Main Tour News – 23.06.2022

Let’s start with the good news …

The venues for the Home Nations have been decided and the Scottish Open returns to Scotland … as it should.

From what I understand, a newsletter was circulated and here is Phil Haigh reporting on the main points of interest:

Snooker’s Scottish Open and Welsh Open get new homes for 2022/23 season

The Scottish Open will return to Scotland this season after a brief trip to Wales last year, while the Welsh Open moves to Llandudno for the 2022/23 campaign.

It was an unusual Scottish Open in 2021, with a contractual issue forcing a late switch from Glasgow to north Wales due to the tournament being sponsored by a bookmaker.

It returns to Scotland in 2022, but not to Glasgow which has been its home for the majority of its latest incarnation, but to Edinburgh for the event that runs from 28 November to 4 December.

World Snooker Tour confirmed the switch in their Cue News newsletter, although did not announce which venue would be used in the Scottish capital.

In a previous life, the Scottish Open was last hosted in Edinburgh in 2003 at the Royal Highland Centre, when David Gray beat Mark Selby in the final to lift the title.

The newsletter also confirmed that the Welsh Open will be making the move to Llandudno for the first time in its history.

The tournament dates back to 1992 and has either been held in Cardiff or Newport since its inception, but will move north to Llandudno in 2023 from 13-19 February.

Llandudno has become a feature on the World Snooker Tour in recent years, also hosting the Tour Championship in 2019 and ’22, but the eight-man event is set to move on this season.

Hull is expected to be announced as the new home of the Tour Championship for 2023.

Now onto the bad news …

WST published this statement yesterday:

WPBSA Statement – Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

After careful consideration the WPBSA Board has taken the decision not to admit Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon as a Member of the WPBSA.

This decision has been taken in the best interests of the WPBSA and the sport. This means that he will be unable to take a place on the World Snooker Tour for the forthcoming season.

This is due to outstanding serious disciplinary matters from when he was last on the World Snooker Tour in 2015. ​Thanawat is cooperating fully with the WPBSA to resolve the outstanding issues.

This World Snooker Tour place will now be offered to Asjad Iqbal of Pakistan who is the next in line on the Asia-Oceania Q School Order of Merit.

So, apparently, this decision is related to this nearly seven years old statement:

The WPBSA was today alerted to unusual betting patterns regarding the match between Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon and Martin O’Donnell at the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany.

The WPBSA monitors betting on ALL professional snooker and has the most sophisticated methods available today. Working with partners worldwide and by liaising with the Gambling Commission, the WPBSA will review the available facts surrounding betting on this match. A decision will then be taken on whether any further action is necessary.

It wasn’t the first time that Thanawat had been in trouble. Already in August 2013, he had been involved in a very serious incident:

Firebomb attack on Sheffield home of snooker players in corruption probe

The Sheffield home of two Thai snooker players under investigation for possible match-fixing has been firebombed in a premeditated arson attack, The Mail on Sunday reveals.

Although the police have established no fixed motive for the arson, which resulted in two people needing medical treatment, one line of inquiry is that it could be linked to gambling on snooker.

Violent crime has been a blot on Thai snooker historically. Thailand’s best player, James Wattana, a former world No 3, once had a death threat to encourage him to lose a match, and his father was shot dead in 1992, said to be as a result of gambling debts.

Suggestions that Asian fixers could be trying to influence British snooker will send a chill through the sport – hence the complete secrecy, until now, about the arson attack.

The Mail on Sunday reveals it happened at a house in the Brinsworth area of Rotherham, near Sheffield, early on Friday August 30.

The property is owned by a snooker academy boss, Keith Warren, and two of those to have stayed there are Thai players, Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, 19, and Passakorn Suwannawat, 27.

The attack came three weeks after snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, announced they were investigating unusual betting patterns on matches played in Doncaster by Passakorn and Thanawat on August 7.

Money had been placed on Thanawat, the world No 75, and Passakorn, ranked No 92, to lose in a qualifying event for the Shanghai Masters. Both fell to lower-ranked opponents. Bookmakers suspended betting before the matches and the WPBSA announced immediately they would liaise with the Gambling Commission to ‘establish the available facts’.

Almost seven weeks on, the inquiry is continuing. ‘We are continuing to look at the two matches, and I can confirm there was an arson attack,’ said snooker’s head of integrity Nigel Mawer, formerly the head of the Economic and Specialist Crime Command at the Met Police. ‘Whether the matches are connected to the arson, I don’t know, but that is one of several possibilities that could be considered.

The two players were not in the house at the time of the attack, having left for Thailand three or four days earlier, and wanted to remain anonymous.

A local fire brigade spokeswoman said three fire engines attended a blaze at 2.30am and two occupants were told how to stay safe until rescued. ‘The door area of the house was on fire and the rest of the property was smoke-logged,’ said the spokeswoman. A brigade investigation found the fire was ‘deliberate’ and the police took over.

It is understood that the WPBSA were alerted that cash in Asian markets had been wagered on the Thai players’ qualifiers, and peculiar betting patterns were also seen in the UK.

