2023 Q-School Event 1 – Day 2 + Snooker News

Here is WST report on what happened yesterday at the Q-School as the first round concluded.

Bai Reaches Round Two With Crucial Break

Bai Yulu made a vital break of 78 in the deciding frame to beat Muhammad Aurangzaib 4-3 and reach the second round of Q School event one in Leicester.

China’s 19-year-old Bai, playing in Q School for the first time, will now face Craig Steadman on Monday morning. She has shown her potential on the World Women’s Tour in recent weeks, reaching the final of the World Championship and winning the British Open, and admits that earning a place on the professional tour is now her biggest goal.

After losing the opening frame against England’s Aurangzaib, she levelled with a run of 62. Bai lost the third but then made a 33 clearance to snatch the fourth, and a break of 49 put her 3-2 ahead. Aurangzaib forced a decider, but Bai’s excellent 78 secured her progress.

Former Shoot Out champion Robin Hull was smoking hot in a 4-0 win over Richard Pipe, compiling breaks of 114, 58 and 66. Joshua Cooper made a 132, the highest break of the event so far, during a 4-0 success over Abdul Raheem.

Gerard Greene, a former Players Championship finalist, eased to a 4-0 win over James Burrett. Liam Pullen, runner-up to Stan Moody in the WSF Junior Championship, came from 2-1 down to beat Mark Lloyd 4-2.

All the results are on snooker.org

There was clearly a lot of interest about Bai’s match yesterday. She will have learned a lot from that match yesterday. She had no previous experience to play in professional conditions. Also, it’s unlikely that the young Chinese lads she plays regularly in China have the type of game Muhammad Aurangzaib plays. He’s 51 and probably plays a more conservative game than the younger players. Bai coped with that. She handled the pressure well. She must have known that her match would followed by many. Craig Steadman will probably have too much for her, but, as she stated, she’s here to learn.

The deciding frame is on YouTube

There weren’t any big surprises yesterday.

That said, I thought that the 4-0 win by 19 years old Antoni Kowalski from Poland deserved a mention. Here is Antoni’s 2022/23 page on Cuetracker. Antoni won 49 of the 60 matches he played this season so far (counting yesterday win) and at 19 is the reigning Polish National champion.

Also worth mentioning is France’s Nicolas Mortreux win. Nicolas, who is only 20, has played a lot of good matches this season as his 2022/23 Cuetracker page shows. including on the Q-Tour. He’s shown serious dedication, traveling a lot to play, gain experience and improve. Nicolas will play Lee Shanker next. They have never played each other (according to Cuetracker) but I think that it’s a winnable match for Nicolas despite the superior experience of his opponent.

Snooker News shared by WST

Ding Steps Down

It has today been announced that Ding Junhui is to step down from his position on the WPBSA Players Board of Directors as of 31 May 2023.

Ding was elected as a founding director of WPBSA Players in December 2020, following the formation of the organisation as part of a major constitutional review of the WPBSA.

Following a season which has seen the former world number one lift the 6-Red World Championship title for a second time and notably reach a fourth UK Championship final, the 36-year-old has taken the decision to step down from the board of WPBSA Players to focus on his playing career at this time.

Ken Doherty, Chairman of WPBSA Players said: “Ding has made a positive contribution to the WPBSA Players Board over the past two and a half years. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank him for his input and wish him well for the future.”

I’m glad to read that Ding wants to focus more on his career again. He’s too good, and, at 36, too young to partially retire and if he feels that his duties as a member of the board are taking too much of his time and energy, then, this is surely the right decision for him. I can’t help though to wonder if there might be additional motives as well. It’s obvious that the image of Chinese snooker has been tarnished by the latest match-fixing scandal and many of the players involved were training at Ding’s academy. Maybe Ding feels that he now has a responsibility to try and restore a positive image of the state snooker in China and there is no better way than doing it on the table.

Huge Offer From Matchroom Sport Charitable Foundation

The Matchroom Sport Charitable Foundation will pledge £25,000 to Jessie May Children’s Hospital at Home IF Rob Walker can reach the same target during his Absent Friends Tour in June.

Our Master of Ceremonies is cycling 1,000 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End next month in order to raise money for WST’s official charity Jessie May, as well as the Brain Tumour Charity.

