Don’t believe everything you read in the press …

Today THIS was published by the Daily Star

Ronnie O’Sullivan coach BANNED from Romford training base – this is why

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has been dealt a blow on the eve of the World Snooker Championship after his coach was banned from visiting his training base.

Ronnie O’Sullivan linked up with Stephen Feeney last year after he turned Mark Williams back into a world champion.

Williams, 44, won his third Crucible title in May 2018 and O’Sullivan decided to get the mastermind behind that success on board.

Feeney appears to have had a major impact on The Rocket after his stunning season which has seen him return to the world No.1 spot and claim five major titles.

But his progress could be hit after his coach was banned from O’Sullivan’s Romford training base.

O’Sullivan has practiced at the Grove Academy in Romford, Essex, for years.

But he’s had to change his plans for the 2019 World Snooker Championship, and will instead head to Sheffield.

The Grove Academy is owned by O’Sullivan’s former manager Django Fung, and he’s banned Feeney from entering the venue – although the player himself is still allowed in.

Fung manages fellow snooker stars Judd Trump and Neil Robertson and disrupting O’Sullivan’s preparations could give them a big advantage.

To which Django Fung responded THIS on social media
This happened 10 months ago. No one is banned, I just need to know who enters my premises and when. Also don’t need any unwanted distractions to my players. I explained this to and he fully understands it.

Clearly someone is making a “drama” story out of nothing. The article is inaccurate and misleading. Unfortunately many will only read the article, comment on it and share it and will not see – or will deliberately choose to ignore Django’s answer… because they like to stir the pot.

I have seen this type of things often enough when I was in the media room. Quotes from players, taken out of context, twisted, presented as spontaneous when they had been baited into it. Just to create “stories” that sell, in total disregard from what the players actually meant. And it’s all the most easy to do when they are interviewed, only minutes after a match, especially when they are feeling raw having just lost.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many journalists out there who genuinely do their job the best they can, trying to promote the sport, to sell articles to their – too often reluctant – editors whilst being fair to the players. But you have the others as well … like this one.

 

A Night of 1000 Centuries

Is the new tour Jason Francis is planning with Ronnie coming June and July. Some very special limited items will be available ONLY on those nights, commemorating the “1000 centuries” achievement.

Jason is looking for clubs able to host those “Nights”. Here is what he posted on social media. If you are a club owner and interested please contact Jason. If you are a fan and want to go to one of those events … DO NOT contact Jason. Places and dates have not yet been organised. When they are I will publish all the info on this blog.

If your club fancies staging one of our ‘A Night of 1000 Centuries’ Ronnie shows then please email me as I will have some dates in June and July. maximum audience of 200 so very intimate and allows Ronnie to meet EVERYONE email info@snookerlegends.co.uk

Looking forward to it!

World Snooker Championship 2019 – Qualifiers Round 1

Those are the results of round 1:

WC2019QualsDay2ResultsWC2019QualsDay1ResultsWC2019QualsDay3ResultsWC2019QualsDay4Results

You can read here what it means for the players in terms of surviving on the main tour.

Three players currently in the relegation zone have still a chance to stay on tour: Jimmy White, Xu Si and Zhang Yong. However they need to qualify for the main event to do so, and, should more than one of them manage that, they would need Nigel Bond and/or James Cahill to lose next round.

Among the professionals who are relegated, we do have a number of players who have been around for years: Joe Swail, Rory McLeod, Peter Lines, Paul Davison, Robin Hull…

Peter Lines will feel a bit aggrieved. Indeed his opponent, Zhang Jankiang, withdrew, and was replaced by another “veteran”, Michael Judge, a former pro who has been a regular on the Seniors Tour all season. A win or a bye would have placed him in the top 8 of the one year list.

Joe Swail was gutted to lose his professional status, but has been suffering with tinnitus for years (Joe is partially deaf). It has affected him both in his every day life and at the table. Despite the sore disappointment of dropping off the tour, Joe has vowed to take care of his health first and then consider playing in the Seniors Tour.

Robin Hull also suffers health issues and had previously announced that he could retire at the end of this season. He suggested that his decision would be made after the World Championship. Now, it is rumoured that he’s entered the Q-school. If that’s true then obviosly he does want to give it another go.

Dominic Dale is safe through the one year list, but should he win his round two match as well he would climb into the top 64. He would then send Mike Dunn in the relegation zone and free one spot in the one year list, currently benefitting Alexander Ursenbacher.