Snooker is grappling with one major match-fix case already. Former world No 5 Stephen Lee, 38, was found guilty last week on seven counts of fixing games or frames in 2008-09 and faces a possible life ban.

There was also a report by Snookerbacker at the time:

Arson About at Thai Player’s Home

It’s been made public this morning that the residence in Rotherham which houses the Thai snooker players was subjected to an arson attack back in August, just three weeks after two of them fell under suspicion for match fixing.

While it has not been established if there is a concrete link between the dodgy goings-on in Doncaster which saw Passakorn Suwannawat and Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon both lose in the wake of unusual betting patterns it does seem coincidental that their house, which they were not in at the time, was targeted.

If this is the case, this is a sinister twist in the story, I understand that the attack followed a visit from the police to question the players about any involvement in match fixing.

Nigel Mawer, the head of the sniffer dogs at the Integrity Unit said ‘Whether the matches are connected to the arson, I don’t know, but that is one of several possibilities that could be considered.’ He didn’t mention what the other ones were.

Thai snooker is no stranger to controversy of this kind and even a casual Google Search of James Wattana will reveal death threats and even murder linked to such things, so it’s not something that you really want to get yourself involved with if you value your health.

The fire brigade have established that the fire was started deliberately and it is now in the hands of the police to investigate who might be behind it and for what reason.

I have also received unconfirmed reports that Passakorn is unlikely to continue his professional snooker career having had his funding withdrawn and is back in Thailand unlikely to return.

Passakorn indeed didn’t return to the main tour, but Thanawhat did.

As for the threats on James Wattana, here is more information:

Snooker star in death threat

Bradford-based snooker star James Wattana received a death threat just hours before a major match in Bangkok, it was revealed today.

Wattana was told to “be prepared to die” less than three hours before he lost 5-2 to Ken Doherty in the second round of the Thailand Masters.

The call, which was taken seriously, was made to Wattana’s mobile phone from a public booth believed to be near to the venue.

He was given full police protection, but his mother, Ployrung, still pleaded with her son to withdraw, claiming it was not worth the risk to continue.

The anonymous call, which is under investigation, could well have been linked to an illegal betting ring.

Seven years ago Wattana’s father was gunned down by an assassin in Bangkok while, some 6,000 miles away in Derby, his son compiled a maximum 147 break at the British Open.

“I told James not to play,” said his mother, who was seen crying during the match. “This tournament just isn’t worth the risk. I lost my husband and I don’t want to lose my son as well.”

After the match with Doherty, Wattana joked: “It was good that the guy asked me to lose. What would I have done if he’d asked me to win? Against Ken that would have been very difficult.”

His father Kowin Phu-ob-orm, was shot dead in an argument over gambling debts. Two men suspected of the killing were later shot dead in a Bangkok street by police.

The Daily Telegraph snooker correspondent, John Dee, who is covering the tournament in Bangkok, said today: “We did not know about the death threat until after James had played.

“I spoke to him last night and he was very subdued. After the match he gave his snooker cue and case away – he was suspicious about it bringing bad luck. A lot of the players here are shocked at what happened but James will be moving onto China next week for another tournament and trying to put this behind him.”

Wattana became an adopted Bradfordian in 1989 when he moved to the city from London. He is based in Allerton and practices there at the Cuedos Snooker Club.

In December Wattana, who spends half the year in Bradford and half in Bangkok, broke down in tears at a press conference after a shock 5-1 defeat in the Asian Games in Bangkok.

After a doubles defeat where he was representing his country, Wattana said: “The pressure has been unbelievable , the worst I have ever felt. I could not see straight, walk straight or think straight….it was that bad.”

After last night’s dramatic death threat, Wattana, who was the Thai Masters Champion in 1994 and 1995, lost his match.

Now, what do I make of all this?

Well … so many things feel wrong to me here.

  1. From the moment Thanawhat entered the Asia-Oceania Q-School, there was always a real possibility that he could win it. Why take his money and allow him to compete if he wasn’t going to be allowed to join the main tour anyway?
  2. The “initial” 2015 statement is nearly 7 years old. Why hasn’t this been resolved yet? Why dig it out now?
  3. James Wattana stories and the arson show that some Thai players have been put under very serious threats by – as far as we know – the Thai betting mafia. Whilst match fixers must be punished, it seems to me that in these cases the main culprits – the betting rings – aren’t punished at all, whilst their victims – the frightened players – are put in an impossible situation. 

I do hope that WPBSA will explain their decisions further and that we will eventually understand the how and why of this mess.

30 Years Ago … Ronnie, Willo and John Higgins made their professional debuts

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the “Class of 92” debut …

To mark the day, David Hendon wrote this… 

HOW RONNIE O’SULLIVAN, JOHN HIGGINS, MARK WILLIAMS ACHIEVED SNOOKER IMMORTALITY – 30 YEARS OF CLASS OF ’92

On the 30th anniversary of the famous Class of ’92 arriving on the scene, Eurosport’s esteemed snooker writer Dave Hendon looks back on the day that saw a legendary trio begin the professional journeys that would change the sport forever. How did these three players achieve snooker immortality over the same period of time, and will this kind of era ever be seen again?

