The China Championship 2018 starts tomorrow.

And today, as usual in Asia, it’s red carpet ceremony in Guangzhou. Only two top 16 players are missing it: Ronnie who didn’t enter and Kyren Wilson who withdrew.

Kyren came on social media to explain the reasons for his withdrawal. His young son Finley was taken in medical care, very unwell, a few days ago and although he is getting much better, Kyren feels that his family needs him more right now than the fans in China do. I’m sure that this is the right decision and that the Chinese fans will se much more of him in the coming years.

Now here are (a lot of) pictures shared mainly on weibo:

It’s fair to say that Marco Fu’s two little girls are stealing the show there!

Luca Brecel is the defending champion but, unless I’m mistaken, is nowhere in those pictures. That’s a bit surprising…

 

Various snooker news…

This image of the Macau Masters has transpired on social media.

Macau Masters

As we expected, no Ronnie in it. Indeed he had committed to exhibitions  and events even the before this one was annouced. It will be held at the Marriott in Macau. Going by the poster, the two teams will be: Marco Fu, Zhou Yuelong, Zhao Xintong and Zhang Anda for China, Mark Williams, Ryan Day, Joe Perry and Barry Hawkins for UK. No Ding, just like in the Hong Kong Masters last season. He’s decidedly taking a leaf off Ronnie’s book when it comes to picking and choosing.

Peter Ebdon announces that this coul be his last season (source Worldsnooker)

Former World Champion Peter Ebdon admits he may decide to retire at the end of the current season – but is determined to finish his snooker career on a high.

Ebdon has shown an impressive return to form in recent months, reaching his first ranking event final in six years at the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany. He looked set for his tenth career ranking title when he led Kyren Wilson 2-0, but eventually lost 4-2.

Once he puts his cue away for good, the 48-year-old Englishman will pursue a pedigree consultancy business, and he has also recently qualified as a Reiki healer.

“Between those two occupations I have given up around 600 hours of practice time over the last few years, but I have been able to lay the foundations for two successful businesses once I finish my snooker career,” said world number 51 Ebdon.

“Since the start of this season I have been able to dedicate more time to practice and I have had some very good performances and results.

“I’m not sure how much time I have left as a player, partly because I have a degenerative spinal condition which means there are times when I can’t stand up or walk. I’m doing a lot of swimming and looking after myself to reduce the effects.

“At the end of this season I will have a look at everything. I will have been on the pro tour for 28 years by that point so it might be time to draw stumps. If I win a ranking title this season that would be a good time to finish because it would bring me to ten ranking titles, level with Jimmy White.

“Until then, I still have the will and desire to succeed and I want to have a good season. I feel I can get back into the top 32, and on the one-year list I’m 18th so one of my goals is to qualify for the World Grand Prix and Players Championship. I might not be the player I once was, but the likes of myself, Nigel Bond and Ken Doherty can beat some of the young players just using our experience.”

Looking back on the final in Germany, Ebdon recalls: “I was disappointed to lose, especially as Kyren didn’t have to play that well to beat me. It was a long day, playing four matches, and I was tiring towards the end, losing my focus. I’d had my contact lenses in for 14 hours straight which made me misjudge a few shots. But overall it was a big step in the right direction. And I was delighted for Kyren, I have said for a long time that he is destined for great things and now he is showing it.”

Steve Davis takes a stand against Barry Hearn’s idea regarding slow play

He gave this interview to the Jamie Shaw on Livesnooker

Steve Davis has defended the need for slow play (credit: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Six-time World Champion Steve Davis insists he will no longer watch snooker if players are docked frames or fined for slow play.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn announced in May that quarterly reports are to be published listing players’ average shot times, with those exceeding 30 seconds at risk of being warned or even fined.
World Snooker have since listed average shot times online but are yet to issue any official sanctions to those at the foot of the list.
Davis, who dominated the sport in the 1980s under the management of Hearn’s Matchroom stable, does not believe snooker needs to be played at a fast pace in order stand out in a competitive sports market.
 