Liang Wenbo broke a record in his demolition of poor Basem Eltahan: he set a new points without reply record for the World Championship – 493 (Previous record 485, Higgins v Hamilton in 2000).

And Noppon Saengkham made a 146 against Adam Stefanow:

Largely unknown amateur Pang Junxu, 19 years old, beat Stuart Carrington, and quite comfortably too. Not many saw that coming! If I’m not mistaken he’s CBSA nominee in this.

Ng On Yee ran Alan McManus extremely close. She had been trashed in those qualifiers previously, but this time she stayed with a the very experienced “Angles” up to the last MSI. Alan then pulled away. In fact it was 6-6 at the last MSI and On Yee had never been behind.

To the surprise of many – but not me – Fergal O’Brien comprehensively beat Jackson Page. Page went 3-0 up … before “diesel engine” Fergal kicked in. After that it was largely one way traffic. Even if Jackson had gone 5-0 up, I would still have fancied Fergal to win. To me Jackson Page is over-rated. I’m not doubting his talent, but his game is still very incomplete. That’s not unusual for someone that young, and he has a lot of time to learn. I’m not convinced however that the hype around him is doing any good.

 

 

Was there snooker on those last three day? Just a bit!

On  10 and 11 April we had the WSS ROKiT Seffield Masters 2019 at the Crucible theatre.

This event is part of the “Seniors Tour” and was won by Joe Johnson.

WSSMasters2019Final-6572

Everyone was happy for Joe after what happened last year. Indeed during the launch dinner last year, Joe collapsed and if it wasn’t for the prompt and competent care he received from the medics, he wouldn’t be with us today, let alone a tournament winner.

All the results and pictures are available here. 

A very important announcement was made during the event: the WSS ROKiT World Championship 2019 will be held at the Crucible Theatre from August 15 to August 18, 2019 and the Crucible will become home of the WSS World Championship for the years to come.

WSSWC2019Poster

Aside from the main competition, this event will also have sessions featuring Women Snooker players and Disability Snooker players. Not to be missed!

Yesterday, 12 April, Ronnie did an exhibition in Mansfield. 

Mansfield12.04.2019

The day before he had come on twitter and Instagram, saying that he was practicing and “at it” again. Well apparently being “at it” meant this: heavy scoring. Indeed in nine frames, Ronnie had six centuries, the top one a 134, and two 90+ breaks. He must have had a lapse of concentration somewhere … 6+2=8 ?

Anyway, going by the reactions on social media, people had a good time. Here are some images that were shared on twitter:

Apparently Ronnie and Jason are working on new merchandise items celebrating the 1000 centuries.

The second item has all the dates on it… but they have a slight problem: counting the centuries, based on Ronnie’s list, the 134 he made to win in Preston was in fact century n°1001! Where is the rogue one? This illustrates an issue all statisticians of the sport have: in early days, nobody was keeping proper, well documented stats. Cuetracker.net for instance, credits Ronnie with less centuries than the official body does because Ron Florax, being extremely thorough, only accepts the centuries he can properly document, and information is hard to find for some older events, in particular team events like the Nations Cups for instance. Also some events, although sanctioned by Worldsnooker were not played on tables that were certified to comply with the governing body competitions standards, therefore those centuries made in them shouldn’t be counted. This was the case for the “Kilkenny Master” in 2007, an event that Ronnie won, and where he made a 147, but that doesn’t count in his official tally of maximum breaks.

Finally the World Championships 2019 qualifiers are underway at the English Institute of Sport. 

Those are the results of the first three days:

WC2019QualsDay2ResultsWC2019QualsDay1ResultsWC2019QualsDay3Results

Today will see the conclusion of the first round and I’ll come back on those results tomorrow…

 

World Championship 2019 – first round format

This has appeared today on twitter:

WC2019FirstRoundFormatjpg

This isn’t too bad for Ronnie. He doesn’t start right away, and still has a couple of days before his second match, should he win. What can’t be avoided are the two successive sessions in the QF if we get that far. Being second seed, he’s in the bottom quarter of the draw and that means the the two last sessions of his (potential) QF will be the last two of the round.

The World Championship 2019 Qualifiers – a preview of sorts

Rigging is underway at the English Institute of Sports

and tomorrow I will try to travel to Sheffield, hoping that some hard Brexiters won’t tie themselves on the tracks to prevent the Eurostar to reach London and to stop it bringing it’s load of those terrible foreigners on UK soil … you know.