CLICK HERE for Rob’s Just Giving page where you can donate

And if the Jessie May tally reaches £25,000 then Matchroom Sport Charitable Foundation will double it to a massive £50,000.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson, a trustee of the foundation, said: “This is an incredible challenge for Rob and we know how much it means to him personally. We’re delighted that he has chosen Jessie May as one of the charities who will benefit as these kind on donations are what keep them going. If Rob can complete the challenge and reach the £25,000 target then we will be thrilled to match it.”

The Matchroom Sport Charitable Foundation was created to centralise the benevolent efforts of Matchroom Sport, the global sports promotion company headed by Barry Hearn. For over 30 years, Matchroom Sport has donated millions of pounds to a wide-range of charities throughout its many sporting activities, including sports and community charities, and a number of hospices for both children and adults.

Jessie May Nurses provide vital respite and palliative care for terminally ill children, and their families across the South West. For more information visit www.jessiemay.org.uk

On Yee Ng has entered the Asian Q-School in a bid to regain her tour card

Following Bai Yulu’s victory at the WWS 2023 British Open, Ng On Yee has been relegated from the main tour. According to the Hong Kong media, she is determined to try to regain her tour card via the Asia-Oceania Q-School.

Hong Kong’s Ng On-yee not giving up fight to win back World Snooker Tour place, will join Q-school events in Thailand

The Hongkonger has dropped out of the elite circuit after her poor showing at the Landywood British Open last weekendBut the women’s world No 3 will get two chances to grab one of the four WST cards on offer at the qualifying events in June

Mike Chan

Mike Chan

Ng On-yee will try to win her World Snooker Tour place back next month. Photo: WTS

Hong Kong’s Ng On-yee is taking her fight to remain on the World Snooker Tour to Thailand next month, where she will compete in two qualifying tournaments.

The back-to-back Asia and Oceania Q School competitions will run for 12 days in Bangkok, and give a 128 players the opportunity to battle it out for one of four cards up for grabs.

Two finalists from each event will be awarded a spot on the game’s top tier for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 seasons.

I knew it would not be easy winning the British Open to get back on the tour,” Ng, the women’s world No 3, said. “Especially with all the new young talents like Bai Yulu.

The 32-year-old said she would base herself in the UK “for as much practice as possible, and focusing on my game” ahead of the tournaments, which begin on June 1.

Ng, who reached the final of the UK Championship and Masters of the World Women’s Snooker Tour this season, lost 3-2 to eventual champion Bai in the quarter-finals of the Landywood British Open on Sunday.

That left Ng out of the WST picture for the next two seasons, after she failed to overtake 12-time world champion Reanne Evans in the rankings.

Evans, despite losing 4-3 in a nail-biting final, climbed back to world No 1 and received a new two-year card to the WST, alongside reigning world champion Baipat Siripaporn of Thailand.

Bai Yulu takes the crown at last weekend’s Landywood British Open. Photo: WTS

Alan Wong, a coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, believed the days for any women player being “as dominant as before” were over.

The standard of the ladies game has risen by a lot in recent years,” he said. “In terms of skills level, I do not think there is much difference between the top few ladies.

So, it mainly depends on who has a stronger mentality and performs more consistently on the day.”

Ng On-yee in action during the quarter-finals of the Landywood British Open. Photo: WTS

Wong said while he felt Ng’s confidence had dipped in recent months, she would bounce back.

On-yee does lack a bit of confidence at the moment because of some not-so-good performance in the last few ladies’ tournaments,” Wong said. “But that was because she was trying too hard to protect her points to remain in the pro tour.

Now that all is settled and with the burden off her shoulders, I believe she will be able to play her normal game again in the coming events.”

Asia and Oceania Q School events are open only to players who are a resident in either of these regions, and players are not permitted to enter both the Asian and UK events.

Matches are decided by best-of-seven frames and there will be no seeding as players will be drawn randomly to play in the two individual knockout tournaments.

Players falling off the WST from the 2022-23 season, however, will be placed at random in the draw but seeded apart from one another in the opening rounds of the events so that they do not meet before the second round.

