Where to watch what this season?

The first tournament “proper” will start in less than two weeks and Worldsnooker has published a the list of this season events with the broadcasters for each of them around the World. You can find it here

Meanwhile Ronnie shared this on social media (Facebook and Instagram). Great!

Really looking forward to the start of the new season 😎

Ronnie 2018/19 Looking forward.

World Open 2018 Qualifiers Round-up

There were a number of upsets in those qualifiers! Anthony McGill, Shaun Murphy, Graeme Dott, Michael White, Stuart Bingham and Mark King being amongst those who were probably expected to win, but didn’t. Stuart however probably didn’t have his full focus on his snooker: his young son Shae was in hospital and understandably he was Stuart’s priority.

Shaun didn’t play terrible, but Mei on his day is very solid and reliable and that was enough in this match. Graeme Dott made too many mistakes against Zhao Xintong, who looked focussed and determined to make the most of his return on the main tour.

Alan McManus also lost and that’s a concern as he needs results to stay in the top 64. Ali Carter, who also needs results to stay in the top 16 won easily.

A couple of top players had a scare. Stephen Maguire needed a decider to shrug off Adam Stefanow. This is Adam second narrow defeat in qualifiers and, to me, he’s been very unlucky with his draws, having to play against two vastly experienced players, one of them notoriously very hard to beat and the other top 16 material. Mark Selby was awful before the MSI – he trailed 3-1 at that point – and far from his best afterwards: he can count himself very lucky to have played against an amateur. Luke Simmonds – who was 1998 IBSF World Champion and Under-21 Champion, but never did anything of note as a pro afterwards – can play but as soon as Selby started to come back at him after the MSI he looked a beaten man; had he got a bit more belief he could have won this match, he had enough opportunities.

Looking at the young ones there were wins for Jack Lisowski, Elliott Sellor, Sunny Akani, Zhou Yuelong, Luca Brecel, new pro Harvey Chandler (he beat Michael White), Alexander Ursenbacher, new pro Simon Lichtenberg (he beat Ken Doherty), Yuan Sijun, Lyu Haotian, Stuart Carrington, Scott Donaldson and Zhao Xintong as already mentioned.

Looking at the veterans, there were wins for Peter Ebdon, Fergal O’Brien,Rod Lawler, Anthony Hamilton. The last two mentioned are clearly determined to try to stay on tour against all odds! Jimmy White and Joe Swail lost heavily.

One last thing: Marco Fu did win his match very comfortably but for what I saw, wasn’t playing particularly well: he scored heavily in the balls but the opportunities came from his opponent mistakes – basic ones – rather than from Marco’s safety/tactical game. His opponent, Chris Totten was utterly shocking, unable to string 3 balls together: he scored 35 points all match.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker and on snooker.org. The latter also has links to the youtube videos of the streamed matches.

 

Riga Masters 2018 Qualifiers Round-up

The first event of the season, the Riga Masters Qualifiers, came to a conclusion this afternoon. Here are the results that drew my attention and why, bearing this post in mind

Stuart Bingham was beaten by 4-0 by Niu Zhang. He’s the only participating top 16 player who go beat. Most frames were close, but it is still a surprising defeat, especially given the severe score. Stuart and Ali Carter are the two members of the top 16 who really need to get results from the start this season to stay in that bracket come the Crucible. Ali duly beat Billy Joe Castle by 4-0.

In total contrast, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen looked in great form from the start. Both won comfortably. Kyren Wilson hadn’t it that easy against Dominic Dale, never an easy opponent; the match went the distance. I didn’t watch Shaun Murphy, nor Barry Hawkins so I can’t comment on their form.

From the ones looking to regain a top 16 spot, Stephen Maguire and Liang Wenbo both won by 4-0 with some high scoring. Liang is back with the Grove team this season, with renewed motivation.

I wrote that Rod Lawler, Anthony Hamilton , Nigel Bond and Joe Swail are in an almost desperate position when it comes to their future as professionals. Well, they seem to be determined to put up a fight: all four of them won their matches and will be in Riga!