“Sport changes and everybody is trying to make it exciting so there’s more pressure on every sport to try and be entertaining to the masses because you’re in competition with other sports,” Davis told Live Snooker.
“Back then [in the 80s], there wasn’t really that issue because snooker was always a slow burner and it’s a bit of a red herring to think that you have to make snooker faster to be more entertaining.
 
“Snooker doesn’t work that way, actually it works the opposite way to a lot of sports – it doesn’t have to be fast to be entertaining – sometimes the tactics alone can create the enjoyment and the fascination.
 

Davis salutes the Crucible crowd after announcing his retirement (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“I don’t think it’s the same problem for snooker as it is with other sports like cricket because that needs to speed up.

 
“But they’ve got the software, the information is out there so perhaps if there are players who are very slow, they need to be geed up.
 
“I don’t think you’re going to see massive fines or anybody banned or docked frames and if that stage does happen then I won’t be watching snooker because I don’t think it would be the same game anymore.”
Five players are currently averaging in excess of 30 seconds per shot for the season, with Rod Lawler’s 33.43 the slowest average shot time of the field.
Chris Totten, Martin O’Donnell, Lukas Kleckers and Lee Walker are also above the 30 second mark, while a further seven players are averaging 29 seconds or more.
Davis, who retired from professional snooker in 2016, believes any sanctions should be at the discretion of the referee as opposed to the sport’s governing body.
“It can become a bit of a red herring as to what they’re trying to achieve,” he added.
“They’re trying to achieve rhythm in player’s play so it doesn’t look that boring on the television.
 
“The actual shot clock thing I don’t think will ever be part of snooker, it’s going to be an average over a few tournaments or the season.
 
“If somebody is continually slow, there is the information out there via the software to say that person averages say 35 seconds a shot.
 
“But ultimately I think the referees should be the ones that judge the speed of play because you can manipulate the times of shots by playing shots faster after the frame is won.
 
“More importantly, I think the referees need to be empowered to try and judge when somebody’s taking too long.
 
“What it’s going to do is judge who are the slowest players on the tour but that’s down to the referees to decide as well I think because there’s times when you have to be slow and there’s times when you can be quick.”

Steve is right of course, it’s down to the referee to judge whether there is an issue and section IV of the rules gave them the power to do just that.

Magyar Gala announced for next January in Budapest

MagyarGala26Jan2019

Twitter goes ugly

Those who follow snooker on twitter will surely be aware that the tensions between Sightright Steve Feeney and some of the shareholders of the Sightright business have reached new, and ugly levels, in recent days.

So what is it about? Well let me first state what it is NOT about: it’s NOT about the method. It’s about the business and the shareholders being unsatisfied with how the money – their money in part – has been used. They want explanations about some of the company’s expenses. Now, I haven’t seen the company accounts, and I’m not accountant anyway, so I won’t take any stance on the core of the matter.

What I have seen though, is that the shareholders have asked specific questions – rather simple ones by the look of it – and that they have not got any answers. Actually their requests where either deflected, by answering beside the point and putting the debate on the value of the method, which, I insist, the unhappy shareholders never challenged, or by posting “general quotes” about “toxic people”, “positivity” etc…

What I have seen as well is an attempt by Mr Feeney to constantly bring Mark Williams and Ronnie into the debate. Mark Williams has actively joined it, but again, beside the point, stressing on how the method has saved his career. Ronnie though, very wisely, has made himself totally invisible on social media and stayed out of it.

All this is doing snooker no favour as it’s gone pretty ugly. Twitter is no place to debate a company’s account. The shareholders however insist that they only put the debate in the public eye because their attempts to get answers had repeatedly failed previously and because of the misleading nature of what had transpired in the past months. Giving them one good, clear and convincing answer to (even only one of the) questions instead of deflecting the debate would not doubt put the whole thing to rest. Why not do it?

Ronnie wins the Shanghai Masters 2018

He defeated Barry Hawkins by 11-9 to become the first ever player to defend the Shanghai Masters title as well as the first to have won it three times. It’s all the more remarkable because this was his first tournament of the season!

Shanghai Masters 2018-ROSChampion

Congratulations Ronnie!

