which included a £150,000 BetVictor Series Bonus. He’s now certain to be present for the upcoming Duelbits Tour Championship in Hull and is looking good to secure his place in the world’s top 16 and automatically qualify for the World Championship.

Next up this week Milkins faces an intriguing quarter-final showdown with the man he pipped to that bonus, Ali Carter. The pair met in the semi-finals of the recent German Masters. On that occasion Carter won out 6-5 and went on to claim the title.

Ford was the losing finalist in Berlin and suffered more disappointment this evening, with Milkins edging through in a final frame.

Runs of 62 and 70 helped Milkins into an early 2-1 lead this evening, but Ford pegged him back just before the mid-session and restored parity at 2-2.

When play resumed the standard went up and notch and the pair engaged in a break building battle. Milkins took the fifth to regain the lead, before a break of 68 saw Ford draw level again at 3-3.

The recently crowned Welsh Open champion edged back in front with a break of 53. However, Leicester’s Ford replied with 71 in the eighth to make it 4-4. Milkins then moved one from the win, only for Ford to force a decider with a contribution of 60.

It had looked as if Ford was going to take the lead for the first time at the vital moment, but he missed an easy red to the middle when leading 36-0. Milkins clinically punished that mistake with a break of 74 to secure the 6-5 victory.

I don’t know what has happened. Like I say, when you are winning it is hard to lose. Little things went my way tonight and in the end I scraped through,” said 46-year-old Milkins.

I was sitting back when he was in the balls at 5-5. Normally I would be thinking about wanting him to miss. I’m not even that bothered. It has been such a long journey over the last few weeks. It has been amazing.

I’d like to think that win will help me. Maybe not right this second, but if I get in a position at the World Championship to win against a top player, maybe I can push on rather than be negative.

I’m coming off the back of the biggest win in my career. If I can’t believe in myself now, then I never will. I am looking forward to the next round.

On the other table, Carter earned his quarter-final spot with a nerve shredding 6-5 defeat of 2019 World Champion Judd Trump.

The win is Carter’s first over Trump since 2016, in a match over the best of seven frames or longer. The Captain was beaten by Trump in the World Grand Prix final back in 2019.

A dramatic final frame in this evening’s encounter saw Carter leave Trump requiring two snookers on two occasions. Both times he got them on the colours to leave the match in the balance. However, Carter eventually deposited a tricky blue to the right middle to get over the line.

Carter said: “Judd had me in all sorts of trouble all night. His safety was unbelievable and he will be disappointed to have lost there, I would have been if I’d have lost. I got the job done in the end.”

Wednesday 22 February afternoon

Brecel Scores Crucial Win

Belgian number one Luca Brecel took a huge step towards progressing to the Duelbits Tour Championship, after an entertaining 6-4 win over Jack Lisowski at the Duelbits Players Championship in Wolverhampton.

Brecel captured his third ranking title earlier in the campaign with victory at the Championship League. He was also runner-up to Mark Selby at the English Open, but is yet to confirm his qualification for the elite Tour Championship.

Only the top eight players on this season’s one-year list can make it to the series finale in Hull next month. Shaun Murphy’s first round win over Selby yesterday had seen him leapfrog Brecel into 8th position. However, today’s win for Brecel sees him move back in front.

Defeat for Lisowski leaves his Tour Championship hopes hanging by a thread. The six-time ranking event finalist now slips to 10th position on the live one-year list and only a deep run in the WST Classic can give him a chance of clinching a top eight spot.

Brecel made a fine break of 99 to take the opener this afternoon, before Lisowski responded by taking the next two and lead 2-1. However, they went into the mid-session level after Brecel fired in a run of 83 in the fourth.

When play got back underway Lisowski regained the lead thanks to a contribution of 85. Brecel did level up, but a century run of 104 from 31-year-old Lisowski saw him move ahead again at 4-3.

From there it was Brecel who charged to the line. Breaks of 78 and 58 saw him move 5-4 ahead, before a dramatic 10th frame. Lisowski had a chance to force a decider, but missed a straightforward red to the middle on 49. He lost the initiative in the frame and Brecel got himself over the line a 6-4 victor. He now faces a quarter-final with Joe O’Connor.

We both wanted to win to get into the Tour Championship, so it was quite an important game. I am happy with how the game went,” said 27-year-old Brecel.

It helps fighting for the Tour Championship and having something to play for, if you can handle it. I am going to be quite motivated tomorrow. I will enjoy it as well. This is a big tournament and everyone wants to do well here.

Some people say it is all about winning but I don’t think so. There is more to it than that. If you watch football and see Messi and Ronaldo play it is different. People want to see entertaining football. If you have nice pots and nice breaks, that is the game me and Jack play. That is good for the crowd. It is what people expected before the game and we delivered.”

On the other table, Scottish Open champion Gary Wilson secured an impressive 6-3 win over 14-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui.

Wilson is also battling for a Tour Championship berth and today’s result keeps his hopes alive. The Wallsend cueman now faces Kyren Wilson in the last eight.

Wilson composed breaks of 61, 88 and 115 on his way to this afternoon’s victory and play’s his namesake in the last eight on Friday at 1pm.

And the quarter-final started on Wednesday 22 February, evening

Captain Cruises To Semis

Ali Carter thrashed Robert Milkins 6-1 to make the semi-finals of the Duelbits Players Championship in Wolverhampton.

The win acts as revenge for five-time ranking event winner Carter, who was narrowly pipped to a £150,000 BetVictor Series Bonus last week by Milkins. That came after the Milkman scored a stunning second ranking event victory at the Welsh Open, to catapult himself to the top of the series standings.

Carter had looked set to scoop the bumper payout for himself after his recent win at the German Masters. It was the Captain’s first ranking silverware since 2017. Following a 6-5 win over Milkins in the semis, he thrashed Tom Ford 10-3 in the title match.

This evening’s defeat brings Milkins’ sparkling run of form to an abrupt halt. However, both players look almost certain to qualify for the elite Duelbits Tour Championship, having maintained their positions inside the season’s top eight money earners.

Carter now progresses to the semi-finals where he will face either Luca Brecel or Joe O’Connor. If he were to win the event it would see him pick up two ranking titles in a single season for the first time in his career.