I’m glad that On Yee will give the Asia-Oceania Q-School a try. It shows that she wants to be on the main tour by right. It will not be easy though. But at least she’s trying.

Her coach says that her confidence is low. That’s hardly surprising: she won only three matches during her two seasons on the main tour, earning 8500 points, She still did better – significantly better – than Reanne Evans who will stay on tour as Women’s number 1. All the same, they are the two lowest ranked players amongst those in their second year on a tour card and that doesn’t reflect well on “women in snooker”.

Jason Ferguson insists that snooker not being a physical sport, there is no reason for women not being able to compete with men but you have to wonder. There is the obvious: cue power. Cue power is largely a matter of timing but are the person’s height and muscular strength irrelevant? I’m not sure. There are several examples on the tour of Asian players, short in stature, who definitely struggle when it comes to cue power. There is what every parent or teacher will know from observing young children: boys are gifted “on average” with better natural hand eye coordination than girls, and that’s essential in snooker. It’s likely to be the result of dozens of thousands of years of evolution where the men had to be food providers and the hunters. Nature doesn’t evolve as fast as society does nowadays. And of course, it’s a number game: significantly fewer girls than boys are attracted to the game and supported by their family/environment in trying themselves at it.

Jason’s Ferguson’s goal in inviting the best women to play in the main tour is to grow the profile of women in snooker. I’m not sure that it’s been working the way it’s gone over the last two seasons but equally, I’m not sure that the women’s tour is the answer. I really, honestly, do not know what’s best.

A bit of a side note but… I’m currently reading “Unbreakable” and there is one chapter where Ronnie discusses practice and cueing. One thing that surprised me is his affirmation that ” you cue from the hips”. That’s something I never heard before. I’m not sure what exactly he means by that, but one thing I knows for certain is that this is one body “area” where women are definitely built differently from men. Our hips are wider, our pelvis bones more “open” and our ligaments more lax under hormonal influence. That, and of course boobs coming in the way when cueing. Coaches in snooker tend to teach you what the “ideal stance” is – Stephen Hendry being often cited as a model to follow – but I wonder if there ever was any research into finding if this stance is ideal for women as well, given the anatomical differences. We do know that very tall players, like Ricky Walden for instance, had to adopt a different stance to be able to play efficiently. Maybe gender specific differences are worth some research too?

Marco Fu offered a 2 years invitational tour card

Marco Fu has been offered a 2 years invitational tour card.

Here is the WST announcement:

Fu Awarded Invitational Tour Card

Marco Fu will compete on the World Snooker Tour for at least two more years, after being awarded with a fresh invitational tour card.

The three-time ranking event winner endured a difficult period from 2018 until 2022, when he was forced to take a break from the sport after laser eye surgery. The pandemic then meant he was unable to compete for almost two seasons.

Fu’s first full year back came last season, which was filled with highs and lows for the Hong Kong cueman. However, ultimately it ended with him dropping off the circuit. He has now been given a fresh slate over the next two seasons to continue competing as a professional and is excited for the challenge ahead.

I am very grateful to be offered this opportunity by World Snooker Tour. I’ve spent 25 years on the circuit, but the last few have been really challenging. To be given this chance to continue and represent Hong Kong and China for another two years makes me extremely proud. I will be working as hard as ever to prove I am a player who can still perform and represent our sport at the highest level. I am very happy and excited,” said 45-year-old Fu.

I had my eye surgery in 2018 and then Covid, which as an overseas player was really challenging. If I stayed in the UK I would have been away from my family for a year. It was a time everybody wants to forget. Now everything is back to normal and my future is in my hands. All I can do is just work as hard as possible. Hopefully I can do myself proud.”

The eye issues that Fu has had to overcome have involved floaters impeding his vision. The surgery in 2018 didn’t have the desired effect and it is still something he has to deal with. However, Fu is hoping that he can find a way over the next two years to put that problem to one side.

I think my eyes are alright. It is steady but not 100%. I don’t think I will ever recover fully. At the moments I just have to get used to playing with the floaters around my eyes. It is not a huge thing but it does affect me. I think I can practice more and get more comfortable.

