Managing expectations…

ronnie-osullivaned

Yesterday Ronnie came on twitter with these:

I can declare my game won’t be at the highest level until I decide to put the same work ethic the other guys do on tour. But don’t write me off, cause when I decide tooI’ll be competing for trophy’s

I’m still playing just not enough to compete with the top guys. Wanna flow with it for a bit and then see what I fancy doing, sometimes you gotta take a step back, instead of forward, if that makes sense 😂

I’m still gonna play but I must have realistic expectations. These next 2 years are about rebuilding and reinventing.

When he won in Shanghai, last month, he wasn’t playing at his best, but he was competing hard. I noticed some changes in his stance too. He’s working with Sightright and I think he isn’t completely comfortable with the changes just yet.

I know, because I heard it from him more than once, that he doesn’t like playing below his ability as he believes that seeing him at his best is what fans expect and deserve. The last tweet is the key one: he’s making changes – rebuilding and reinventing – and doesn’t want people to be disappointed because they had too high expectations in the first place.

We’ll be waiting Ron! Good luck.

English Open 2018 Draw anf Format

Worldsnooker has just published the draw and format for the English Open 2018

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has been drawn against Kurt Maflin in the first round of next week’s English Open.

The tournament at K2 Crawley runs from October 15 to 21, with 128 players competing for the Steve Davis Trophy.

O’Sullivan beat Kyren Wilson 9-2 in last year’s final and is now set to play in a ranking event for the first time this season. He will face Norway’s Maflin on Monday October 15 (not before 1pm).

Click here for the full draw

Click here for the format

World Champion Mark Williams will take on fellow Welshman Dominic Dale in the same session. And in Monday’s evening session, world number one Mark Selby will play Sanderson Lam.

On Tuesday October 16, showpiece matches will include John Higgins facing Li Yuan and Judd Trump playing Robin Hull.

Televised by Eurosport and Quest, it is the first of the season’s Home Nations series, to be followed by tournaments in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff. Any player winning all four trophies will bank a massive £1 million bonus.

Well, once again this isn’t the kindest draw for Ronnie, but maybe it’s as well because he sure knows how dangerous Kurt can be and that will give him a challenge.

European Masters 2018 – Jimmy Robertson is your Champion!

Jimmy Robertson captured his maiden tittle yesterday evening in Lommel.

Congratulations Jimmy Robertson !

Jimmy is well liked on the circuit and many expressed their joy at seeing him lift his first trophy. He’s also one of the not so many pro players who still finds time for the pro-ams.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Jimmy Robertson won the first ranking title of his career by beating Joe Perry 9-6 in the final of the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.

Robertson turned pro 16 years ago and had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event. He has enjoyed by far the best week of his career in Belgium, winning each of his first three matches 4-3 on the final black, and then seeing off Mark Allen, Mark King and Perry to capture his maiden pro title.

The 32-year-old from Bexhill in Sussex  landed his biggest pay day, £75,000, and jumps ten places in the rankings to a career high of 26. He also earns a spot at the Champion of Champions in Coventry next month.

Robertson saw his opponent fight back from 5-0 and 7-3 down in the final to leave the match in the balance at 7-6, but played superbly in the last two frames to get his name on the trophy.

After struggling to fulfil his talent in the early part of his career, Robertson has improved significantly in recent years. He reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time in 2015 and went one step further at the German Masters earlier this year, losing to Mark Williams. He has also established himself within the world’s top 40 and appeared at the Crucible four times, albeit without winning a match at the famous venue. This week’s giant leap forward will surely give Robertson the belief that he can win more titles.

Perry banks £35,000 as runner-up and climbs to 18th in the rankings. The 44-year-old from Cambridgeshire has now lost four of his five ranking finals; his sole success coming at the 2015 Players Championship.

He slipped too far behind early in the final as Robertson fired breaks of 65, 75 and 54 in taking the first five frames. Perry gave himself hope by winning the last three frames of the opening session. But Robertson won the first frame of the evening session by potting brown, blue and pink, then came from 56-0 down in the next to make a 75 clearance and go 7-3 ahead.