A break of 66 was enough for Carter to take the opening frame. The second was a more attritional affair, but Carter eventually took it, after 36-minutes of play. The Chelmsford cueman then claimed the third with a break of 98 to make it 3-0.

The last frame before the mid-session saw Milkins launch his cue in disdain after an error, but he got another chance and ensured he headed into the interval just 3-1 behind.

When the players returned it was Carter who blitzed his way to the finish line. He crafted breaks of 65 and 75 on his way to three on the bounce and came through with the 6-1 win.

Carter said: “I played great stuff tonight. I was really solid and I couldn’t fault my safety play. He produced some great safety as well, but when I got my chances I took them and I could count on one hand the amount of mistakes I made.

He didn’t pinch the bonus from me, he won the tournament. He thoroughly deserved the bonus, but that is in the past now and there is no point worrying about it.

It wasn’t the easiest of weekends. I obviously wanted to win the money, of course I did and anyone would have in my position. However, I like Rob and he won so good on him.

The confidence is really high. It is one match at a time and four matches to win the tournament. I’ve got two under my belt and it will be a tough game on Friday night. I’m going home for a couple of days now and looking forward to coming back.”

I didn’t watch much at all, so can’t comment on the matches. All the same here are some “random thoughts”

  • From what I see Joe O’Connor is coming off age. He’s 27, it took him longer that many expected, but I would say that the opposition in the mid rankings is now stronger than ever.
  • Nice words from Ali about Rob Milkins and “the bonus”. Ali appears to be in a better place and more relaxed than he has been for a long time. I hope it lasts and his health problems are behind him.
  • Mark Selby seems to struggle badly. Other than the 2022 English Open this season has been quite “a low one” for him. Of course his health is much more important than any game of snooker.
  • Shaun Murphy took offence of some Jill Douglas commentary about “lapse of concentration” and caused a storm in a glass of water…

Snooker News – 22 February 2023

A big couple of weeks are coming for the Women Snooker Tour with two events played in Thailand.

Here is the announcement, shared by WST:

Field Confirmed For World Women’s Snooker Championship

World Women’s Snooker (WWS) has today announced the snooker stars who are set to contest upcoming World Women’s Snooker Championship at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Thailand later this month.

To be held from 28 February – 4 March 2023, the tournament will once again offer direct access to the professional World Snooker Tour to this year’s champion, with world class players from 12 different countries set to descend upon Bangkok for the prestigious event.

Among those set to compete are each of the players ranked within the world’s top 10, and an impressive 17 of the top 20 in the draw. These include defending champion and home favourite Mink Nutcharut, England’s record 12-time world champion Reanne Evans and three-time winner Ng On Yee from Hong Kong.

Last season’s runner-up Wendy Jans – 14 times a European champion – and five-time finalist Maria Catalano will also join the field from the top tier, while Rebecca Kenna, Jamie Hunter, Tessa Davidson and Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan are all former semi-finalists at the elite event who will be hoping to go further in 2023.

In addition to the regular Tour competitors, the tournament will also welcome a number of highly regarded players who have either not competed regularly, or at all, in recent years. Among these are Thailand’s Waratthanun Sukritthanes, three times a quarter-finalist at the World Championship since 2017, but who has not been seen on the Tour since the 2019 edition at the same venue.

Likewise, the Tour is also delighted to welcome back India’s Vidya Pillai, who so memorably came within one ball of victory in the 2017 final against Ng On Yee following a marathon final in Singapore.

China’s Bai Yulu is also widely regarded as a player of impressive potential and the 19-year-old set to make her WWS debut next week.

There also strong fields set to contest the Under-21 and Seniors side-tournaments, which will be held alongside the main competition in Thailand for the first time. Both Ploychompoo Laokiatphong and Tessa Davidson will be aiming to defend their respective titles won last year in Sheffield, England.


The final field has also been confirmed for the second staging of the Women’s Snooker World Cup, with 12 teams set to contest the invitational tournament from 25-27 February.

Defending champions Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan and Waratthanun Sukritthanes are back to attempt the defence of their title, with further teams from England, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, India and Mongolia also among the field:

  • Australia A – Lilly Meldrum / Anna Lynch
  • England A – Reanne Evans / Rebecca Kenna
  • England B – Jamie Hunter / Zoe Killington
  • Hong Kong A – Ng On Yee / Ip Wan In Jaique
  • Hong Kong B – Man Yan So / Ho Yee Ki
  • India A – Amee Kamani / Anupama Ramachandran
  • India B – Ishika Shah / Sanvi Shah
  • Mongolia A – Bayarsaikhan Narantuya / Sergelenbaatar Byambasuren
  • Mongolia B – Battogtokh Battuya / Bayarsaikhan Mungunchimeg
  • Thailand A – Nutcharut Wongharuthai / Ploychompoo Laokiatpong
  • Thailand B – Waratthanun Sukritthanes  / Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan
  • Thailand C – Panchaya Channoi / Phimchanok Phoemphul

The draw and match schedules for all four tournaments will be released via WPBSA SnookerScores in due course prior to the start of the event.

The presence of Bai Yulu is interesting indeed. She might prove a very strong candidate for the title if what transpired about her is true. This means that she could possibly get on the main tour via this route. Bai was starting to make some serious impact on 2019, before covid stopped about everything, particularly in China.

When the 2019 IBSF “junior” (boys Under-18 and boys and girls Under-21) Snooker Championship was held in the Olympic Center of Pingdu, Qingdao, Shandong Province, Bai Yulu who celebrated her 16th birthday during the event won the girls competition. She beat Mink by 6–1 in the final. She also reached the quarter-finals of the 2019 IBSF Women’s World Snooker Championship and made the three highest breaks of the tournament: 91, 81 and 78.

She was however prevented to compete in a number international events as she was deemed too young to travel alone. I may be wrong but I don’t thing such restrictions have applied to Chinese boys …

Other than that, the 2023 Players Championship in underway. I’ll cover that later after the first round concludes. I didn’t watch much at all of the action, not because Ronnie isn’t playing, but because my youngest daughter – who I hadn’t seen in the flesh for over 3 years – is visiting me on my island… Some of the biggest names are out already: Mark Allen, Mark Selby, Judd Trump all lost. The recent “form players” prevailed: Joe O’Connor, Robert Milkins, Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy all won.

