Tour News – 21 December, 2021

After several weeks of non-stop action, it’s time to take a break and catch up with the snooker tour news.

Rankings

WST has published this update about the rankings:

Rankings Update: O’Sullivan Up To Third

2021WGPROSWinner-12Ronnie O’Sullivan is up to third place on the one-year ranking list following his victory at the Cazoo World Grand Prix on Sunday.

O’Sullivan beat Neil Robertson 10-8 in the final in Coventry to capture the £100,000 top prize and climb from seventh place to third, behind only Zhao Xintong and Luca Brecel. The Rocket now looks well placed to qualify for the two remaining events in the Cazoo Series.

Robertson banks £40,000 as runner-up and jumps from eighth to sixth. Stuart Bingham reached the semi-finals and he’s up from 22nd to 18th. Mark Selby was the other losing semi-finalist and he jumps from 21st to 17th.

There are only two counting events to go until the field is confirmed for the second event in the series, the Cazoo Players Championship, as only the top 16 on the one-year list will make it to Wolverhampton (February 7-13).

Those events are the BetVictor Shoot Out (January 20 to 23) and the BetVictor German Masters (January 26 to 30). The qualifying rounds of the latter event have already taken place (click here for the last 32 draw), so certain players such as Bingham only have the BetVictor Shoot Out to try to climb into the top 16.

Four players who are outside the top 16 of the official two-year list  are currently inside the top 16 of the one-year list: David Gilbert, Gary Wilson, Jimmy Robertson and Ricky Walden. Anthony McGill is currently on the bubble in 16th place with £53,500.

Only the top eight will contest the final event of the 2021/22 Cazoo Series, the Cazoo Tour Championship (March 28 to April 3, Llandudno).

On the official two-year rankings, Robertson remains in fourth place while O’Sullivan remains third.

Where prize money is won without a player winning a match in a tournament, NONE of that prize money will count towards these prize money rankings save for the World Grand Prix, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

Where prize money is won by a player at a qualifying venue and that player does not go on to appear at the final venue, for whatever reason, that prize money will not count in the prize money rankings until the situation has been considered by the appeals committee who may, at their absolute discretion, allocate ranking points where it can be demonstrated that there are extreme mitigating circumstances. These points will be allocated from the date of the committee meeting and will not affect previously issued draws.

WST Seeding – Count Back:  Players on equal prize money will be seeded based on the best performance (stage/round reached through winning a match) working backwards from the most recent ranking event. If still equal, frames won when losing will determine their position, working backwards from the most recent ranking event. For the purposes of count back, competing in an event and losing is treated as a better performance than not entering or competing in an event.

For a full explanation of how the rankings work, click here

You will find the “race to the Players Championship” rankings here on snooker.org. With 50000 points between Ronnie third and Mark Williams fourth, it would take something extraordinary for Ronnie to miss out on the Tour Championship.

The 2022 Shoot-Out is the next event counting towards the Players Championship and WST has published the draw and format:

BetVictor Shoot Out Draw

Ryan Day beat Mark Selby in last year’s final

Snooker’s unique BetVictor Shoot Out heads to the Morningside Arena in Leicester in January, with top stars including Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson, Zhao Xintong, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen, Luca Brecel and defending champion Ryan Day in the field.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The draw has been made for the 128-player world ranking event, to run from January 20 to 23.

Notable first round ties include:

New UK Champion Zhao Xintong against 2020 Shoot Out winner Michael Holt – Friday January 21, 7pm session

World number one Mark Selby against Li Hang – Thursday January 20, 7pm session

Three-time UK Champion Ding Junhui against 2012 Shoot Out winner Barry Hawkins – Friday January 21, 1pm session

Two-time Crucible finalist Ali Carter against former Masters and UK Champion Matthew Stevens – Thursday January 20, 1pm session

Former World Champion Shaun Murphy v Chang Bingyu – Thursday January 20, 1pm session

Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams v Stuart Carrington- Thursday January 20, 7pm session

Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans v Fan Zhengyi – Thursday January 20, 7pm session

As always, the tournament features a unique set of rules. All matches last a maximum of ten minutes, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five, while any foul means ball in hand for the opponent.

Televised by Eurosport and a range of other broadcasters and online platforms worldwide, the tournament forms part of the eight-event BetVictor Snooker Series, from which the player earning the most prize money will receive a huge £150,000 bonus.

No Ronnie, no Judd Trump, no Neil Robertson, no John Higgins … unsurprisingly. As you would expect, given that they are just outside the Players Championship qualifying zone, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham have entered. What really surprises me is to see Ding’s name in the draw…

WST has also confirmed the dates for the 2022 Turkish Masters and provided more information about the event.