Perry played his best snooker of the match as he battled back to 7-6, compiling runs of 106, 59, 60 and 110 as he scored 367 points without reply. But Robertson got the better  of frame 14 with a top break of 54. And he needed only one chance in the next, making a brilliant 108 to cross the winning line.

Robertson said: “It is what I’ve dreamed of since I first started playing. I never thought this day would happen and the way my career has gone so far I had never been to the latter stages in tournaments. I always knew I was capable of doing it but actually doing it is a completely different thing.

“I was delighted with how I held myself together. Joe played really well in the evening session, but I am just pleased to have produced some good snooker from 7-6.

“Winning your first title is massive. You never know if you are going to get over the line and you don’t know how you are going to handle it. To win my first ranking event and have my family here means everything.”

A disappointed Perry felt that much of the damage was done in this afternoon’s opening session.

“It is a massive disappointment in myself really. I just played so badly, not all day though. The afternoon session was one of the worst performances I’ve put in all year,”said Perry. “I stuck in and I’m proud of myself. I got out of the session not too badly. I played well tonight and on another day I could have won the first five frames. It wasn’t to be and every credit to Jimmy. I put him under pressure and he stood up to it.”

Amazingly, only a few hours earlier, Leo Fernandez, who is Jimmy’s sister’s fiancé, booked his spot in the Seniors UK Championship by winning the last qualifying event in Liverpool.

There were also other great stories in Belgium this week-end

Reanne Evans captured the Women’s European Masters 2018 title, in Neerpelt, only a few kilometers away from Lommel, beating Mink – Nutcharut Wongharuthai – in the final by 4-1. Business as usual on the Women’s tour? Well not really.

For me the star of the week-end was Mink. She is only 18, she came all the way from Thailand, and she beat the reigning World Champion, On Yee, in the last 16, and the 6 times IBSF World Champion, 12 times European Champion and 15 times Belgian National Champion, Wendy Jans in the semi finals. And she has not just the talent, she is very hard-working, humble and nice. After being beaten by Reanne, she had another match to go: the under-21 final, which she lost to Emma Parker. Emma is a much improved player, but it’s fair to say that Mink had little left in the tank by then. You could see how disappointed the young Thai was, and still she found it in her to smile and be gracious to everyone.

On Yee had to settle for the Challenge Cup win, she beat good friend Katrina Wan in the final. Chitra Magimaraj, from India, beat Judy Dangerfield from Australia in the Seniors final.

Congratulations to all winners: Reanne, On Yee, Emma and Chitra.

The club where it happened in “De Maxx”, is Wendy Jans’ club, and it’s a very nice club indeed. When Wendy wasn’t playing, she was working tirelessly in the club and behind the bar. Thank you Wendy!

And a big thank you as well to the team of referees, who did a fantastic job all week-end.

And, not in Belgium, but nonetheless Belgian big story: young Bem Mertens, from Belgium, only 13, won the under-16 World Championship in Russia this Saturday.

Congratulations to Ben and his team!

Ben Mertens Under-16 WC

And let me tell you, when on Saturday, the under-16 final was underway and streamed in Russia, whilst the SF were underway in Lommel, there was a crowd in the club and there is only one match they wanted to watch … this boy.

European Masters 2018 – QF and SF round-up and other snooker news

Today the Final in Lommel will see Joe Perry play Jimmy Robertson. Certainly not a final that many would have predicted. To get there Joe beat Anthony Hamilton, and Jimmy beat Mark King. There was no top 16 player in the semi-finals, the highest ranked player being Mark King currently 23.

With the Class of 92 giving the tournament a miss, we now have three players in the class of 91 in the last 4: Perry is 44, King is 44, Hamilton is 47. Do people really need more evidence that the brutal system that Hearn promotes is not allowing young players to develop? Jimmy Robertson himself isn’t no kid, he’s 32, and he’s come through the pro-am factory and amateur championships as well. The first time I met Jimmy was at the European Championships in Duffel (near Antwerp in Belgium). He made the QF there, and was always a terrific potter. Now he’s a complete player.

Anyway, here are the reports on Worldsnooker.