BY DAVE HENDON

June 20th, 1992. John Major sits in Downing Street after a surprise election win. George Bush – the first one – is in the last months of his US presidency. Basic Instinct is No. 1 in the UK box office. The first-ever FA Premier League season is a few weeks from lift-off.

And in a hotel on Blackpool’s seafront, the new snooker season is getting underway. Hundreds of hopefuls are lining up, many now long forgotten. But among the new intake, three will go on to achieve snooker immortality. The star pupils of the Class of ’92 – Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams – are taking their first steps in the professional ranks.

Fast forward 30 years, and they have won a combined total of 94 ranking titles. Between them have made 2,623 centuries in competition, 29 of which have been maximums. They have amassed around £30m in prize money and been recurring characters in the ongoing narrative of professional snooker, hitting heights, experiencing lows, but always recovering, and at times, amazing fans with their performances.

But the most remarkable thing to note on this 30th anniversary is that they are all still at the top. When the new season begins at the Championship League next week, all three will be ranked inside the world’s top eight. O’Sullivan is world No. 1 and the reigning world champion. Higgins is starting a record 28th successive season in the top 16. Williams will be the defending champion at the British Open in September.

How did all of this happen?

They were born at the right time, just before the UK snooker boom and so were young boys at its height. In the mid-1980s, with snooker attracting huge audiences on all four TV channels, there was nothing unusual about a 10-year-old being interested in the game. Live football on television was scarce. There was no home internet, no social media and no streaming platforms.

Sport just about retained an innocence a few years before tides of cash started washing over it. These boys weren’t playing for money. They were playing because they found something they were good at, something they had fallen in love with.

They all owed their development to their fathers. Ronnie senior spotted his son’s potential early on and was soon arranging for leading amateurs and professionals to come and play him on the full-sized table he had installed in their home. Higgins was taken with his brother to a club at the age of nine by their dad, who could have a pint and chat to his friends while the boys were occupied on the table. Williams’ father was a miner and it was at a Christmas tournament between pitmen where young Mark first saw the game close up.

They benefited from a plethora of playing opportunities in their respective corners of the UK: O’Sullivan in south-east England, Higgins in Scotland and Williams in south Wales.

They each enjoyed success on their respective home soils before eventually colliding head-on at the junior event staged as part of the World Masters in Birmingham in January 1991. O’Sullivan was the favourite but Higgins beat him in the quarter-finals and Williams in the final. 17 months later, they all turned professional.

The big beasts of the snooker world back in 1992 did not need to worry about events in Blackpool. The likes of Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Jimmy White would be enjoying the beach or the golf course, safely seeded through to the final stages of all the major events which were still several months away.

Snooker had long been a closed shop but was opened up the previous year to anyone with a cue who could afford the entry fees. Old stagers on the way down mixed with new hopefuls. In 1992, Joe Perry and Dominic Dale were among those starting out.

At the Norbreck Castle Hotel, it was a production line, with hundreds of matches played to determine the qualifiers for the ranking events. One day it would be the UK Championship, the next the Dubai Classic. It barely mattered, the environment was the same – two rows of more than 20 tables housed in the grand ballroom while holidaymakers enjoyed the attractions outside.

Young Ronnie - 1992

This was like going to snooker university for a group of young players away from home for up to two months. Some treated it as a holiday or a prolonged stag-do. For the soon-to-be holy trinity, the fun came from winning.

Journalist and broadcaster Phil Yates covered the qualifying school back in 1992. He remembers a buzz about all three players, with O’Sullivan standing out.

They were all good lads,” he said. “John is probably the least changed of the three. He was always very approachable, down to earth. Mark was a little shy, he’s become much more of an extrovert.

When I watched John, I couldn’t believe how savvy he was at such a young age. He played all the right shots and Mark clearly had great potential too. We knew John and Mark could be champions, but Ronnie was guaranteed.

He stayed in the same hotel room for two months. He’d be playing pretty much every day and people piled in to watch him, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was a revelation how good he was. In terms of reputation, when they turned pro he was head and shoulders above the others but that gap quickly closed.

O’Sullivan, just 16, was successful in 74 of his 76 qualifying matches. Among them was a meeting with 77-year-old Fred Davis, who had won eight world titles in the post-war era. The teenager beat him 5-1.

O’Sullivan had boundless energy, some of which he would burn off by going for long runs on Blackpool beach. One morning he got up so early to play golf that it was still getting light as he stood on the first tee.

He was clearly the best player there, ferociously talented if not yet the finished article. In his debut season, he made 29 centuries from 112 matches played. Last season he made 62 centuries from 61 matches. The furthest O’Sullivan went in a ranking event in 1992/93 was the quarter-finals of the European Open.

Ronnie and Higgins in 2005-2006

Higgins reached this stage of the British Open. He had grown up as a fan of Davis and quickly adopted the same percentage game to deadly effect. He ended up becoming world champion first, in 1998, with Williams following in 2000 and O’Sullivan in 2001.