Nirvana Cosmopolitan To Host Turkish Masters

The fantastic Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel was named as the host of the new Nirvana Turkish Masters world ranking event today at a press conference in Antalya.

The tournament will run from March 7 to 13 in 2022 and it will be the first professional event staged in Turkey, with 64 players heading to the beautiful city of Antalya to compete for total prize money of £500,000.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation Ersan Ercan, VP and Snooker Director Muhammad Leysi, Director of Sport at Nirvana, Mr Burcin Badem and local promoter Tuğba İrten were among those to host the press conference.

Ferguson said: “The Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel is an absolutely superb location to stage what will be a historic event on the World Snooker Tour. The players will love this stunning venue and it will be an incredible opportunity for fans to see the leading stars and to enjoy the local hospitality in Antalya.

“Our greatest ambition is to bring our sport to all corners of the globe and to stage an event in Turkey for the first time, where we know there is huge support for snooker, is a crucial step forward. We look forward to delivering a top class event and working with our partners in the region: the Turkish Billiard Federation, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kilit Group and the Nirvana Hotel, along with our promoter Tugba Irten.”

Antalya is known for its history, scenery and culture

Antalya is renowned as one of Europe’s outstanding destinations, known for its culture, history and ideal location on the Mediterranean coast.

WST has agreed a four-year deal with the Turkish Billiards Federation and Big Break Promotions to stage the Turkish Masters every season until at least 2024/2025. Overall prize money will increase each year.

A qualifying round will be staged with players needing to win one match to make it to the final stages. Two Turkish wild cards will also be handed places in the main event in Antalya. The tournament will be televised by a range of broadcasters worldwide including Eurosport and Matchroom Live.

Obviously the prize money is good and Antalya is a beautiful place with a rich history. Turkish cuisine isn’t bad either. Having the whole event played in a luxury hotel is reminiscent of the glorious old days when snooker was really a prominent sport and its exponents true stars.

Whether there will be held-over matches is unclear to me.  The first sentence in bold seems to indicate that all players will need to qualify ahead of the main event. The second sentence in bold on the other hand says that the two Turkish wildcards will play at the main venue, therefore, unless they play each other, two players at least will have their first round match held-over. WST will probably go “by ranking” but the sponsors may have something to say about it too, especially for a first event in the country. We shall see.

Finally … it was ten days ago but surely worth mentioning … Si Jiahui won the Q Tour event 2.

Success For Si At WPBSA Q Tour

Si Jiahui has won the second event of the 2021/22 WPBSA Q Tour following a dramatic 5-4 victory against former professional Michael White at the Terry Griffiths Matchroom, Llanelli.

The WPBSA Q Tour is an official pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season from four tournaments. The events are open to all players, with 48 players automatically qualified for the last 64 stage through their position on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

China’s Si had previously reached the final of Event one in Brighton just three weeks ago and having again progressed to the quarter-finals on Saturday, made it back to back finals with victories against Sydney Wilson and Sean O’Sullivan.

Awaiting him would be two-time ranking event winner Michael White, who added a further two century breaks to the five he had already compiled the previous day during wins against Alex Clenshaw and Belgium’s Ben Mertens.

Having fallen 4-0 behind against David Lilley in the previous final, it was Si who this time made the stronger start, breaks of 54, 82 and 53 ensuring that he would stand just one frame from the title at the mid-session interval.

With a lead of 45-1 during frame five, a whitewash appeared to be on the cards but there was to be a twist in the tale as White hit back with 50 before eventually snatching the frame on the pink, before adding breaks of 58 and 70 on his way to drawing level at 4-4.

The decider was to prove no less dramatic as White once again erased an early deficit – which included a snooker on the colours – but this time Si was not to be denied as he potted green, brown and blue to secure victory.

With 11 match wins from 12 played from the first two events, Si has put himself in a strong position on the Q Tour Ranking list at the halfway point of the season, but there remains all to play for ahead of the final two events in Leicester and Leeds over the coming months.

Two World Snooker Tour cards are available from the Q Tour series, with the top ranked player following this season’s four scheduled events set to qualify. A further 16 players will contest a play-off tournament for the second card.

The WPBSA would like to thank all of the players, officials and in particular the Terry Griffiths Matchroom and its staff, who helped to support another fantastic weekend of snooker in south Wales.

The WPBSA Q Tour will return with Event Three from 28-30 January at The Winchester Snooker Club, Leicestershire. The closing date for entries for the event is 4:30pm on Friday 14 January

Congratulations Si!