Robert Milkins is the 2023 Welsh Open Champion

Robert Milkins has beaten Shaun Murphy by 9-7 yesterday evening to win the 2023 Welsh Open, his second ranking title. Robert, who has been through a lot of difficulties through his long career celebrated with his family. He is a very popular winner. Everyone who once worked at the South West Snooker Academy, where he used to practice were emotional with joy … Paul Mount, Janie Watkins, Andrew Norman… all were absolutely delighted for Rob and there were tears of joy!

Congratulations Rob! The Milkman delivered again!

Here is the report by WST:

Bob Bonanza: Milkins Wins Title And Bonus

Robert Milkins, who started the BetVictor Welsh Open as a 125/1 outsider, beat Shaun Murphy 9-7 in the final, a victory which earns him well over a quarter of a million pounds.

The destination of the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus was on the line for Milkins, as well as a second ranking title, but he stood up to intense pressure with an admirable performance in the final in Llandudno, coming from 3-1 down to win eight of the last 12 frames.

The popular 46-year-old from Gloucester doubles his tally of ranking titles, having won his first at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open last season, 27 years after turning professional. He becomes the 40th player in snooker history to win multiple ranking titles.

The BetVictor Series covered eight events across the season, starting last July, with the leader of the Ranking List earning the bonus. Ali Carter was in pole position going into today’s final, but Milkins’ triumph sees him jump to the top of the list. He wins £80,000 for the title in North Wales, plus the £150,000 bonus, a place in the 2023 Champion of Champions and potentially a spot in next month’s Tour Championship and a top 16 Crucible seeding in April. All in all, his achievement today could be worth close to £280,000.

Robert Milkins – 2022/23 BetVictor Series
BetVictor Championship League – semi-final group stage: £5,000
BetVictor European Masters – last 16: £7,500
BetVictor Northern Ireland Open – last 16: £7,500
BetVictor Scottish Open – Last 32: £4,500
BetVictor English Open – Last 32: £4,500
BetVictor Shoot Out – Last 64: £500
BetVictor German Masters – Semi-finals: £17,500
BetVictor Welsh Open – champion: £80,000
Total: £127,000

It’s an astonishing turnaround for a player whose tour card was in doubt this time 12 months ago. His career sunk to a nadir at the Turkish Masters last March when his drunken behaviour at the opening ceremony landed him a heavy fine from WPBSA.  With the help of counselling, he has turned his life and his form around, allowing his natural talent to flourish. Milkins celebrated in the arena tonight with children Charlie, Elisha and Mia, a moment he will remember forever.

He is up from 27th to 16th in the official rankings, and leaps to fourth on the one-year list, ahead of the Players Championship which starts in Wolverhampton on Monday.

Murphy misses out on a tenth ranking title, which would have brought him level with Jimmy White on the all time list and made him the 11th player ever to reach double figures. The 40-year-old has had a superb week, highlighted by a 147 during his match with Daniel Wells, but is still seeking a first title since the 2020 Welsh Open. The £35,000 runner-up prize moves world number 11 Murphy up to tenth on the one-year list.

After sharing the first session 4-4, Milkins took the first frame tonight with a break of 55, then Murphy levelled with a run of 70. Frame 11 came down to a respotted black and Murphy missed a tough pot to a baulk corner, handing his opponent the chance to roll the black into a centre pocket to regain the lead. And a run of 60 from Milkins in the next saw him go into the interval 7-5 ahead.

Murphy pulled one back with a break of 64, only for Milkins to make a 64 for 8-6. Back came Murphy with the highest break of the match, 114, and he had an early chance in frame 16 but made just 11 before a missed red. Milkins converted an excellent red to a centre and kept his composure in a tournament-winning 64.

It won’t sink in for a couple of weeks. I can’t believe I have won the title and the bonus,” said Milkins, who turns 47 next month. “It was a struggle all day, I was fighting my emotions. I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, but in the end I played ok, I dug in and I’m really proud of myself. I made nice little 60 breaks in that evening session. I am chuffed to bits.

My B game is pretty good when things aren’t going well. That’s the difference now compared to the player I was in the past. My safety helps me out a lot. Tactically I was a little bit better than Shaun and that was the only difference. He got in a few times and missed, he didn’t punish me as he usually does.

This has opened a lot of doors for me, I have got a lot of snooker to play now. Just one week is life changing, it’s unreal. Gibraltar last year kicked it all off for me but this week is the biggest of my life on the table and I’ll probably never get another one like it.

I have dedicated this to my friends Dean and Mandy. They are like family to me, they are God-parents to all my children. When I have had problems in the past, like being evicted, they have taken me in and always been there. They are very important people for me.”

Murphy said: “I didn’t have my best today, I made far too many unforced errors. Rob picked up the pieces. All credit to him, he was the best player and I wish him many congratulations. I couldn’t have tried any harder, but I could have played a bit better. I feel like I am going in the right direction. It has been a fabulous crowd all week, this is a very special place and I want to thank the fans for their support.”

The crowds in Llandudno were excellent all week. Yesterday, they were rewarded with a very entertaining match, played in great spirit. Both players went for their shots, there was no negativity whatsoever, despite what was at stake. Rob in particular appeared to play with a lot of freedom. like he was in the club, when, of course, he was giving it everything he had, Both were supported by the fans who clearly appreciated the brand of snooker on show. It was, certainly, one of the best matches of the season so far.

Ronnie and Jimmy were full of praise in the Eurosport studio.

Eurosport experts Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White have expressed their admiration for the “unorthodox” Robert Milkins as he competed against Shaun Murphy in the Welsh Open final.

After 27 years as a professional, the 46-year-old won his first ranking title at the 2022 Gibraltar Open, becoming the oldest first-time winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy at the 1988 UK Championship. He has otherwise been something of a journeyman on the World Snooker Tour.