When I play the shot, the floaters are moving. Snooker is a sport when you need to concentrate 100%. If someone makes a noise, then you get up and gather yourself. For me, every time I am on the shot the floaters are moving. I can’t do anything about that. I need a new potting and aiming method to cater for that problem. It is difficult, but it is all I can do at the moment.

The undoubted highlight of Fu’s 22/23 campaign saw him go all the way to the final of the Hong Kong Masters in front of his adoring home fans. It was the first time professional snooker had been in Asia since the beginning of the pandemic and it couldn’t have occurred on a grander stage.

A world record 9,000 fans crammed into the Hong Kong Coliseum for Fu’s 6-4 defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. However, Fu’s finest moment of the event came in the semis against John Higgins. He fired in an epic 147 break in the deciding frame to beat the Scot 6-5. It was a moment when the eye issues dissipated and Fu says that was down to getting in a zen like state, which comes about very rarely in the career of a snooker player.

I was in the zone during that break. I fancied making a 147. It was an unbelievable feeling. It is hard to repeat that. It is out of your control when you get into that zone, but I managed it during that break. It was probably one of the most important moments in all my career. A 147 break in front of all those fans.

All I could see was the white ball and the object ball in front of me. I couldn’t see the crowd, the referee or my opponent. I couldn’t hear anything. I was just playing. I was in a bubble. It was a great feeling and very calming. I have only had that feeling a couple of times in my career. I was lucky that I got it then.

John is always a gentleman. He congratulated me and said good luck in the final. Thinking back it was a special moment. I have been there many times for concerts. It is a famous place for that. I never thought I would compete there. It is probably the loudest noise I’ve ever heard in the Coliseum. It was very special for me and everybody in Hong Kong.”

The remainder of the season didn’t go to plan for Fu, who ended the campaign with five consecutive first round defeats. He was beaten 10-5 by Martin O’Donnell in World Championship qualifying. However, Fu kept a keen eye on the progress of Chinese 20-year-old Si Jiahui who went on a stunning run to the semi-finals, before being pipped 17-15 by eventual World Champion Luca Brecel. Looking ahead Fu is determined to earn a return to the Crucible in the coming years.

Fu said: “I was supporting Si Jiahui throughout the whole tournament. He was an outsider from the beginning, but he played better and better. I was texting his manager Victoria the whole way through. I have his number, but didn’t want to contact him directly and disturb him. I told Victoria good luck each time. I couldn’t believe how well he played. I was very happy for him and disappointed for him in the semi-final. It would have been amazing if he became the first Chinese player to win the World Championship. I was really rooting for him.

My target is very obvious. I would love to finish in the top 64 after two years and qualify for the Crucible again. I haven’t been there for a long time now. I will try my very best to achieve those things. I think with my eye problem and Covid, my standard has definitely dropped from five years ago. The love of the game is still there. I still look forward to practising every day. I love taking my cue into a snooker club. As long as I feel that I will keep on playing. Hopefully I will get back to the standard where I can compete as I did five years ago. That is the standard I want to achieve. I will do my very best.”

I’m very happy for Marco. He deserves this chance after everything he had to go through. As for the floaters, I’m afraid that is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. I have the same problem for many years now. It’s usually caused by detachment at at rear of the eye. It is more frequent in persons who are severely myopic because of the elongated shape of the eye. Marco used to wear glasses but was playing with lenses. Glasses mess up with your perception of distances. The “stronger” the glasses, the bigger the issue. If you ever look through a myopic person’s glasses you will see that everything looks smaller than usual and the further you hold the glasses from your eyes, the smaller the objects look. Lenses don’t cause that issue because there is no distance between the lens and the eye, but they can be very uncomfortable, especially if the atmosphere is dry. The floaters never go. Over time your brain learns to “ignore” them but whenever you get tired, or suffer a migraine … they become very “present” again and it’s quite off-putting. Anyway… good luck Marco!

Women’s snooker news – 15 May 2023

It’s not often that I post about Women’s snooker but I feel compelled to do it today. The 2023 Women’s British Open was played over the week-end and its outcome was set to determine who, from Reanne Evans and On Yee Ng was going to regain a two years tour card starting next season. It was also only the second time that Bai Yulu from China was competing in a WWS event, and after coming runner-up to Baipat in the Women’s 2023 World Championship early March, Yu won the last event of this season yesterday, beating Reanne Evans in the final and On Yee Ng in the quarter-finals.

