Calendar revised again… and not great news…

Worldsnooker has published yet another version of the calendar

The calendar for the 2019-20 season has now been updated.

Click here for the calendar

Please note that the Potential Ranking Event for October has been removed from the calendar. And there are amendments to the dates for the Yushan World Open qualifiers and China Open qualifiers.

So the potential ranking event in October has gone. This was the spot occupied by the European Masters and I’m afraid this could be bad news for the European leg. Of course, Worldsnooker has not named the event that never will be this season and it’s still possible that the European Masters happens later.

 

19.com to sponsor 3 of the Home Nations

Yesterday, Worldsnooker announced the sponsor for three of the Home Nations Series tournaments: the English Open 2019, the Northern Ireland Open 2019 and the Scottish Open 2019.

World Snooker is delighted to announce 19.com as the new title sponsor of this season’s English Open, Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open.

These three events make up the Home Nations series, alongside the Welsh Open. During the 2020-21 season, all four of these tournaments will be sponsored by 19.com.

The Home Nations series was introduced in 2016, with one world ranking tournament staged in each country in the UK. Any player winning all four events in a single season earns a bonus of £1 million.

The upcoming events in 2019 are:

19.com English Open, Crawley, October 14-20

19.com Northern Ireland Open, Belfast, November 11-17

19.com Scottish Open, Glasgow, December 9-15

Prize money for each of these events has been increased from £366,000 to £405,000. Each tournament features 128 players in a flat draw, all needing to win seven matches to take the title.

All four events are televised live by host broadcaster Eurosport, Quest, and many other broadcasters around the world.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are thrilled to be working with 19.com for the first time. This is their first venture into the snooker market and I have no doubt they will find that we can deliver top class sporting events.

“Our global reach is growing every year with half a billion viewers around the globe in over 120 countries. On the table, the level of drama and standard of play has never been better. Snooker is a fantastic product and 19.com have recognised that. From next season they will sponsor all four Home Nations events and we look forward to building a strong relationship with their team.

“Over the last three years the Home Nations series has proved a superb addition to our tour. Each of the events create stories, with up-and-coming players given their chance to compete against the top stars in the televised stages. And the chance to win an unprecedented bonus of £1 million is an extra incentive.”

19.com spokesperson Jamie Dillon said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with World Snooker and we are confident that 19.com will be a great addition to the Home Nations series. We are looking forward to bring the best to all snooker followers.”

Tickets for the Home Nations events will be available soon, details will be announced on worldsnooker.com

English Open champions
2016: Liang Wenbo
2017: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2018: Stuart Bingham

Northern Ireland Open champions
2016: Mark King
2017: Mark Williams
2018: Judd Trump

Scottish Open champions
2016: Marco Fu
2017: Neil Robertson
2018: Mark Allen

Bizarely, what business this sponsor is into, isn’t said and looking up the Internet doesn’t yield an immediate answer. However, given the name, and the logo, it’s almost certainly yet another betting firm. Chinese most probably, sponsoring the “Home Nations” tournament. Oh the irony…

Why the Welsh Open isn’t included this season isn’t explained.

I have expressed my concerns about snooker relying so much on the betting industry often enough, I won’t repeat myself here (this time).

Just this: by pure chance, about the time I found out about this, someone on my twitter feed was stating that “nobody pays as well as the bookies”. This was not about snooker, but about some football club. Well yes, indeed, first because they earn so much off the delusions and increasinling often the addictions, of millions that they can afford it more than anyone else, next, of course, because this is feeding the system that enriches them.

In other news, better news hopefully, Ronnie was with Steve Feeney yesterday, catching up and, allegedly, looking forward to the next season. This is the picture they posted on twitter:

Ronnie2July2019.jpg

Hopefully looking forward to the season will lead to playing in more than three events…

Experts Predictions – how much do you agree?

Last week, Worldsnooker published this article, asking “experts”, members of the press their views on who is going to do what this season.

With the 2019/20 World Snooker Tour season in its embryonic stages, we asked some of snooker’s top journalists and analysts for their predictions for the year ahead…

 

Most Likely Maiden Ranking Event Winner

Neal Foulds, Former World Number Three and TV Pundit

Jack Lisowski – He will surely win something soon. He was admirably consistent last season and is by far the most gifted player on the tour who is yet to have won anything. Aside from that, almost anyone could win the Shoot-Out so there is every chance there will be another first time winner there.

David Hendon, Snooker Commentator and Journalist

David Gilbert – David is not so much knocking on the door of winning a big title as threatening to remove it from its hinges. We all saw how upset he was in the moments after losing to Higgins in Sheffield but I’m sure he’s since reflected on how well he played there and how well he stood up to the sustained pressure of the World Championship. He goes into this season as a real dangerman and hopefully with a bit more belief if he gets to another final.

Michael McMullan, Snooker Commentator and Journalist

David Gilbert – Last year I went for Jack Lisowski and although he didn’t quite get it done, I still think it may well happen soon. However I’m going to go for another player who also reached two ranking finals in the last campaign. Dave Gilbert had already moved up to a whole new level last season even before his feats in Sheffield. He almost made it in Yushan and Berlin, and didn’t do a great deal wrong in either final to end up losing, so his time may not be long in coming now.

Hector Nunns, Snooker Journalist

Jack Lisowski – Especially in the shorter formats there is always the chance of someone enjoying a spectacular week and coming from nowhere. But the main contenders should be David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski, and the Chinese youngsters (Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, Zhou Yuelong, Lyu Haotian and Yuan Sijun). I’ll go with Lisowski – he is knocking on the door, and his time is surely coming.

Shane MacDermott, Snooker Journalist

Scott Donaldson – The promising Perth potter propelled himself up the rankings last term with his most consistent season to date, ending with a Crucible debut.

Neil Goulding, Snooker Journalist

Yan Bingtao – The Chinese young gun went off the boil a bit last season, but I fully expect him to be back to his best and in the winner’s enclosure this time around.

Jamie Broughton, BBC Radio Snooker Correspondent

David Gilbert – He really impressed last season, and it can’t be long before he wins a tournament.

 

Surprise Package of the Season

Neal Foulds

Joe O’Connor – The Leicester cueman certainly surprised me towards the end of last season and there is no reason why he shouldn’t get even better. He seems to have a very sound temperament, as shown when twice beating John Higgins in ranking events. A really good prospect.

David Hendon

Liam Highfield – He has always struck me as a very talented player but hasn’t yet made his big breakthrough. I know he’s had health problems which obviously haven’t helped. He could be a bit like Kyren Wilson, who suddenly broke through in Shanghai a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. One good tournament is really all it takes.

Michael McMullan

Louis Heathcote – He has already impressed in the qualifiers by coming through two very different matches. It was a real battle against Ryan Day to get to Riga, then he won a high quality match against Noppon Saengkham in the International Championship. Some good amateurs struggle to make the transition, but he’s off to a flying start and looks set for a very strong first season.

Hector Nunns

James Cahill – The tag of ‘first amateur at the Crucible’ was always slightly misleading, as a former and soon-to-be pro. The sensational shock victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan shows he loves the big stage, and if he can carry that same swagger back onto the tour and maintain the dedication and commitment occasionally lacking in his first stint as a pro, he could do some more damage.

Shane MacDermott

Elliot Slessor – The youngster has shown he’s got the game with two wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan. If he can find that form consistently then he can be a danger.

Neil Goulding

Jackson Page – The talented Welsh teenager has been highly rated for the last few years and earned a tour card last season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do something similar to what Joe O’Connor did last season.

Jamie Broughton

Joe O’Connor – Always a tricky one to answer as there aren’t really many surprises. I’ll go with O’Connor to build on the promise he showed last season and get to a ranking event final.

 

Star Player Of The Season

Neal Foulds

Judd Trump – After his dazzling display in winning the world title, there is no reason why Trump shouldn’t go from strength to strength. However, the 2019/20 season will be his biggest test yet, as first time champions don’t always play to the same level during the following season. Saying that I feel that If Judd can keep his feet on the ground, he can establish himself as the man to beat all the season and beyond.

David Hendon

Judd Trump – Judd was my choice last year (just saying) and he goes into this season with the final piece of the jigsaw: the world title. It’s crazy to think how some people had written him off. He’s not yet 30 and has done the triple crown and is now in the perfect position to push on and start winning more titles. You could argue some of the pressure is off him now he’s triumphed at the Crucible. It’s also true that first time world champions often struggle with the added weight of expectation and scrutiny but there are so many tournaments now and a lot of trophies to play for. If he keeps his focus he will win plenty more.

Michael McMullan

Judd Trump – He looked like a whole different player last season, and obviously he was already exceptionally good before that. Everything about him suggests he’s hungry for much more success, and now that he’s finally landed the world title we’ve all been expecting for so long, I think he’ll kick on very well.

Hector Nunns

Judd Trump – It is hard to see past Trump. Having finally got the monkey off his back by winning the world title predicted for him since almost before he could walk, The Juddernaut will I’m sure be focusing even more on winning and peaking for the big ones this season. Should be targeting being a multiple World Champion in his career, and no better time to begin that quest.

Shane MacDermott

Judd Trump – The Ace in the Pack really hit his straps last season, hammering Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters final, before producing the best ever performance in a Crucible final to land his first World Championship. He has really matured as a player and we could be embarking on a new era of dominance in the sport.

Neil Goulding

Neil Robertson – The Aussie ace looked back to his fearsome best towards the backend of last season. He’s enjoying his snooker again and that’s ominous for the rest of the field.

Jamie Broughton

Judd Trump – I’m sure we’ll see him continue to win ranking events this season, and he will be determined to beat the Crucible Curse in Sheffield. You wouldn’t back against him doing it given how well he played to win his first world crown.

 

World Number One at the End of the Season

Neal Foulds

Judd Trump – Difficult one this as whoever wins the world title (£500k first prize) has a strong chance ending up at the top of the world rankings. If Judd Trump can defy the “Crucible Curse” then surely his points tally would be vastly superior to anyone else, almost irrespective of what the others win in the build up to Sheffield.

David Hendon

Judd Trump – He starts with the advantage of 500,000 ranking points from the World Championship alone. Ronnie O’Sullivan is the perpetual unknown quantity – we don’t yet know which tournaments he will be competing in, and he really needs to get into the Coral series to defend his lead in the rankings. So if Trump is consistent and maintains a reasonably full schedule he can take over at the top. Some people may have forgotten he’s already been world no.1 but I think if he got there again it would feel more significant and potentially more permanent.

Michael McMullan

Judd Trump – Bearing in mind that he earned more points than anyone last season, and that I’ve tipped him to be the star of the new season, it follows that I expect Trump to be number one soon. It’s been largely forgotten that he’s already been number one when he was 23, but it was only for a very short while. If he gets back there, he could very well stay on top for five or six years this time.

Hector Nunns

Judd Trump – The huge first prize at the Crucible may once again leave this in the balance until the World Championship, but if Judd Trump enjoys a campaign that is anything like last term, he should soon regain the top spot first last briefly held over six years ago – and be there at the season’s end.

Shane MacDermott

Judd Trump – Judd is only marginally behind Ronnie O’Sullivan in the race for the world number one spot. Ronnie has openly said he won’t be entering much this season, leaving the door wide open for Judd to pounce.

Neil Goulding

Neil Robertson – If the former world champion carries on his fantastic form then there’s no reason he can’t return to the summit of the rankings.

Jamie Broughton

Neil Robertson – Back to his best last season. He’ll be challenging to win all the major titles again.

Now, most predictions are notoriously there to be unfullfilled, or at least only partially fulfilled. Here is how I feel about the above:

Most likely maiden event winner of the season:

I agree with those who picked David Gilbert. Jack Lisowski has been seen as a “sure” potential winner for so long, and disappointed for so long, that despite his newly found consistency  – that is very real – I’m still not sure that he will eventually fulfill his potential. Yan Bingtao had a terrible last season and is showing signs of coming back to form, but I don’t think that a win will come already this season. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if Thepchaiya Un-nooh  won a “proper” ranking event this season (*)

Surprise Package of the Season

Like many of the experts, I expect Joe O’Connor to further establish himself as an excellent player on the main tour, but that wouldn’t be a surprise at all. All the signs are there. The surprise could come from Li Hang, a solid pro for many years, but who has never really got a breakthrough. He just signed with Sightright. It will be interesting to see how he fares this season.

Star Player Of The Season

Everyone, except Neil Goulding, is going for Judd Trump. Well …  I’m not so sure. Being a World Champion for the first time comes whith a whole lot of new expectations and demands (from the sponsors, from Worldsnooker and from the fans). It also comes with offers to participate in shows, exhibitions, interviews and promotional events in general. It’s bringing both distractions and pressure. How will Judd Trump cope with the limelights? I honnestly don’t know. Some first time World Champions have found it difficult. Instead, in agreement with Neil Goulding, I expect Neil Robertson to thrive this season. He has the form, the ability and the desire.

World Number One at the End of the Season

Judd Trump is at the top of the very early “End of season rankings” by more than £200000, so he’s clearly favourite at this stage. Neil Robertson is second in the list. It will very likely be one of them. Who? A lot will depend on how well – or not – Judd copes with his World Champion status and with “the Curse”.

(*) no the Shoot Out will never be a “proper” ranking event in my eyes!

And, of course, despite what he said a fewweeks ago, I hope that Ronnie will play in most UK based events and have a decent season with a bit of silverware.

 

 

Scotland wins the World Cup 2019

WorldCupScotlandChampions

The day started with the semi-finals.

In the first semi-final of the day, Scotland easily got the better of the China A team, winning by 4-1. Both Scots, Stephen Maguire and John Higgins, were solid. In particular, their tactical game was far better than their opponent’s. Ding was poor all match. Yan played like he had all week, not badly but rarely finishishing a frame in one visit. It was him though who brought the only consolation to the Chinese fans with a great 126 in the double.

The second second semi-final, saw China B narrowly beat England by 4-3. It was a good match overall. There were mistakes on both sides, but there were some good tactical exchanges and some good breaks too: between them they scored 6 breaks over 50: 69, 84 and 51 for England, 62, 69 and 71 for China B. It was also a long match, leaving barely more than an hour to the winners, China B, to refresh and eat something.

In the evening, Scotland totally dominated the final, beating the China B team by 4-0. In 2015, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire had lost to China B, at the time represented by Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao. They took their revenge …

I can’t help but wonder however, how much the semi-finals schedule took out of Zhou Yuelong and Liang Wenbo. Zhou in particular had played really well all week, but was completely out-of-sorts tonight. Anyway…

Congratulations Team Scotland

And here is the bit everyone has been waiting for 😎 …

World Cup 2019: Scotland – China B (trophy ceremony)

World Cup 2019 – Onto the Final Day

The semi finals tomorrow afternoon in Wuxi will be: China A v Scotland and England v China B. The presence of China B at this stage is probably the only surprise, and it’s not a big surprise really.

The Scotland v Wales contest duly went to a decider. I can’t really comment on the match as I didn’t see a ball of it. From feedback on social media it was a good match.

Indeed I was watching Belgium v China B. I expected Belgium to win this, given how both teams had played so far, but not so. It came to two factors: Ben Mertens – who had been remarkably solid throughout the competition – had a lesser day AND Zhou Yuelong played very well in all departments. Form is not a tap that players can turn on at will; Ben will be disappointed but it’s part of being a sportperson.

China A beat Hong Kong by 4-0, and, again, I can’t comment having not watched the match. It was clear though that Hong Kong was the weakest team remaining in the draw, so this was to be expected to an extend.

England beat Thailand in an entertaining match. It was extremely close from start to finish, good quality overall, but it was also crazy and the Thai will feel a bit aggrieved because England benefitted from two huge flukes at crucial moments. It’s part of the game of course.

So here is what I expect for the semi-finals:

Scotland to beat China A in a decider. Yan Bingtao is still not playing at his best level, although he has shown a lot of resilience and will to win. There is pressure on the China A team from the start, but it will only increase in the final stages.

England to beat China B … unless Liang Wenbo finds his best form. Zhou has been excellent but he can’t do it alone.

Here are some of the most interesting moments of the QF day:

2019 World Cup: Wales (Ryan Day) – Scotland (Stephen Maguire) (final frame)

2019 World Cup: England (Kyren Wilson) – Thailand (Noppon Saengkham) (respotted black battle)

2019 World Cup: England (Kyren Wilson-Jack Lisowski) – Thailand (Thepchaiya Un-Nooh-Noppon Saengkham) (frame 6)

2019 World Cup: England (Jack Lisowski) – Thailand (Thepchaiya Un-Nooh) (final frame)

 

 

 

World Cup 2019 -Quarter Finals Line-up

The group stages came to a conclusion today in Wuxi. The line-up for the quarter finals tomorrow is now set:

World Cup 2019 QF line-up

The teams on the left were the group winners.

All results are on snooker.org

The format will be this: matches will normally be played over 6 frames:

Frame 1 – singles
Frame 2 – singles
Frame 3 – doubles
Frame 4 – singles
Frame 5 – singles
Frame 6 – doubles

Frame 7 – singles (if required): in the event of a tie, the team captains will each nominate a player to play a further one frame to determine the winner of the match.

From what I have seen:

  • Belgium has a good chance to beat China B. Liang Wenbo in particular looks vulnerable.
  • Scotland and Wales are evenly matched. All four players are in decent form. This is a match that could require the 7th extra frame.
  • China A  should beat Hong Kong rather easily.
  • England and Thailand should be close. Kyren Wilson for England and Thepchaiya Un-nooh for Thailand look in good nick. Jack Lisowski (Eng) and Noppon Saengkham (Thai) were a bit inconsistent.

 

World Cup 2019 – How things stand ahead of the last group stage day

Tomorrow we will know the 8 teams that will compete in the quarter finals in Wuxi. Actually, already today, 5 teams are certain to qualify albeit their place in their group can still change.

Group A

China 1 is currently leading this group with 17 points. They can only be caught by Thailand, currently at 12 points. Those teams play each other. China 1 will be first in the group, unless Thailand beat them by 5-0 tomorrow. This is unlikely, but still possible.

Thailand on the other hand is not certain to qualify just yet. Norway, currently on 10 points can still catch them and even get in front of them. Should they find themselves on equal points after tomorrow’s matches, Norway would go through because they have beaten Thailand in the group stage.

The other teams are all on 7 points. Theoretically they all could finish on 12 points. However, should this happen, they still can’t qualify because Thailand beat them all in the group stage.

Group B

The only certainty in this group is that Saudi Arabia is out. Currently England has 14 points, Hong Kong 12, Iran 11, Ireland and Northern Ireland 9. Tomorrow England will play Northern Ireland, Hong Kong will play Iran and Ireland will play Saudi Arabia. If Norther Ireland beats England by 5-0, Iran beats Hong Kong by 3-2 and Ireland beats Saudi Arabia by 5-0 we could have five teams on 14 points! Not sure what would happen then…

Group C

Here the situation is staightforward: Scotland, on 17 points, and Belgium on 16 points are already certain to qualify. None of the other teams can catch them. They will play each other tomorrow and the winner will be first of the group.

Group D 

The situation is similar in Group C: China 2 on 18 points, and Walres on 17 points are aleady qualified. They play each other tomorrow and the winner will top the group.

source snooker.org