But for all his struggles and hard work, O’Sullivan and White have been marvelling at how relaxed, free-flowing and instinctive Milkins is. Both snooker legends have been mightily impressed by his speed, unorthodox play and the fact that pressure does not seem to get to him at all.

I love watching Rob play, you know,” O’Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio.

He is just unorthodox. He is out of position a lot, but he pots these balls. He is confident and he is good to watch.

Milkins is handling this final pretty well. Because he is so quick and instinctive, the pressure cannot really get to him.

“Yes, he is always going to throw in a few mistakes, but with his speed and quick thinking, he does not really feel pressure. He plays off instinct much more.

It can be very off-putting for his opponents too. As a player, it can be very hard to play against.

Drago was like that: he was up out of his chair, he’s missing balls and you think he has gone, then all of a sudden he is back. Milkins is a bit like that – he is a very similar player to Drago, very instinctive.

White agreed: “Yes, he seems to get down, pull the cue back and hit! But he pots some really good balls, you know.

He leaves himself in bad positions but just nonchalantly rolls the balls in. He has got good bottle and good self-belief, he just needs to bring it all in a bit and get a bit more control.

He plays on instincts, like on a tightrope. He is never settled, but the way he plays, I don’t think you could settle because I think he would not go for the shots he goes for.

For his opponents, you think you have got someone because they are starting to miss, but all of a sudden, they just roll one in and away they go again.

2023 Welsh Open – The Semi-Finals

There were no surprises in the semi-finals yesterday in Llandudno and the Final today will be contested between Robert Milkins and Shaun Murphy.

Hereafter you will find the reports by WST on the semi-finals

Robert Milkins 6-3 Tian Pengfei

Bonus And Title On The Line For Milkins

Robert Milkins will play the biggest match of his life on Sunday at the BetVictor Welsh Open, having beaten Tian Pengfei 6-2 in the semi-finals to keep alive his hopes of winning the title and a colossal £150,000 bonus.

Milkins is into his second ranking final and will be looking to double his tally of titles having captured the BetVictor Gibraltar Open last season. Victory against either Shaun Murphy or Pang Junxu tomorrow would not only give him the Ray Reardon Trophy and top prize of £80,000, but he would also finish top of the BetVictor Series ranking list which has run across eight events since last July. That would bring his total earnings for the week to a mammoth £230,000. The most he has previously earned in an entire season is £139,000.

If he loses the final, then Ali Carter will bank the £150,000. For the second consecutive season, the race to win the bonus has gone to the last day of the final event.

Milkins’ reversal of fortunes over the past year has been extraordinary given that he went to Gibraltar last March in danger of tour relegation. He ended that week with his first title, 27 years after turning pro, and has carried that impetus into the current campaign, reaching the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor German Masters and now going one step further. The 46-year-old from Gloucester is up to 12th on the one-year ranking list and could go as high as fourth with victory tomorrow.

China’s Tian beat the likes of Carter, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach his first ranking semi-final but couldn’t reproduce that form today. He suffered a cruel slice of misfortune in the opener as he led 67-0 when he potted frame-ball red, only for the cue ball to go in-off. Milkins got the better of a safety battle then made an excellent 61 clearance. A run of 109 doubled his lead before Tian made a 58 to pulled one back. Frame four came down to the last red, and Milkins knocked a cracking pot into a baulk corner and cleared for 3-1.

The fifth went Tian’s way before world number 27 Milkins made an 89 for 4-2. In frame seven, the Englishman led 43-10 when he fluked a red while playing safe, and he added the points needed to go three up with four to play. And Milkins needed just one chance to seal the result, making an 82 in frame eight.

It’s massive tomorrow, the biggest game of my life,” said Milkins. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope. It would be enough just playing for the title, let alone everything that goes with it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand up. But I might rise to the occasion, sometimes when there is that much pressure on, you play well, other times you can’t do anything right.

I made a good clearance today in the first frame and then went 2-0 ahead. I lost my way after that for a few frames but from 4-2 I played well to get over the line. I back myself against most players in the scrappy frames. And I made a few good breaks today, which I couldn’t do against Mark Allen yesterday.

I didn’t sleep well last night so hopefully tonight I’ll get some food, chill out and have ten hours sleep to catch up.”

Tian said: “Robert played well and I lost one or two important frames. I tried to enjoy it but it was difficult. I can still take some confidence from this week.”

Shaun Murphy 6-3 Pang Junxu

Murphy Sets Up Milkins Final

Shaun Murphy remained on target for his first ranking title in three years as he beat Pang Junxu 6-3 to reach the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open in Llandudno.

From 2-2, Murphy pulled away to win four of the last five frames of a tough battle, to set up a meeting with Robert Milkins on Sunday. First to nine frames will take the £80,000 top prize and the Ray Reardon Trophy, while Milkins has the extra challenge of trying to win the BetVictor Series bonus.

Victory would give Murphy his first silverware since the 2020 Welsh Open and earn him a tenth career ranking title, which would bring him level with Jimmy White and make him the 11th player in snooker history to get into double figures.

The 40-year-old Englishman has gone through tough spells in recent years, with dips in form and challenges away from snooker, but has enjoyed a resurgence this season, partly as a result of weight loss following gastric sleeve surgery last summer. Runs to the quarter-finals of the UK Championship and the semis of the World Grand Prix have seen him build momentum, and the purity of Murphy’s ball-striking was obvious when he made back to back breaks of 145 and 147 earlier this week.

He is through to his 23rd ranking final and first since the 2021 World Championship when he was beaten by Mark Selby.

China’s Pang, playing in his first ranking semi-final, got the better of the opening frame and had a chance to go 2-0 ahead but missed a tough pot to a centre pocket on the final black, handing Murphy the chance to slot in an excellent pot to a baulk corner for 1-1. Frame three also came down to the colours and a cracking long green from Murphy set him up to go ahead. He might have added the fourth but missed a tough final blue to a baulk pocket and Pang punished him for 2-2.

After the interval, Murphy regained the lead, then compiled a run of 58 in frame six as he went 4-2 ahead, before Pang halved the gap with a break of 62. In frame eight, Murphy led 44-24 when he converted a superb long red, initiating a run of 29 for 5-3. And the Magician finished the match in the ninth with a run of 83.

