The 2020 World Championship Qualifiers draw is out

Here is WST announcement:

Jimmy WhiteThe draw for the qualifying rounds of the 2020 Betfred World Championship has been made.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The qualifying event runs from July 21st to 28th at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. It will be played behind closed doors, featuring 128 players, all battling for one of 16 coveted spots at the Crucible Theatre. Only the top 16 seeds* have earned an automatic place in the final stages at the Crucible, which start on July 31st.

In a new qualifying format, players seeded 81-144 contest the opening round.

In round two, those 32 winners will face players seeded 49-80.

In round three, those 32 winners will face players seeded 17-48.

In round four, those 32 winners play each other, with the 16 winners going through to the Crucible.

Matches to look out for in the first round include:

Youngest ever World Championship qualifying participant, 14-year-old Iulian Boiko from Ukraine vs Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong 
Six-time World Championship runner-up Jimmy White vs Russia’s Ivan Kakovskii
12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans vs former Crucible semi-finalist Andy Hicks
James Cahill, who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible last year vs Belgium’s Ben Mertens

The likes of 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty and Thailand’s Sunny Akani enter the event in round two, while top stars such as world number 17 Joe Perry, two-time Crucible finalist Ali Carter and 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott enter in round three.

Fans anywhere in the world will be able to watch the qualifying rounds on Eurosport, Eurosport Player, online broadcasters in China or (in all other territories) FREE on Matchroom Live.

*The top 16 seeds at the Crucible are below.

1. Judd Trump

2. Neil Robertson

3. Mark Williams

4. Mark Allen

5. John Higgins

6. Ronnie O’Sullivan

7. Mark Selby

8. Kyren Wilson

9. Stephen Maguire

10. Shaun Murphy

11. Ding Junhui

12. David Gilbert

13. Jack Lisowski

14. Stuart Bingham

15. Barry Hawkins

16. Yan Bingtao

The Betfred World Championship is supported by Sheffield City Council.

Good luck to all involved.

Whilst still waiting for the draw … a very bad news and a podcast

Let’s start with the bad news, and, if confirmed it’s VERY bad news.

Apparently, the China govt has published an advice/recommendation/law – I’m not sure how to name this – on July 6 that basically means that there will be no International sporting event of any kind allowed in China, hence no snooker tournaments in China until 2021 the earliest.

Here is the source:

Screenshot 2020-07-10 at 09.11.23ChinaGovtAdviceScreenshot 2020-07-10 at 09.11.00

I don’t understand any Chinese but I have no reason to doubt this is genuine.

That means that the idea to have a string of Chinese ranking events at the start of the next season is as good as ruled out, and there would be no Shanghai Masters either. This may hit the game hard, because the Chinese events are actually more lucrative in general than the European ones. It’s a big loss of revenues for the payers. It could probably impact the perception and broadcasting of snooker in China as well, and with it the financial support China gives to the sport.

If this decision is extended further in 2021, it could be a disaster. If not, then, WST will probably have to rethink the calendar, pushing events that are usually played early in the season, after the new year. It will probably also have an impact on the Champion of Champions criteria.

And them we have another David Hendon and Michael McMullan podcast. They answer fans’ questions – there are some interesting ones – then turn to discussing the “Crucible Curse” and why it’s no curse.

davehendon · Snooker Scene Podcast episode 115 – Be Here Now

 

The full line-up for the 2020 World Championship has been revealed

WST published this a couple of hours ago:

The full list of players for the 2020 Betfred World Championship is now available.

The qualifying rounds will feature 128 players, all battling for one of 16 coveted spots at the Crucible Theatre. The qualifying event will run from July 21 to 28 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. The draw will be available this week.

The 16 winners then go through to the Crucible to meet the top 16 seeds, for the main event which runs from July 31 to August 16.

Several players ranked outside the top 16 decided not to enter the qualifying event (read more on that here) and they have been replaced as follows:

  • The eight players competing in the Challenge Tour Play-Off event, to be staged on July 20.
  • The top eight players from the 2019 Q School ranking list.
  • Players invited by the WPBSA.