Main Tour debutants Joe O’Connor and Ashley Carty won their first ever match as professionals. Very well done to them. Luo Honghao and Adam Stefanow both lost but nevertheless gave a good account of themselves. Luo was up against Neil Robertson, who played really well, and Luo managed to battle back from 3-0 down to 3-2, but eventually lost by 4-2. Adam played the always hard to beat Rory McLeod and made him work very hard: the match went to a decider.

The young ones, already established on the tour, who I expected to climb this season had mixed results with Elliott Slessor, Lyu Haotian  and Sunny Akani losing whilst Yan Bingtao, Zhou Yuelong and Jack Lisowski won. That said Sunny Akani lost to Oliver Lines who is of course a very talented young player himself and the match went to a decider. Elliott Slessor lost 4-1 to Marco Fu and this is Marco’s first win since his eye surgery. Marco has it all to do this season and this is a very positive sign. Also, Marco joined the Sightright team, like Mark Williams did a year ago and we know what happened!

Speaking of players returning to form after injury, Ricky Walden had a convincing 4-1 win over John Astley.

You will find all detailed results on Cuetracker and on snooker.org. The latter has also links to the youtube videos of the matches that were streamed.

Those to watch in 2018/19

The title of this post might be slightly misleading, as I don’t intend to look into those players who I expect to make a break through by winning a tournament in the 2018/19 season. Instead I want to look at what could happen ranking wise and who might break into the top 16, or be in danger to drop off the tour, early as it is to do such exercise.

The new season is about to start next week, with the Riga Masters Qualifiers in Preston. Matt Huart of course is on the ball, or should I write on the numbers, as he has published the current provisional seedings and the provisional end of season rankings .

The first thing to notice is that Alan McManus is currently holding the 64th place with 86900 points, so I expect that a player will need about 90000 points to stay on tour at the end of the season. This means that everyone in their second year from place n° 68 (Gerard Greene) and below will need to improve massively to stand any chance to keep their tour card by breaking into the top 64. Only three “second year” players currently not in the top 64 are in good position to do that, provided they keep their standard at the level of the 2017/18 season: Ken Doherty, Sunny Akani and Martin O’Donnell. All three are well inside the top 64 in the current provisional end of season rankings.

Ken Doherty is an interesting case as he’s looking to regain his professional status “proper”, not an “invitational tour card”. If he does, he will lose the right to play on the World Seniors Tour unless rules change. Ken has been a pillar figure when it comes to promoting the newly created Seniors tour so it will be interesting to see what happens there.

Looking at the ones currently in the top 64, and based upon a 90000 points target, Rory McLeod, Daniel Wells, Scott Donaldson, Fergal O’Brien, Dominic Dale, Stuart Carrington and Marco Fu are in serious danger if they don’t improve on their 2017/18 results. Marco Fu is currently n°18, but he has 239625 points to defend and, with ongoing eyesight problems, that’s a huge challenge.

Veterans Rod Lawler, Anthony Hamilton, Joe Swail and Nigel Bond are in almost desperate positions and will almost certainly drop off the tour come May 2019. I can see Joe and Rod taking on the Seniors tour though.

Looking at the young ones in their second year, for me, Alexander Ursenbacher, Xu Si and Yuan Sijun are the most likely to improve and stay on tour, if not by breaking into the top 64, at least by earning a new tour card via the one year list.

Amongst those in their first year, I believe that Luo Honghao, Elliot Slessor and Sam Craigie have the best chances to build themselves a significant “points cushion”, putting them in good position to break into the top 64 next season, or maybe even this season (Luo and Elliot in particular).

That’s for the survival battle.

What about the top 16, and qualifying by right for the Crucible 2019?

Pushing things to the extreme, I’ll say that currently only four players are guaranteed to be at the Crucible by right (provided they enter the tournament): Mark Williams, Ronnie, Mark Selby and John Higgins. All the others could mathematically fall short although it would take something very unfortunate and unexpected for Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy to find themselves outside the top 16 come April. The others are in a battle and that’s particularly true for Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham who are n°21 and n°25 respectively in the provisional EOS rankings.

The ones who are not currently in the top 16 but have a very good chance to be there come April, provided they keep the standard they had in 2017/18 are Graeme Dott, Jack Lisowski and Yan Bingtao.

 

 

 

 

Riga Masters 2018 and World Open 2018 draw and qualifiers format

Worldsnooker has published today the draw, and the format of the qualifiers, for the Riga Masters 2018 and World Open 2018.

The draw and format for the qualifying rounds of the first two ranking events of the 2018/19 season – the Kaspersky Riga Masters and World Open – are now available.

Click here for the Riga draw

Click here for the World Open draw

Click here for the format

The qualifiers run from July 2 to 9 at the Guild Hall in Preston. Tickets are available for just £5 , for details click here

Ronnie hasn’t entered either and that won’t surprise anybody: he’s rarely played before end August – early September over the last years. Therefore I don’t expect him to play until the China Championship qualifiers that will take place in August. Only my opinion mind, I might be proven completely wrong !

A lot of other top players gave the Riga Masters a miss, including Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, John Higgins and Judd Trump. The prize money isn’t great TBH. John Higgins also decided to skip the World Open.

I’m a bit surprised that the draw is out so early though, nearly 4 weeks before the qualifiers start.

2018/19 Provisional Calendar

Worldsnooker has issued the provisional calendar for the 2018/19 season.

Find it here

Note that there are a few new venues for the main tour events, that the Tour Championship is now on and that the Challenge tour ten events are duly scheduled.  The Hong Kong Masters and the Romanian Masters have gone. The Hong Kong Masters was a huge success so this is a bit disappointing, but on the other hand it was part of the festivities around the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong and China reunification, which obviously was one-off event.

Regarding venues, moving tournaments around of course allow for new audiences getting access to live snooker, but, on the other hand, having a “dedicated” venue with history contributes to the tournaments identity. What’s your view?

2018 Snooker Awards

Ronnie and Willo collect two awards each … (source Worldsnooker)

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Crucible king Mark Williams each won two categories at the annual World Snooker Awards ceremony in London tonight.

O’Sullivan took the main Player of the Year award having enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, capturing five ranking titles in a single campaign for the first time. The 42-year-old won the English Open, Shanghai Masters, UK Championship, World Grand Prix and Players Championship.

O’Sullivan also received the Kunlunshan Fans’ Player of the Year award, voted by many thousands of fans on Twitter, Facebook, WeChat and Weibo.

Williams won the Betfred World Championship last Monday for the third time in his career and first since 2003; the 43-year-old becoming the oldest player to conquer the Crucible since fellow Welshman Ray Reardon in 1978. Earlier in the season he also lifted silverware at the Six Red World Championship, Northern Ireland Open and German Masters.

He was handed the Snooker Writers’ Player of the Year award, voted by the sport’s journalists. And Williams also received the Performance of the Year award for his tremendous display at the Crucible.

The Rookie of the Year category was won by China’s 20-year-old Xu Si, whose impressive debut season was highlighted by a run to the semi-finals of the Indian Open.

Magic Moment of the Year was won by Michael Georgiou for his dramatic victory at the Coral Shoot Out, beating Graeme Dott to the title with just a few seconds on the clock.

Ding Junhui was inducted into snooker’s Hall of Fame. Asia’s best ever player, Ding has won 13 ranking events and had a huge influence on the growth of snooker in China over the past 12 years.

Barry Hearn

Also inducted into the Hall of Fame was World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn, for leading the global development of the sport since he took charge in 2010.

The awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel also helped raised money for Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home, which is World Snooker’s official charity – for more details see www.jessiemay.org.uk

World Snooker Awards: 2017/18 winners
Player of the Year – Ronnie O’Sullivan
Kunlunshan Fans’ Player of the Year – Ronnie O’Sullivan
Snooker Writers’ Player of the Year – Mark Williams
Performance of the Year – Mark Williams
Rookie of the Year – Xu Si
Magic Moment of the Year – Michael Georgiou
Hall of Fame – Ding Junhui and Barry Hearn

Ronnie however was not present at the Dorchester to collect his, which didn’t go down well with the other players (and he may to be fined as well I suppose). Shaun Murphy and Steve Davis collected Ronnie’s awards on his behalf  and had a little dig at him in the process.

here are some images of the night and a short video of Willo collecting the “writers player of the year” award

Damien Hirst had teamed with John Parris to produce a very special cue that was auctioned during the Awards night, all profits going to the Jessie May Charity