It wasn’t a great performance, neither of us played well,” admitted world number 11 Murphy. “The importance of the occasion got to us. I let him dictate the style of play and if it hadn’t been for the words of my assistant Robert Murphy during the interval, I wouldn’t have won that game.

I have been on a bleak run in the last couple of seasons so I am over the moon to be back in another final. We spend a lot of time away from our kids and families but we never give up and I have been working very hard on my game. This has been coming all season, I have been playing well. In the club I have been grafting, working on my weaknesses and watching my matches back to see where things have gone wrong. I feel I may have turned a corner.”

On the onefourseven podcast, Murphy pledged earlier in the season that if he got to a ranking final he would moonwalk to the table, and he intends to honour that promise. He added: “I am a man of my word and I will be trying to moonwalk to my chair tomorrow.

Unplanned circumstances prevented me to see much of the action yesterday. From what little I saw, Robert Milkins will have to cut out the “unexpected” errors if he is to beat Shaun Murphy whose long potting looked deadly. Pang is still learning but he’s quite good tactically and very patient.

The final today will be refereed by John Pellew (source WST).

Pellew Set To Referee Welsh Final

Llanelli’s 68-year-old referee John Pellew will be in the middle for this weekend’s BetVictor Welsh Open final.

Welshman Pellew has been officiating for 18 years, but has taken a keen interest in the sport since the age of 15. Earlier this season he took charge of a ranking final for the first time at the BetVictor Championship League and on Sunday in Llandudno he will double that tally.

His initial experience of refereeing came when he was asked by legendary Welsh World Champion Terry Griffiths to help out at an exhibition. At that stage he had no official qualifications, but he got the bug and decided to take his refereeing exam.

Since working at qualifiers in Prestatyn back in 2005, Pellew has steadily been building up experience as an official and is now a regular on the professional circuit. Looking ahead to Sunday’s match, Pellew can’t wait for what will be the highlight of his career so far.

Pellew said: “With it being the Welsh Open it is very exciting. I believe I will be the fourth Welshman to have done it after John Williams, Eirian Williams and Paul Collier.

It will be a real honour to be in the middle while two players battle it out for the Ray Reardon Trophy. I played against Ray in an exhibition years ago at Butlins. That was a very surreal experience.

I was so shocked when I was told I would do the final and it is a dream come true. This tournament is part of our heritage and it is very special for me to be a part of it.”

I know that John is not everyone’s favourite referee but I really like him as a person. He’s a gentle man who has spent countless hours, and gone through countless late nights at the South West Snooker Academy, supporting grassroots snooker and the Pink Ribbon charity event. I’m very pleased for him.

The 2023 Players Championship starts tomorrow. The line-up can’t change anymore, but the seeding is not yet definitely known, as explained by WST here:

Race To Wolverhampton: Live Updates

The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list will head for Wolverhampton next week for the Duelbits Players Championship.

Latest update: Saturday midnight. The line-up for the Duelbits Players Championship is now confirmed. Shaun Murphy’s 6-3 semi-final victory means that Pang Junxu cannot climb into the top 16, so Joe O’Connor will be going to Wolverhampton. Murphy is up to ninth place and will go to second if he wins the final. Robert Milkins is 13th and could go as high as fourth.

Here’s one-year list as it stands.

1 Mark Allen £516,000
2 Ryan Day £144,000
3 Kyren Wilson £141,500
4 Ali Carter £136,000
5 Ding Junhui £130,500
6 Mark Selby £125,500
7 Luca Brecel £116,000
8 Jack Lisowski £115,000
9 Shaun Murphy £112,000
10 Gary Wilson £107,500
11 Judd Trump £105,500
12 Tom Ford £103,500
13 Robert Milkins £94,500
14 Zhou Yuelong £79,500
15 Chris Wakelin £73,500
16 Joe O’Connor £72,000

The draw will be confirmed after the final on Sunday night in Llandudno, with Seed 1 playing Seed 16, Seed 2 playing Seed 15, and so on. The match schedule will be confirmed soon afterwards.

Possible Duelbits Players Championship draws

If Milkins beats Murphy in the final
1 Mark Allen v 16 Joe O’Connor
8 Luca Brecel v 9 Jack Lisowski
5 Ali Carter v 12 Judd Trump
4 Robert Milkins v 13 Tom Ford
3 Kyren Wilson v 14 Zhou Yuelong
6 Ding Junhui v 11 Gary Wilson
7 Mark Selby v 10 Shaun Murphy
2 Ryan Day v 15 Chris Wakelin

If Murphy beats Milkins in the final
1 Mark Allen v 16 Joe O’Connor
8 Luca Brecel v 9 Jack Lisowski
5 Ali Carter v 12 Tom Ford
4 Kyren Wilson v 13 Robert Milkins
3 Ryan Day v 14 Zhou Yuelong
6 Ding Junhui v 11 Judd Trump
7 Mark Selby v 10 Gary Wilson
2 Shaun Murphy v 15 Chris Wakelin

2023 Welsh Open – The Quarter-finals

The least I can say about those quarter-finals is that they didn’t go as I expected at all.

OK, Ronnie had tips/ferule issues all week, it was frustrating and it was clearly playing on his mind but I never expected him to play as badly as he did and get whitewashed by Tian Pengfei. Tian is a very good player of course, he’s very precise, but he is limited and his cue power isn’t the strongest.

Anyway… my take on that match is here

The other match yesterday afternoon was also a whitewash, as Shaun Murphy beat Yuan Sijun by 5-0. Murphy’s win is no surprise.

Here is the report by WST:

Shaun Murphy also enjoyed a whitewash success as he beat Yuan Sijun 5-0 to set up a meeting with Joe O’Connor or Pang Junxu. That will be the Magician’s second semi-final of 2023 as he reached the same stage of the recent World Grand Prix, and the 40-year-old continues to chase his first ranking title since he won this event three years ago.

Murphy set the tournament alight on Thursday night when he made a magnificent 147, and while he couldn’t hit the same heights today, he dominated an out-of-sorts Yuan. Two breaks of 81 helped Murphy into his 48th ranking event semi-final.