I’ll be there primarily for two events: the WSS ROKiT Masters 2019, on April 11,  which I’ll cover photographically – and the World Championship 2019 Qualifiers of which I will just be a spectator. If it can be arranged I might go to Ronnie’s exhibition in Mansfield on April 12, and that would be with my camera.

The World Championship Qualifiers is a quite unique event. Players have to win three best of 19 matches to make it to the television stages of the World Championship at the Crucible. There is a lot of money at stakes. This is the place where careers end … or dreams come true. And this year there are quite a number of older pros – men we he seen on our screens for many many years – for whom this could be the last event. Amongst them, Jimmy White, Peter Ebdon, Robin Hull, Joe Swail, Rory McLeod, Nigel Bond, Peter Lines and Anthony Hamilton.

There are 128 players at the event, arranged in 16 groups of 8, each group producing just one happy guy or gal who will play at the “Theatre of Dreams” in less than two weeks time.

Group 1:

Ryan Day v Oliver Lines
Tian Pengfei v Soheil Vahedi
Matthew Stevens v Thor Chuan Leong
Chris Wakelin v Fan Zhengyi

From this group, I expect the winner to be Ryan Day, Tian Pengfei or Matthew Stevens, although Chris Wakelin can’t be dismissed completely. Ryan Day is the unlucky bloke who finished ranked 17 at the end of last week. He will be desperate to get through. He has the game to do it. His temperament is far better than it used to be too. For me he’s the group favourite. Tian however is a very dangerous player; on a good day he can beat anyone. Matthew Stevens always had the talent and form has also improved recently. They both could spoil Day’s … day.

Group 2:

Gary Wilson v Sanderson Lam
Dominic Dale v Chris Totten
Liang Wenbo v Basem Eltahhan
Rory McLeod v David Grace

Liang Wenbo has been under the radars for a while, but last week he reached the last 16 in Beijing and was playing well. Gary Wilson is always dangerous, but his form isn’t too great and Liang Wenbo is the man who beat him in round one last week in China. One man who could create a surprise is David Grace. He’s now an amateur, but was runner-up to the Challenge Tour, and, with it, got a new tour card. David is on form and one of the very few coming here with no pressure. That’s a dangerous combination. I still think that Liang Wenbo will emerge the winner of this group. However, I see David Grace as second favourite and he would be a very popular qualifier if he managed it!

Group 3:

Robbie Williams v Sam Baird
Marco Fu v Luo Honghao
Sam Craigie v Rhys Clark
Tom Ford v Ross Muir

Sam Craigie last week in Beijing beat Ryan Day, Ali Carter and Liang Wenbo before being whitewashed by the eventual champion Neil Robertson. For me he’s the man to beat in this group, if tiredness from his recent exploits in China doesn’t spoil it for him. Marco Fu has been very inconsistent since being affected by eyes problems, Tom Ford’s temperament is a bit suspect under pressure. Robbie Williams? Yes, he beat Judd Trump in China and he’s the only one I can see challenging Sam Craigie here. I’ll stick with Sam.

Group 4:

Akani Songsermsawad v Chen Zifan
Robert Milkins v Luke Simmonds
Duane Jones v Kishan Hirani
Anthony McGill v Ashley Hugill

I would love to see Sunny Akani at the Crucible but I can’t see it happening. This group, in my opinion will be between Anthony McGill and Robert Milkins and I can’t decide which one. Robert Milkins has all the talent in the world but at times you’d think he’s been created by  Adam Douglas’ Finite Improbability device as he throws out the most unexpected mistakes … His current ranking is 41, but really it should be 42. I think that Anthony McGill will come out the winner of this group.

Group 5:

Graeme Dott v Hamza Akbar
Xu Si v Sean O’Sullivan
Stuart Carrington v Pang Junxu
Kurt Maflin v Mitchell Mann

Expect some hard-fought matches in this one with Graeme Dott, Stuart Carrington and Mitchell Mann. Mitchell last year forfeited his match against Ryan Day in round 2, feeling unable to continue due to mental health issues. This also meant that he lost his professional status there and then. He seems to be in a better place now, he comes here as an amateur and has done very well in the Challenge Tour. I see him as a serious contender. But over three best of 19 distance, IMO Graeme Dott will prevail in this group. Kurt Maflin has been far too inconsistent all season for me to take him in the picture.