Quarter Finals

Jimmy Robertson is through to the last four of a ranking event for the first time in his career after defeating Masters champion Mark Allen 4-2 in their quarter-final clash at the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.

Robertson has endured a week packed with tension after each of his previous three matches went down to the final black in a final frame decider. On this occasion he managed to get the job done with a frame to spare.

With the score at 1-1, Robertson made his move. In the third frame he equalled Jack Lisowski’s high break of the week with a sublime 135. Robertson then pulled within one of victory at 3-1 thanks to a run of 81.

Allen made it 3-2, before Robertson took charge of the sixth frame. He reached the snookers required stage, but spurned several opportunities on the green to get over the line. Robertson then went in off to give Allen one of the two snookers he needed, but he eventually secured a landmark victory.

“When the brown and the blue went in it was massive relief,” said Robertson. “It is a great feeling. I’m buzzing at the moment. Hopefully I can just relax and enjoy the semi-finals.

“I seem to struggle in the early part of tournaments. This is the best I’ve felt all week, even if it didn’t look like it. That was the most comfortable I have felt out there.

“It would mean everything to win on Sunday. We are all playing to try and win tournaments. This is completely new to me. I’ll take one match at a time and if I do get to pick up the trophy I’ll be delighted.”

Robertson will face Mark King, who recorded an impressive 4-1 defeat of Ryan Day to book his last four spot.

King has been in fine form this week and had already dispatched 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham in a 4-0 whitewash win.

The 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion will have some interesting living arrangements this evening as he is sharing a chalet with his opponent Robertson.

King said: “Once we shake hands it will be war. We are good pals and it is nice to see him do well. He probably should have done better over his career. We have all been through pressure and money worries before, this will be a nice pay cheque for both of us.”

Anthony Hamilton secured his semi-final spot after beating Jack Lisowski 4-3 in a deciding frame.

The Sherriff of Pottingham emotionally won his maiden ranking title at the 2017 German Masters after 26 seasons as a professional. However, since then he has struggled with back problems which kept him from finding his best form.

Hamilton now believes he has managed to get his injuries under control and only Joe Perry stands between him and a return to ranking event final action.

Perry also negotiated a deciding frame in his 4-2 defeat of China’s Tian Pengfei.

The Gentleman had trailed 3-2, but kept himself in it with a fine contribution of 69 in the sixth frame. He then completely controlled a tactical decider, which lasted 44 minutes, to book his place in the last four.

The 2015 Players Champion Perry and Hamilton will contest the first semi final at 12pm UK time.

Semi Final 1

Joe Perry is through to the final of the D88.com European Masters in Lommel after defeating Anthony Hamilton 6-3 in the last four.

The Gentleman’s only ranking title to date came at the 2015 Players Championship, where he defeated Mark Williams in the final. A second title this week would carry great significance as it would see Perry move into the world’s top 16 and secure him a spot at the Champion of Champions.

World number 28 Hamilton will leave disappointed at suffering defeat. However, he will have the consolation of £17,500 in prize money and a much needed boost to his world ranking, which is currently  projected to drop to 63rd by the end of the season.

This afternoon Hamilton took the opening two frames to establish the early advantage. However, Perry crucially pegged him back to 2-2 at the mid-session.

When they returned Hamilton made a clutch clearance of 67 from 64-0 down to edge 3-2 in front. At the time that appeared as if it could have been a huge blow for Perry. However, to the contrary he went on to win four frames in a row, including breaks of 70 and 74, to claim a 6-3 victory.

“It was always going to be tough. Anthony is a great player,” said Perry. “I really enjoyed the game but I got a bit edgy. I started edgy, got myself relaxed and then was edgy again in the middle. Luckily I had a great chance at the end and managed to take it.

“My whole career has been driven by the same thing and that is winning. I don’t worry about the money. If you win you get rewarded heavily and that comes with the job. If you win tournaments you normally get in the top 16. I know all these benefits come with it but tomorrow it will all be about winning the final and getting a trophy.”

Semi Final 2 

Jimmy Robertson is through to his first ever ranking event final after winning a dramatic semi-final contest with Mark King 6-4.

