2020 Championship League Snooker (2) – Day 2

Robert Milkins and Barry Hawkins have joined Judd Trump and Ryan Day to complete the second round Group A very strong line-up.

Here is the WST report:

Barry Hawkins and Robert Milkins will join Judd Trump and Ryan Day in Group A of Stage Two of BetVictor Championship League Snooker after winning their respective groups at Stadium MK on Monday.

Hawkins’ progression was confirmed after his first two matches in Group Four thanks to wins over Ben Hancorn (3-0) and Jackson Page (3-1). He faced Sam Craigie last but lost 3-1, which meant the Newcastle potter finished undefeated in second on five points having drawn with both Hancorn and Page.

Hancorn was making his professional debut but finished bottom of the group despite notching up two draws, while Page took third by virtue of having a better frame difference.

Hawkins said: “You never know what to expect with the short format but I got off to a good start and won my first two games and can look forward to coming back for the next stage.

“It’s pleasing to top the group. It’s the first tournament of the season, so nice to get off to a good start. It would have been nice to win all the matches in the group but Sam Craigie played fantastic snooker in the last match so I have no complaints.

“It is an unbelievable job that has been done to get the calendar in place. So many people are losing their jobs so we are lucky to have some playing opportunities and a full calendar up until Christmas.”

On Table 2, Milkins opened Group 3 with a 3-0 win over Chen Zifan before Gary Wilson achieved the same scoreline against Jamie Jones. Wilson and Chen then drew 2-2 before Jones defeated Milkins 3-0. That meant Wilson could take the group if he could beat Milkins, but the Gloucestershire man scored his second 3-0 success of the day to take control and eliminate Wilson from contention.

Milkins was then left waiting for the result of Chen against Jones. If Jones could win without conceding a frame, then the Welshman would advance, but any other result would be good news for Milkins. Chen’s 76 break in the opening frame against Jones meant that Milkins was through to the next stage.

From a frame down, Jones turned things around against Chen to win 3-1 and take £2,000 for finishing second. Wilson earned £1,000 for finishing third while Chen came fourth with a solitary point.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues with Group 5 and Group 6 on Tuesday, with players including Stephen Maguire and Zhou Yuelong in action. Coverage of both tables is available at Matchroom.Live.

FINAL GROUP STANDINGS

GROUP 3

P W D L FW FL +/- PTS
Robert Milkins 3 2 0 1 6 3 3 6
Jamie Jones 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6
Gary Wilson 3 1 1 1 5 5 0 4
Chen Zifan 3 0 1 2 3 8 -5 1

GROUP 4

P W D L FW FL +/- PTS
Barry Hawkins 3 2 0 1 6 4 2 6
Sam Craigie 3 1 2 0 7 4 3 5
Jackson Page 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2
Ben Hancorn 3 0 2 1 4 7 -3 2

Gary Wilson was the favourite in Group 3, but didn’t play well at all. I will even say that he was lucky to win a match there. His first match was the first of the group and he played Jamie Jones. For Jamie Jones, it was his first professional match since the end of his ban. Jamie is an emotional person and must have felt very nervous because he played terrible in that match. When he played Robert Milkins, in the afternoon, he settled and he was a different player entirely. Maybe the fact that him and Robert know each other very well, having both been part of  Paul Mount’s stable and practicing at the SWSA, helped him. Whatever the reason, Jamie started to show his true potential. In my oponion he was the best player in the gtroup. I don’t condone Jamie Jones’ (lack of) action that lead to his ban, but IMO, he was hard done. The timing of his ban in particular had very harsh consequences.

Group 4 featured two young players and a Tour debutant. It was tough school for Ben Hancorn whose inexperience was blatant. Barry Hawkins played well and deserved to win the group, despite losing his last match by 3-0 to Sam Craigie. Sam played well there, no question, but I had the feeling that Barry, already knowing that he was through, had lost a bit of  his focus and intensity.