This was the last tournament I won and of course I want to lift another trophy,” said world number 11 Murphy, who has declared on the onefourseven podcast that he will moonwalk into the arena the next time he reaches a ranking final. “If you had told me that night in 2020 I beat Kyren Wilson to take the Ray Reardon Trophy that would be it for three years, I wouldn’t have believed you. But so it has proved.

I feel my game is in good shape and it would be fantastic to add to my collection of titles. I have struggled with self-belief and confidence in recent years, but that is back and I am feeling dangerous. It would have been great to have repeated the 147 fireworks of the day before but the job was to win, and I used my experience to do that.”

The evening brought another big surprise as Mark Allen was well beaten – 5-1 – by Robert Milkins. Rob is in good form but Mark has been the player of the season. The other match was a tortuous affair as both players, understandably, looked tense and uneasy. Both are young with little experience of the biggest stages.

Here is the report by WST:

Milkins Sees Off ‘Pitiful’ Allen

Robert Milkins described a 5-1 win over Mark Allen as one of the best moments of his career as he progressed to the semi-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open.

Saturday’s semi-finals
1pm: Robert Milkins v Tian Pengfei
7pm: Shaun Murphy v Pang Junxu

Delighted Milkins has two reasons to celebrate as he has also secured a place in next week’s Players Championship in Wolverhampton having climbed to 14th place in the one-year rankings – for updates on that race click here. The 46-year-old is just two wins away from his second ranking title, having captured the BetVictor Gibraltar Open crown last season, while the top prize this week would also give him a vast £150,000 bonus from the BetVictor Series – for updates click here.

Northern Ireland’s Allen would have won that huge bonus with victory tonight but couldn’t get going in a largely scrappy contest in which his high break was just 33 while Milkins top scored with 42. World number three Allen, who described his own performance as “pitiful”, also misses out on the chance to win a fourth ranking title this season.

Allen might have settled into the match if he had taken the opening frame, but he missed the blue to a centre pocket after potting the last red, handing his opponent the chance to clear the table. The next two frames were shared, then in the fourth Allen missed a mid-range pot on the final green to a top corner, and again Milkins punished him to lead 3-1.

Gloucester’s Milkins dominated frame five to extend his lead. In the sixth, Allen missed the final pink with the rest when he led by nine points, which led to a long safety battle on the black, resolved when Milkins thumped in a long pot to reach his ninth ranking semi-final.

I feel I have just come out of a best of 19!” said Milkins “It was really tough all the way through. I missed a lot of balls but Mark missed even more. I probably edged the safety and that won me the match though 5-1 probably wasn’t a fair scoreline. As soon as I hit the black at the end I knew it was in. The safety battle had gone on for so long I decided to have a pop.

Last season I won three matches all year, before I went to Gibraltar and I wasn’t playing badly, I just couldn’t win. Now I’m not playing brilliant, but winning becomes a habit and I am going into games with a positive frame of mind, not worrying about money.

This is a massive win for me. Winning in Gibraltar was everything – that was the biggest. But this is up there in my top three or four moments. When I lost 6-5 to Ali Carter in the semi-finals in Germany that was such a disappointment because if I had won that I would have been in the Players Championship. Coming here, I knew I had to get to another semi-final, which is a difficult thing to do. I am proud of myself.

Allen said: “I was awful from start to finish, it was a pitiful performance. The right player went through. I missed a few balls in the first frame, and just couldn’t get any timing or rhythm going. It’s only one match so I’m not going to beat myself up for it. Any thoughts of the bonus were nothing to do with my performance tonight. The last time I got beaten heavily was at the Masters when I lost 6-0 to Barry Hawkins and I bounced back the following week by winning the World Grand Prix, so hopefully I can do the same at the Players Championship.”

China’s Pang Junxu reached his first ranking event semi-final with a narrow 5-4 success against Joe O’Connor. The 23-year-old, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2021, played in his first quarter-final at the recent BetVictor German Masters, and has now gone one step further. The world number 51 meets Shaun Murphy on Saturday evening.

O’Connor came from 4-2 down to 4-4, only for Pang to finish the match in fine style with a break of 124 in the decider.

Nobody said anything about the conditions but all the matches were struggles… so???

Ronnie bows out the 2023 Welsh Open, whitewashed by Tian Pengfei

It was an afternoon to forget for Ronnie but a great one for Tian Pengfei who reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his 17 years long career. It was a really bad day in office for Ronnie and Tian played really well and grew in confidence as the match went on.

Here are the scores

And the match report by Eurosport:


Ronnie O’Sullivan is another big name who will be absent from the Players Championship, as his loss to Tian Pengfei in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open dashed his hopes. It was a fully deserved victory for Tian as O’Sullivan was off the pace. 

A below-par Ronnie O’Sullivan was sent crashing out of the Welsh Open by Tian Pengfei, dashing his hopes of reaching the Players Championship in the process.

O’Sullivan has had a tough time on the table in Llandudno, with his tip falling off on three occasions earlier in the tournament.

He beat Ben Mertens in the previous round with his cue staying in good order, but he did not look fully settled and that appeared the case again in his quarter-final with Tian who grew in confidence to secure an impressive win.

The opening two frames went Tian’s way in worrying fashion for O’Sullivan fans and after the Chinese player took a scrappy third, he grew in confidence and took the match to book his place in a ranking semi-final for the first time in his career.

O’Sullivan needed a run to the final to secure a place at the Players Championship, but will now have to fall back on some exhibitions to sharpen his game.

Tian set his stall out by playing an extremely attacking safety in the opening frame to open the reds up and pile pressure on O’Sullivan.

The four-time winner of the event had no route back to baulk so took on a red, but missed by a distance and Tian was rewarded for his endeavour as he crafted a break of 66. 

As in the opener, O’Sullivan missed a red to the bottom left by a distance at the start of the second and further misses were to follow. He was down at 40% pot success at that stage, and Tian took full advantage to double his lead courtesy of a half-century break.

After looking completely out of sorts in the opening two frames, O’Sullivan showed signs of life in the third. He knocked in a series of impressive pots to get going, and was unfortunate to run out of position on 31.

