A day without snooker?

Yes, there is no snooker today. How weird. So it’s a good time to look back at what happened over the last few days.

Martin Gould has won the Championship League Snooker for the second time.

Martin Gould won the Championship League for the second time by beating Jack Lisowski 3-1 in the final in Barnsley.

Gould was the only player not ranked among the world’s top 16 in the Winners’ Group, but saw off the challenge of Judd Trump, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Stuart Bingham and Lisowski to take the trophy. He earns a place in the prestigious Champion of Champions event in Coventry in November.

London’s 37-year-old Gould has otherwise had a disappointing season, reaching the last 16 of just one ranking event and slipping to 27th in the world. But he now has another professional title to add to his tally, to go alongside the 2013 Shoot Out, 2013 Championship League and 2016 German Masters.

A break of 115 gave Gould the opening frame of the final then Lisowski, who was aiming to win his maiden pro title, levelled with a run of 63. A scrappy 38-minute third frame went Gould’s way, and when he potted green and brown in the fourth to go 30 points ahead, the handshake followed.

“It’s nice to win again – there’s a lot riding on this. You get a Champion of Champions spot which is massive,” said Gould. “I felt relaxed and I really enjoy this event. I take it as a bit of fun – you’re getting paid to practise and it’s match practice that you could never get anywhere else.

“To win this event with the players that were in this group is a great confidence booster for me. And hopefully I can take it forward to the World Championship qualifiers as that’s all that is left for me this season.”

Earlier in the semi-finals, Gould scored a 3-0 win over Higgins, who had been aiming to win the event for the third year in a row. Runs of 105, 55 and 57 put Gould into the final. Lisowski saw off Robertson 3-0 with top runs of 91 and 80.

Robertson and Gould had topped the round robin table with four wins each out of six, while Higgins and Lisowski each scored three wins.

This guarantees him a spot in the Champion of Champions next season.

Stuart Bingham has won the Gibraltar Open 2019

Stuart Bingham claimed the sixth ranking title of his career after a 4-1 victory against defending champion Ryan Day in the final of the Betway Gibraltar Open.

Bingham was in sublime form all weekend, firing in nine centuries on his way to the title. The 2015 World Champion was competing in his third ranking final of the season, having won the English Open earlier in the campaign and been runner-up at last month’s Welsh Open.

The victory, and the £25,000 top prize, also helped Bingham to secure his place at next week’s lucrative Tour Championship in Llandundo. The event plays host to the top eight players on the one-year money list. Bingham held off David Gilbert to claim his spot and will face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the opening round in North Wales.

Day’s valiant attempt to defend his title fell just short, but he leaves Gibraltar with a welcome £12,000, which boosts his chances of edging into the world’s top 16 and qualifying for next month’s World Championship. The Welshman finds himself in 17th position in the latest provisional seedings and will head to Beijing for the upcoming China Open hoping for a strong showing to clinch a Crucible spot.

This evening’s high quality encounter got off to a fast paced start as Bingham embarked on a 147 attempt in the opening frame. However, the 42-year-old broke down on 48 after missing a difficult red to the middle. Day punished him with a superb contribution of 83 to move 1-0 up.

The high scoring pattern continued as Bingham responded by composing breaks of 100 and 84, before a further run of 103 saw him move one from the win at 3-1. There was then an edgy fifth frame, which came down to the colours, as both players spurned opportunities. However, it was Bingham who eventually found a way to secure the frame and take home the title.

“I’m over the moon. I played well from the off, so it was great to keep it going all the way through the weekend,” said Bingham. “My main goal this week was to get into the Tour Championship. Once I got that, I relaxed a bit and had my eyes on the title.

“To get in the Tour Championship was something I looked at achieving at the start of the campaign. I knew I needed something special to qualify for the World Championship this season and now having qualified for next week, I am virtually into the Crucible as well.

“I have had my wife, my manager and his wife over this weekend and it has been great. That has made it special and I topped the weekend off with a great win.”