Williams had turned professional because, at 17, he was too old for the Welsh under-16s and too young for the over-18s. He shared a bed in Blackpool with another Welsh player, Ian Sargeant, to save money. His best run that first year was to the last 16 of the European Open.

One of snooker’s great contrarians, Williams will probably feel he doesn’t belong in this article. He has said several times that he does not compare himself to his two great contemporaries, but he has done things the other two have not.

In the 2002/03 season, he emulated Davis and Hendry by winning the UK, Masters and world titles during a single campaign, a feat which would now be regarded as remarkable since the ‘triple crown’ has gained currency in recent years.

During this period of incredible consistency, Williams set a record of 48 successive first-round wins in ranking events. When his form finally dipped, O’Sullivan stepped up again, and when he fell away for a spell, Higgins enjoyed success. All three have spurred each other on. Every last hurrah they apparently enjoy is swiftly followed by another one.

One by one, O’Sullivan has come for Hendry’s records. He is top of the all-time centuries list, has won most ranking events, holds the record for most UK and Masters trophies and has equalled Hendry’s haul of seven world titles.

Last year, Higgins won the Players Championship for the loss of only four frames while Williams captured two ranking titles.

They have achieved all this while having to contend with each other, as well as champions of the previous era and newer challengers like Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Judd Trump. For a while, they did so amid troubling times for snooker’s administration – now thankfully long in the past – which saw the circuit at one point dwindle to only six ranking events.

In current times, the three-way rivalry has resembled a kind of mutually-assured destruction. It seems O’Sullivan always beats Williams but Williams has had the upper hand over Higgins, whereas Higgins enjoyed a good recent record against O’Sullivan.

Ronnie and Willo - Crucible 2008

This ended when O’Sullivan beat Higgins in the semi-finals of the World Championship earlier this year. Williams, who arguably played the best snooker for much of the tournament, just missed out on playing O’Sullivan in the final, losing 17-16 in the other semi to Trump, who had joked that he had landed in the semi-finals of the World Seniors Championship. Players of his generation must wonder when the Class of ’92 are going to finally go away and leave the field to the rest.

There’s no sign of it. All three have retained good eyesight. They don’t practise all day long anymore but put in quality time. They possess knowledge and table-craft from lengthy careers which mean they can win any type of frame, whether through heavy scoring or tactical play.

They are three remarkable characters, all very different but with individual qualities that, if combined, would produce the ultimate snooker player.

They all get on without being close friends. Away from snooker, they have their own lives and their own families, but there is a healthy respect between all three and recognition that, collectively, they are part of something special.

They could surely never have believed, back on this day 30 years ago, tasting the salty sea air in Blackpool as they arrived as teenagers, cues in hand, excited and ready for an adventure, that three decades on they would have done all that they have.

And the frightening thing is that there is very likely much more to come. It could be a long time before this class is dismissed.

30 years later they are all three in the top 8. As it stands they are all three in the top 6 of  the provisional end-of-season rankings for this (new) season 2022/23.

Ronnie is number 1 with a 331500 points cushion on Neil Robertson who is number 2. Willo is 6th with a 176000 points cushion on the number 17, Stuart Bingham. There is every chance for all three of them to still be in the top 16 at the start of next season.

Off topic… Looking at those provisional rankings, I was shocked to find out that Mark Selby finds himself as low as number 22 in that list and that Shaun Murphy is even lower as he is down to 35th. Selby is currently ranked number 3, and of course, he has the 2021 Crucible points to defend. Shaun Murphy is currently ranked number 9 … Both will need a strong season.

 

Africa Nomination, Ronnie News and Pictures – 20 June 2022

In just over a week from now, the 2022/23 season will start with the 2022 ranking Championship League. There is still one main tour spot to be allocated: the Africa Nominated.

Here is a letter from Jason Ferguson, explaining the qualifying process:

JasonFergusonAfricaQuals2022

The 20th of June is … today. At the time of writing I’m not sure if there is a way to follow these competions and I have no clue about the format. When Amine Amiri qualified for the main tour, the format was very short, and the field very “small”. There is no way Amine was ready for the main tour and he was a lamb for the slaughter. I want to hope that, this time, there will be a bigger field and that the format will be longer.

I went with Ronnie to an exhibition in Casablanca. If my memory isn’t failing me it was at that same club. If so, the venue is nice and welcoming. Some of the amateurs Ronnie played  had a very decent level, but not high enough for the professional circuit.

About Ronnie … he’s left Singapore yesterday. He was extremely happy and thankful with the “RoSSA” experience.

Thank you to all the staff at @rossa147_ for making my first visit to Singapore a huge Success. I really enjoyed my time here. See you all soon.

The RoSSA academy shared more pictures …

I’m not sure what happened with the “Four Men Tournament”. I left a question on RoSSA’s FB page but got no answer so far.

You would expect Zhao to beat Mink and Ronnie to beat the local amateur.