Here is the report shared by WWS

Brilliant Bai Wins British Open

Bai Yulu has defeated Reanne Evans 4-3 following a thrilling final to win her first world ranking event title at the Landywood British Open, held at the Landywood Snooker Club in England.

The 19-year-old was competing in only her second event on the World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour after she sensationally reached the final of the World Championship on her debut just two months ago, and duly added to her growing reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the women’s game with victory at the season finale.

From China, Bai becomes the sixth different player to win a main ranking tournament during the 2022/23 season, following glory for Evans, Mink Nutcharut, Jamie Hunter, Ploychompoo Laokiatphong and Baipat Siripaporn previously.

Having begun her campaign in the group stages, Bai defeated world number 10 Steph Daughtery and debutant Deb Major to reach the knockout rounds, before overcoming Daisy May Oliver, Keerath Bhandaal, Ng On Yee and Ploychompoo Laokiatphong to reach her second consecutive final.

Awaiting her in the title match would be record six-time British Open winner Reanne Evans, after the English star survived a hard-fought last 16 match against Bayarsaikhan Narantuya to win 3-1, before overcoming Maria Catalano and Rebecca Kenna to not only reach the final, but also secure her return to the World Snooker Tour next season. Combined with a surprise last 16 exit for Mink Nutcharut against Jamie Hunter, the result also means that Evans will reclaim the world number one ranking following the tournament.

A repeat of their semi-final at the World Championship in March, the final would prove to be a high-quality encounter as Bai claimed the opening frame before the pair traded breaks of 75 and 66 to see the teenager lead 2-1.

Back came Evans with a top run of 55 as she won two consecutive frames to lead for the first time at 3-2 and move to within a frame of the title, but it was to be Bai’s day as she drew level with a break of 40, before winning a nervy deciding-frame to secure her first major title on the WWS Tour.

Bai also compiled the highest break of the tournament with a run of 105 during her victory against Daisy Oliver on Saturday evening.

Now, I have to say that I feel pretty uneasy with the fact that Reanne will get her tour card back for finishing the year as number one, whilst Yu will have to go to Q-School. If by awarding tour cards to female players WPBSA wants to promote the women in the sport and encourage them to embrace the main tour, then it’s the best of them who should be given those tour cards and I don’t feel that, at this moment in time, Reanne is better than Bai. Bai only had the opportunity to play in two WWS events so far and that’s why she isn’t ranked at the top but… she was runner-up in the first event she played in, the 2023 World Championship, having beaten Reanne by 5-3 in the semi-finals, and she won the second, the 2023 British Open, beating Reanne again in the final.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing at all against Reanne who I respect and admire unreservedly. Reanne and Maria Catalano, as players, very much carried the women’s game throughout it worst period whilst Mandy Fisher kept it going against all odds as Chairwoman. They deserve massive credits for that. But, if it’s about giving a professional opportunity to the best female players at this moment in time then probably having Yu and Baipat on tour would be a better choice, especially as both are very young.

2022/23 Snooker Awards

WST/WPBSA have announced their Snooker Awards for the 2022/23 season

Allen Named 2022/23 Player Of The Year

Mark Allen, winner of three tournaments during the 2022/23 season, has been named WST Player of the Year for the first time.

Having won the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix, Allen was the only player to capture three trophies during the season. The 37-year-old from Antrim also reached the final of the British Open, the semi-finals of the World Championship and rose to a career high position of third in the world.

Allen also won the Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year award, voted by media around the world who cover snooker, as well as the Fans’ Player of the Year award, voted by fans on the WST website, app and on social media platforms in China.

The Performance of the Year category was won by Luca Brecel, for his spectacular display in winning the World Championship for the first time, beating Mark Selby 18-15 in the final.

Selby took the Magic Moment of the Year award for his maximum break against Brecel as he became the first player ever to make a 147 during the world final.

Julien Leclercq

Belgium’s 20-year-old Julien Leclercq won Rookie of the Year, having reached the final of the Shoot Out and climbed to 80th in the world during his first season.

A new category was introduced this year – Breakthrough Player of the Year – for a young player who has made a leap forward in his career. This went to China’s Si Jiahui for his tremendous run to the semi-finals of the World Championship.

John Virgo has been inducted into the World Snooker Tour Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the sport for more than 50 years – read more on that here.

WST Awards: 2022/23 winners
WST Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Fans’ Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Mark Allen
Performance of the Year – Luca Brecel
Rookie of the Year – Julien Leclercq
Magic Moment of the Year – Mark Selby’s 147
Breakthrough Player of the Year – Si Jiahui
Hall of Fame: John Virgo

Player of the Year – former winners
2011: John Higgins
2012: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2013: Mark Selby
2014: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2015: Stuart Bingham
2016: John Higgins
2017: Mark Selby
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019: Judd Trump
2020: Judd Trump
2021: Judd Trump
2022: Neil Robertson
2023: Mark Allen

Congratulations to All!

It’s hard to disagree with this season’s awards. I’m glad that they introduced a new category to recognise Si Jiahui outstanding achievements. It’s quite remarkable, and pleasing that two mainland European players received an award. Both are Belgian. There are only three Belgian players on tour, all young, and two earned special recognition this season.REALLY, it is time for WST to reflect on their UK centric tour structure and to do what’s needed to give players and fans outside UK, and in mainland Europe in particular, more and better opportunities, actually equal opportunities. They call themselves WORLD Snooker Tour … it’s time to live by their chosen name.

Ronnie O’Sullivan News – 5 May 2023

Ronnie hasn’t had the best season but he wasn’t downbeat about it. Speaking to Phil Haigh he insisted that he enjoyed it once he was over his “post Crucible dark places”

Ronnie O’Sullivan reflects on ‘marvellous’ season after World Championship exit

Phil Haigh Wednesday 26 Apr 2023 9:02 pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan was not too downbeat after his Crucible exit (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan looked back on a ‘marvellous’ season despite his shock World Championship exit at the hands of Luca Brecel, saying he has largely been happy after something of a low last summer.

The Rocket lost the final seven frames of the match to Brecel as the Belgian Bullet prevailed 13-10 in an incredible contest at the Crucible.

It was an unlikely defeat for the world number one, but it has not ruined his season, which he has largely enjoyed, winning both the Champion of Champions and the Hong Kong Masters this campaign.

O’Sullivan admits that he was down for some time after winning his seventh world title last year, but once he had recovered from that low, he has had a good time.

I think it’s been marvellous. Lots of smiley faces,’ O’Sullivan said of his season. ‘It started off a bit miserable, I’ve got to be honest, I was on a bit of a comedown from the World Championships.

So I didn’t really feel like playing much. I knew why, so I just took some time off the practice table, played the tournaments, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had a great season.

‘I judge my season on whether I was happy and I’ve been very happy.

May, June, July, August I just didn’t want to play, it was weird. I can only put that down to such a massive high. It might have been something else.

O’Sullivan was gracious in defeat to Brecel (Picture: Getty Images)

You go through periods like that, people fall in and out of love with what they’re doing. I just chose not to practice, took some time out and that was great.

I came back in January, put the time in and I’ve really enjoyed my practice and the tournaments I’ve played in.

Alright, I haven’t won as much but well-being, happiness, they’re the most important things. Snooker, that’s a bonus. If it goes great, I’ll take that. If it don’t go so great, alright. There’s always another tournament.’

Jason Francis, Ronnie’s manager, speaking to Phil Haigh expressed a completely different perception about the situation

Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘incredibly disappointed’ with early World Championship exit, believes manager

Phil Haigh Wednesday 3 May 2023 5:36 pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a shock quarter-final exit from the World Championship this year (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan was left ‘gutted’ by his quarter-final exit from the World Snooker Championship this year, believes his manager Jason Francis.

The Rocket was beaten by eventual champion Luca Brecel in the last eight, after downing Pang Junxu and Hossein Vafaei in his opening two contests.

The defending champion was looking good after battering Vafaei 13-2 and then leading the Belgian 10-6, but seven frames on the spin from the Bullet saw him shoot into the semis and oust the world number one 13-10.