Except for Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham and David Gilbert who were battling for a spot in the Tour Championship, top players didn’t appear to be extra motivated for this event. And not just top players. Mike Dunn came on twitter blaming young players not taking the opportunity this event offered seriously and getting drunk. Some young Chinese players DID take the opportunity though, 18 years old Yuan Sijun and Lu Ning getting to the SF. And some amateurs did well too, notably David Grace.

This means that the draw for the Tour Championship 2019, starting tomorrow is known:

Mark Allen vs Kyren Wilson
Neil Robertson vs Mark Selby
Judd Trump vs Mark Williams
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Stuart Bingham

Stuart played really well in Gibraltar and he’s certainly no easy opponent for Ronnie in the first round. That said, if Ronnie plays the way he did in Preston, he has nobody to fear. Ronnie came on twitter, calling interested top 32 players to contact him for some match practices in preparation for this event, so he’s taking it seriously.

 

 

Tour Championship 2019 news

Worldsnooker has published some infos about the Tour Championship 2019 draw and format

Six of the eight top snooker stars competing in next week’s Coral Tour Championship have been confirmed, and first round matches scheduled for the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump.

The brand new tournament runs from March 19 to 24 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and it’s the culmination of the Coral Snooker Series. A top prize of £150,000 will be up for grabs in the ITV-televised event.

The line-up features the top eight players on the one-year ranking list at the end of this week’s Gibraltar Open. The top six are already sure of qualification:

One-year ranking list leader Mark Allen
Five-time World Champion and Coral Players Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan
Coral World Grand Prix champion Judd Trump
Former World Champion Neil Robertson
Current world number one Mark Selby
Reigning World Champion Mark Williams

The other two places will be decided in Gibraltar this week, with Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert battling for those two spots.

In the first round in Llandudno, Robertson will face Selby, with that best-of-17 frame match to be played to a finish on the opening day, Tuesday March 19.

Trump will take on Williams, with the first session on the afternoon of March 19, and the conclusion the following afternoon.

O’Sullivan will face his opponent on the evening of March 19, with the second session of that match on the evening of March 20. And Allen will take on his opponent in both sessions on March 20.

If crowd favourite O’Sullivan comes through his opening match he will take on Trump or Williams in the best-of-19 semi-final on Thursday March 21, over two sessions. The other semi-final will be on Friday March 22, with the best-of-25 frame final to be played over three sessions on the Saturday and Sunday.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Llandudno which is one of the best venues on the circuit. The new Coral Tour Championship is a fantastic addition to our calendar, bringing together an elite field of the best eight players this season.

“And we have a superb line up with six top stars already confirmed – those six have 12 world titles and over 100 ranking titles between them! The race is on to win the inaugural Coral Cup, to be awarded to the player who wins the most money across the Coral Snooker Series. Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are leading the way, but with a top prize of £150,000 available there are others who have a chance.

“It will be a week of the highest quality snooker and a great opportunity for fans in North Wales to watch the very best players live.

“Tickets start at just £15 and there is still availability but fans must book quickly because certain sessions will sell out now that the format has been announced.”

It will be interesting to see what type of crowd this event draws. When Barry Hearn shortened the UK format, his justification was that the audience on site and on television want to see a result at the end of the session.

Players Championship 2019 – Ronnie is your champion!

PlayersChamps2019ROSWinner!

Ronnie has defended his Players Championship title tonight, beating Neil Robertson by 10-4. It was Ronnie’s 50th ranking final, and 35th ranking title, just one short of Stephen Hendry’s record.

But what will stay in the memories most, is that he clinched victory with a 134, his 1000th competitive century, setting a new milestone in the history of snooker. Ronnie received a long standing ovation whilst potting the last balls, and celebrated with the crowd after receiving the trophy. He dedicated his 1000th ton to all the snooker fans around the world. 

PlayersChamps2019ROS1000tons!

Let’s enjoy the moment with a few pictures.  

Thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

The Match:

Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved another high in his extraordinary career by making his 1,000th century in the last frame of a 10-4 victory over Neil Robertson in the final of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.