And of course … the traditional Championship league is under way, with Group 1 concluding today.

He is WST info about this season’s groups:

BetVictor Championship League Groups Confirmed

The 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational gets underway with Group 1 live from the Morningside Arena, Leicester on Monday 20, December starring Jack Lisowski, Gary Wilson, Graeme Dott, Zhou Yuelong, Tom Ford, Liang Wenbo and Ryan Day, broadcast live on FreeSports in the UK and Ireland, Viaplay in the Nordics and Baltics alongside broadcasters worldwide.

Both Tables 1 and 2 will be available live globally with Lisowski set to take on Zhou in the opening match of the tournament at 11am. Group 2 will take place on December 22-23 before Groups 3-5 get underway from January 3-8 and Group 6 on January 17-18. Group 7 and the Winners’ Group to find out the winner will take place from January 31-February 3.

Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and invitational defending champion Kyren Wilson are all set to feature during the group stage.

The groups can be found below with missing spots completed by the previous group’s 5th placed player, two losing semi-finalists and losing group finalist.

Group 1 

Jack Lisowski, Zhou Yuelong, Graeme Dott, Tom Ford, Gary Wilson, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo

Group 2

Xiao Guodong, Lu Ning, Joe Perry

Group 3

Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Stuart Bingham

Group 4

Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins

Group 5

David Gilbert, Martin Gould, Ali Carter

Group 6

Yan Bingtao, Ricky Walden, Ding Junhui

Group 7

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, John Higgins

Where to Watch 

  • Foxtel – Australia
  • FreeSports – UK and Ireland
  • Nova – Czech Republic & Slovakia
  • NTV – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan
  • Sky Network – New Zealand
  • SuperSport – Africa
  • Sportklub – Croatia & Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, and Slovenia
  • TVP – Poland
  • Viaplay – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Viaplay – Iceland
  • Viaplay – Scandinavia
  • Zhibo.TV – China
  • Matchroom.Live – Table 1 is available exclusively to those outside of the countries listed above. Table 2 will be available live on Matchroom.Live excluding the Nordic and Baltic regions
  • The tournament will also be live on betting websites around the world

The tournament carries a prize fund of £205,000 with players earning £100 per frame won with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. A place in the 2022 Cazoo Champion of Champions is also on the line with each group featuring seven players with matches being held over two days.

All matches are a best-of-five, and each group is played to a round-robin format. The top four in each group contest the play-offs, with the eventual winner advancing to Winners’ Group. The three play-off players who don’t advance will move into the next group, where they are joined by the player who finished fifth in the table and three new players. Those finishing sixth and seventh in each group are eliminated from the competition.

 

 

 

 

2021/22 Q-Tour News

WST has shared the following WPBSA information regarding this season Q-Tour:

WPBSA Q Tour 2021/22 – Dates and Entry Information

The WPBSA has today confirmed the provisional dates and venues for the 2021/22 WPBSA Q Tour.

wpbsa-qtour-2020-logo-2048x502-1

Announced last month, WPBSA Q Tour will become the premier qualifying circuit to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season.

There will be four regular Q Tour tournaments held from November 2021 to March 2022, with the top ranked player at the end of the season guaranteed to earn a two-year tour card. There will also be a play-off tournament run with 16 players, with the winner also to earn their professional card.

The Dates

The provisional dates for this season’s Q Tour are:

  • 19-21 November 2021 – Castle Snooker Club, Brighton
  • 10-12 December 2021 – Terry Griffiths Matchroom, Llanelli
  • 28-30 January 2022 – The Winchester, Leicester
  • 18-20 March 2022 – Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds

Each weekend will see 64 players in action, to include a maximum of 48 who have qualified directly for the main draw due to their positions on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

The remaining 16 players will come from an open qualifier to be held on the Friday to complete the field.

The Players

The top 40 highest-ranked players not already on tour and the next highest ranked eight junior players (Under-21), not already qualified from the 2021 Q School Order of Merit, will be eligible to compete in this season’s Q Tour tournaments. These players are:

Top 40: Sanderson Lam, Michael Georgiou, Si Jiahui, Soheil Vahedi, Michael White, David Lilley, Ross Muir, John Astley, Bai Langning, James Cahill, Dylan Emery, Mark Lloyd, Simon Blackwell, Haydon Pinhey, Billy Castle, Kuldesh Johal, Rod Lawler, Leo Fernandez, Robbie McGuigan, Daniel Womersley, Ryan Davies, Oliver Brown, Michael Collumb, Luke Pinches, Joshua Thomond, Ross Vallance, Saqib Nasir, Niel Vincent, Luo Honghao, Ross Bulman, Paul Davison, Sydney Wilson, Ben Fortey, Alex Millington, Dylan Mitchell, Sean Harvey, Ben Mertens, Brian Cini, Paul Davies and Tony Knowles

Juniors: Hayden Staniland (50), Jenson Kendrick (55), Florian Nuessle (57), Hamim Hussain (58), Liam Pullen (65), Julien Leclercq (70), Callum Beresford (71) and Liam Graham (72).