Full list of players, in seeding order:

1. Judd Trump

2. Neil Robertson

3. Mark Williams

4. Mark Allen

5. John Higgins

6. Ronnie O’Sullivan

7. Mark Selby

8. Kyren Wilson

9. Stephen Maguire

10. Shaun Murphy

11. Ding Junhui

12. David Gilbert

13. Jack Lisowski

14. Stuart Bingham

15. Barry Hawkins

16. Yan Bingtao

17. Joe Perry

18. Ali Carter

19. Gary Wilson

20. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

21. Graeme Dott

22. Scott Donaldson

23. Jimmy Robertson

24. Michael Holt

25. Tom Ford

26. Matthew Selt

27. Lyu Haotian

28. Matthew Stevens

29. Mark Davis

30. Martin O’Donnell

31. Liang Wenbo

32. Hossein Vafaei

33. Ryan Day

34. Luca Brecel

35. Ben Woollaston

36. Anthony McGill

37. Ricky Walden

38. Noppon Saengkham

39. Kurt Maflin

40. Stuart Carrington

41. Mark King

42. Robert Milkins

43. Anthony Hamilton

44. Chris Wakelin

45. Lu Ning

46. Daniel Wells

47. Alan McManus

48. Tian Pengfei

49. Sunny Akani

50. Robbie Williams

51. Andrew Higginson

52. Liam Highfield

53. Martin Gould

54. Sam Craigie

55. Michael Georgiou

56. Ken Doherty

57. Luo Honghao

58. Joe O’Connor

59. Michael White

60. Mark Joyce

61. Jak Jones

62. Elliot Slessor

63. Fergal O’Brien

64. Craig Steadman

65. Jordan Brown

66. Alfie Burden

67. Mike Dunn

68. Sam Baird

69. John Astley

70. Nigel Bond

71. Lee Walker

72. Oliver Lines

73. Ian Burns

74. Ashley Carty

75. Harvey Chandler

76. David Grace

77. Dominic Dale

78. Alexander Ursenbacher

79. Louis Heathcote

80. Jamie Clarke

81. Mitchell Mann

82. Kishan Hirani

83. Chen Feilong

84. Fan Zhengyi

85. Hammad Miah

86. Jackson Page

87. Si Jiahui

88. Thor Chuan Leong

89. Gerard Greene

90. Soheil Vahedi

91. Eden Sharav

92. Igor Figueiredo

93. James Cahill

94. Kacper Filipiak

95. Adam Stefanow

96. Billy Castle

97. Barry Pinches

98. Rod Lawler

99. David Lilley

100. Brandon Sargeant

101. Simon Lichtenberg

102. Jamie O’Neill

103. Duane Jones

104. Peter Lines

105. Fraser Patrick

106. Jimmy White

107. Andy Hicks

108. Amine Amiri

109. Alex Borg

110. Riley Parsons

111. Ashley Hugill

112. Lukas Kleckers

113. Andrew Pagett

114. Aaron Hill

115. Ross Bulman

116. Iulian Boiko

117. Sean Maddocks

118. Reanne Evans

119. Dylan Emery

120. Ross Muir

121. Dean Young

122. Ben Mertens

123. Wu Yize

124. Hayden Staniland

125. Brian Ochoiski

126. Connor Benzey

127. Adam Duffy

128. Oliver Brown

129. Allan Taylor

130. Patrick Whelan

131. Rory McLeod

132. Jake Nicholson

133. Tyler Rees

134. Ian Preece

135. Paul Davison

136. Hamza Akbar

137. Chae Ross

138. Christopher Keogan

139. Robin Hull

140. Sydney Wilson

141. Daniel Womersley

142. Florian Nuessle

143. Antoni Kowalski

144. Ivan Kakovskii

Fans anywhere in the world will be able to watch the qualifying rounds on Eurosport, Eurosport Player, online broadcasters in China or (in all other territories) FREE on Matchroom Live.

No real surprise there. Other than the Asian players that we already knew would be missing and Steve Misfud who didn’t show up for the whole season, every player has entered the championship. We have 34 amateurs in the draw. I have put them in blue.

26 countries are represented. For the first time we will have a player from Morocco, Amine Amiri, from France, Brian Ochoiski and from Ukraine, Iulian Boiko.

The youngest player is just 14, the oldest player is 58.

Unfortunately there is just one female player in the draw, Reanne Evans.

The draw will be published later this week.

Remember that the format is different this year:

Round one: The players seeded 81-144 play each other with the 32 winners going into Round Two. The matches are best of 11.
Round Two: those 32 winners will face players seeded 49-80. The matches are best of 11.
Round Three: those 32 winners will face players seeded 17-48. The matches are best of 11.
Round Four: those 32 winners play each other, with the 16 winners going through to the Crucible to face the top 16 seeds. The matches are best of 19.

A very theoretical “Judgement Day” (Round 4) could look like this

Joe Perry v Tian Pengfei
Ali Carter v Alan McManus
Gary Wilson v Daniel Wells
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Lu Ning
Graeme Dott v Chris Wakelin
Scott Donaldson v Anthony Hamilton
Jimmy Robertson v Robert Milkins
Michael Holt v Mark King
Tom Ford Stuart Carrington
Matthew Selt v Kurt Maflin
Lyu Haotian v Noppon Saengkham
Matthew Stevens v Ricky Walden
Mark Davis v Anthony McGill
Martin O’Donnell v Ben Woollaston
Liang Wenbo v Luca Brecel
Hossein Vafaei v Ryan Day

Chinese players on their way to Sheffield

Ding Junhui, Tian Pengfei, Lu Ning and Luo Honghao started their trip to Sheffield this morning departing from Shanghai Airport.

This was reported by the Chinese press 

This is the translation by Google:

[Riding the wind and breaking the waves] Ding Junhui set off for Britain today and can resume training one day later! Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao and Lu Ning went to the same plane!

 Roshan Banana Billiards Today
From the album
2020-World Championship
On July 9, 2020, Ding Junhui, Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao and Lu Ning will depart from Shanghai to participate in the upcoming World Championship of Snooker in Sheffield. After arriving in the UK, Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao and Lu Ning will go to the Hilton Hotel for quarantine and inspection. Ding Junhui will return to his home in Sheffield and is expected to invest in normal training one day later.

WC2020 Green Poster

 

In this World Championship, a total of 10 Chinese players decided to participate, 6 of them need to start from home. Today, the first batch of “retroverts” have embarked on a journey. Ding Junhui, Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao and Lu Ning will depart from Shanghai and fly to Britain to participate in the World Championships.

Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao and Lu Ning will participate in the World Championship Qualifications held on July 21-28. After the three players arrive in the UK, they will head to the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield, where WST has a centralized isolation point for all overseas players. Five tables are installed in the hotel for players to prepare for training in isolation.

WC2020 Ding

Ding Junhui will play directly as the 11th seed in the World Championships on July 31st. Therefore, Ding Junhui’s preparation time is relatively calm, he will return directly to his home in Sheffield. In this game, Ding Junhui is in the highly competitive second half. It is very likely that he will directly play against O’Sullivan in the second round. Potential opponents since then include Williams, Bingham, Murphy, Robertson and Selby. Many world champions.

WC2020 Tables

Compared with the dangerous signing form, Ding Junhui’s preparations are constantly welcoming good news. First of all, the UK’s isolation policy will be further relaxed from July 10th, and athletes can lift home isolation, but life and work need to be fixed within the scope of “social bubbles.” Secondly, the British Sheffield training base established by Ding Junhui with Feng Wei and Tian Pengfei is nearing completion. A number of star card World Championship tables have been installed in place. Ding Junhui can prepare for the World Championships in his own venue.

Has decided to participate in the World Championships

Ding Junhui, Yan Bingtao, Lu Haotian, Liang Wenbo, Lu Ning, Tian Pengfei, Luo Honghao, Fan Zhengyi, Si Jiahui, Chen Feilong

Has decided not to participate in the World Championships

Zhou Yuelong, Xiao Guodong, Zhao Xintong, Li Xing, Mei Xiwen, Zhang Anda, Zhang Jianjian, Chang Bingyu, Chen Zifan, Xu Si, Bai Langning, Lei Peifan, Yuan Sijun

Still waiting for thar draw … with an interview with Ronnie.

At the time of writing the draw for the World Championship Qualifiers is yet to be announced. My guess is that there are quite a few “non-entries” and WST is still busy contacting amateur players to fill the draw, whilst making sure that they will actually be able to attend.

Meanwhile, some images of the practice tables being installed in the “Bubble Hotel” were shared on social media:

Other than that Phil Haigh has published another article about Ronnie and here is the link.

The content is nothing new really. Ronnie shares how, in the past, his own perfectionism and expectations have held him back and even driven to depression. It’s something he has spoken, and written, about before in other interviews and his his biographies.

here is the most relevant excerpt:

‘I just want to be the best that I can be,’ O’Sullivan told Stephen Hendry on Instagram.

‘I’ve played tournaments, played terrible, but won, then felt suicidal! ‘But I’ve lost matches, played really well and thought, “Yeah! I can’t wait for the next tournament!”

‘For me it was about how I played, and that’s the wrong way to be and that’s why I’ve changed.

‘It’s about getting through, getting the job done, live to fight another day.

‘Once the penny dropped, working with Steve Peters, it’s very hard to go back to how I was pre-Steve Peters.

‘I was all over the gaff really. Yeah I’d win tournaments if I was on it, but if I wasn’t I had no chance really.

‘Whereas now, I’ve won so many tournaments where I’ve gone into it feeling like I’m playing absolutely terrible. Because I’ve had the right mindset I’ve worked my way into it, got to the quarters, started to fly and then won other tournaments off the back of it.

‘That wouldn’t have happened pre-Steve Peters. I’m a much better winning machine than I was.’

Phil also quotes Steve Peters speaking on the BBC about his work with Ronnie back in 2013

‘When Ronnie approached me he expressed what he wanted to do with his emotions, his mind, his thinking and the frustrations of why he couldn’t do that,’ Peters said.

‘I see people, when I work with them, as students really. All I’m there to do is to give them the equipment to deal with their minds, to work with it the way they want to work with it. Ronnie’s been an amazing student.

‘I work with a model, which is called the Chimp Model. It’s a simple way of understanding how they mind works and what the rules are.

‘When you walk out there to play snooker, inevitably the chimp will kick off and say “I don’t want to be here at all, this is going to be threatening.” Who knows what it’ll say? It’s about learning what your particular emotions are going to do to you.

‘Then behind that there’s a back-up system that I call “The Computer” which is try to understand the belief systems you’re holding when you go in there and what are your values.

‘We all feel pressure under certain circumstances and Ronnie’s saying he’s learned how to deal with it now, rather than just succumb to it and react to it.

‘It’s a learning process. He’s much better this year than he was last year [2012], he’s making improvements so long may it continue.’

Ronnie was also in  contact with Steve Peters, during the CLS aka the”Covid Classic”. Hopefully, Steve Peters will be able to help him coping with the unusual conditions during the coming World Championship.

 

Could we have an audience at the Crucible after all?

WST has published this only a couple of hours ago 

The Betfred World Championship starts on July 31st and fans with tickets are being given the option to register interest in attending the Crucible if government regulations allow an audience.

Snooker’s biggest tournament will run from July 31st to August 16th at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. WST remains in discussion with the UK government around the possibility of safely welcoming spectators. Otherwise, the event will be played behind closed doors.

All fans with tickets have been contacted today giving them the chance to state whether they want to be considered for a seat in the reduced capacity audience. This is an unparalleled opportunity to be among the few fans present in the arena for one of the great events in sport.

Under these circumstances, any fans attending will be strictly required to follow regulations on social distancing and sanitisation, which will be detailed by WST prior to arrival.

Ticket holders also have the option of a full refund, or a transfer of their order to the 2021 Betfred World Championship at the Crucible.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Detailed discussions with the relevant organisations are ongoing and we are determined to explore every avenue. We realise that to attend the Betfred World Championship is a once in a lifetime experience for many fans, and for everyone in the arena it is a magical occasion.

“The highest priority of course is the health and safety of fans and everyone connected with the event, so spectators will only be allowed if we are confident that this priority can be met. But we are working hard towards making this happen if it is possible.

“If there are fans in the arena they will be witnessing a unique sporting occasion. This would be a golden ticket, for the very lucky few. We urge fans to let us know their preferred option as soon as possible.

“We have already staged two successful snooker events in recent weeks and led the way in terms of the return of live sport.”

Ticket holders are urged to check their inboxes from 1:30pm today and respond with their desired option by Monday 13 July, 12:00pm.

I had seen an article in the press a few days ago, stating that Barry Hearn was “toying” (sic) with the idea. I didn’t take it too seriously. Apparently I was wrong.

Even now, I find it hard to see how that can actually happen given that Yourkshire, and the Sheffield area, were rather badly hit by the pandemics. Allowing spectators, even in small numbers, means that there is a need for theatre staff at the box office and to check the tickets, to clean  and, probably, even disinfect the arena and its surrounding facilities between sessions. Bathrooms need to be available, and kept clean. Security and paramedic staff must be on site. And that’s a bare minimum.

Outside the Crucible itself, spectators will need to find accomodations and transport as well, and I guess that, so close to the event, and things not being certain yet, there won’t be many able or willing to travel from abroad.

But it would probably be nice for the players to have some sort of audience there, although they probably  won’t be allowed in the seats really close to the players.

If mesures are relaxed enough for an audience to be allowed, I hope that some sort of “relaxation” will also apply to the players inside the bubble. It would be good if they had access to a gym, a recreation room and a “café”, allowed some sort of interaction with the other people in the bubble – considering that all of them woould have tested negative, as well as having one, or even two, person(s) of their choice with them. The World Championship is very taxing mentally as it is, and it goes on for 17 days. Mental health matters and this surely would help.

 

 

David Hendon’s latest podcast: previewing the 2020 World Championship

Two days ago David Hendon published this podcast on his soundcloud channel:

davehendon · Snooker Scene Podcast episode 114 – World Championship Predictions

David Hendon and Michael McMullan first reflect on Stephen Maguire’s Tour Championship win, as well as on his career so far.

They then turn their attention to the 2020 World Championship seeds and discuss who they fancy to reach the one table setup. Looking at each quarter, they each give their opinion on the chances each player has to get the the semi finals, why, and, in case they pick a different player to go through, they push the debate further until they find an agreement.

Judd Trump (1) / Qualifier
Yan Bingtao (16) / Qualifier
Stephen Maguire (9) / Qualifier
Kyren Wilson (8) / Qualifier

————————————

John Higgins (5) / Qualifier
David Gilbert (12) / Qualifier
Jack Lisowski (13) / Qualifier
Mark Allen (4) / Qualifier

————————————

Mark Williams (3) / Qualifier
Stuart Bingham (14) / Qualifier
Ding Junhui (11) / Qualifier
Ronnie O’Sullivan (6) / Qualifier

————————————

Mark Selby (7) / Qualifier
Shaun Murphy (10) / Qualifier
Barry Hawkins (15) / Qualifier
Neil Robertson (2) / Qualifier

In the first quarter, they both picked Judd Trump. Looking at his season as a whole, it’s a logical choice. However, he didn’t play well neither in the Championship League, nor in the Tour Championship. In the latter, his postmatch interview very much reminded me of the Judd Trump of the past. At the Crucible, a huge weight of expectations and the attention of the media will be on him. There are reasons why a first time champion has never defended successfully. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost on the first day. If we look back at the last decade, we had three first time World Champions: 2010, Neil Robertson, 2014, Mark Selby and 2015, Stuart Bingham. As defending Champions, Neil and Stuart lost in the first round, Mark Selby, who went on to win three times in four consecutive years, lost in the last 16. That’s how hard it is. My pick in that quarter would be Stephen Maguire. I don’t think pressure will be an issue in the early rounds, and he certainly is the man on form.

In the second quarter, they picked Mark Allen, and I agree. Michael McMullan makes him the favourite to win the tournament. I’m not sure about that. Mark often seems to run out of steam in the latter stages. The reason for that, in my opinion at least, is that Mark isn’t physically fit enough. The World Championship is am endurance test, mentally and physically. I’m certain that Mark has the game to be a World Champion but I’m not sure that he currently has the required stamina.

In the third quarter, Michael went for Stuart Bingham and David for Ronnie. Eventually they settled on Ronnie, but are not expecting him to go much further. Stuart and Ding are in that quarter and they had a similar season in that both won a “major” – Ding won the UK Championship, Stuart won the Masters – but didn’t do much else. Ronnie had a poor season as compared to the previous ones, but he still won the Shanghai Masters and made the final of the Northern Ireland Open. He won 77.78% of his matches so far this season. As a comparison Ding has won 67.44%, Stuart has won 57.58%, Selby despite winning two ranking tournaments is at 66.28%, Mark Allen at 69.49%, Neil Robertson at 72.86%, Shaun Murphy at 75.76% … Judd Trump, winning six ranking events, is at 82.61%. So clearly Ronnie isn’t playing badly, but he hasn’t played enough which has put him under huge pressure and, at times, it showed. To me, IF Ronnie was to reach the one table setup, he would a good chance to win the event. But he will be under pressure in the early rounds. Also, I’m not sure that he will cope with the “Bubble” conditions. He struggled in Milton Keynes and it was a much shorter event. During one of his instagram chats with Hendry, he admitted being several time on the phone with Steve Peters whilst there.

The last quarter, with Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy is loaded. They settled on Mark Selby, and Mark is also David’s pick to win the event. I’m not sure I understand why, other than the fact that, mentally, Mark is probably the best equipped for the very long formats. His form however has not really been there recently.