Group 6:

Li Hang v Niu Zhuang
Ian Burns v Farakh Ajaib
Ben Woollaston v Elliot Slessor
Mike Dunn v Nigel Bond

I expect the winner of Ben Woollaston v Elliott Selessor to take on Li Hang in the final of this group and, on current form, Li Hang to prevail. That said, you never know what the stubborn, shrewd old-timers like Mike Dunn and Nigel Bond might do although Nigel’s potting has become really inconsistent over the last couple of years. Alas…

Group 7:

Daniel Wells v Jamie Clarke
Hossein Vafaei v Zhang Anda
Gerard Greene v Aaron Hill
Martin Gould v Mostafa Dorgham

There are two amateurs in this group: Aaron Hill, who is the under-18 European Champion and Mostafa Dorgham … who I had never heard of until a couple of days ago. I would be very surprised if any of them survived their first match, Aaron mainly because his inexperience in such environment. Jamie Clarke’s season has been dreadful,  Zhang Anda’s too. So the highest ranked players should prevail easily in all four matches here. From there, I think that Hossein Vafaei is the one with the best form currently and I’ll go for him to win this group.

Group 8:

Michael Georgiou v Lee Walker
Peter Ebdon v Harvey Chandler
Mei Xiwen v Florian Nuessle
Yan Bingtao v Lukas Kleckers

I can see only one winner in this group, Yan Bingtao, despite a very quiet season. Mei Xiwen is a decent professional but without genius and vulnerable when matches reach the latter stages. As much as I’d like to see one of the “Europeans” – Lukas Kleckers and Florian Nuessle – win, somehow that looks highly improbable. Michael Georgiou has done nothing of note since winning the Shoot Out in 2018, Peter Ebdon is always hard to beat but isn’t winning much, Lee Walker could win his first match but will probably exhaust himself  – and everyone else – doing so and Harvey Chandler always seems to come just short of victory – he ran Mark Williams very close in Beijing – but I DO hope he gets at least one win here.

Group 9:

Ali Carter v Paul S Davison
Jimmy White v Ross Bulman
Michael White v Andy Hicks
Yuan Sijun v John Astley

In this group as well we have two amateurs: the young Ross Bulman, the European under-21 runner-up and the veteran Andy Hicks. In the form Michael White is currently, I actually expect Andy Hicks to reach the second round. Jimmy White will probably have too much experience for young Ross. But the winner of this group should be either Ali Carter or Yuan Sijun. Ali has to be the favourite but I would absolutely love for Yuan Sijun to make it through to the Crucible.

Group 10:

Ricky Walden v Alfie Burden
Eden Sharav v David Lilley
Zhou Yuelong v Robin Hull
Liam Highfield v Hammad Miah

The only amateur in this group, David Lilley, who played in the WSS tour this season, as well as in the Challenge Tour and as a top up in the main tour could cause some problems to Eden Sharav, whose season hasn’t been great, although over best of 19 it remains to be seen if David can sustain the desired consistency. Robin Hull has some health issues and got almost no hope. Neither Liam Highfield, nor Hammad Miah have impressed this season. Alfie Burden hasn’t won a match in months. Ricky Walden is slowly improving but remains inconsistent. That leaves us with Zhou Yuelong … provided his temperament doesn’t let him down.

Group 11:

Fergal O’Brien v Jackson Page
Mark Davis v Rod Lawler
Alexander Ursenbacher v Jordan Brown
Lyu Haotian v Ashley Carty

Fergal O’Brien has all the attributes to frustrate young Jakson Page, and unless the latter outpots him, he will do just that. I expect Rod Lawler, who beat Kyren Wilson in Beijing, to beat Mark Davis who had an indifferent season. If my feelings materialise, we will have a Fergal O’Brien v Rod Lawler round two match. They better foresee two refrerees for that one: it could be an all day affair followed by an all nighter! I believe that Lyu Haotian is the more likely to come through the other half. And I think he can win the group too … given that he will probably be the freshest man standing in the last round.

Group 12:

Mark Joyce v Billy Joe Castle
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Jonathan Bagley
Joe O’Connor v Joe Swail
Jimmy Robertson v Chen Feilong

Jonathan Bagley, the only amateur in the group, is the WSS current n°1. He’s a very useful player but I doubt that he will have the scoring power to beat “Theppy”. Thepchaya Un-Nooh is the favourite to win this group in my eyes. I can’t see either Mark Joyce nor Billy Castle to cause him problems. I expect him to face Joe O’Connor in round 3. Jimmy Robertson has done very little since winning the European Masters in Lommel in autumn. Joe Swail is struggling.

Group 13:

Xiao Guodong v Jak Jones
Peter Lines v Michael Judge (replacing Zhang Jiankang)
Michael Holt v Brandon Sargeant
Andrew Higginson v James Cahill

This is a hard group to call. Neither Andrew Higginson, nor Xiao Guodong have been in great form, or consistent recently. Both Jak Jones and James Cahill – now an amateur – have played well in spells during the season and could well cause an early “upset”. Peter Lines is always hard to beat, despite not always scoring very heavily but Michael Judge is no push-over. This match is 50/50. The most likely winner in this section, for me, is Michael Holt. He’s first up against Brandon Sargeant, who won the Challenge Tour 2018/19. It could be close though.

Group 14:

Mark King v Igor Figueiredo
Lu Ning v Allan Taylor
Scott Donaldson v Craig Steadman
Ken Doherty v Andy Lee

Now this is an interesting group. It features two WSS players in Igor Figueiredo, the Pan American Champion and Ken Doherty. Igor is a very heavy scorer when on form. He will play Mark King, who isn’t that much of a scorer but a very hard match player. I’m not sure who will win this match, it will be very much on Igor’s form on the day. The winner will face Lu Ning or Alan Taylor. Lu Ning is unspectacular but has got a few good results this season. Again it’s hard to call. However, overall I think that Mark King will be the one to reach round 3. The other half features Ken Doherty who faces Andy Lee first. I would be shocked if Ken doesn’t win that one. Should he do that, he would almost certainly regain his professional status next season. The other match though is extremely difficult to predict: both Craig Steadman – who beat Mark Selby in Beijing – and Scott Donaldson – who reached the semi finals last week – are in good form. Scott is the better player in my opinion, but he’s likely to still be a bit tired from his run in China. Whoever goes through will offer Ken Doherty a strong opposition. But Ken is burning with desire to play at the Crucible one more time and I think he’ll prevail. Can he then beat Mark King? I’m not sure.

Group 15:

Anthony Hamilton v James Wattana
Matthew Selt v Dylan Emery
Zhao Xintong v Adam Lilley
Noppon Saengkham v Adam Stefanow

Anthony Hamilton is struggling and I’m not sure that James Wattana – who remains a beautifull player to watch – has the stamina for a best of 19. James though did beat Ding in China last week, and did beat him soundly!. Matthew Selt and Zhao Xintong both face amateurs and should win their first matches. Adam Stefanow has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, but Noppon Seangkham will probably have too much for him. The winner of this group should come from the trio: Zhao Xintong, Matthew Selt or Noppon Saengkham. Which one of them? I can’t decide.

Group 16:

Alan McManus v Ng On Yee
Martin O’Donnell v Adam Duffy
Zhang Yong v Reanne Evans
Joe Perry v Simon Lichtenberg

I can honestly see only one winner in this group and that’s Joe Perry. On Yee has been heavily defeated in her previous outings at the WC qualifiers and can’t see her beating Alan McManus over a best of 19. I could be close though and a very long match. Whoever wins will faced either the out-of-form Martin O’Donnell or the error prone Adam Duffy. Reanne Evans – provided she’s in good nick – could beat Zhang Yong, but I can’t see her get the better of Perry.

China Open 2019 – Neil Robertson is your Champion

The way Jack Lisowski had played against Stuart Bingham, I was expecting a rather close final, but this wasn’t one! Neil Robertson dominated the match from start to finish and won by 11-4. He’s your China Open  2019 Champion.

Congratulations Neil!

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session: Neil Robertson 8-2 Jack Lisowski

Neil Robertson established an imposing 8-2 lead over Jack Lisowski after the first session of the XingPai China Open final in Beijing.

Robertson requires just three more frames to take home the title in the best of 21 encounter. The match will be played to a conclusion in this evening’s final session.

The Australian, who has won 15 ranking titles in his career, is currently ranked seventh in the world and would move up to fourth if he were to take home the £225,000 top prize today. Victory would see Robertson pick up three ranking titles in a single season for the first time in his career, having already won the Riga Masters and the Welsh Open.

Lisowski is aiming for a maiden ranking title. It’s his second appearance in a final, having been runner-up to Robertson at the Riga Masters. The Englishman has enjoyed a strong season, which has confirmed his place in the world’s top 16 ahead of the World Championship. That means he will compete at the Crucible as a seed for the first time later this month.

Robertson flew out of the traps today, compiling breaks of 86 and 141 on his way to securing a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session interval.