Ever the showman, O’Sullivan made his milestone break at the perfect moment, to seal the title at the Guild Hall. A packed crowd cheered every shot as he became the first player to make 1,000 career tons (read more about that story here).

Victory gave O’Sullivan his 35th ranking title, bringing him within one of Stephen Hendry’s record. He dominated the final with a brilliant display, making three centuries and eight more breaks over 50 as he successfully completed the defence of his title and scooped the £125,000 top prize.

It has been a remarkable few months for O’Sullivan; in December he won his seventh UK Championship title and 19th Triple Crown event, beating records set by Steve Davis and Hendry. Now he has yet another piece of history and it surely won’t be long before he equals and then beats Hendry’s record of 36 ranking titles.

This was O’Sullivan’s 50th ranking final, the first coming 26 years ago at the same venue when he beat Hendry in the final of the UK Championship at the age of just 17.

The Chigwell cueman, now 43, has played in nine tournaments so far this season, reaching six finals and winning four. His earnings for the season now stand at £754,500, bringing him within striking distance of becoming the first player to top the £1 million mark in a single campaign. O’Sullivan moves one place up to second in the world rankings and could overtake Mark Selby at the top of the list if he wins the Coral Tour Championship later this month.

Australia’s Robertson had been aiming for his 16th ranking title and victory would have given him three in a season for the first time, having already won the Riga Masters and Welsh Open. But the 37-year-old could not live with his opponent today and had to accept the £50,000 runner-up prize after losing to O’Sullivan for the 15th time in 22 meetings.

Trailing 7-2 after the first session, Robertson needed a fast start tonight and got it with a 120 total clearance in the opening frame. O’Sullivan responded with a break of 90, missing out on a chance for the 1,000th century when the last red stayed above the jaws of a corner pocket.

Robertson took frame 12 with 35 and 36 to make it 8-4 and ensure that the session would go to an interval, then O’Sullivan compiled runs of 43 and 37 in the 13th to go five ahead with six to play.

And he sealed the match in sensational style with a break of 134, which in fact would have been a 141 total clearance had he not gone in-off after potting the final black. The two players laughed as Robertson informed his opponent that the in-off had cost him the tournament-high break prize of £5,000 as it would have beaten Robertson’s mark of 140. Still, nothing could spoil O’Sullivan’s moment.

“I knew I had to play well today,” said O’Sullivan. “I have played well all week and played brilliantly today. To cap it off with the 1,000th century was great. I was pleased to do it against Neil because he’s probably the nicest human being on the circuit. There’s no player I’d rather share that moment with other than Ding Junhui or Liang Wenbo.

“This is one of the best venues we get to play at, I love playing here. Since I was seven or eight I have just potted snooker balls, I love the game. To share this with the fans here and around the world – Preston is lucky that it was here tonight but it’s for the fans everywhere.

“It has been a history making year for me with 19 majors, 1,000 centuries and I’m within touching distance of Hendry’s record of 36 ranking titles. I’m not someone who looks at records, it’s nice when I reach them but it’s not my motivation.”

Robertson said: “I had high hopes going into the match but I couldn’t do much about the way Ronnie played. He probably plays a final like that once every two or three years. I kept trying all the way through and did well to stay in there. I only missed a few tough shots, he won at least five or six frames where I didn’t make a mistake.

“It was great to be in the arena when he made the 1,000th century. I’m delighted for him, he’s a wonderful champion and the game’s greatest ever player.”

Both players will be in action at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 19-24), for ticket details click here.

The 1000 centuries:

Ronnie O’Sullivan became the first player to make 1,000 career century breaks during the final of the Coral Players Championship on Sunday evening.

O’Sullivan reached this historic landmark with a run of 134 in the 14th and last frame on the final against Neil Robertson at the Guild Hall in Preston, securing a 10-4 victory. Fans rose to salute the Rocket as he celebrated this marvellous achievement.

It is a feat comparable to Pelé scoring his 1,000thgoal in 1969, or Sunil Gavaskar becoming the first player to score 10,000 test runs in 1987.