O’Sullivan took the loss very graciously, heaping praise on the performance of Brecel and saying he has enjoyed a ‘marvellous’ season, but his manager says there was certainly a lot of disappointment over the defeat.

‘I think he was gutted,’ Francis told the Talking Snooker podcast. ‘I think that one thing I don’t have to tell you is he knew he was in a winning position.

But that takes nothing away from the way Luca played, I’ve never see anyone play like that against Ronnie here.

This place, Sheffield, it either makes you or it breaks you and I think the people who come through and can handle it, they become real champions.

People say it defines their career, if they’re successful here, but it can also define the way they play in the future, because there’s no harder place to play.

So I think he came up against someone who played unbelievably well, but I also think that he’s incredibly disappointed, because if you look from the outside there was an opportunity there this year.’

Francis has been working with O’Sullivan for the last decade, and explained that a huge part of his job is trying to keep people from distracting the Rocket when he should be focussing on snooker.

My role with Ronnie is filtering chaos and trying to put out fires before they come,’ he explained. ‘One of Ronnie’s faults is his generosity, so you can turn up at a tournament, it will start off being me and him but very soon the circus is in town.

Someone who’s a friend of Ronnie or wants to come and see Ronnie…what Ronnie probably should say is: “Look, I’m here to win the World Championship, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks for a dinner.” But he’s so generous, they want to come and see him, and suddenly we end up with an entourage.

Part of my job over the last 10 years has been managing that, but also be respectful that ultimately he’s the player, he has to decide

I don’t want anything I say to ever thought to have cost him a match. There’s nothing that I can do to make him win a tournament or lose a tournament. It’s the player and the table, but my job is to try and bring some stability, maintain relationships with people and be professional. I think that’s why it’s worked with Ronnie for as long as it has.’

The reasons Jasons put forward are quite interesting. Some players, like Luca f.i., seem to be able to switch in and out of their “zone” very easily and naturally, but I know that this is not the case for Ronnie.

That said … yes, this season has been poor but it’s been the case for many top players and it would be interesting to fully understand why. Ronnie ends the season still ranked number one and he’s 14th on the one year list as it stands today, despite missing some events because of the elbow injury. Judd Trump is 13th on it with only 7000 points more than Ronnie despite not missing any event. John Higgins (23d), Mark Williams (19th) and, very surprisingly, Neil Robertson (22d) are out of the top 16 on that list. It’s been a very bizarre season indeed and the only explanation I can think of is the shambolic structure of last season’s calendar with big gaps alternating with some very intense playing periods.

World Snooker Tour News – 4 May 2023

This was announced yesterday by WST

Tour Survivors Extended To Up To 68

WST announce that for this season only, up to 68 players will qualify for the 2023/24 season based on the two-year world rankings after the 2023 Cazoo World Championship rather than the usual 64.

This step will see all players on the two-year world rankings up to Mark Davis (but no lower than him in the world rankings), set to finish the season in 68th position, qualify for a further year on the World Snooker Tour, retaining all of the points that they had accrued over the past two years.

The move will also result in some changes to the players re-qualifying as the top players on the one-year list with Xu Si and Mark Joyce now qualifying for a full tour card. The one-year list will now be made up of Daniel Wells, Jimmy White, Ian Burns and Hammad Miah, the four highest ranked players on the one-year list who haven’t qualified for the tour through other means, and these four players will receive two-year tour cards.

The decision to extend tour numbers up to 68 players was taken by WST due to highly unusual circumstances where some players who remain on tour at the end of the season are currently suspended pending the outcome of an independent tribunal.

WST is not involved in these cases, neither is it a party to the tribunal and has no influence upon it.

The decision to extend numbers was taken by WST so that no player might suffer missing out on a Tour Card irrespective of any outcome in those disciplinary proceedings and to maximise playing opportunities on the World Snooker Tour. This extension will apply to this season only.

This decision may not be to everyone’s liking but, personally, I prefer this to the addition of some random wildcard players, or arbitrary picking four amateurs amongst those who were not already eligible via the agreed routes.

It also means that should some of the currently suspended players be found not guilty or receive a very short ban, the tour might count more than 128 players. I don’t want to enter into speculations but from what transpired today on social media, that scenario looks quite unlikely.