It was a very high quality match. Those are the scores:

Shanghai Masters 2018-ROSChampion-SCORES

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan came from behind to win the 2018 Shanghai Masters, defeating Barry Hawkins 11-9 in the final.

The win sees O’Sullivan defend the title he won here last year, when he beat Judd Trump 10-3 in the final to lift the trophy.

Victory pockets the Rocket £200,000. The event has gained a new level of prestige after transitioning from a ranking event to the most lucrative invitational event of all-time. The tournament carries with it a total of £725,000 in prize money and all of the world’s top 16 were in the 24-man field.

It is the fifth time O’Sullivan has claimed a major title in China and the third time he has won the Shanghai Masters.

Hawkins is still yet to defeat five-time World Champion O’Sullivan in a final, having previously suffered losses at the 2013 World Championship and the 2016 Masters.

O’Sullivan had trailed for much of the first session and never led during the afternoon, as Hawkins claimed a 6-4 advantage.

However, the Rocket immediately imposed himself on proceedings when the evening’s action got underway. He surged to lead for the first time in the match in the 13th frame, before a century run of 113 in the next put him 8-6 ahead at the final mid-session break of the tournament.

They traded blows when they returned. Hawkins won his first frame of the evening thanks to a break of 83. O’Sullivan then constructed an 83 break of his own to restore his two-frame lead at 9-7.

O’Sullivan then moved one from the win, before Hawkins showed his steel to close within one at 10-9. However, 33-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan closed out the win in style with a break of 122.

Barry probably played the best snooker in the whole tournament. He played a great match with Ding and a good one with Mark Williams. He is the in form player. Tough on Barry, but I played well at the end of the match when it mattered so I am really happy to get this victory,” said O’Sullivan. “I managed to find something on the practice table before the start of the evening. I was struggling with my cueing a bit so it was nice to be able to play with a bit more confidence and freedom.

“It is a very major and prestigious tournament. There are a few like that now though. You have the Champion of Champions, which is a great tournament. This and the Masters are great tournaments, just because every player in it is very very good.

Hawkins felt that part of the reason for his defeat was the fact that he couldn’t carry his momentum from the afternoon into the evening session.

He said: “I’m a little bit disappointed to lose another final. I thought I played a decent part in a decent final. I felt I struggled a bit tonight, whereas I was flowing a bit better in the afternoon.”

Here is the interview …

Plus loads of pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe, plus some picked from social media.

And Ronnie gave his trophy, and the high break trophy to two young kids in the crowd … they were delighted.

Enjoy!

ShanghaiMasters2018Champagne.png

Shanghai Masters 2018 – Barry Hawkins joins Ronnie in the Final tomorrow

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Barry Hawkins will face Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the Shanghai Masters after defeating Ding Junhui 10-9 in a pulsating last four clash.

Hawkins now has the opportunity to defeat O’Sullivan in a final for the first time. He was denied the trophy in his only other showpiece meetings with the Rocket at the 2016 Masters and the 2013 World Championship.

Ding will go home disappointed, but has pocketed £60,000 thanks to his run to the last four.

England’s Hawkins took a slender 5-4 lead into this evening and pressed home that advantage early on to move 7-4 in front.

However, Ding wasn’t deterred won five in a row to himself move to the verge of victory at 9-7. Hawkins didn’t go away and fired in breaks of 101 and 60 to force a decider.

The Hawk held his nerve and produced a steely run of 67 to secure his place in tomorrow’s final where he will do battle with O’Sullivan for the £200,000 top prize.

Hawkins said: “It was great. Most of the crowd were on his side but I think a few were cheering for me. I felt pretty good. I got my chance and managed to hold myself together. To get into a big final like this is a really good start to the season.

“It would be amazing to win the tournament and lift the trophy. I know what I have got to do against Ronnie. You have to take chances and cut out silly mistakes. I’ve beat him before over a long distance. Although he has bashed me up most of the time. I just have to go out there and enjoy it. I’ve got nothing to lose.

Afterwards Ding admitted that he might have to be selective with which events to play in this season, with a packed calendar to choose from.