These players will be contacted directly by email with entry instructions. Each player will be required to pay a block entry fee of £200.00 by 12:00pm on 15 October and will be guaranteed a place in the last 64 of each tournament.

Following this date, subject to the number of players who have accepted and paid for their Q Tour place, we will contact top up players as required until we have 48 confirmed players for each event. These players will have until 12:00pm 19 October to claim their place.

Open entry for all Friday qualifying tournaments will be opened to all players from no later than 20 October. We aim to accommodate all players who wish to enter, however, we do reserve the right to limit entries for each qualifier subject to the number of tables available at the club and time available.

All entries are to be made via WPBSA SnookerScores.

Event entry deadlines are as follows:

  • Q Tour 1 (Brighton) – 5 November 2021
  • Q Tour 2 (Llanelli) – 26 November 2021
  • Q Tour 3 (Leicester) – 14 January 2022
  • Q Tour 4 (Leeds) – 4 March 2022

The entry fee for each tournament will be £50.00, with a total prize fund of £12,000 per tournament to be won.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are today excited to confirm the four excellent venues that will host this season’s WPBSA Q Tour.

“Each of these facilities are proven venues used to hosting significant competitions and we look forward to delivering these high-quality tournaments for the best amateur players in the world, who have the ambition to test their skills on the World Snooker Tour next season.”

At least it’s a “restart” for the Q-Tour (previously Challenge Tour) and that’s good news.

Luo Honghao was playing in the Haining Open, a CBSA event, earlier this week, with the aim to “rebuild his confidence” (according to his coach Roger Leighton). I’m not sure that he will want to come back to the UK for those Q-Tour events.

There are a few young players in those lists who don’t live in the UK , and some are still at school. It may be difficult for them to commit to all four events.

I hope that there will be some sort of streaming for these events.

Next Season Tour Cards Structure

WPBSA and WST have announced the 2022/23 provisional Tour Cards structure

2022/23 World Snooker Tour Cards

The WPBSA and WST have today jointly announced the provisional tour card structure for the 2022/23 World Snooker Tour.

Once again, the top 64 players on the official world ranking list following the 2022 Betfred World Championship will retain their professional status. They will be joined by players who are currently on the first year of a two-year tour card, as well as the top four players on the one-year ranking list, not already qualified for next season.

The tour will be completed by players who are able to successfully qualify through recognised tour qualification pathways. As was the case last season, these will include Q School, the CBSA China Tour, the World Women’s Snooker Tour and the Regional Federations recognised by the World Snooker Federation (WSF). Due to the timing of rescheduled regional events following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, additional places may be award for these tournaments.

There will also be places won via the planned staging of the WPBSA Q Tour and World Snooker Federation Championship tournaments, both of which were unable to take place last season but are now set to proceed.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are delighted to announce the tour structure for 2022/23. This is a golden era for snooker in terms of our strength in depth and the standard of play on our global tour gets stronger every year.

“We are particularly excited to bring back tour places for the winners of the fantastic amateur events staged around the world, providing incentive and opportunity for the best new talent from around the planet. It is so important to see the leading players from all continents, including Africa and the Americas, playing in the spotlight of our professional circuit, in order to help our sport grow in those regions.

“We are one of the few truly inclusive sports, with no barriers in terms of gender, age and nationality, and that is reflected in our tour structure.”

Full qualification list:

Top 64 from the two-year Prize Money World Rankings after the 2022 World Championship: 64

Players awarded a two-year Tour card for the 2021/2022 season (not already qualified): 31*

Top 4 players from 2021/2022 one-year ranking list following the 2022 World Championship (not already qualified)** 4

CBSA China Tour**: 2

Q School**: 12

WPBSA Q Tour**: 2

WSF Championship**: 1

WSF Under-18 Junior Championship**: 1

World Women’s Snooker Qualifiers**: 2

EBSA European Qualifiers**: 2

APBSF Asia Pacific Qualifier**: 1

PABSA Americas Qualifier**: 1

ABSC Africas Qualifier**: 1

*Final total subject to change if any of these players finish inside of the top 64 of the two-year prize money rankings after the 2022 World Championship

 **Players will receive a two-year tour card

In addition to these confirmed places, any players who qualify for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card, will also receive a two-year tour card, as was the case last season.

Interestingly no mention of invitational cards …

Also worth noting that APBSF includes Oceania.

Players coming from some of these regions have consistently struggled on the main tour, some gave up before completing their two years, some even never showed up.

I’m certain that Jason Ferguson is aware that the level of the snooker in some areas is nowhere near what is required from main tour professionals and that the players coming from those areas have next to no chance to stay on tour after two years. It’s hard enough to have to move to the UK as an expat, to leave the family, to learn a different language, to adapt to a different culture without having to cope with the fact that you feel that you don’t have a proper chance to succeed. Ideally, there should be a true secondary tour, and this should be where all new pros start. The fact though is that there isn’t such a secondary tour for now … so why not offer those aspiring players one full year of scholarship under supervision of a mentor/coach and, only after that year, offer them a two years card PROVIDED that

  1. they still want one
  2. they have shown commitment and dedication throughout their scholarship
  3. they have played in most Q-Tour events available to them (*)

Also, just as WST/WPBSA have put structures into place to support those players who struggle with mental health, it would be a good idea for them to facilitate the access to English language courses for those who need them. Brits tend to assume that everyone speaks English (whilst themselves usually don’t speak any other language 😉) but this isn’t the case. Being able to communicate is essential in every aspect of our lives. It’s even more important when one is away from home and family. Isolation is a huge negative factor when it comes to wellbeing and mental health.

(*) If the Q-Tour becomes truly international, some of those aspiring players may find it difficult to secure visas and other required papers for some destinations.

 

Snooker and Pool – News and Opinions – 15.09.2021

Let’s start with the opinions.

Following Judd Trump’s suggestion that the World Championship should leave the Crucible, David Hendon, in his podcast makes a very strong case for the Crucible, and for keeping longer formats as well. It’s well worth to listen to. It’s only the first 13 minutes and a bit, but it explains why, beyond the emotional aspect of a possible move, it would be extremely costly. David also makes a case for have more TRUE invitational events in the calendar. David was extremely critical of Judd’s ideas, but also praised him for taking part in the  US Open pool event.

Judd BTW won his second match in Atlantic city. Once again his opponent appeared to be quite weak. Here is what Phil Haig put on twitter:

Screenshot 2021-09-15 at 11.12.56

and here is WST report on it:

Trump Eases To Round Three

Judd Trump continued to impress on his 9-ball pool debut at the US Open in Atlantic City, beating India’s Dhruvalkumar Patel 9-2 to reach round three.

The Ace in the Pack swept to a whitewash victory in the opening round against the USA’s Joe Magee. His opponent on that occasion looked nervy and it was a similar story today. It was Trump who secured a 2-1 lead after an edgy first three racks. He then broke and ran the fourth to extend his lead to two at 3-1.

There was a further break and run later in the tie to move 6-2 ahead, from which point he reeled off the following three racks to emerge a comfortable victor. He now faces Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Shammari in round three.

Trump said: “There was a good buzz in here today. It is exciting for me to play pool and to be out here among the American fans. It is something new for me. He looked nervous before the game. He said I was one of his idols and that he watches a lot of snooker so it is obviously very difficult for him.

“It is a good warm up for me to try and see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. It will obviously get a little bit harder when you go further through the draw. The next game is going to get harder again. I like playing against the top players in any sport. I’m just excited to come up against the top players and see where I’m at.”

WST also published this about the Cazoo Series:

Cazoo Series – Ranking Points

WST is pleased to confirm that, following consultation with both the WPBSA, and the WPBSA Players Board, this season players will receive both prize money and their ranking points where they lose in round one of any Cazoo Series event. This is a change from the previous position where players would only receive the prize money.

This is conditional on players both competing and completing their round one match. Players unable to complete their match for any reason will not receive the associated ranking points.

For the avoidance of doubt the Cazoo Series includes all of the following events: Cazoo World Grand Prix, Cazoo Players Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship.

 

2021/22 Q-Tour News

This was shared by WST yesterday:

WPBSA Q Tour 2021/22

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has announced the relaunch of WPBSA Q Tour which will run during this current season.

Initially unveiled last June as a replacement for the previous Challenge Tour system, Q Tour will provide a clear pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won and further high-quality competition for elite amateur talent in our sport.

The 2021/22 season will see a minimum of four Q Tour events held, with the top ranked player at the end of the season guaranteed to earn a two-year tour card. There will also be a play-off tournament run with 16 players with the winner also to be awarded a main tour place.

There will be a prize fund of £12,000 to be won at each tournament with the overall Q Tour ranked number one and the final play-off winner each earning a bonus of £2,000 upon joining the professional circuit.

It is planned that each of the four events staged this season will be held within the UK due to the continued challenges caused by the global pandemic. It is, however, the clear intention that from the start of the 2022/23 season, Q Tour will become a global circuit to include regional Q Tour competitions.

Event structure

Each weekend tournament will be made up of 64 players, with the top 40 eligible players from the 2021 Q School Ranking List eligible to compete. They will be joined by the eight highest ranked junior players on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit, not already qualified.

Tournaments will also include an open entry element through the introduction of preliminary rounds held on the Friday immediately prior to the start of the weekend competition. Up to 16 players will qualify to complete the weekend field.

All Q Tour events will be held at official 147 Clubs recognised by the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “I am today delighted that we are able to announce our plans for the staging of WPBSA Q Tour this season.”

“Snooker has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, and it is of course the amateur game that has perhaps been most significantly affected as a direct result of the coronavirus restrictions that we have all experienced over the past 18 months. I know that it has been an extremely challenging time for these fantastic players and I am grateful for their continued patience as we have worked to provide opportunities to compete.

“The launch of WPBSA Q Tour 2021/22 represents the first of these opportunities and will be a significant addition to our calendar for elite amateur players, providing a direct pathway to the World Snooker Tour.”

It is anticipated that the first Q Tour competition will take place not before November and further information including entry details will be released soon.

It’s good to finally get some news about the Q-Tour, and to read that it’s on, even if  it’s with only four events this season. It’s also too to see that 8 spots will be reserved for junior players.

I do not expect covid-19 to go away though and I sincerely hope that WPBSA will come good on the promise of having regional Q-Tour events next season despite the circumstances. We all want and need to go back to normal, even if that means taking a few additional precautions for some more time. It’s something that everyone should accept: it’s a matter of health and security for all.

Snooker and Tour News – 03.09.2021

Here are some snooke/tour news that popped up over the last days

WST has published an updated “Format and Schedule” for the television stages of the Northern Irland Open:

BetVictor Northern Ireland Open Updated Draw

The updated draw and format for the 2021 BetVictor Northern Ireland Open following the conclusion of the qualifying round is now available.

Click here for the updated draw

Click here for the updated format

The world ranking event runs from October 9th to October 17th at the fantastic Waterfront Hall venue in central Belfast. It is the first of this season’s BetVictor Home Nations Series, with the winner to lift the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Tickets to see the best players on the planet are available now  For full details CLICK HERE

The tournament has 128 players all starting in round one. The top 16 seeds, as well as Jordan Brown, had their opening matches held over to Belfast, while all other players competed in the qualifying round.

Matches to look out for on Sunday October 10th include

1pm session
World Champion Mark Selby v Mark Davis
John Higgins v Joe O’Connor
Northern Ireland’s top player Mark Allen v Si Jiahui
Neil Robertson v Barry Pinches

7pm session
Defending champion Judd Trump v Andrew Pagett
Kyren Wilson v Jamie Clarke
Local favourite Jordan Brown v Gary Wilson
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stuart Carrington
Mark Williams v Mark Joyce

Trump is aiming to win the tournament for a fourth year in a row – remarkably he has beaten O’Sullivan 9-7 in the final in each of the last three seasons.

The event begins with a 7pm evening session on Saturday October 9th, with tickets at just £5.

The event will be televised by Eurosport, Quest and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

The have also announced that referee Peter Williamson is retiring:

Referee Peter Williamson Retires

Long-serving referee Peter Williamson has retired from the World Snooker Tour after 30 years on the circuit.

The Liverpudlian first refereed on Merseyside in the late 1970s and moved into the professional game in 1991.

Williamson officiated several ranking event semi-finals as well as the final of a Players Tour Championship event in 2012 in which Rod Lawler beat Marco Fu 4-2 in Gloucester.

We spoke to him about his career highlights, favourite players and plans for retirement…

What lessons have you learned from your career that you will take into your retirement?

“Sometimes you cannot take people at face value, they can turn out totally different. It was a joy to meet people from all around the world, all different ages and different backgrounds.”

What were your favourite places to go on the tour?

“Well, obviously, the Crucible – and also Shanghai and York. Shanghai is a totally different environment and seeing the way the country was developing at the time, just when they were going to be getting the Olympics in China was brilliant. They were building a completely new rail system with 120 stations and building the whole thing at the same time simultaneously. The whole place was bright, multi-coloured and the electric bill for the city must have been tremendous!”