Second on the all-time list of century makers is Stephen Hendry, who made 775 tons during his illustrious career, and the huge gap of 225 shows just how prolific O’Sullivan has been.

In his debut professional season back in 1992/93, O’Sullivan made 29 centuries – only Hendry made more that term – and the Rocket has been a regular scorer of three-figure totals ever since, establishing himself as the best break-builder of all-time. His biggest tally in a single season came in 2017/18 when he made 74.

O’Sullivan also leads the way when it comes to maximum breaks. His 147 at the English Open earlier this season was the 15th of his career. Hendry made 11 maximums before he retired in 2012, while John Higgins (nine), Ding Junhui (six) and Shaun Murphy (five) are the only other players to make more than four 147s. The Rocket has also made the most centuries at the Crucible with 166, followed by Higgins with 138 and Hendry with 127.

Aged 43, the Chigwell native has contemplated retirement many times over the years but has also suggested he could play until he is at least 50, so he could set the bar very high in terms of career centuries by the time he puts his cue away for good.

However, with more tournaments now than ever before, and playing conditions at a high standard across the tour, there will come a time when O’Sullivan’s record haul of centuries is eclipsed. Judd Trump already has 596 at the age of just 29, so if he makes an average of 50 per season over the next decade, he will fly well past the 1,000 mark.

But for now it is time to salute the magnificence of O’Sullivan’s accomplishment.

Most career centuries

Ronnie O’Sullivan 1,000
Stephen Hendry 775
John Higgins 745
Neil Robertson 621
Judd Trump 596
Mark Selby 570
Ding Junhui 498
Marco Fu 490
Shaun Murphy 479
Mark Williams 460

And the coverage:

2019 Players Ch’Ship: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson 1st session

2019 Players Ch’Ship: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session1)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2)

2019 Players Ch’Ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson 2nd session

2019 Players Ch’Ship: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Neil Robertson match (Session2, trophy ceremony)

2019 Players Ch’ship: Ronnie O’Sullivan 1000th century – Neil Robertson

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s road to the 1000th century break.

Congratulations Ronnie!

The response on social media was tremendous. David Hendon took the opportunity to remind BBC that Ronnie has never even been shortlisted for SPOTY. Fellow professionals, members of the press and WPBSA official came forward with congratulations. And Ronnie himself forgot his Aussie accent for a moment! What a night!

 

Players Championship 2019 – Day 5

Yesterday in Preston we had the last of the quarter-finals and the first of the semi-finals.

Ronnie beat John Higgins by 6-4 in the last quarter-finals and you can read all about that match here.

This is the short review of that match at the start of the evening session:

Neil Robertson beat Judd Trump by 6-4 in the first semi-final and he will be waiting for the winner of the second semi-final – Mark Allen v Ronnie – that is played tonight.

This is the report by Worldsnooker:

Neil Robertson came from 3-1 down to beat Judd Trump 6-4 and reach the final of the Coral Players Championship, ending Trump’s chances of a potential £500,000 jackpot.

Robertson will face Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Allen over 19 frames in Preston on Sunday, with the winner to take the £125,000 top prize. Australia’s 37-year-old Robertson has already won the Riga Masters and Welsh Open this season and is aiming to win three ranking titles in a single campaign for the first time in his career.

Trump captured the Coral World Grand Prix crown last month and had been targeting the Coral Slam. Victory this week and at the Coral Tour Championship would have seen his total prize money for the series rounded up to £500,000. Bristol’s Trump has been arguably the player of the season so far, but tonight he let his grasp slip on the match after a strong start.

Breaks of 62 and 100 gave him the first two frames. Robertson pulled one back with a run of 71 but Trump dominated frame four with 47 and 48 to lead 3-1 at the interval.

Robertson’s fight back started with a superb 140 total clearance, the new front-runner for the £5,000 high break prize. In frame six, Trump had a chance to clear from 54-0 down, but after fluking the final yellow and potting the green, he missed the brown with the rest on 44.  Robertson took advantage to make it 3-3 , then won the seventh on the colours and made a 68 in the next to lead 5-3.