The Bexhill potter has been a professional since 2002 and has competed in the Crucible stages of the World Championship four times. However, tomorrow will be his first ever opportunity to lift ranking event silverware.

The 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion King was aiming to reach his first final since that emotional victory in Belfast, but will now have to settle for the £17,500 in prize money attached to reaching the last four this week.

Robertson came out of the blocks with a break of 99 on his way to leading 2-0 and seized the early initiative. However, King responded emphatically with breaks of 85 and 64 to level the scores at 2-2 going into the mid-session.

They traded frames when they returned, before the standard of the clash was pushed up a notch further. Robertson burst for the finish line with a break of 82 followed up by a sublime 132 to move one from victory at 5-3.

The typically tenacious King didn’t wilt under the pressure and composed a break of 97 to keep his hopes alive. However, it was Robertson who won a tense tenth frame to progress.

Robertson will face Joe Perry in tomorrow’s final, where the winner will pick up the first prize of £75,000 as well as a place at the upcoming Champion of Champions event.

Elsewhere…

But still in Lommel David Grace won the Challenge Tour Event 6 

grace

David Grace won his second Challenge Tour title of the season by beating Ben Hancorn 3-0 in the final of event six in Belgium.

Leeds cueman Grace, a former UK Championship semi-finalist, won five matches over two days in Lommel to take the £2,000 top prize.

Grace, who also won event two in July in Preston, goes top of the Challenge Tour rankings with £5,525. The top two after ten events will be promoted to the World Snooker Tour.

The next Challenge Tour event is on October 13-14 in Barnsley.

Results

Round 1
1) Kevin Van Hove-Speltincx 2 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
2) Saqib Nasir 3 (5) 2 Zsolt Fenyvesi
3) Jed Mann 2 (5) 3 Joel Walker
4) On Yee Ng 2 (5) 3 Charlie Walters
5) Matthew Day 3 (5) 2 Mark Vincent
6) Barry Pinches 3 (5) 2 Jackson Page
7) John Foster 3 (5) 1 David Lilley
8) Joshua Cooper 1 (5) 3 Christopher Keogan

Round 2
9) Brian Ochoiski 3 (5) 1 Sergey Isaenko
10) Jamie O’Neill 2 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
11) Jake Nicholson 0 (5) 3 Steven Hallworth
12) Farakh Ajaib 1 (5) 3 Patrick Whelan
13) Felix Frede 0 (5) 3 George Pragnall
14) Oliver Brown 3 (5) 1 Saqib Nasir
15) Andreas Ploner 3 (5) 0 Reanne Evans
16) Peter Devlin 3 (5) 2 Joel Walker
17) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Brandon Sargeant
18) Callum Lloyd 0 (5) 3 Charlie Walters
19) Dylan Emery 2 (5) 3 Matthew Day
20) Mitchell Mann 3 (5) 2 Barry Pinches
21) Iulian Boiko 0 (5) 3 Jamie Curtis-Barrett
22) Lucky Vatnani 2 (5) 3 John Foster
23) Joshua Thomond 3 (5) 1 Luke Simmonds
24) David Grace 3 (5) 2 Christopher Keogan

Round 3
25) Brian Ochoiski 0 (5) 3 Ben Hancorn
26) Steven Hallworth 3 (5) 1 Patrick Whelan
27) George Pragnall 0 (5) 3 Oliver Brown
28) Andreas Ploner 1 (5) 3 Peter Devlin
29) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Charlie Walters
30) Matthew Day 0 (5) 3 Mitchell Mann
31) Jamie Curtis-Barrett 1 (5) 3 John Foster
32) Joshua Thomond 0 (5) 3 David Grace

Quarter Finals
33) Ben Hancorn 3 (5) 2 Steven Hallworth
34) Oliver Brown 0 (5) 3 Peter Devlin
35) Daniel Womersley 3 (5) 2 Mitchell Mann
36) John Foster 1 (5) 3 David Grace

Semi Finals
37) Ben Hancorn 3 (5) 0 Peter Devlin
38) Daniel Womersley 0 (5) 3 David Grace

Final
39) Ben Hancorn 0 (5) 3 David Grace

I was there for the event, and, again I don’t understand Worldsnooker. It was played in a separate part of the arena, with no spectators allowed other than the players guests. There weren’t any referees until the semi-finals. If there was an issue, players had to fetch the only referee available, the one who was in charge of recording the results after the matches and who was sat alone, rather well away from the arena proper.

Here you  get the idea…

ChallengeTour6-3698

It was played in very good spirit though, and there was good snooker on display too, especially towards the latter stages. But as it isn’t streamed nor viewed by any one, it’s hard for the players to get sponsors for this. No wonder the entries are low, it’s expensive for those amateurs and there are only two spots for the grabs.

For most of the Final and Semi Finals, there were only the players, the referee and me in the arena …

Here are the pictures I took:

On October 4, 2018

On October 5, 2018

As for today … I’m off the Women’s European Masters in Neerpelt, at the MAXX, Wendy Jans’ snooker club. More about that later today. You can follow it on snooker.org

There was a rather big shock yesterday in the last 16 of the main event: young Nutcharut Wongharuthai, only 18, beat the reigning World Champion, and first seed, On Yee Ng. Needing both pink and black to win the last frame, she knocked in a terrific difficult long pink, with no safety in mind, got perfect position on the black and sealed victory. She’s in the semi finals now and will play Wendy Jans. Wendy has 6 amateur World Titles to her name, 12 European titles and is 15 times National Belgian Champion. Some pedigree.

 

Ronnie will defend his English Open title

This was published by Worldsnooker on October 4

Ronnie O’Sullivan will compete in a ranking event for the first time this season at the English Open in Crawley later this month.

The Rocket will take to the stage on the opening day of the tournament at K2 Crawley at 1pm on Monday October 15.

O’Sullivan won the title in Barnsley last season, thrashing Kyren Wilson 9-2 in the final with an astonishing 98% pot success rate.

Matches for the top eight seeds in Crawley have already been scheduled as follows:

Monday October 15
1pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v opponent
Mark Williams v opponent

Not before 7pm
Mark Selby v opponent
Shaun Murphy v opponent

Tuesday October 16
1pm
John Higgins v opponent
Kyren Wilson v opponent

Not before 7pm
Judd Trump v opponent
Barry Hawkins v opponent

The world ranking event runs from October 15 to 21, with 128 of the world’s leading players competing for the Steve Davis Trophy and a top prize of £70,000. The full draw and format will be released early next week.

Televised by Eurosport and Quest, it is the first of the season’s Home Nations series, to be followed by tournaments in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff. Any player winning all four trophies will bank a massive £1 million bonus.

 

So, this is good news!

Meanwhile it seems that Ronnie has been doing some filming in Ireland (no clue what this is about BTW) and being his naughty self on twitter.

He’s once again hit at the system and having to play qualifiers against low ranked players.

Here are some quotes:

Do people really wanna watch poor players playing good players week in week out? It’s now getting to the point where the only time it’s worth watching the snooker is when it’s gets to qtr finals, and even then you’re getting average players creeping through to the latter stages

I find it hard to watch these events now, poor venues and poor snooker, and with no top players playing I find it hard to get excited about watching these types of events

It’s not how they improve, only 1 player has come through the new system. Wilson. Which he would have done with any system, the lower ranked players should have to earn there right to play the top guys, like the old system. The top players having to qualify is ridiculous

t’s not how I want it, it’s what is right for the bigger picture, top players are wasting on average 60 days ayear having to play qualifying match’s on a Tour that is already overloaded with travelling

Absolutely spot on, and kinda de motivating for some of the top players, one top pro, who I shall not mention, who has standards, called it degrading

Know that feeling. But it’s hard to know when the good week is gonna come? maybe the answer is that everyone’s best 10 performances count towards your ranking points, that way it doesn’t reward play in everything to gather points. Bit like Wozniak done in tennis to become no 1

You get the idea. And of course it sparked outrage, poeple calling it disrespectful to his fellow pros.

Well, of course, he’s not being nice, but the fact is that basically he IS right. The current system does NOT work. The only very young players coming through are from China, when they have a whole system supporting their development.

In the UK and Europe that’s gone. The PTCs and the very full calendar have basically killed the pro-am tour that was the incubator that produced talents like the Ebdon, Doherty, Class of 92 and then Dott, Stevens, Murphy, Paul Hunter and more.  Now the young players are thrown into the main tour pretty unprepared, they are pitted against top 64 players most of the time, and lose most of the time as well. They earn no money. They are under huge pressure financially and accumulate scars. And eventually, they lose faith in themselves, get anxious and depressed. Is that good for the sport?

And is it right that players like Ronnie, Higgins, Williams, after 26+ years of career, still going strong – they are all in the top 4 – winning half of the ranking events last season between them, have to go to qualifying events, in poor venues, in front of nearly nobody?  What other sport does that to its flag bearers? And who enjoys seeing a bored/demotivated top player going through the motions against a debutant? Nobody enjoys a total mismatch.

To me a tiered system would allow players to develop progressively.

I expressed these views on twitter (in a shorter format), and got a reply by Barry Pinches – who I quite like – that the tiered system was terribly unfair.

Why Barry? Because it protected top players? Yes, it did, but actually it protected everyone. The lower ranked players were given better opportunities to play winnable matches against opponents roughly the same strength as them, to learn and to earn some money in the process. They had to win more matches to get to the venues, true, but they also got to play more matches, hence getting more opportunities to improve. What good does someone like Rhys Clark get out of the current system? The young lad did not win a single match last season (he had the previous season) and only earned a bit this season because Mark Williams withdrew from the Riga Masters.

As for the “being nice” bit, no it’s not nice, but Ronnie doesn’t know the guys personally, therefore they should not take it personally. And if they have any fight in them such comment should spark a “Wait! I’ll show you!” reaction, not the PC all-round whining.

Right… end of rant!

 

European Masters 2018 – Last 32 and last 16 round-up

Today we reach the quarter finals in Lommel, and not many would have predicted the line-up.

Euro Masters 2018 - QF Line-up

I did watch a bit of the last 32, but none of the last 16 as I was attending the Challenge tour, so here are the reports on Worldsnooker

Last 32

Mark Selby came from behind to defeat Mark Davis 4-2 on day three of the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.

Selby came into this week straight off the back of his sensational 10-9 win over John Higgins in the final of the China Championship in Guangzhou. Having only arrived home on Monday, the Jester From Leicester undertook a six hour car journey with Barry Hawkins yesterday before his first round match.

Despite having to contend with the time difference and the travelling, Selby once again finds himself in a position to contend in the latter stages. He did start the slower of the pair today, as Davis established a 2-0 advantage. From there Selby burst into life, winning four frames on the bounce to secure victory.

The three-time Crucible king has occupied the world number one position since February 2015. However, he is projected to be overtaken by Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan before the end of the season.

“I’ve got a lot of money to defend this year,” said Selby. “It would be nice to finish the season world number one again, but at the moment it is more in Mark’s hands than it is in mine. I have a lot of work to do to try and keep that number one place.”

Judd Trump’s two-year reign as European Masters champion was brought to an end by Tian Pengfei after a 4-2 defeat.

Trump hadn’t lost a frame this week going into the clash. However, it was Tian who progressed to book his last 16 clash with Liang Wenbo.

Kyren Wilson defeated Allan Taylor 4-2, despite having to take a medical break due to heavy nosebleed.

The Warrior was leading 2-1 when he had to take the timeout. When he returned he polished off two of the next three frames, making breaks of 81 and 67 to ensure his progress.

Wilson said: “It just wouldn’t stop bleeding. I felt a bit shaky after it. Losing a lot of blood and then going on to play snooker makes you a bit nervous anyway. I’m just pleased to get through.”

Home favourite Luca Brecel overturned a 3-0 deficit to defeat Alan McManus 4-3 in a late night clash. The Belgian now faces Anthony Hamilton in tomorrow’s last 16.

Last 16

Anthony Hamilton put on a superb display to defeat Belgium’s home hero Luca Brecel 4-3 at the D88.com European Masters in Lommel.