It is quite disappointing to lose the match this way, but I’ve had many worse tournaments so it is alright. It’s going to be a busy season with lots of tournaments. I have decided that I am going to pick and choose.”

No doubt, the Chinese crowd and the sponsors would have prefered to see Ding through. A final between the two “box office” players in Shanghai would have been a dream.

It wasn’t to be, although at 9-7 up Ding looked certain to win. Then Barry won the next frame and all a sudden you could feel that the match had turned. It’s hard to explain but it’s how I perceived it. When it came to the decider I was certain that Barry would win.

Here is the decider:

However, make no mistake, if both Ronnie and Barry play near their best we are in for a very high quality match. Anyone who watched their 2013 Final at the Crucible will know what I mean. Ronnie was probably playing his best ever snooker – himself said so – and it’s only when they reached the last session that Ronnie managed to shake Barry off. I wouldn’t make a prediction regarding who will win tomorrow, it will very much be about who is fresher and sharper on the day. The only certainties are that both want it badly and that Barry won’t be intimidated, nor will he give up.

Shanghai Masters 2018 – Day 5 – Ronnie books his place in the final

It wasn’t the best of performance from either player, but it was engrossing all the same as both Ronnie and Kyren Wilson played some great shots mixed with unexpected misses. Eventually it was Ronnie who found something in the last mini session and prevailed by 10-6. Ronnie will play either Ding Junhui or Barry Hawkins on Sunday, and should he win he would become the first man to win the Shanghai Masters three times as well as the first to defend this particular title.

Shanghai Masters 2018 SF ROS Scores

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan overcame Kyren Wilson 10-6 to progress to the final of the 2018 Shanghai Masters.

Victory for the Rocket ended a 19-match winning streak for Wilson, who had previously won back-to-back titles at the Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship.

O’Sullivan is now one win away from defending the title he won here in Shanghai a year ago, when he defeated Judd Trump 10-3 in the final. He will face Ding Junhui or Barry Hawkins in the final on Sunday, with the winner to receive £200,000.

O’Sullivan led 5-4 after the afternoon session, then Wilson got the better of the early exchanges in the evening session to level at 6-6.

Both players missed chances in the crucial 13th frame, Wilson failing to pot frame-ball blue to a baulk corner, allowing his opponent to clear to the black to move 7-6 in front. From there, O’Sullivan didn’t look back and powered to the finish line with breaks of 88, 60 and 84.

O’Sullivan has never faced Ding in a final in China, and admitted that he would relish a clash with the Asian number one.

I’d really enjoy it,” said the 42-year-old. “It would be fantastic to play Ding. I have always enjoyed having the crowd against me. It has always spurred me on to be a party pooper. Especially when I played Stephen Hendry in Scotland or Ken Doherty in Ireland. You get psyched up for it because you feel like you aren’t just playing against your opponent. You are also playing against the crowd.

“I’d love to have more battles with Kyren. He is a great competitor and a great guy. He has some of the qualities that the older generation have. He loves the sport, gives it everything and pays attention to detail.

A disappointed Wilson felt that he spurned too many opportunities to win the match.

He admitted: “It was a really scrappy and poor match. Ronnie didn’t play to his usual best. That was probably his C game. It was nice to see him try hard. In the past he might have thrown the towel in. It is probably testament to my own ability that he feels like he has got to try as I am one of the young guns coming through. However, you have to take your opportunities and I didn’t.

As well as a few images thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Here is a short video with (an excerpt of) Ronnie’s post match, in which he reveals a bit about how he wants to conduct his season

It might not be what fans want, but it’s how he feels about it at this moment in time, and if, when he plays, he plays great and enjoys it, that’s good enough for me! After all since the start of the 2017/18 season, Ronnie has entered, 16 events, made it to the final 8 times and won 5, that could become 6 by Sunday night. We shouldn’t complain!

Shanghai Masters 2018 – Day 4 Round up

It was QF finals day in Shanghai and it saw Ronnie, Kyren Wilson, Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins booking their places in the semi finals.