What was your favourite game to referee?

“I refereed Ronnie O’Sullivan against John Higgins in the 2009 Shanghai Masters semi-final, and O’Sullivan against Marco Fu in the same tournament. With Fu being from Hong Kong, they reckon the audience for that was in the tens of millions, if not 100 million. I don’t really feel pressure in games like those, you get used to it and I’d been refereeing professionally for about 15 years by then.”

What was your favourite moment of your career?

“Not long after I started, August 1991, I refereed at Trentham Gardens. In the qualifiers, I had the privilege of refereeing Fred Davis. It was a booth situation and most of the booths only had one or two people in, but mine was full and there wasn’t a seat to be had, because there was a party of pensioners in! They all wanted to see Fred play and when it got to the interval, he was 4-0 down and it was quite a distance to get to the refreshments area. He beckoned me over after his opponent, Jamie Woodman, had gone out and said: “You couldn’t do me a massive favour.” So I said: “Yes what’s that?” and he said: “My legs won’t get me to the refreshment area in time for the restart, is it at all possible you could organise a cup of tea for me?” So I got the balls set up and ran off to the tournament office and ordered the tray with a cup of tea for him that was delivered to the table. He lost the match 5-0 but that always stuck with me!”

Who was your favourite player to referee?

“I always had a lot of fun and banter with Ken Doherty, because of our football connections. I’m a Liverpool fan and he’s Manchester United, of course. Another player was John Higgins. I’ve refereed two 147s with Higgins, so I remember those well.”

What will you miss most about being on tour?

“Apart from watching the development of the game, seeing the way the game is spreading around the world, it’s probably the chance to meet up with colleagues from lots of different countries. It’s the only chance you get to meet up with workmates.”

What are your plans for retirement?

“I may still referee a bit of billiards. I’ve done five world billiards finals, and I got asked over the weekend if I was available to referee in Reading, but unfortunately I’m in Cyprus at the time. I’ll also be doing more gardening. I’ve just got a barbeque so I’ve been coming up with innovative menus for that, like chocolate bananas.”

Finally, what is your message to players on the tour right now?

“Keep at it, even if you are having a bad day. Practice makes perfect so stick with it.  Also – I’d just like to thank all my colleagues for making the second part of my working life my most memorable.”

I have met Peter at countless events over the years and it was a pleasure always. Enjoy your retirement Peter. All the best for the future!

Twitath Warinthrakom, who is a in many ways the Thai equivalent of Rolf Kalb, has shared some worrying news on his Facebook page. Last Tuesday, he annouced that he had tested positive to covid-19. Yesterday, he wrote that he was in hospital. His condition looks serious alas. Twitath was asking his friends to pray for him.

I sincerely hope that Twitath will make a full recovery soon. He’s always been very friendly with me and is loved by the whole snooker community in Thailand.

Tour and Players News – 27/08/2021

A few interesting things have been published over the last couple of weeks.

WST has published the result of the last disciplinary hearing:

Disciplinary Hearing Outcome 2021

And the rankings/seedings “cut-off” points” for this season

RankingPointsCut-Offs 2021:22

Despite a terrible performance in his second match last week, Stephen Hendry is determined to persist and extend his career:

Stephen Hendry planning to extend snooker comeback beyond this season: ‘I’m not putting any time limit on it’

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry is hoping for an extended stay on the main tour (Picture: WST)

Stephen Hendry is hoping that his snooker comeback lasts beyond this season, expecting another wildcard to stay on tour if he doesn’t stay on through the rankings.

The seven-time world champion picked up a 3-2 win over Chris Wakelin in the opening round of the British Open this week, his second victory since returning to the main tour earlier in the year.

There were some encouraging signs in that contest, with some impressive long pots going in, although he could not conjure up that form again in the next round as he lost 3-0 to Gary Wilson.

Hendry was handed a two-year tour card at the start of last season by then-WST chairman Barry Hearn, meaning it comes to an end at the climax of the current campaign.

It seemed more than possible that the 52-year-old would just play those two years, but he has been encouraged by his improvement since playing the game regularly again and intends to continue past the end of this season.

His aim is to play at the Crucible in the World Championship once again, and he will keep plugging away until he returns to the iconic venue.

Speaking after his win over Wakelin, Hendry told Metro.co.uk: ‘That’s the goal [playing at the Crucible], whether it’s this year, next year or the year after, I’m not putting any time limit on it.

‘If it doesn’t happen this year that’s not the be all and end all, but that’s the end goal. I’ve always said I don’t want that defeat to [Stephen] Maguire [in 2012] to be my last match at the Crucible, but there’s a long way to go to get there.

‘If my game keeps improving there’s no need to suddenly stop playing again. I’ve not said I’m going to come back, start winning tournaments and be a top player again, I just want to get back to enjoy playing snooker, playing well and see what happens.’

Hendry must reach the top 64 in the rankings, or survive on the one-year money list to stay on tour past this season thanks to his performances.

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry battled past Chris Wakelin in Leicester (Picture: Zhai Zheng)

His other options would be to go to Q School or to get another wildcard and the latter is what he expects to happen as Jimmy White continues to be given that very opportunity.

‘I would hope I’d get another wildcard,’ he said. ‘Jimmy keeps getting them, nothing against Jimmy he’s one of my best mates, but I would hope that the fact I’m competing that I would get another one.

‘Barry [Hearn] did say to me that as long as I play then I’ll get one, the only reason he’d take it off me is if I didn’t play at all. So I’m playing so I’d like to think I’d get one.’

Hendry confirmed that he has not entered the Northern Ireland Open but will be playing in the Scottish Open, with qualifiers played next month, although he is disappointed that the main stages are in Wales rather than Scotland over last-minute issues with the arena in Glasgow.

‘I didn’t enter Northern Ireland but I’m going to enter the Scottish, but it’s going to be strange playing the Scottish Open in Llandudno,’ he said.

‘I actually don’t even know the reason I’m not playing Northern Ireland, I just didn’t fancy it, to be fair. No special reason, I just didn’t enter it. My comeback was never going to be full time, it was always going to be picking and choosing the events I wanted to play in, rather than being full time.’

I totally understand why Stephen doesn’t want that match to be his last at the Crucible. I was there. He started well, then played a couple of bad shots and basically gave up. It was painful to watch, and I’m certain that his opponent, Maguire felt extremely uneasy out there at the time. That’s not how a great champion wants to be remembered, nor is it how they want a brilliant career to finish. I’m sure that Stephen Hendry isn’t proud of that one. He deserves a better closing and I hope he gets it.

And finally … there is this a bizarre, unsettling interview with Mark Allen

Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

 
Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

TROUBLED snooker ace Mark Allen has sensationally revealed he may be forced to quit the sport.

Former Masters champion Allen has been plagued with off-table problems during the past year, which he hinted are close to coming to a head.

The world No 10 is locked in a bitter custody battle with his soon-to-be ex wife Kyla McGuigan.

And added to that unwanted stress the five-time ranking-event winner declared bankruptcy earlier this season.

The Northern Irish potter was forced to play former flame Reanne Evans in the first round at this week’s British Open amid their recent legal disputes.

And Allen revealed: “It’s tough at the minute and I need to get some things sorted.

“I don’t know which tournament is going to be my last at the minute.

“This one could very well be my last with the way things are going.

“I don’t want that to be the case. I love playing snooker, it’s the only thing I’m good at in life.

“Let’s hope that’s not the case, but I’m not sure what’s around the corner.”

When asked why it could be his last tournament, coy Allen replied: “I’d rather not say, but it might be out of my hands.”

Earlier this week Allen beat former girlfriend Evans in a highly-publicised battle of the exes.

The clash had extra spice given the pair’s acrimonious break up and Evans asking her ex partner to provide extra maintenance for their 12-year-old daughter.

But it’s also believed Allen, who has pocketed almost £3.5m in a stellar career, is worried about the shared care for other daughter Harleigh as legal proceedings ramble on.

Allen, who has suffered with depression in the past, cryptically revealed he doesn’t know which direction his troubled career is heading after unwanted family issues.

Allen crashed out of last season’s World Championship with a whimper. And even then he said he would “take a break” from the green-baize game.

Allen started this season in promising form by reaching last week’s Championship League final.

But despite beating Evans on Monday, in a match he called “horrible” Allen was stunned 3-2 by Hossein Vafaei on Wednesday night.

And Allen stressed he was relieved to be sent home after the ordeal of his first-round tie.

“It’s a bit of a relief this tournament’s over if I’m honest,” admitted Allen.

“I think Monday night took a bit more out of me than I was prepared for.

“I saw bits and pieces that were written. As you know I’m very active on social media and it’s hard reading what’s being said about you when 99 per cent of the people saying it don’t know what they’re talking about.

“It’s a blessing to be going home really.”

The only certainty here is that Mark is in a dark place, I can’t imgaine why he would be FORCED to quit snooker if he doesn’t want to.