Trump pulled one back but his hopes were quashed in frame ten when Robertson potted a thumping long red to initiate a match-winning run of 59.

“At 3-1 down I had to keep my composure and keep cool under pressure,” said world number eight Robertson. “Judd looked in great touch and not much was going right for me. I had to keep believing in myself and show him I was up for the fight. He started to miss a few balls which he hadn’t done before the interval. Snooker is all about taking advantage of your opportunities.

“I won’t watch the other semi-final tomorrow, when I get a day off I prefer to chill out and forget about snooker. I’ll relax, do a bit of practice and get ready for the final.

“This will be my fourth ranking event final of the season so it has been a fantastic season whatever happens. It’s just so nice to have my game back so I can compete for all the big events and players are having to play really well to beat me which has not been the case in the last couple of years. I am really proud of the way I have turned things around.”

Tonight’s result means that eight of the 13 matches so far this week have finished with a 6-4 scoreline.

This match was again an illustration of the reasons why I’m not overawed by Judd Trump like so many seem to be. Is he THE player of the season? I don’t think so. He is one of the players of the season, along with Mark Allen who tops the one year list, Neil Robertson who like Judd has won two rankers this season, plus another final, and Ronnie who despite playing a “reduced calendar” has already won three titles, including the UK championship, and made it to two other finals. When he is in full flow, Judd looks unstoppable, but, as this match has shown once again, put him under pressure and doubts start to creep in, accuracy suffers, and he’s there for the taking. If Jack Lisowski had a better temperament, Judd wouldn’t even have been in this semi-final at all.

Here is Neal Foulds preview of the second semi final:

Players Championship 2019 – Ronnie beats John Higgins in the QF

PlayersChamps2019ROSQFWin

Ronnie beat John Higgins by 6-4 to book his place in the semi finals of the Players Championship 2019. It was a match in two parts. For the first three frames neither player looked able to control the cue ball and there wasn’t a single break over 50. Ronnie’s long potting had gone missing and he was leaving a tempter for John from each break-off. John’s long potting was better but he was missing unexpectedly in the balls. From what Ronnie said in his press conference the conditions were really difficult – the cushions being “pingy” – and they needed time to adapt.

In the last before the MSI John made a 96 and the match changed. After the MSI, Ronnie’s long potting was still poor, but he was focused, his safety was very good and he was very reliable in the balls. That made the difference. Ronnie had a 92 and two centuries. The last frame was very, very tense. Overall it was an enjoyable match for the neutral, it had a bit of everything.

PlayersChamps2019ROSQFScores

Here are a few images, thanks to Tai Chengzhe. 

and the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan got the better of a battle of two of snooker’s all-time greats at the Coral Players Championship, beating John Higgins 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.

The Rocket will face Mark Allen in the last four at the Preston Guild Hall in Saturday at 7pm, with the winner going through to Sunday’s final to compete for the £125,000 top prize (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

Just as he did after the opening round on Monday, O’Sullivan put on a comical Australian accent for his post match interviews. But on the table there are no distractions from the serious business as he seeks to defend this title and chases a fourth trophy of the season. The 43-year-old is also just three centuries away from a milestone achievement of 1,000 career tons.

Today’s meeting between O’Sullivan and Higgins was their 62nd since turning pro in 1992, with O’Sullivan now leading the head-to-head record 34-28.

It was a cagey start, the first three frames taking 52 minutes, without a break over 50. O’Sullivan took two of those, then Higgins got going with a run of 96 for 2-2.

After the interval, O’Sullivan stepped up a gear with 101 and 92 to go 4-2 up. Higgins responded with 65 and 61 to take the seventh frame, then O’Sullivan’s 116, his 997th career century, made it 5-3.

A scrappy ninth frame went to Wizard of Wishaw Higgins and he had a clear chance in the tenth but missed the pink to a top corner on 16. O’Sullivan replied with 53, and though he under-cut a frame-ball pot on the penultimate red to a centre pocket, he got another chance and potted the last red to seal the contest.

“It’s always a tough game with John, he’s a great player,” said five-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “I’m pleased to be in the next round. Mark Allen has had a very good season, winning two tournaments. I’ll have to play well.”

Today’s result means that Higgins cannot qualify for the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month, as he had to win the title this week to earn a spot in North Wales. The top six players on the one-year ranking list (Mark Allen, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, O’Sullivan and Mark Williams) are sure of their places. Next week’s Gibraltar Open will see Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert battle for the other two spots.

There is another aspect too: should Ronnie win this tournament, he would return to World n°1 in the provisional seeding that will count for the Crucible … maybe not for long as there are a lot of points for the grabs in Llandudno and he’s not going to China, but still.

Coverage:

 

Players Championship 2019 – Day 4

Once again, I missed the action yesterday, completely this time!

So here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson scored a 6-4 win over Mark Williams at the Coral Players Championship – then revealed he is on red alert as his partner could go into labour with their new baby at any moment.

Robertson and his fiancé Mille are due to have their second child on March 20th. And the Aussie hopes the baby will not come early while he is battling for the title this week in Preston. He faces Judd Trump in the semi-finals at the Guild Hall on Friday evening, needing just two more wins to take the £125,000 top prize (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

“If the baby comes early then I will have to dash off home, maybe Judd is hoping that happens!” said the 37-year-old. “It is strange, it could happen at any point and I have to prepare myself for that. The fortunate thing is that I’m in the UK and only a few hours drive away. Hopefully the baby will come when it is due in a couple of weeks.”

Robertson, who has been in fine form this season having won the Riga Masters and Welsh Open, lost the first two frames today against World Champion Williams, but then stormed back to take five in a row with top breaks of  63, 62, 95 and 75.

Welshman Williams made a 56 to take the next then got the better of a scrappy ninth frame to close to 5-4. And he had chances in the tenth but couldn’t take advantage. Robertson came to the table 17 points behind with the black, pink and baulk colours all safe on cushions. But he fashioned an excellent break of 54 by potting eight reds with blues, and that proved enough for victory.

“At 2-0 down it wasn’t looking good,” said 15-time ranking event winner Robertson. “I battled my way back to 2-2 then after the interval I managed to find some kind of rhythm. I was delighted to get through in the end.

“My game is really good. Myself and Judd are two form players. He is going for the big  jackpot (£500,000 prize money available for winning all three Coral Series events) but this tournament is big enough as it is so he won’t be thinking about that. It’s a chance to get to a final. He got me in the semi-finals of the Masters in a close one so hopefully I can return the favour.”

Evening session:

Mark Allen recovered a 3-0 deficit to beat Stuart Bingham 6-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.

Allen topped this season’s money list with £364,000 coming into this week and he is now guaranteed at least another £30,000 having made it to the last four at the Guild Hall. He will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins on Saturday evening  (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

Last month at the Coral World Grand Prix, Allen rashly conceded his match against Ali Carter when he was 3-1 down with 11 reds still on the table in the fifth frame. He admitted he had lost his appetite for snooker, but he has since regained his enthusiasm and tonight he showed determination in abundance as he fought back after a slow start.

Bingham raced into a 3-0 lead with top breaks of 71 and 76, before Allen hit back to take four frames in a row with top runs of 72, 108 and 54. Frame eight also looked like going Allen’s way until he ran out of position on 51 with two reds left, and Bingham later cleared for 4-4. Northern Ireland’s Allen regained the lead by taking frame nine with breaks of 35 and 29, then clinched victory in the next with a 75.

“I made a good break in the fourth frame which settled me down,” said 33-year-old Allen. “Stuart was on top before that, then after the interval it turned. Once I got back to 3-2 it was game on. I felt as if I played better than I have done in the last couple of tournaments, though there is still much improve on. I’m happy to win because Stuart is a very tough competitor.

“I have been fighting myself over the last few months. With a lot of chat on the phone to Terry (Griffiths) in the last week or two, I am in a better place now. I am giving it my all. I feel I am slowly coming into form and if I can keep improving match by match then I will be excited about my chances next month in Sheffield.

“No matter whether it’s Ronnie or John next, I know I am going to have to perform. They are two of the best three of all time in my opinion, along with Stephen Hendry. It will be a classic between those two tomorrow.”

It isn’t the first time in his career that Mark Allen has to battle depression and lack of motivation. Clearly Terry Griffiths is doing a great job in supporting him with the mental side of the sport.

For Stuart Bingham this defeat means that he will need to perform in Gibraltar and that his spot in the Tour Championship also depends on Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert results there. Kyren is only 500 points behind him. He would only need to go one round further than Stuart in Gibraltar  overcome him. David is 6000 points behind Stuart, which means that whatever happens David will need at least a semi final to catch up with him or Kyren, but in a rather depleted field it’s certainly not impossible.

And the there is John Higgins. He needs the title to get past any of the three above, but if he does he will get ahead of all three, meaning only one of them can still qualify for Llandudno. John faces Ronnie this afternoon, he seems to get back to form and Ronnie always finds it difficult against John. Should John win he would face Mark Allen next, and then possibly Judd Trump or Neal Robertson.

 

Players Championship 2019 – Day 2

Day 2 in Preston saw wins from Mark Willams, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski. Mark Williams is returning to form as was to be expected with the Crucible starting next month. There were still a few unexpected misses here and there – and Ali didn’t punish him – but overall he was very good. Judd Trump did play some incredible balls in a total demolition of Jimmy Robertson. The truth however is that Jimmy Robertson didn’t give him any sort of opposition. In frame 3, Judd missed a red in the top right pocket and looked shell-shocked for a split second. All reds were in the open, no ball was safe and there was more than enough on the table. At that level you would expect your opponent to clear, but Jimmy didn’t and Judd made it 3-0. That must have given him all the confidence he needed that his opponent wasn’t going to punish him. Again in frame 5, Judd needed four visits to win it, Jimmy had chances, didn’t take any. Personally, I’m not so sure how the match would have gone, had Jimmy taken frame 3, as he should have, and maybe planted seeds of doubt in Judd’s mind. Jack Lisowki beat Kyern Wilson quite convincingly: Kyren continues to struggle.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson and Mark Williams will go head to head in the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship, as they both came through their first round matches on Tuesday.

Robertson, in action for the first time since he won the Welsh Open in February, scored a 6-3 win over Joe Perry in Preston. The Melbourne native was content with his own performance, but less impressed by the Australian accent used by Ronnie O’Sullivan in his post-match interview on Monday night.

“Ronnie’s Aussie accent was way off, I don’t know what it was,” said Robertson. “You have to go deep into the bushes to find something like that back home. He could do with watching a bit more Chopper Read or some Aussie films to improve his accent.”

World number eight Robertson took a 5-2 lead over Perry with top breaks of 80, 107 and 101. Perry pulled one back and had chances in frame nine, crucially missing the final yellow when he looked set to make it 5-4. A relieved Robertson took advantage to seal victory.

“There were a couple of tactical frames but in the others I had some good breaks,” said Robertson. “Joe struggled a bit early on so I knew I had to get a good lead. It looked like going 5-4 in the end so I was pleased to finish it off.

“After the Welsh Open I had four or five days off to recharge the batteries. It’s a big part of the season coming up with massive tournaments, all at really good venues which is exciting, that’s what we play the game for.

“This event is the top 16 on the one year list so it’s the players in form, even more so than the Masters. A lot of the players in the field have won titles this season. It will be really tough to win. It’s fantastic to have best of 11 matches from the first round.”

On Thursday afternoon he’ll be up against Williams, who scored a 6-2 victory over Ali Carter. World Champion Williams has struggled to find his best form in recent months, admitting his dedication to practice has wavered. But breaks of 118, 131, 51, 70 and 79 today suggested he has regained his appetite, with the defence of his Crucible crown just a few weeks away.

Williams is close to guaranteeing a place at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month which is only for the top eight players on the one-year ranking list – for more on that raceclick here.

“That’s probably the best I have played all season,” said the Welshman. “I felt good out there, I have been practising hard for the last few weeks and it showed. My break building was good, my safety was good and I enjoyed it.

“My main aim this season was to qualify for the Tour Championship, I am on the border of doing that now. I won a tournament at the start of the season (the Yushan World Open) which almost put me into Llandudno and that was my downfall because I haven’t played much since.”

Evening session:

Judd Trump crushed Jimmy Robertson 6-0 at the Coral Players Championship and is now just six wins away from a possible £500,000 pay-day.

Trump is through to the quarter-finals in Preston for a Wednesday evening showdown with close friend Jack Lisowski, who beat Kyren Wilson 6-4.

Bristol’s 29-year-old Trump won the Coral World Grand Prix last month, one of three events in the 2019 Coral Snooker Series, along with this week’s tournament and the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later in March. If he captures all three trophies to complete the Coral Slam, he’ll have his prize money for those events rounded up from £375,000 to a massive £500,000.

And the world number five looked at the peak of his powers tonight as he whitewashed Robertson in just 81 minutes. Breaks of 105, 71, 50, 104 and 115 helped him to an emphatic victory.

“I started off well, scored heavily and my long potting was good,” said Trump, who has also won the Masters and Northern Ireland Open this season. “When you are winning tournaments, playing well and practising hard, you can relax from the start of matches, rather than worrying about how you are going to play as I have done in the past.

“This is an enjoyable period of the season with a lot of big tournaments and a lot of prize money. I really enjoy playing when there are one or two tables and longer matches, the atmosphere is a bit more special and there is prestige attached to these events.

“Jack has been consistent this season and when he wins his first title he will shoot up the rankings and you’ll see another level to his game.”

Asked about the possible £500,000 jackpot, he added: “Six matches is less than you would need to win a home nations event so it is reasonably close. But to do it I’ve got to beat six top players so it will be tough. If I can keep playing consistently the same way I will have a chance, or at least it will take someone playing unbelievably well to beat me.”

Lisowski reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the sixth time this season with an impressive display against Wilson.

From 1-0 down, world number 15 Lisowski took five of the next six frames with top runs of 50, 65, 121 and 59 to lead 5-2.  Wilson won a scrappy eighth frame then made an 83 for 5-4. But a superb pot on a red to a centre pocket early in frame ten set Lisowski up for a match-winning 110.

“I felt pretty calm,” said 27-year-old Lisowski. “I have been working on a few things to calm me down in the big arena. I managed to keep my concentration in front of the cameras. I’ve got great people around me and I’m listening to them to try to get better.

“I let Kyren off the hook a bit at 5-2 and it nearly cost me because he’s a great competitor and he wasn’t fazed by being behind. So in the end it was nice to pot a good red, get a bit of luck and make a century. My season has gone a bit quiet for the last few months so I’m not too high on confidence but I’m happy to be in another quarter-final.”

He and Trump are set to meet for the fourth time this season. Lisowski has only won one of the previous three, though that was also a best-of-11 meeting, at the International Championship when he scored a 6-2 success.

“He’s pretty much the best player in the world at the moment so it doesn’t get any harder than” said Lisowski, before heading with Trump to a late night pancake house in Preston. “If he has an off day and I can score then anything is possible. I’m looking forward to it.

“We’re so used to playing each other, we know it’s tough but we’re mates anyway. We’ll get some pancakes now then I’ll ignore him all day tomorrow.”

Today Mark Selby takes on John Higgins and it’s a hard one to predict: neither Selby nor Higgins have played their best snooker recently, and Higgins did go deep in India last week and might still be tired. Also Stuart Bingham and David Gilbert will meet in a match that may well decide who of the two will be in Llandudno. Stuart looked the stronger recently.

Later, in the evening, we will have the first quarter-final. Judd Trump will play Jack Lisowski and Jack has a good record against Judd.