You can read about Ronnie’s win over Stuart Bingham here

This is the report, by Worldsnooker, about Kyren Wilson’s win over Ryan Day

kyren-wilson-quarters

The Warrior produced a superb break of 135 in the decider to clinch the match in style. Although he did spurn the opportunity to set the new top score for the event, missing the final black for a 142. The £5,000 high break prize, is currently set to be shared by Bingham and O’Sullivan who have both made breaks of 140.

After the match Wilson, who has now won 19 matches in a row after victories at the Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship, admitted that he could be bumping into the Rocket at just the right time.

Wilson said: “If I wanted to take him on at any point in my career, now is probably a better time than ever. That doesn’t mean you are going to win. Ronnie is the best to have ever picked up a cue. He will be a tough opponent but I am going to enjoy the match.”

and here, the Worldsnooker report on Ding and Hawkins wins

Ding Junhui saw off a Mark Selby fightback to edge a pulsating quarter-final clash 6-5 at the Shanghai Masters.

The Chinese number one is aiming for his third Shanghai Masters title this week. Victory would see him collect his first title since the recent birth of his baby daughter.

This was the second consecutive meeting between the pair to go down to the wire, the last being their 2018 World Grand Prix semi-final which Selby won 6-5. However, on this occasion it was the world number one who was edged out.

The players were locked together at the mid-session, with the score at 2-2. From there Ding took control of the game and fired in breaks of 101 and 98 to move 4-2 in front. They then traded frames to leave Ding on the verge of victory at 5-3.

Ding looked to have the match at his mercy in the ninth frame, before breaking down and allowing Selby to eventually deposit the final black to steal and pull within one.

The Englishman forced a decider, but it was Ding who made a telling contribution of 53 to seal a semi-final spot.

“I always believe I am good in the deciders, no matter who I am playing,” said Ding. “He put me under a bit of pressure to get back to 5-5, but I didn’t feel it that much. I just thought about my daughter and relaxed. That made it a lot easier.”

Barry Hawkins will face Ding in the last four. The Hawk defeated World Champion Mark Williams 6-4 to progress to the semis.

Watch Kyren Wilson 135 in the deciding frame here

Regarding the Mark Williams v Barry Hawkins match, I can’t add anything to WS minimalist report as I didn’t watch it… comments welcome!

Note that there is an error in WS report above: it was Ding who prevailed in the World Grand Prix 2018 too … 

 

Shanghai Masters 2018 – Ronnie books his place in the Semi Finals

Ronnie booked his place in the semi finals this afternoon in Shanghai (morning in Europe) with a 6-2 victory over Stuart Bingham, and had two centuries which brings his tally to 950. And it was nice to see Zhu Ying in action again!

Ronnie will play Kyren Wilson over best of 19 tomorrow for a place in the Final.

Shanghai Masters 2018-ROSQF-Scores

Here are a few images thanks to Tai Chengzhe!

This is the report on Worldsnooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan eased into the last four of the Shanghai Masters after a 6-2 defeat of Stuart Bingham.

The Rocket is competing in his first event of the 2018/19 campaign this week, having captured five ranking titles last season.

Bingham will now have to turn his attention to the China Championship, which begins in 11 days in Guangzhou.

It was Bingham who got off to the better start today. The 2015 World Champion snatched the opening frame on the black. However, from there O’Sullivan wrested control of proceedings. Breaks of 50 and 93 helped him to go into the mid-session 3-1 ahead.

When they returned the pair traded centuries, with the Rocket firing in a run of 111 before Bingham crafted a break of 134. O’Sullivan then reached a landmark 950 career centuries with a sublime 140 break to move one from victory at 5-2.

He then powered over the line thanks to a break of 72 in the eighth frame. Following the match the Rocket quipped that he may not be pushing too hard for 1000 centuries, despite closing within 50 of the target.

I’m just going to get to 999 and keep you all waiting for as long as I want. You can sit here and talk about centuries all day, but I will decide when you get the 1000th one,” said O’Sullivan. “It is more of a buzz for you to write about and less of a buzz for me. I get more enjoyment out of keeping you all sweating.

And the match: