News about the snooker tour …

A few news came about the tour and related broadcasting.

According to Rudy Bauwens, commentator on Eurosport NL, “The Joy of Six”  will only be shown on British Eurosport, which is a shame. I hope we, non UK fans, can still watch it at some point as well.

WST has published some information about uocoming tournaments.

The Champion of Champions will be played behind closed doors.

Champion Of Champions To Be Played Behind Closed Doors

The 2020 Champion of Champions will be staged behind closed doors at Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, from Monday, November 2 until Sunday, November 8, live on ITV4.

Matchroom Multi Sport had been hoping to be able to allow spectators to attend the event, however, given the current government guidelines around fans at sporting events, the decision has been taken to stage the event behind closed doors.

The Champion of Champions will remain at Marshall Arena, where a strict ‘event bubble’ will be employed. Matchroom Multi Sport have already successfully staged two editions of Championship League Snooker, including the event in June which marked the return of live sport in the UK after the lockdown.

Champion of Champions is one of snooker’s showpiece events, featuring WST champions from the last 12 months. Neil Robertson will defend the title he won in an epic final against Judd Trump last year, while World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and European Masters winner Mark Selby are also among the other stars who will battle it out to be crowned Champion of Champions.

All ticket holders will receive automatic refunds of their order via the original point of purchase. Ticket holders should allow up to 30 days for this to be processed. Anybody who purchased tickets for the 2020 Champion of Champions will automatically be entitled to purchase tickets for next year’s event during an exclusive priority ticket sales period before they go on general sale.

The Champion of Champions will be broadcast live on ITV4 in the UK, and on global broadcast partners including DAZN and matchroom.live. The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 2 until Thursday, November 5. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 5 and the other on Saturday, November 7. The final on Sunday, November 8 will be over 19 frames.

The Group Stage draw for the 2020 Champion of Champions will take place during BetVictor Championship League Snooker on Tuesday, October 27 and will be shown on Champion of Champions Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, and on the Matchroom Multi Sport YouTube channel.

CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS 2020 – QUALIFIED PLAYERS

Champions of Champions 2019 Neil Robertson
UK Championship 2019 Ding Junhui
The Masters 2020 Stuart Bingham
World Championship 2020 Ronnie O’Sullivan
European Masters 2020 Neil Robertson
German Masters 2020 Judd Trump
World Grand Prix 2020 Neil Robertson
Players Championship 2020 Judd Trump
Championship League Snooker 2019/20 Scott Donaldson
Championship League 2020 Luca Brecel
Tour Championship 2020 Stephen Maguire
European Masters 2020 (2) Mark Selby*
Championship League Snooker 2020 (2)
Northern Ireland Open 2019 Judd Trump
Scottish Open 2019 Mark Selby
Welsh Open 2020 Shaun Murphy
English Open 2020
World Championship Runner-up 2020 Kyren Wilson
Gibraltar Open 2020 Judd Trump
Shoot Out 2020 Michael Holt
World Seniors Championship 2020 Jimmy White

*As European Masters winner Mark Selby had already qualified for the Champion of Champions, Mark Allen will enter the event as the highest-ranked player not already qualified. Should the English Open and/or Championship League Snooker be won by players already qualified for the Champion of Champions, places will be awarded to the highest-ranked player(s) on the World Rankings after the English Open.

The part in bold may be bad news for us, Ronnie fans. Indeed the “strict event bubble” is the reason why Ronnie withdrew from the CLS. He usually loves the ITV events, but I’m not sure that he will want to enter this one if this is in operation. Also, I don’t understand why this is actually necessary whilst some events, like the current English Open, are played under a more relaxed approach despite involving a lot more players and officials, hence, posing more risks. In his post-match with Eurosport yesterday, Ronnie said he was going back home for the night.

Tour Championship tickets and news

Tour Championship Ticket Holders

Fans who had purchased tickets for the original dates of the 2020 Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17th to 22nd, 2020) will soon receive a full refund from Venue Cymru.

WST has been in regular discussions with the venue, exploring the possibility of staging the 2021 Tour Championship in Llandudno.

Venue Cymru has been supporting Betsi Cadwaladr University Health board since March so that they can deliver essential medical services during the pandemic, and this support will continue until at least Spring 2021. This means that Venue Cymru will be closed and regrettably this will result in the rescheduling or cancellation of events, which means that Llandudno will not be able to host the Tour Championship in 2021.

Original bookings will be automatically refunded, so there is no need for fans to make contact with the box office. If fans have any questions regarding their original booking please email info@venuecymru.co.uk

WST still has a very strong and positive relationship with Venue Cymru and we hope to return to Llandudno again in the future.

The 2021 Tour Championship will run from March 22nd to 28th, with the venue to be announced in due course.

Test or no test? It’s a testing question

This article by Desmond Kane, speaking with Gary Wilson, caught my attention yesterday:

GARY WILSON ON TESTING TIMES: WHY SNOOKER COVID-19 RULE CHANGE IS POSITIVE NEWS

Former World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson tells Desmond Kane why he feared being forced to take another Covid-19 test with snooker’s organisers updating the guidelines on Thursday to fall into line with other major professional sports.

Desmond Kane

In normal times, the only test Gary Wilson would be worrying about before the English Open is the one 15-year-old Ukrainian prodigy Iulian Boiko will provide in the first round on Tuesday night. But these are far from normal times. For society or professional sport.

In the year of the pandemic, it seems difficult to remain positive. Especially when you are positive.

World number 18 Wilson is attempting to refocus his season after being forced to withdraw from the European Masters – the first major ranking event of the season – on Tuesday 22 September before his match with Duane Jones after a Covid-19 test came back positive despite being blissfully unaware of his plight.

The fall-out saw his fellow professionals Elliot Slessor and David Lilley also pulled from the event after he enjoyed a spot of dinner with them at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, the somewhat surreal new temporary home of snooker behind closed doors.

A similar fate befell the unfortunate world number 55 Daniel Wells before he was due to face world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the European Masters opening round after he tested positive. Contact with Michael White saw his fellow Welshman deprived of a place in the event despite being well.

The double whammy for Wells was turning up at the Championship League last week after self-isolating for 10 days only to re-test and still return a positive outcome on Friday 2 October.

The asymptomatic Wilson – the potting pride of Wallsend in North Tyneside – had no idea he was carrying coronavirus as well as his cue case, but is hoping to avoid a similar fate with the first of the Home Nations series breaking off on Monday.

“I’m absolutely fine thankfully. I tested positive a couple of weeks ago and did my self-isolation period,” Wilson told Eurosport. “In the meantime, me and Dan Wells have been texting each other because we were obviously in the same boat.
“He was fuming the other day because he tested positive again and then it has all came out when he’s done more research that you shouldn’t be really tested again until 42 days after you’ve tested positive.

“That information has come from public health in England and he has passed that information onto Jason Ferguson (the chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association). Jason has been sympathetic about the situation and is trying to clarify it.

“So I’ve told the snooker authorities that I don’t really want to turn up to the English Open and have to do a test again on Monday.

“The information is pretty clear from medical people that you shouldn’t be doing tests until six weeks after you’ve tested positive because there is still the risk of dead viral cells in your body.

“It has been on the news lately. It is actually a fact that you can no longer be contagious or have the illness, but can still test positive because of the dead viral cells in your body.

“That is what has been going on this week basically. The WPBSA are trying to come to some agreement with medical officers that we shouldn’t need tested again so soon after testing positive.

“Dan has missed out twice basically. He shouldn’t have been tested at the Championship League and I’ve got a test coming up on Monday that I shouldn’t have to test according to the stated medical advice.”

Since this interview, Wilson and Wells – who faces Mark Davis in the first round – have got the clarity they require with the players being informed by the sport’s authorities on Thursday they will not have to undergo another test enabling them to participate in the English Open without the stress of being forced to withdraw.

“Any player who tests positive will NOT be re-tested for a period of 30 days from the date of when the positive test was taken unless the player is demonstrating symptoms of the virus,” said World Snooker Tour in a statement released to the players on Thursday “following lengthy consultation with our Chief Medical Officer (CMO), plus other senior medical consultants familiar in the Covid19 pandemic.”

“1. The above policy is similar to that applied by other professional sports bodies, for example, the English Football League, who have adopted the same government guidelines but with a re-testing period of not before 90 days since the positive test,” said the statement.

“WST will continue to review this situation and will make changes to this policy if it is felt appropriate to do so and in consultation with our CMO.”

Wilson – who lost to Judd Trump in the World Championship semi-final in 2019 after defeating Mark Selby during a glorious run – believes it is right snooker tightened up the regulations in conjunction with the relevant medical advice.

The ardent Newcastle United supporter points to the guidelines Premier League and golf are adhering to as both common sense and caution in being safer than a bout of Selby safety play.

“It’s 100 percent we shouldn’t be tested so soon,” commented the 2015 China Open finalist. “As far as I’m concerned, if me and Dan get tested again it’s not really acceptable.

“There are other sports that are different because they are outdoor sports like football and golf. Snooker is a little bit different because it is indoors, but football is saying 90 days after the first positive test you don’t get tested again.

“They are kissing and cuddling on the field and have 90 days after a positive test. If they can implement that rule in the Premier League, and I think golf is 30 days, what is snooker doing? If the evidence is there that you shouldn’t get tested for 42 days, there is every chance I could come down again, test positive and get kicked out of the event for no reason.

“I’m hoping a bit of common sense will apply here.

“I had a four-hour drive down to Milton Keynes, got my test, stayed in the hotel overnight, tested positive then got back in the car back up the road for the self-isolation period.

“The WPBSA gave us all £200 as a goodwill gesture for travelling expenses the last time which was kind of them, but nobody wants to go through this. No test is the only way forward for me.”

While Wilson tested positive before embarking upon his period of self-isolation at home, his fiancée Robyn was tested and returned a negative outcome.
“It has been a serious illness for some people, but I never even knew I had it. All I had was a tickly throat. I possibly had tiredness, but that’s a hard one to determine because everybody feels tired at time,” explained Wilson.
“I can remember thinking I was going to bed a bit earlier a few nights, but you never really know if that is a symptom.

“The tests are probably right that I did have it, but I was very mild. At the most, a tickly throat.

“No headaches, cough or flu-like symptoms so for me it was just a case of doing your 10 days isolation as per the recommendation after the test just to be sure and I got out of self-isolation last Friday before going down the club on Saturday to start practising again.

“I’ve been absolutely fine and so has my partner Robyn. We’ve been sharing same bed etc, and she has had a test that came up negative.”

“It’s a bit of a strange one,” opined Wilson, who has made over 150 centuries in his career. “Some people don’t seem to catch it or catch it and don’t know they have it.

“It makes me wonder if I had it. I have absolutely no idea where I would have caught it. There is nothing that stands out. It is just something random.
“Me, Elliot and David had food the night before. I was asked that question when I came back positive and obviously couldn’t lie about it. I feel a little bit guilty, but there was nothing much I could do about it.

“We were all doing social distancing and following the regulations. It is just unfortunate that we’ve all had to sacrifice a tournament because of it.”

Like his fellow professionals, Wilson, 35, is adapting to the new normal of trying to perform without fans amid an outpouring of hand sanitizer, one-way arrows around venues and a face mask looming as closely as his chalk. A jobsworth’s dream, but a living pestilence for professional sport.

“It’s going to be a very strange season, but thankfully as a player there are still lot of tournaments there to play in,” said the straight-talking cueist, who is hoping his wedding to Robyn can still go ahead next spring.

“You just have to make as much money as you can because it’s not really about pleasing fans at the venue. Nobody knows where this will all end.

“You can understand why they’ve moved the events to Milton Keynes. The Championship League in June there was really strict, everybody adhered to the rules and there was no room for anybody to step out of line in any respect.

“Everybody was scared at the time, but I think that gave the players a lot of confidence because the venue was so clean.

“From a business side, it makes sense to keep the events there. It saves them a fair bit of money and allows them to keep the tour going for the rest of the season.

“We’ll still have the UK Championship in York, but it’s understandable to stop moving about at the moment. We’ve just got to be thankful that the sponsors have stayed on board.

“I’ve got full praise for (World Snooker Tour chairman) Barry Hearn, World Snooker Tour and Matchroom for all their efforts to keep the sport ticking over. ”
Desmond Kane

The fact that this disease comes in so many forms – ranging from being asymptomatic, to being deadly, or leaving people with permanent debilitating health issues – is the reason really why tests MUST be done and everyone has to be extra cautious.

Now of course, if a person who has tested positive, and is over the disease, will stay positive for a while even though they aren’t contagious anymore, common sense has to prevail IF re-infection can be excluded in the immediate aftermath of the disease because immunity has been gained.

Some Tour News …

The 2021 WSF championships are postponed by a year:

The World Snooker Federation (WSF) and Australian Billiards and Snooker Council (ABSC) have jointly announced that the WSF Open and WSF Junior Open tournaments due to be held in January 2021 have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mixed-gender competitions holding World Snooker Tour qualification won this year by Ashley Hugill and Gao Yang respectively were due to be held at the Snooker SA Venue in Adelaide, South Australia for the first time.

Due to the ongoing effects of the outbreak and travel restrictions in place, both nationally in Australia and across the world as a whole, both parties have taken the responsible decision to postpone these plans by 12 months to 2022.

Both the WSF and ABSC remain committed to hosting the event as soon as it is practical to do so for all involved with the event and will continue to monitor the situation for 2022.

WSF competitions provide an important pathway to the World Snooker Tour for amateur players and alongside the WPBSA, the WSF is currently reviewing options as to how these opportunities can be maintained this season so that players are not disadvantaged.

Jason Ferguson, WSF President said: “I would like to put on record our thanks to ABSC President Frank Dewens who leads a very capable organising team in Australia. In consulting regularly, we have reached what is a sensible decision for all parties. The WSF vision does not change, we are committed to moving major events like these around the world as we must ensure those who have vast distances to travel are presented with opportunities to fulfil their dreams. Adelaide is a stunning destination for these prestigious events, and we will do everything possible to ensure we deliver on our plan for 2022. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the global situation and will investigate all opportunities to hold the 2021 WSF events prior to the 2021/22 season”

Frank Dewens, ABSC President said: “It is indeed a huge disappointment that we have had to postpone these prestigious events until 2022. This decision did not come easy, but we have a duty of care to the snooker fraternity to provide a safe environment for all. We considered delaying hosting these evets until later in 2021 but with the uncertainty of travel restrictions throughout the world we decided to postpone until 2022. We are committed in supporting the WSF events and look forward to hosting these events as soon as it is possible to do so.”

Learn more about the World Snooker Federation.

This is of course the right decision. Now, it remains to be seen how those two Tour cards will be re-allocated.

Tai Chengzhe, who takes pictures for WST and is also their assistant media officer, is still in China, but back snapping around in Lanzhou.

On those images you will recognise Zhang Anda, who went back to China before the 2020 World Championship and decided to put an end to his professional career, and Cao Yupeng. Cao Yupeng was banned from the sport for match fixing. His effective ban is supposed to end in about six weeks from now, according to the above article. My understanding was that the ban extended to the CBSA events, so I’m not sure wheteher the ban was reduced, and if not, what event this is.

Cao Yupeng was involved in one of the most dramatic Home Nations final a few months before his suspension. The Home nations produced a few memorable ones … 

The 2020/21 Home Nations Series gets underway in just a matter of days with the English Open, here’s a look back at the times when tournaments from the series have come down to just a single frame

Snooker fans are now well versed in the 128 player, quickfire format associated with the four Home Nations events, with the series about to enter its fifth season. On four occasions Home Nations finals have come down to a final frame, providing the sorts of nerve shredding drama only a decider for the title can.

2016 Northern Ireland Open – Mark King 9-8 Barry Hawkins

Essex cueman Mark King found himself in his third ranking final after beating Kyren Wilson in the Belfast semis. He was aiming to land a dream maiden ranking crown after 25 years as a professional.

Standing in his way was former Crucible finalist Barry Hawkins, who had already racked up two of his three ranking titles to date. The odds were stacked against King before the first ball was struck and it seemed an even more imposing task when Londoner Hawkins raced into a 5-1 lead during the first session.

However, in typically steely fashion, King dug deep to remain in contention by claiming the last two frames of the afternoon to head into the evening just two down at 5-3.

In the second session, with King leading 8-7 and just a frame from glory he required a seven-point snooker to force a re-spot. Only the pink and black remained on the table, but the black was over the top right corner. He managed to place the pink ball impossibly on top of the black with one of the shots of his career. Hawkins fouled, but won the re-spot to take the match to a decider.

King controlled the final frame and sealed an emotional victory and win the Alex Higgins Trophy in the Northern Irish capital.

Afterwards he said: “I just thought all week my name was on the trophy. I didn’t say it, I just thought things were happening. People were missing game balls, I was winning on the black. It just looked as if it was meant to be and it was. Unbelievable.

“At 8-7 up, I came out and my little six-year-old Polly was out doing cartwheels and the splits outside the arena. That just calmed me down a little bit, seeing her happy. I thought worst case scenario I have my three gems here and my wife. I left everything on the table and it is just nice to come out and be a champ.”

2017 Welsh Open – Stuart Bingham 9-8 Judd Trump

Stuart Bingham climbed snooker’s Everest by becoming World Champion in 2015, but subsequently struggled to hit the same heights and endured a near two-year trophy drought. That dry spell was ended in Cardiff, but not before an epic clash with Judd Trump

Bingham had already lost the European Masters final earlier that season to the Ace in the Pack 9-7. He was a 17-16 victor against Trump in the semi-finals en route to his 2015 World Championship win.

In the early stages of the Welsh Open final, Bingham established a 4-0 advantage, but let that lead slip and eventually found himself 8-7 behind and on the verge of defeat. Bingham hit back to win a tense 40-minute 16th, laying a snooker on the brown and then making a clearance which included a doubled pink to a centre pocket.

In the decider it was a crucial break of 55 which helped Bingham to get himself over the line and capture the Ray Reardon Trophy.

Looking back on that victory, Bingham said: “You get people on social media saying you will never win anything again and that the Crucible win was a one off. I came close at the 2016 World Grand Prix and lost 10-9 to Shaun Murphy in the final. To finally get my hands on the Welsh Open trophy was very special. Especially considering I lost years earlier to Stephen Maguire in the final 9-8, it meant a lot to me.”

2017 Northern Ireland Open – Mark Williams 9-8 Yan Bingtao

A victory which sparked a golden season for the now three-time World Champion Mark Williams.

The Welshman had endured a barren spell which far outweighed that of Bingham’s, having not picked up ranking event silverware since the 2011 German Masters.

Following the win in Belfast, Williams went on to win three further ranking titles to take his career tally to 22. That included a first world title since 2003, defeating John Higgins 18-16 in the final to win the World Championship and become King of the Crucible for the third time.

Yan, aged just 17 at the time, would have beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record to become the youngest winner of a ranking event had he taken home the title. He subsequently failed to clinch silverware in time for the record, but the now 20-year-old has since won a maiden ranking title at the 2019 Riga Masters.

Yan performed well during a high quality final. He had looked set to make history when he led 6-3 and 8-7. However, Williams showed his class and turned the match on its head to seal the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Leading up to the final there were doubts whether Williams would even take to the baize. His wife Jo had fallen ill with Meningitis and required treatment in hospital. Williams made the decision on the morning of the final to play and thankfully she has since fully recovered. It all added up to being a very emotional occasion for the Welshman.

Williams admitted: “After I won and they were interviewing me I could feel myself choking up a little bit. I am never like that. I’ve actually felt myself do it a couple of times now, after I won in other tournaments. It was only at 11 o’clock on the morning of the final, that I told Tournament Director Mike Ganley that I would play.

“She was having something injected into her spine and I was waiting to see how that went in the morning. God forbid anything didn’t go as planned, I would have been straight on the flight home. It was really close to not having a final played, I don’t think that has ever happened before.”

2017 Scottish Open – Neil Robertson 9-8 Cao Yupeng

Having dropped out of the world’s top 16 and missed out on the cut off for Masters qualification just a week earlier, Neil Robertson returned to snooker’s elite tier seven days too late by winning the most dramatic of Scottish Open finals.

The Thunder from Down Under faced a huge deficit when he trailed Chinese counterpart Cao Yupeng 8-4. However, he mounted an improbable fightback to turn the match around.