World number 12 Brecel has made a habit of staging dramatic fightbacks this week having come from behind in each match and overturning a 3-0 deficit to defeat Alan McManus 4-3 in the previous round.

On this occasion he was once again chasing his counterpart. Hamilton surged out of the blocks to take move one from victory at 3-0, making breaks of 51 and 68 along the way.

The Belgian spectacularly clawed his way back into the tie, compiling runs of 72 and 78 on his way to forcing a decider. However on this occasion, it wasn’t to be, as the 2016 German Masters champion Hamilton edged a tight frame to book his quarter-final spot.

“It was probably the best snooker I have played for a calendar year,” said Hamilton. “He showed himself to be a good character this week being 3-0 down twice. He is dealing with the pressure better than most would.”

World number one Mark Selby’s run was ended by Ryan Day, who came through a 4-2 victor.

The Welshman claimed his first and second ranking event victories last season after 19 years as a professional. He is now potentially three wins away from a third and will face Mark King for a place in the last four.

King is showing tremendous form so far this week having recorded some impressive victories. He defeated three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden 4-1 this afternoon and saw off Chinese star Zhao Xintong and 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham in the earlier rounds.

King won an emotional maiden ranking crown at the 2016 Northern Ireland Open and admits it would be equally special if he could double his title tally this week.

King said: “It is alright winning one event, but then you get people saying you are a one hit wonder. It would be lovely to win any title. Every event I enter I try to win every match. Things are going pretty sweet this week and hopefully the momentum will stay and I’ll keep winning.”

Jack Lisowski is still in the hunt for his maiden ranking title after defeating Zhang Anda 4-2. While Joe Perry recorded an impressive 4-1 defeat of the in form Kyren Wilson.

Perry will face Tian Pengfei in the quarters after the Chinese potter defeated compatriot Liang Wenbo 4-2.

Mark Allen is through to the last eight after holding off Ross Muir’s comeback charge to win 4-3. He’ll face Jimmy Robertson tomorrow who defeated Anthony McGill 4-3 on the final black. Remarkably all of Robertson’s games so far this week have come down to the final ball.

Detailed results and some footages are on Snooker.org

What I can add, only about the last 32, is this:

Joe Perry v Andrew Higginson and Ryan Day v Elliott Slessor were very good matches. Both Andrew and Elliott played better in this tournament than some who went through to the next round. Joe Perry and Ryan Day are playing very well and I see them as contenders for the title. The same goes for Mark Allen. Mark King and Anthony Hamilton, those two hard never-say-die warriors, seem to be back to the level and the mood that gave them their first and only ranking titles (for now) two years ago.

Judd Trump hadn’t lost a frame, but I’m not surprised one bit that he lost to Tian. Tian may be unspectacular, but he’s very capable and patient, something Judd isn’t. Unless Judd changes his mindset and approach, I can see only one way for him: down.

Anthony McGill wasn’t playing well and it’s only his will to win that carried him that far. In the last 32 his opponent was Ali Carter, who, in truth played better than Anthony. But in total contrast to Anthony’s application, Ali was showing signs of frustration as soon as things weren’t going his way. Twice he conceded a frame with only one snooker needed and still reds on the table.

Mark Selby should be commanded for playing in Lommel in the first place. Yesterday, to his own admission, he ran out of steam. He actually was the only thing, or rather person, that i saw from the main tour yesterday. We were both on our way to the bathrooms and Mark still took a few seconds to say hi, and ask how things were for me. He might be ruthless at the table – that’s his job – but privately he’s a very nice person and professional too.

 

European Masters 2018 – Held-over and last 64 round-up

After two days in Lommel it’s time to take stock of what happened!

None of the “Class if 92” is playing: Ronnie withdrew before the qualifying round, John Higgins and Mark Williams withdrew last week. I’s understandable given how much they have played recently, but it’s a shame for the tournament of course.

The first thing I’d like to say is that the setup is quite nice. There are only four tables and all in the main arena, so that the fans can really follow whichever match they like. There are currently no less than seven practice tables, which is great. This will be reduced to three from tomorrow on, but by then there will only be sixteen players remaining, so it should be comfortable. The four other tables will be used for the Challenge Tour.