In this series there are pictures of what is likely just of one frame, between Zhao and Ronnie and the sequence of pictures suggests that Zhao won it.

Big thanks to snooker155 We now have the results of the four men tournament and an explanation for the previously published video (see comment section)

Here is what was reported by Singapore media about the 4 men tournament

Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged the winner of a four-player tournament on Saturday (18 June) to launch his snooker academy at The Grandstand.

The defeated China’s world No.6 Zhao Xintong 4-2 in the best-of-seven final. He had earlier beaten Singapore’s Jaden Ong – who is one of the scholarship recipients at the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy – while Zhao defeated Thailand’s reigning women’s world champion Nutcharut Wongharuthai to advance into the final.

And the videos shared by Gappa Gappa, including the one previously shared here but in a better quality.

24 june 2022 update …

… and now the 4-men pictures have been shared on RoSSA FB page 

Mink beat Jaden for the “third place” too

Charities, Challenge, Exhibition and Pool-Swap – 19 June 2022

Today is the last day of the 2022 EBSA Championships with only Team events still underway… After that we only need to learn who will be nominated for Africa, and in less that 10 days the new season will start.

Snooker.org has already got the new ranking lists ready

Meanwhile here are some events/announcements worth our attention.

Jimmy White will do a Charity Exhibition on July, 31, to support the foundation that helped Jamie Curtis-Barret’s family when they needed it the most

Jimmy Grimsby Sunday July 31 2022

Jamie Curtis- Barret is organising this exhibition and monies go to to the local charity that helped him,  his wife and family when she was terminally ill a few years ago.

Jamie’s wife, Leanne, was diagnosed with breast cancer aged only 27. She was expecting the couple’s second child, a son named Freddie. They already had a 3 years old daughter, Georgia. Leanne fought with all she had, but survived only 3 more years. Needless to say, every help is precious is such terrible circumstances.

Jamie wants to give something back to those who supported his family. Jimmy is keen to help and aher his performance in the World Seniors sure to be a good evening.

If you ca go, wonderful! If not … please share!

Sanderson Lam, who recently regained his tour card via Q-School, is walking 100 miles this month to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Sandy’s close friend Jake Nicholson passed away last year at the age of just 28 after a long battle with cancer. You will find more about this challenge and donate to the cause by clicking here.

Theppy and Noppon are swapping to pool … they play in for the World Cup of Pool after team Philippine was unable to make it 

Un-Nooh And Saengkham To Play In World Cup Of Pool

Snooker’s top two Thai players, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham, will represent their country at this week’s 2022 World Cup of Pool at the Brentwood Centre, Essex.

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Click Here For Draw Bracket

Teams

The duo were handed a spot in the prestigious event after Efren Reyes and Carlo Biado of the Philippines were forced to withdraw due to travel issues.

Un-Nooh won the Shoot Out in 2019 while Saengkham reached the last 16 of the World Championship last season. Both will be competing in the World Cup of Pool for the first time. They will play South Africa in the afternoon session on Thursday, 16 June.

The boys were beaten in the first round but if you are interested in the event

Here you will find more infos

UN-NOOH AND SAENGKHAM TO REPRESENT THAILAND AT WORLD CUP OF POOL

UN-NOOH AND SAENGKHAM TO REPRESENT THAILAND AT WORLD CUP OF POOL

News June 13th, 2022

World Snooker duo of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham will represent Thailand at this week’s 2022 World Cup of Pool at the Brentwood Centre, Essex after Efren Reyes and Carlo Biado of the Philippines were forced to withdraw due to travel issues.

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Click Here For Draw Bracket

Teams

Un-Nooh, a World Snooker Tour ranking winner, and Saengkham, who reached the Last 16 of this year’s World Snooker Championship will play South Africa in the afternoon session on Thursday, 16 June with the Netherland’s match against Morocco moving to become the final action of the afternoon session on Wednesday, 15 June. This also sees Poland’s match with Hong Kong, China, and Greece vs Cyprus move forwards on Wednesday.

Revised Match Schedule 

Tuesday, 14 June – Morning

  • Germany (1) vs New Zealand
  • Chinese Taipei (9) vs Argentina
  • Albania (13) vs Italy

Tuesday, 14 June – Evening

  • USA (2) vs Canada
  • Hungary (10) vs Czech Republic
  • Spain (4) vs Australia

Wednesday, 15 June – Morning

  • Poland (15) vs Hong Kong, China 
  • Greece (8) vs Cyprus 
  • Netherlands (16) vs Morocco 

Wednesday, 15 June – Evening

  • Great Britain A (12) vs Great Britain B
  • Estonia (14) vs Serbia
  • Austria (3) vs Finland

Thursday, 16 June – Morning

  • Thailand vs South Africa
  • Singapore (6) vs Qatar
  • Kuwait (11) vs Vietnam

Thursday, 16 June – Evening

Japan (7) vs Switzerland

2 x Round 2 matches

Friday 17 June – Round 2 – both sessions

Saturday, 18 June – Quarter-Finals – both sessions

Sunday, 19 June – Semi-Finals

Sunday, 19 June – Final

Action gets underway live on Sky Sports Arena at 11 am tomorrow as well as live on DAZN in the USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Viaplay in Scandinavia, the Baltics, Netherlands, and Poland. See the full list of broadcasters here including Matchroom.Live if no broadcaster is available. 