After 2010 World Champion Robertson clawed his way back to 8-7, there was an extraordinary 16th frame. Cao looked set to clinch the title by clearing the colours, before missing a straightforward pink. He had another chance on the final black, but jawed it and the ball remained over the pocket to allow Robertson to set up a decider.

The Triple Crown winner showed his mettle by firing in a break of 59 under extreme pressure. He eventually crossed the line to take home the title and the Stephen Hendry Trophy.

Robertson said:  “I can’t remember being involved in too many finals like that, where I had to come from so far behind. I was millimetres from losing with Cao rattling the black.

“I started to notice some nerves and jitters in his cue action and I was super aggressive the next few frames. It was all out attack to put him under pressure.

“He just completely outplayed me for a lot of the match. Up to 8-4 it was one of the best performances ever against me He played as the underdog and was free flowing with no pressure. I was expecting some of the mistakes he made at the end to come at the start of the match.”

Next Monday we go again…

 

Important information regarding the 8 first events of the 2020/21 season

WST has now shared more information regarding the first part of the 2020/21 season

WST can now announce that all of the first eight fixtures on the 2020/21 calendar will be held at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

We are delighted to continue working with the staff at the Marshall Arena, who were a tremendous help staging last season’s Championship League and Tour Championship under trying circumstances, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Every endeavour has been taken to minimise the risk of tournaments being postponed over the coming months. Having already successfully held tournaments at the Marshall Arena, we have demonstrated the ability to proceed in a safe manner under lockdown conditions.

We clearly hope that there will be no need to return to lockdown, at local or national level, but holding these events in Milton Keynes gives us the best possible chance to ensure they are delivered to our broadcasters and partners, as well players and fans.

The third leg of this season’s Championship League will now take place from October 26th to 30th. It was originally scheduled to be played from October 23rd to 27th. The BetVictor Shoot Out will now be held in February, with precise dates to be confirmed in due course.

 

Updated Calendar

SEPTEMBER          

13-20 – Championship League – Milton Keynes

21-27 – European Masters – Milton Keynes

28-Oct 5 – Championship League – Milton Keynes 

OCTOBER              

12-18 – English Open – Milton Keynes

26-30 – Championship League – Milton Keynes                                          

NOVEMBER               

2-8 – Champion of Champions – Milton Keynes

10-14 – Qualifiers – BetVictor German Masters  – Milton Keynes

16-22 – Northern Ireland Open – Milton Keynes

24-6 Dec – Betway UK Championship – York  

DECEMBER            

7-13 – Scottish Open – Venue TBC

14-20 – Coral World Grand Prix – Venue TBC

It will not please everyone one, but it’s probably the most sensible approach in order to make sure that the schedule events can be held safely.

2020/21 European Series Announcement

WST has posted this this morning on their site:

The BetVictor European Series will return in the upcoming World Snooker Tour campaign.

The series operates with a unique ranking list over four events, with the player earning the most prize money pocketing a bumper bonus of £150,000. Last season, world number one Judd Trump secured the lucrative payout, after wins at the BetVictor German Masters and the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

The four events this season are:

  • 2021 BetVictor German Masters (Dates TBC)
  • 2021 BetVictor Gibraltar Open (Dates TBC)
  • 2021 BetVictor Shoot Out (Dates TBC)
  • 2021 BetVictor Welsh Open (Dates TBC)

One change from last season’s series sees the BetVictor Welsh Open, which will also remain a Home Nations event, replace the European Masters.

The BetVictor Shoot Out was originally set to run from 29th October to November 1st. However, it has now been rescheduled to 2021. We will announce dates for all of the events in due course.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are absolutely thrilled to announce the continuation of this brilliant series. BetVictor are a fantastic sponsor and we love working alongside them. The support they continue to show snooker in these uncertain times is superb.

“I was gripped by last season’s BetVictor European Series and the cream rose to the top, with world number one Judd Trump claiming the £150,000 bonus. We will continue to incentivise players to enter events and reward them with opportunities to boost their prize money. I eagerly anticipate watching this intriguing series play out again this season.”

That the European Masters is not part of the European Series is a bit strange really. It could be because it’s not going to be sponsored by BetVictor. It could also be that the tournament itself – or its scheduling is in doubt. It was announced for the 21-27 of September 2020. That’s in just over three weeks time. You would expect the European Masters to be held somewhere in mainland Europe, but there are still so many travel restrictions in place everywhere that it might actually be difficult to stage there in the near future.

We can only wait and see …

Some Tour News – 25 August 2020

Some “news” about Tour and the coming season

Ken Doherty has been given a new invitational  two years card (WST)

Former World Champion Ken Doherty has been awarded an invitational tour card to keep his place on the professional circuit for at least the next two years.

One of snooker’s great ambassadors, Irishman Doherty has played on the pro tour since 1990, winning six ranking titles including the 1997 World Championship.

Last weekend he reached the final of the World Seniors Championship, losing 5-4 to Jimmy White.

Doherty, age 50, finished the 2019/20 season ranked 68th in the world, narrowly missing out on a top 64 place which would have seen him keep his card automatically.

But WST has now decided to award the Dubliner an invitational card for the second time, having first given him that status in 2017.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Ken has been a fabulous servant to snooker over the past three decades, as a player, ambassador and television commentator. He is a fantastic asset to the tour and his love of our sport is undiminished. He is also extremely competitive on the pro tour. We are delighted to give him this chance to remain as a World Snooker Tour player for another two years.”

Here is a what we know about the 2020/21 calendar so far

2020:21CalendarPart12020:21CalendarPart2

The CLS is the first event on the calendar, due to start in less than three weeks.

Emily Frazer, Managing Director of Matchroom Multi Sport Ltd, tweeted this yesterday

Emily Frazer CLS entries tweet

Asked if it would be on TV, she answered that this is the plan and that they are still working on it.

Meanwhile WST put a poll on twitter asking if Ronnie will win a 7th World Title.

Ray Reardon believes he can (BBC)

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Ray Reardon says Stephen Hendry’s World Championship record is under threat

Ray and Ron
Ray Reardon left coached O’Sullivan for two years from 2004

Snooker legend Ray Reardon says fellow six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan can move beyond Stephen Hendry’s record total of seven titles.

Reardon became the first man to win six world crowns in 1978, a feat not bettered until Hendry in 1999.

O’Sullivan beat Kyren Wilson 18-8 in the final last week to clinch his sixth title and draw level with his former coach Reardon and Steve Davis.

Reardon told BBC Radio Devon O’Sullivan is “incredible”.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen in my life, including Hendry, Davis and many others of the past,” added Welshman Reardon, 87.

O’Sullivan is never far from controversy and during this year’s tournament, which was re-scheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 45-year-old criticised the standard of young players coming through to challenge him.

He has also been open with his struggles with mental health during his career, which has seen him win a record 37 ranking titles since he won the first of his seven UK Championship titles as a 17-year-old in 1993.

“When he loses the plot anybody could beat him. It depends what frame of mind he’s in. He’s an unusual character really. He’s amazing,” added Reardon.

“He’s passionate about it. I know he doesn’t say it. He says some silly things sometimes, but he loves snooker.

“He’s the most natural thing you’ll ever see. He must have been born with a block of chalk in his mouth.”

 

2019/2020 – The Awards

WST has today shared its “Awards”

Judd Trump has been named snooker’s Player of the Year after a record breaking performance across the 2019/20 season.

Trump became the first player to win six ranking titles in a single season, lifting the trophy at the World Open, International Championship, Northern Ireland Open, German Masters, Players Championship and Gibraltar Open.

The 31-year-old also built a huge lead at the top of the world rankings and became the second player to make 100 century breaks in a season.

He receives the main Player of the Year award, voted by a panel of experts, for a second consecutive year.

Trump was also voted Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year by media around the world who cover snooker. And he won the Fans’ Player of the Year, voted by fans on the WST App and on social media platforms in China.

Ronnie O’Sullivan took the Performance of the Year award for winning the World Championship for the sixth time. The Rocket beat Kyren Wilson 18-8 in last weekend’s final at the Crucible.

Magic Moment of the Year went to John Higgins for his 147 during the second round of the World Championship, becoming the first player to make a maximum at the Crucible since 2012.

Leicester’s Louis Heathcote won Rookie of the Year following an excellent debut season which was highlighted by a run to the final qualifying round of the World Championship and a jump to 82nd in the rankings.

WST Awards: 2019/20 winners
Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Fans’ Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Performance of the Year – Ronnie O’Sullivan
Rookie of the Year – Louis Heathcote
Magic Moment of the Year – John Higgins

Player of the Year – former winners
2011: John Higgins
2012: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2013: Mark Selby
2014: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2015: Stuart Bingham
2016: John Higgins
2017: Mark Selby
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019: Judd Trump
2020: Judd Trump

and the video going with it:

Judd Trump, having won a record six ranking titles this season, whilst being the reigning World Champion, was always going to be “Player of the Year” . It should be “Player of the Season” really, as the year isn’t over yet. Those awards are a recognition of players perfornmance over a the season.
The only “bemol” one can put on Judd’s season is that he hasn’t performed in any of the “Majors”. He lost by 6-3 to 54 years old Nigel Bond in the UK Championship, he lost by the same score to Shaun Murphy in the Masters first round, and never really impressed at the Crucible where he lost at the QF stage. But then, both the UK Championship 2019 (Ding Junhui) and the Masters 2020 (Stuart Bingham) have been won by players who did pretty nothing before or after this season. It was all a bit bizarre.

There can be no arguing with Ronnie’s “Performance of the Year” (aka Season). Winning a 6th World Title, a record 37th ranking title, at 44,  definitely deserved the recognition. He beat a ranking event winner is every round, including two former multiple World Champions, and a former World runner-up. He beat his nemesis, Mark Selby, over best of 33 in the semi finals, and with this, hopefully the 2014 demons will be gone too.
In this category though, I think one player, who wasn’t a “winner” should have been nominated: Jamie Clarke. After two seasons of struggling badly, winning three matches at the World qualifiers and then beating Mark Allen at the Crucible before narrowly losing to Anthony McGill, should, in my oponion, get him some recognition. Another one who deserved a nomination was Yan Bingtao: in Riga, he became the first teenager since Ding in 2006 to win a ranking event, and went on to become a member of the top 16 elite.

No argument with Louis Heathcote being awarded “Rookie of the year”.

Magic moment of the year? John Higgins 147 ? … maybe. I can’t really think of one particular “Wow!” moment this season other than Ronnie lifting that World Trophy again after 7 years of Crucible struggles.

But I would like to add some more “awards” …

The “Best day of the Season” goes, without a doubt, to Friday 14th of August. The two semi finals at the Crucible, going to a decider and producing incredible drama. The last frame of the Kyren Wilson v Anthony McGill was the craziest frame I’ve ever seen and very few will disagree with that assesment. Ronnie beating his demons, and Mark Selby, in a decider only hours after made the day very, very special!

Also, both WPBSA and WST deserve huge credit for bringing snooker back, and getting players to play in the context of this pandemic. I still disagree with having a crowd at the Crucible. The nature of the place made that a huge risk and I sincerely hope that nobody got infected. But, the efforts put into getting the CLS up, then running both the World qualifiers and the World Championship were exceptional Thank you WST and WPBSA.

Those who read this blog for some time know that I also have “Golden Turkey” awards

Golden Turkey

A permanent feature in this category is the “ranking” status of the Shoot-out. It gets a Golden Turkey once again.

What else this season?

The Paul Hunter Classic once the best, biggest and most vibrant Pro-Am in the snooker calendar, has been slowly but effectively destroyed, by being made a ranking event, and this season being just reduced to a 16  players “sanctioned” event. It leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth and, I’m sure, I’m not the only one. Anyone who went to Fürth in the glory days of the Pro-Am will feel the same.

Also the “yellow” incident during the John Higgins v Ali Carter QF at the Masters 2020. You can read about it, and watch the video again, in this piece by David Caulfield.
The white never touched the yellow, That’s plain for all to see. Desi had made the right call. Yet Carter’s aggressive reaction – I’m even tempted to use the word “bully” here – prompted her to change her call. So many things went wrong here. Surely, Desi and the marker should have reviewed the replay and she should have stood her ground. Carter claimed to be flabbergasted. Did he not look at the white whist it traveled and missed its aim? How could he honestly think he had hit the yellow if he did? Why not calmly ask for a video review if he honestly thought he had hit it instead of being plainly aggressive? Answers/opinions on a postcard…