The frame turned extremely scrappy, with balls clustered over the bottom left. It took some time for the frame to develop, and Tian got a series of nice nudges and cannons to build a lead. But he missed a red with the long rest to hand O’Sullivan a chance and he looked set to get on the board only to fall awkwardly on the final blue, and missed a tough cut into the yellow pocket.

Both players missed further chances on the blue, before Tian knocked it into the green pocket – with the long rest – and got a kind nudge to drop plumb on the pink to secure a three-frame cushion.

O’Sullivan largely fed off scraps from Tian in the opening three frames. He had a decent chance in the fourth, but a red to bottom right did not drop. 

While O’Sullivan appeared all at sea, Tian’s confidence was rising and he picked off an excellent break of 86 to move into a 4-0 lead.

O’Sullivan was whitewashed by Tian’s fellow countryman Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, and suffered the same fate in Llandudno.

Potting was the big problem for O’Sullivan on Friday, but his safety was below par and a poor shot when attempting to get back to baulk in the fifth hammered the final nail in his coffin.

The table was not a simple one for Tian, but he picked off a couple of tough reds to clear the road and a break of 73 got him over the line.

It has been a 17-year wait since turning professional for a first ranking semi-final, and it was achieved in style with back-to-back wins over class of 92 alum John Higgins and O’Sullivan.

Ronnie was interviewed by Michael McMullan after the match and he was gracious as always, praising his opponent. He was however clearly disappointed with his own performance and fed up. He had bitten his tip off at the end the the match.

Ronnie is now out of the 2023 Players Championship, and the 2023 Tour Championship. Even winning the WST classic wouldn’t be enough. His focus though seems to be on the 6-reds Championship in Thailand.

Missing out on the Players Championship though might be a blessing in disguise, as Jimmy White explained in the studio.

It was obvious that Ronnie had no confidence in his shots today, and most shots played with side went badly wrong. If his cue/ferule need repair, the earlier it’s done, the better.

As a Ronnie fan, I’m very disappointed, of course, but credits to Tian, he fully deserved the win and I wish him the best for the rest of the tournament.

And here is the report by WST:

O’Sullivan Whitewashed As Tian Reaches First Semi

World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered one of his most shocking defeats of recent years as he was crushed 5-0 at the BetVictor Welsh Open by Tian Pengfei, who is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

Three months ago, O’Sullivan was whitewashed in a Triple Crown event for the first time when he went down 6-0 to Ding Junhui at the UK Championship, but this was an even more surprising defeat as he was annihilated by a player ranked 49th in the world. The result also means that O’Sullivan cannot qualify for next week’s Players Championship in Wolverhampton as he needed to reach the final to climb into the top 16 of the one-year rankings.

While he has won two invitation titles at the Champion of Champions and Hong Kong Masters, O’Sullivan has struggled in ranking events this season, failing to reach a semi-final. He is likely to have just one more ranking event – the WST Classic in March – before he heads to Sheffield in April to chase an eighth Crucible crown.

China’s 35-year-old Tian, who knocked out Ali Carter and John Higgins on Thursday, had lost all four of his previous ranking quarter-finals, but showed no signs of nerves today in Llandudno as he progressed to a match with Mark Allen or Robert Milkins. He is now guaranteed £17,500 and if he goes on to win the title he will earn a spot in Wolverhampton.

O’Sullivan, who has had problems with his cue tip all week, scored just ten points in the first two frames as Tian made breaks of 66 and 51 in going 2-0 ahead. A scrappy 30-minute third frame came down to the colours and O’Sullivan twice missed the blue to a baulk corner, handing his opponent the chance to pot blue and pink to extend his lead. World number one O’Sullivan failed to pot a ball in the last two frames as Tian sailed through with runs of 82 and 73.

It’s very special, definitely the biggest win of my career, especially to play Ronnie with that crowd and atmosphere,” said Tian, who has now beaten O’Sullivan in three of their six meetings. “I know he has changed his tip a few times his week, so I feel sorry for him because that is tough for a player. It happens sometimes.

My performance was good, I tried to stay calm and enjoy the occasion. I have beaten two legends in Higgins and O’Sullivan so I am very pleased. It’s unbelievable. Every match I just try my best and the crowd make me feel good. It means a lot, it’s like a dream to beat Ronnie on TV, and a lot of my family and friends in China will be watching.”

O’Sullivan said: “Tian played well and deserved his victory. If I scored myself on my mindset in terms of how I dealt with it today I would give myself nine and a half out of ten. Less than that for my performance. There are no excuses, you have to deal with whatever is put in front of you and accept it. I tried my hardest, but every mistake I made I got punished.

2023 Welsh Open – The Last 32 and the Last 16 rounds

Two rounds – last 32 and last 16 – were played over a day and a half to produce this line-up:


12pm: Shaun Murphy v Yuan Sijun
Not before 2pm: Ronnie O’Sullivan v Tian Pengfei


7pm: Mark Allen v Robert Milkins
7pm: Joe O’Connor v Pang Junxu

Times are “local time” i.e. UK

My report on Ronnie’s last 32 win is here

And this is my report on Ronnie’s last 16 win

Here is how we got there (reports by WST, minus Ronnie’s last 32)

Wednesday afternoon

O’Sullivan’s next opponent will be Ben Mertens, the promising Belgian 18-year-old playing his first season on the pro tour. Mertens continued his best run in a ranking event with an impressive 4-3 success against David Gilbert, highlighted by a break of 130, his highest in a pro event.

I played very well, it was a good game from both of us,” said Mertens. “I am really happy and feeling good. It will be special to play Ronnie. I have good memories of playing him (at the BetVictor English Open), I lost 4-3 so hopefully I can go one better this time. I learned a lot, it’s a different experience to playing anyone else. He is my idol and I look up to him.”

For the first time, there are three Belgian players in the last 32 of a ranking event, with Luca Brecel and BetVictor Shoot Out runner-up Julien Leclercq also in this round. Mertens added: “We all support each other and I think Belgium is very proud of us. There are a lot of good younger players there, snooker in Belgium is getting bigger. What Julien did in the Shoot Out was fantastic, he is one of my best friends and I was really pleased for him to get to a final.”