Watching on television afterwards, I realised that it seems that the crowd is poor. This isn’t the case at all. The crowds have been really good from the start. The thing is that if someone wants to be able to follow more than one match, they need to sit higher up in the arena and it’s what most fans actually do, myself included. So the two or three first rows look empty unfortunately.

So… what did I see?

Held-over matches:

With Mark Williams withdrawal, there were only two.

Luca Brecel defeated Daniel Wells by 4-2 and on paper his win looks comfortable, but it wasn’t really. Luca was far from his best and I think there is a mixtures of factors here: he’s the local man and has a lot of pressure and his confidence isn’t high because his form hasn’t been great lately. It’s only towards the end of the match that he started playing better.

Judd Trump, the defending champion, raced to a savage 47 minutes win over Martin O’Donnell. Judd was very intimidating, but the truth is that if he plays like this against a top player, who won’t be phased by his pace, he might well be found out … again. Indeed he played very aggressive shots, I’d even say reckless ones at times, and on a couple of occasions he did split the pack so violently that he was very fortunate that nothing went in a pocket other than the ball he played!

Last 64

Again Luca and Judd went through, but in very different fashions.

Luca played young Luo Honghao and won 4-2 but the standard of this match was atrocious really, until the last frame and a half, when Luca found a bit of form. Luo hasn’t settled on the main tour for now and doesn’t seem to be able the way he did in Malta last season. Shame really.

Judd on the other hand played better and in a more composed way than he had in the held-over, which was good to see. The result was the same: a quick 4-0, over Liam Highfield this time.

Elsewhere …

Liang Wenbo beat Alfie Burden in a deciding frame again, and, again, the feeling I had is that Alfie should have won this match. But snooker is played in the head as well as on the table: Alfie was 3-1 up but as soon as Liang pegged one back, the atmosphere changed and the writing was on the wall.

Andrew Higginson beat Neil Robertson fair and square, by 4-2. It’s not so much that Neil played badly, it’s Andrew who played very well. It’s been a long time since I saw him play this well. In fact his form reminded me of the way he played in the Welsh Open 2007, when he made a 147 in the QF against Ali Carter, and reached the final where he lost 9-8 to … Neil Robertson!

The Kyren Wilson v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was very good to watch, and a high scoring affair: they had 6 breaks over 50 in only 5 frames! With Kyren 2-1 up, it looked for all the world that Theppy was going to make it 2-2: he was on 72, all reds and blacks, but missed the 10th red which was effectively frame ball. Kyren came back at the table, with 75 on, and won the frame by one point. That pretty sealed the match as well as Theppy looked dejected after that.

Jack Lisowski finished with two centuries in beating Duane Jones by 4-1. It was very fast and entertaining, except for Duane of course.

Yan Bingtao vs Alan McManus was anything but fast. It went to the deciding frame. Every frame was long, scrappy and devoid of any telling break. Both players deserve credit in this match. The old fox Alan for his sheer will to win, and his incredible tactical nous. Yan for staying with him: not many players that young would have done that. Yan battled, and battled … and battled. Hopefully, despite the disapointment of losing, he might have learnt a thing of two out there. This match must have been draining for both.

Another one who deserves huge credit is Mark Selby. Less than 48 hours after winning a long match in China, here he is, beating Sam Craigie by 4-1 … and taking short naps in his seat when not at the table. Between the naps Mark played well. Now the question of course is whether tiredness will catch up later during the week. Anyway, hats off.

Elliott Slessor v David Gilbert was a very high quality match and it’s a shame it happened so early in the tournament and wasn’t on the stream. Both scored heavily. Elliott won 4-3, after David made a 62 in the deciding frame, but missed match ball. With 75 on the table, Elliott cleared with 68.

Mark Allen was in fine form and played beautifully to beat Ashel Hugill. To me Mark is a serious contender for the title this week if he keeps this standard.

Ali Carter was made to work incredibly hard to beat Peter Ebdon by 4-1. Peter put him in all sorts of trouble, but wasn’t able to score heavily when in. Hence the score…

You can follow the tournament as it unfolds on snooker.org