Session Times (UK Time)

Morning – 11 am – 3 pm

Evening – 5 pm – 9 pm (except for 19, June 6 pm start)

 

EBSA 2022 Championships in Albania Winners

Andres Petrov will become the first Estonian Snooker Professional after he defeated Ben Mertens in the Men’s event final.

Congratulations Andres!

Here is the report by Michael Day:

Estonia’s Petrov Wins European Title

Andres Petrov is set to become Estonia’s first-ever professional snooker player after he defeated Ben Mertens 5-3 in the final to win the 2022 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship held at the Delfin Resort in Shengjin, Albania. 

The 25-year-old was runner-up in this event five years ago in Cyprus but the Tallinn cueist went one better this time around to secure the biggest title of his career and a two-year World Snooker Tour card.

Representatives from 35 different nations took part in the 31st staging of this prestigious event which has previously been won by players such as Mark Allen and Luca Brecel.

Reigning eight-time national champion Petrov qualified for the knockout phase after topping his round robin group with three wins from three, including a victory over recent European under-18 champion Liam Davies (Wales).

In the knockout rounds leading to the final, Petrov dropped just seven frames, eliminating Darren Oldroyd (Northern Ireland) 4-1, Viktor Iliev (Bulgaria) 4-2, Aaron Busuttil (Malta) 4-1, Iulian Boiko (Ukraine) 4-1 and then Germany’s Umut Dikme 4-2 in the semi-finals.

On the other side of the draw, Mertens – who was crowned European under-21 champion here last week – was attempting to create history by becoming the first player to claim both continental titles within the same year.

The 17-year-old Belgian nearly made a maximum 147 break in the groups stage – missing the 15th black on 113 – before defeating Ilia Chisleacov (Moldova) 4-0, David Cassidy (Republic of Ireland) 4-0, Robbie McGuigan (Northern Ireland) 4-2, and then ousting England’s Josh Thomond 4-3 to reach the last four.

A repeat of the under-21 title match last weekend, Mertens again faced Austrian youngster Florian Nuessle in the semi-finals, and would prove to be a thorn in his opponent’s side once more as he booked another final berth with a 4-3 victory.

Mertens chalked up the opening frame of the final with the help of a 53 break. Petrov took the next two, but Mertens did the same in frames four and five to move 3-2 ahead. However, the Estonian was not to be denied the championship again as he fashioned a three-frame winning streak to record a memorable triumph for Baltic snooker.

Article by Michael Day.

The Women’s event was won by Wendy Jans from Belgium. It’s ‘only” the 14th time that Wendy wins this event…

The Seniors event was won by Darren Morgan from Wales. Darren has “only” won it 12 times. Ha! Still some work to do to catch Wendy then !

Morgan gets his 12th Seniors crown!

Welshman Darren Morgan hold his own crown at the Seniors 2022 EBSA European Snooker Championship claiming victory in the decider of the final match at Shengjin’s Delfin Resort facing England’s Wayne Brown (4-3) this Tuesday night.

EBSA Chairman Simon Smith, Darren Morgan, Wayne Brown and EBSA General Secretary Simon Smith

Morgan and Brown were both awarded by EBSA with a nomination to take part in the World Games that will take place in America next July.

German’s referee Christoph Levin and Hungarian marker Gabor Batori with an historial day as well.

«Was very hard. I’m feeling very tired. It was very difficult», told as the aged 56 Welshman, after getting the cup and retaining the European title for a record 12th time. Almost unreal longevity in the sport.

England’s Shaun Wilkes scored the highest break at Seniors event: 128 points

A legendary legacy and astonishing benchmark. England’s Shaun Wilkes scored the top break in Seniors event, with 128 points, and got hiz prize too, as well as both semifinalists placed 3rd in the event, Malta’s Duncan Bezzina and Belgium’s Peter Bullen

Game, set, match & Seniors championship for the Welsh legend: astonishing getting a 12th title!

Artemis Zizins from Latvia won the under-16 event.

Artemis Zizins U16 european champion!

Latvia’s Artemis Zizins is the 2022 EBSA European Snooker Championships U16 event winner and becomes the first continental champion at this age after claiming victory by 2 Frames to 1 facing Moldovian Vladislav Gradinari in the final match, played this Friday afternoon at Shengjin’s Delfin Resort.

Artemis Zizins and EBSA Chairman Maxime Cassis: it takes Art to become european champion!

Gradinari won the 1st frame but Zizins, after overcoming U18 champion Liam Davies at the semis, made quite a comeback and prevailed to win and earn The Peter Ebdon Trofhy. It takes Art to do it.