When they returned Lisowski got his first frame on the board to make it 4-1. However, the ruthless Robertson fired in runs of 74, 100 and 65 as he surged further ahead and moved 8-1 ahead. Lisowski gave himself some hope by taking the final frame of the session on the colours to end 8-2 behind.

Evening session: Neil Robertson 11-4 Jack Lisowski

Neil Robertson claimed his second XingPai China Open title by defeating Jack Lisowski 11-4 in the final in Beijing.

The victory marks the 16th ranking title of Robertson’s career and moves him clear of Mark Selby to occupy sixth position alone in the all-time ranking event winner’s list.

The Australian picks up £225,000 for his win and that sees him boosted from seventh to fourth position in the world rankings. That means he will now be in the top half of the draw for this month’s World Championship. His total prize-money for the season has now passed the £500,000 mark.

Robertson will head to the Crucible in a red hot streak of form, having now appeared in four consecutive ranking finals. He won the Welsh Open and was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Players Championship and the Tour Championship. It’s the first time Robertson has secured three ranking titles in a single season, having also won the Riga Masters earlier in the campaign.

Lisowski will be disappointed not to have picked up a maiden ranking title. However, he has the consolation of the £90,000 runner-up prize, which is the biggest payday of his career. The Englishman’s performance this week has confirmed his place in the top 16 for the World Championship and he will now compete at the Crucible as a seed for the first time.

Robertson had established a dominant position after the opening session today, moving 8-2 in front after the first ten frames.

When they came out this evening, he immediately moved to the verge of victory with runs of 91 and 50 to go 10-2 up. Lisowski refused to fall away and claimed two on the bounce to provide some resistance and take the match to the mid-session interval.

However, Robertson quickly snuffed out any comeback hopes for Lisowski, with a break of 79 to seal the 11-4 victory.

“I was very determined going into today. I’ve lost my last two finals and with this being my sixth final of the season, I didn’t want it to be two wins and four losses,” said Robertson. “Playing someone like Jack Lisowski meant I had to play really well. When you know you have to play well to win, it gives you so much motivation. I was really concentrated throughout. It was probably one of my best ever performances from start to finish in an event. Especially in China, when you have to adapt to the jetlag.

“It seems like such a long time since I won the World Championship in 2010. Going into it this year, it is the first time in a while I am just going to go and entertain the crowd and play some attacking snooker that they can enjoy. Hopefully the results will just take care of themselves. In the last few years I have tried to get into the last 16 and the quarters and work my way into the tournament. I have won three ranking events and a massive competition this week, I’m just going to relax and enjoy myself.”

Afterwards Lisowski was keen to take the positives from this week and is now looking ahead to the upcoming World Championship.

He said: “I’ve got to learn from this week and think about what happened. Neil played great today and I wasn’t that good. I can still see there are a lot of places with room for improvement. I have to knuckle down, as I could see my game getting better throughout the week.

“My ranking is really going up and I am a seed in the World Championship. My game is finally there and I feel like I have proven myself to a point now. There is still a lot to do, but I’m not in a mess with my game like I was a few years ago.”

This means that the draw for the Crucible is now decided, at least regarding the seeds:

Mark Williams (1) / Qualifier
David Gilbert (16) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (9) / Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (8) / Qualifier

————————————

John Higgins (5) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (12) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (13) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (4) / Qualifier

————————————

Mark Selby (3) / Qualifier
Luca Brecel (14) / Qualifier
Jack Lisowski (11) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (6) / Qualifier

————————————

Judd Trump (7) / Qualifier
Ding Junhui (10) / Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (15) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) / Qualifier

The draw now looks a bit more balanced than it was at the start of the week. With Stuart Bingham and Neil Robertson in his quarter, John Higgins certainly hasn’t the “easiest quarter” anymore. Arguably, the easiest quarter is now Mark William’s quarter, although Barry Hawkins is a bit of a Crucible specialist and always seems to find form in those long matches. Mark Selby will need to find something to contain the mad potters, Luca Brecel and Jack Lisowski. Albeit, regarding Jack, he still needs to prove that he can find his game on the biggest scenes against top opponents. Obviously Ronnie and Judd Trump possible QF clash isn’t an easy prospect for either of them.

Overall, at this stage, I’d make Neil Robertson favourite for the title. He’s in great form, he’s brimming with confidence and he has the hunger. He wants to become a multiple world champion badly. He will be hard to stop. At least he’s no more in Ronnie’s half…

And, as conclusion, the as ever great Trophy Ceremony …