Four-time Crucible king Mark Selby suffered a 4-2 reverse against Robert Milkins, who maintains his good form having reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor German Masters. From 2-2, Milkins won the crucial fifth frame by clearing from yellow to pink, then close out the contest in style with a 137.

I am winning a lot of matches despite not playing brilliant,” admitted Milkins. “My safety is always pretty good, it doesn’t go below a certain level and it has won me a lot of matches over the last year or so. When I was 19 or 20 I would see balls, pot them and make breaks. As you get older and you don’t see the balls so well, you naturally develop your safety, using side and seeing different angles.

The result ends Selby’s hopes of winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus at the end of this week, while Milkins is still in with a chance if he can capture the title.

Joe Perry’s title defence was ended by a 4-1 defeat against Robbie Williams while BetVictor Scottish Open runner-up Joe O’Connor top scored with 93 in a 4-0 defeat of Stuart Carrington.  Jak Jones beat LeClercq 4-2 with a top run of 74 and he’s one of two Welshmen left in the field, alongside Daniel Wells.

Wednesday evening

Amateur Wells Sinks Trump

Daniel Wells has spent time cleaning toilets during his time away from the pro tour but he enjoyed his moment on the main stage today as he flushed out Judd Trump’s hopes of winning the BetVictor Welsh Open for the first time with a 4-2 victory in the third round.

Wells dropped out of the pro ranks in 2021 and put snooker to one side to work for his mum’s cleaning business, but has committed himself to the sport again this season and has had an excellent 2022/23 campaign while competing as an amateur ‘top-up’, scoring wins over the likes of John Higgins, Joe Perry and Gary Wilson as well as reaching the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor Shoot Out. He looks set to regain his place on the main tour next season and his confidence will be further boosted by an excellent performance against Masters champion Trump.

One of two Welshmen left in the field alongside Jak Jones, 34-year-old Wells is through to the last 16 in Llandudno and will meet Shaun Murphy on Thursday night.

The key moment of today’s contest came when Trump, leading 2-0, missed the black off its spot after potting the last red, trailing by 13 points with the balls at his mercy. Wells cleared for 2-1 then took the next two frames with runs of 67 and 101. In frame six, he led 24-15 when he potted an excellent long red and made 47 to seal the result.

To beat a top player on TV is a massive stepping stone for me,” said Wells. “When Judd looked like making it 3-0 I thought I had gone, because I had missed chances. Luckily he missed it and after that I settled down and started to play a bit. I have put my whole life into trying to win tournaments and trying to provide a life for my family.

My world fell apart during Covid, I can’t explain why or how I deserved that, but it happened. When I was off the tour and cleaning toilets, no one was paying my bills. It was a shock to me, I realised I have to be more gritty and not give other players too much respect. They are all human and if you put anyone under enough pressure they will crack. Hopefully I can go further, I am not finished in this tournament yet.”

Trump said: “Daniel was the better player all day. I nicked a couple of frames at the start and should have gone 3-0. After that I knew the balls wouldn’t run my way. In the last frame he made a couple of mistakes but didn’t leave anything, which is what happens. His safety was really good and I struggled to create any chances. I feel a bit rusty, I didn’t play well from the start of this week, everyone else was spinning the ball back but I couldn’t get any screw into the white. My game is in good shape, I just struggled this week.

Murphy made his 599th and 600th career centuries in a 4-2 success over Anthony McGill. Breaks of 100 and 102 made Murphy the eighth player to cross that milestone. Hossein Vafaei top scored with 100 in a 4-3 win over Barry Hawkins, a result which ends Hawkins’ hopes of the winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus and also dents his chances of a place in next week’s Players Championship.

Mark Allen is very much in the race for that bumper bonus, needing to reach the semi-finals for a chance to overtake Ali Carter at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings. He scored breaks of 66, 57, 58 and 73 in a 4-1 win over Andy Hicks.

Luca Brecel is another of the five players in the hunt for the £150,000 pay day, albeit needing to win the title, and he saw off Cao Yupeng 4-1 with a top run of 86. John Higgins kept his recent improvement going as he narrowly avoided a surprise defeat against Sanderson Lam, winning 4-3.

Thursday evening

Crunch Time For Allen In Bonus Race

Mark Allen’s 4-2 victory over Luca Brecel in the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open set up a crunch match in the quarter-finals with Robert Milkins, with the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus on the line.

Victory for Allen over Milkins on Friday evening in Llandudno would see him finish the sequence of eight events at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings and earn him the huge pay day. If Milkins wins, then he can still snatch the cash by taking the title, while Ali Carter and Joe O’Connor are also in the equation going into the last three days of the series.

Northern Ireland’s Allen is enjoying his best ever season and has been clearly the outstanding player of the 2022/23 campaign having won three titles. If he goes all the way to the crown in North Wales then his total earnings for the week would be £230,000, the biggest cheque of his career. Breaks of 90, 79 and 74 tonight helped him to a fine win over Brecel.

Shaun Murphy raised the roof at Venue Cymru with a 147 during a 4-1 victory over Daniel Wells. The Magician, seeking his first ranking title since he won this event three years ago, also made breaks of 66, 145 and 78 in a tremendous display.

I’m over the moon,” admitted Murphy. “I just wanted to put in a good performance tonight. I wish I knew the secret – if only I could do that more regularly. I saw the opportunity for the 147 early in the break, went for it and got it. It’s up there with my best achievements. I am obviously doing something right. Every time I step out in front of a live audience I try to put on a good show and entertain, and today I think I gave them value for money.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan took just 58 minutes to beat Ben Mertens 4-0 with a top break of 68. The Rocket needs to reach the final to earn a place in next week’s Players Championship. Joe O’Connor’s 4-0 success over Robbie Williams has left him on target for a spot in Wolverhampton.

The quarter-final line-up is completed by a trio of Chinese players. Tian Pengfei scored an impressive 4-1 win over John Higgins with a top break of 80. Yuan Sijun top scored with 100 in a 4-1 defeat of Jack Lisowski, and Pang Junxu ended any hopes of a Welsh winner by beating Jak Jones 4-2.

This is Shaun’s maximum break as shared by WST on their YouTube channel