Zizins celebrated but runner-up Vladislav Gradinari got also a big applause

«I’m so happy! It’s a dream come true. I want to thank all, but especially my family for the support. It’s what I always want’», told the aged 16 Latvian new sport star to a large crowd at the Official Opening Ceremony of the event, in the hotel. The competition continues Saturday with the quarterfinals matches of the U21 event at Shengjin’s Delfin Resort.

Gradinari’s mum, Natalia, and Artemis coach joined referees and EBSA in the U16 champion celebration

Welshman Liam Davies performed with a 100 points break the best one in the U16 competition.

You will find all the results at http://www.ebsa.tv

Congratulations Wendy, Darren and Artemis!

The team events are still underway.

More Singapore pictures and David Grace’s take on Ronnie and Zhao collaboration

Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe are back with their podcasts after a short summer break. The last one features David Grace, one of the nicest and most interesting character on the tour. The link to the podacast is in the article blelow.

The article itself reports on David’s opinion on Ronnie and Zhao’s collaboration and what he expects of Zhao in the near future.

Ronnie himself said that he can work with Zhao because they are similar, he wouldn’t be able to help players who are too different from himself.

This is what David thinks about Ronnie’s work with Zhao and the possible outcome of such collaboration:

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Zhao Xintong a ‘match made in heaven,’ reckons David Grace

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Zhao Xintong
Ronnie O’Sullivan is continuing to work with Zhao Xintong (Pictures: Getty/Zhai Zheng)

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Zhao Xintong seem like a match made in heaven, believes David Grace, as the Rocket continues to help the Cyclone develop his game.

The world number one was working with the UK champion last season, giving him general advice on the game and looking to impart some wisdom on shot selection and tactics.

The seven-time world champion thinks very highly of the 25-year-old, saying he has the talent to become the greatest player ever and wants to help him fulfil his potential.

With the greatest player in the game’s history in the corner of one of the most talented young stars in the sport, it is an exciting prospect and one that world number 55, Grace, reckons will work for all parties involved.

‘Seems like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? I think Ronnie could only work with players as talented as Zhao,’ Grace told the Talking Snooker podcast.

He couldn’t come along and turn me into a heavy scorer or a 16 seconds-a-shot merchant, could he, let’s be honest.

He needs to be working with that level of player and that’s what will excite him. I think Ronnie will really enjoy it as well.’

Zhao began fulfilling his immense potential last season when he won the UK Championship and German Masters – his first two ranking events.

Much will be expected of him this campaign, but Grace has urged some caution and feels it will be a good season if the world number six can go deep in tournaments more consistently.

‘If he consolidates being a top 16 player and gets to the business end of a few tournaments, I think that’s fine for him,’ said the Yorkshireman.

He’s suddenly gone from where he was to winning two tournaments in such a short space of time, it’ll be difficult for him to do that again, I can’t see that happening again.

But you never know, that might be the breakthrough that he needed and he might go on to achieve things that people didn’t think he was capable of.

Betfred World Championship 2017 - Day 1
David Grace reckons expectations should be limited on Zhao Xintong this season (Picture: Getty Images)

O’Sullivan and Zhao’s great relationship has continued over the summer, with the Chinese star going with the world champion to Singapore to play exhibitions at the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy.

The 46-year-old is a big fan of the Cyclone on and off the table and wants to do for Zhao what the legendary Ray Reardon did for him earlier in his career.

He could be the greatest of all time with his talent, his ability,’ said O’Sullivan ahead of the 2022 World Snooker Championship. ‘I always say he’s Roger Federer with a snooker cue in his hands. But he’s got to develop and learn, and he will learn. He’s like me, he’s a quick learner and he’s shown that he’s on it.

SNOOKER-SIN-ROSSA-ACADEMY
Ronnie O’Sullivan has been with Zhao Xintong in Singapore as they launch the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy (Picture: Getty Images)

A bit like what Reardon done with me, he showed me how to defend better. Xintong attacks but it’s sometimes attacking because he’s forced to attack. I said to him, “If you do this better, you’ll always have the upper hand, the more you’ve got the upper hand the more you will feel comfortable. You don’t want to play snooker from desperation.

That’s what I used to do, play from desperation. Attack because I don’t know how to get out of trouble and pot my way out of it. Let’s not do that, get the odds in our favour, but you need to go about it in a certain way for that to happen.

Meanwhile, the pair is still in Singapore.

Some more pictures – well, a lot of more pictures actually – were shared on RoSSA facebook page. This series is about the official opening ceremony.

Here goes…

 

Ronnie was interviewed by the media in Singapore

Ronnie was interviewed by the media in Singapore and here what he had to say, reported by Eurosport:

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN: SNOOKER THE LAST SPORT I’D WANT MY CHILDREN TO PLAY, THE SPORT NEEDS TO GET ITS ACT TOGETHER

Seven-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan admits tennis, golf, football and athletics pose as more attractive options for parents when looking at sports their children to play. O’Sullivan is launching the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy in Singapore and will play an exhibition tournament this weekend alongside Zhao Xintong and women’s world champion Nutcharut ‘Mink’ Wongharuthai.

BY MICHAEL HINCK

Ronnie O’Sullivan says snooker “needs to get its act together” after admitting he would advise children against playing the sport.

O’Sullivan is in Singapore to officially launch the Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy, and is set to play an exhibition tournament on Saturday alongside China’s Zhao Xintong and women’s world champion Nutcharut ‘Mink’ Wongharuthai of Thailand.

Speaking about the challenges snooker faces, world champion O’Sullivan admitted the sport is in a “tough position” given its competition.

It’s hard because obviously football is such a big sport now, tennis, golf,” O’Sullivan told SNTV.

You have all these sports so if you’re a parent, and if you’re looking at a sport for your son or daughter to get involved in, would you choose snooker? You probably wouldn’t.

So it’s really difficult to sort of get excited about snooker. You know, I love snooker, I’ve played it all my life, but also I’m a parent as well and I think if I was advising my children on a sport to play, snooker would be the last sport I probably want them to play.

I’d say maybe try tennis, maybe try golf, play football, maybe athletics, you know all that sort of stuff. So snooker’s in a really tough position at the moment, of where it goes, so it’s up against a lot of other good sports.

Snooker needs to get its act together I think, more importantly, and at the moment, you can’t compare it to all the other sports really.

Asked whether a big investment would help snooker, O’Sullivan added: “I think it’d be fantastic for the sport if that was to happen. You need someone like a big backer like the Saudi-people to just come along and say ‘look, this is what we are going to do’ and the players will be like ‘yeah, great’, they probably go for it. That probably would be a good thing for snooker.

It may be China, maybe Saudi (Arabia), maybe one of them places I think. You need someone with deep pockets that can afford to put maybe a hundred million aside, this is it for the next five years, the players’ futures are secured, they know where they are, you know then that would be great for snooker.

O’Sullivan won his seventh world title in May after beating Judd Trump 18-13 in the final.

The 46-year-old admitted he was not entirely enjoying his time at the Crucible, but felt the pressure to perform with a television crew following him for a documentary.

I decided a long time ago that if something got too much pressure, or I thought you know what, I’m not really enjoying this, then it’s probably better that I lose and let somebody else have that place.

And I felt that during this world championships. I didn’t really enjoy it. But I had this film crew following me so I thought, I better try hard because they’re following me. So that was why I won it. It wasn’t because I wanted to win it. It was just that I felt bad for the TV crew.

He added: “I don’t even actually like talking about snooker. I enjoy playing it but I don’t really want to be too involved in it. So obviously winning the world championships, it really turned everything around and everyone was like, ‘Ah you’re world champion this, world number one’, I was like oh no, I don’t want to be known as that person anymore.

I just want to enjoy my life you know, but when you’re in the spotlight, everybody gets excited. I’m like, I don’t really want to be that person anymore.

 

There a few things in this interview I want to comment on.

First, it’s very obvious that when Ronnie says that he wouldn’t want his son to embrace snooker, it’s “snooker as a profession”. Every parent wants the best for their kids and they want them to be able to earn a decent living and be safe economically. Whatever WST claims, only the top 32 are in that position in snooker, and to be in the top 32, you have to be exceptionally good at it. Only the very top can make enough money to be safe once they retire. Ronnie feels that other “good” sports provide better opportunities to earn, whilst, currently snooker isn’t in that position.

Ronnie mentions Saudi Arabia, no doubt because all the noise about the golf  “LIV” tour. I would hate it if Saudi Arabia was getting deeply involved in snooker. This is a terribly repressive regime that tries to rekindle its image – and secure revenues other than those provided by the oil sector – though sports. It’s called “sportswashing” and here is an article by the guardian explaining what their strategy is. It’s 18 months old but still totally relevant. Last March, Amnesty International again raised strong concerns after 81 persons were executed, some of them merely for peacefully protesting. Does the sport we love really want to be involved with such a terrible regime? Alas, they probably would … after all a very lucrative event had been planned to be played there and is probably still on the cards. Now, whilst the snooker authorities can’t possibly ignore the type of country they are dealing with, the players … I’m not so sure. Most of them don’t read much outside the UK news and even then, their interest is mainly about sports. And, of course, China is also a very repressive regime when it comes to ethnic minorities.

That said, that “sportswashing” policy inevitably brings more foreigners in the country. That, in turn, might, in the longer term, force those regimes to become more tolerant to diversity. No matter how hard you try to “hide” some realities, having more “foreign eyes” around will increase the risk of unwanted truths to be exposed. That’s inevitable: such events attract journalists, you can’t keep every single visitor in a “bubble” and some will see beyond the appearances and will talk. If it happens it will eventually backlash.

Finally about Ronnie’s “lack of desire”, I think his very emotional reaction after his win tells us everything we need to know. That said, he isn’t actually telling lies. The World Championship is a 17 days hard slog. Someone like Ronnie has to cope with a lot of tension, a lot of demands from WST and the media, a lot of expectations from the fans.  He’s naturally a rather anxious person. I do believe him when he says he doesn’t enjoy that… not after 30 years in the job and in the media spotligth. Having this documentary filmed gave him extra motivation to try his hardest.