Now about the two young players in group 4 … The match between Jackson Page and Sam Craigie demonstrated exactly why Ronnie has a point in his assesment of the young players. Both of them played some great shots, both potted a lot of great balls, but only too often, their shot selection was lacking badly. There was little reading of the table situation, little forward thinking, and this resulted in missed opportunities to develop the balls and create openings for themselves. In the professional game, contrary to the amateur game, you can’t get at the top relying on your potting excellence only. Jackson Page’s shot selection was completely stupid at times. I know that this is harsh, and I know that Jackson is only just 19, but that’s how it felt to me. On the other hand, his ability is remarkable and he showed tremendous battling qualities. Hopefully he will learn, but he needs to learn quickly, because he will be fighting for his professional status this season.

 

2020 Championship League Snooker (2) – Day 1

Judd Trump and Ryan Day are the first players to qualify for the next stage.

Here is the report by WST:

The new snooker season got underway in style as Ryan Day made a 147 in the opening match of BetVictor Championship League Snooker before going on to top Group two, while Judd Trump also won all three of his matches to earn progression from Group one.

Trump opened play on Table one with a 3-1 success over Fan Zhengyi, the young Chinese player who regained his tour card at Q School last month. Alan McManus then suffered a 3-1 defeat to David Lilley before drawing 2-2 with Fan Zhengyi.

That put Trump in pole position and the World number one knew a 3-0 win over Lilley would see him crowned group champion with a match to spare. It may not have been vintage Trump, but the man who won six ranking events last season had little difficulty in securing the whitewash, leaving the final two matches as battles for position in the table, and the valuable ranking points attached.

“A few of the players gave me the games and I didn’t have to work that hard to get over the line,” admitted Trump.

“I made a few good breaks and some good one-visits. I knew coming that I’d barely practiced so I was looking to get through the group. There are a lot of tournaments coming up, it will be a strange old season and a lot of time spent in Milton Keynes.

“You have to appreciate every tournament at the moment and even though I haven’t practiced that hard I’m still trying hard and trying my best to get through.”

Group one concluded with Fan earning £2,000 in second, Lilley took £1,000 for third while bottom-of-the-group McManus left empty handed.

On table two, Day advanced just as smoothly as Trump had. A maximum break in the fourth frame of his group opener against Rod Lawler saw him seal a 3-1 win before Matthew Stevens was involved in 2-2 draws against Paul Davison and Lawler.

That meant a win against Davison would be see Day progress, and he saw out a 3-0 victory in just 40 minutes to join Trump in Group 1 of the Stage Two.

“I didn’t start thinking about it until I was on about 48, and then I thought; they’re perfect really,” said Day of his 147. “The last shot on the pink was a bit touch and go but then the black was a lot higher on the black than you want to be. It’s nice to do a 147, so it’s nice to do one, it’s been a while since my last one in China six years ago.

“Championship League has been good to me over the years and to come here with limited practice and make a 147 in the first match of the new season is surprising and hopefully a sign of things to come.”

Stevens won his final match 3-1 over Day to take second, while Lawler scored a 3-0 victory over Davison to ensure third place.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues with Group 3 and Group 4 on Monday, with players including Barry Hawkins and Gary Wilson in action. Coverage of both tables is available at Matchroom.Live.

FINAL GROUP STANDINGS: 

GROUP ONE

P W D L FW FL +/- PTS
Judd Trump 3 2 1 0 8 3 5 7
Fan Zhengyi 3 1 1 1 6 5 1 4
Alan McManus 3 0 2 1 5 7 -2 2
David Lilley 3 1 0 2 3 7 -4 3 


GROUP TWO

P W D L FW FL +/- PTS
Ryan Day 3 2 0 1 7 4 5 6
Matthew Stevens 3 1 2 0 7 5 0 5
Rod Lawler 3 1 1 1 6 5 1 4
Paul Davison 3 0 1 2 2 8 -6 1

And Ryan Day’s 147

Judd Trump didn’t play well and that was to be expected as he was partying in Mykonos only very recently, and only just managed to get back in the UK before quarantine became mandatory. After his efforts last season, and the disappointment of the World Championship, Judd certainly needed a break. Now Judd’s views following the Maguire incident are probably understandable, but I’m not sure I agree with them. As someone who has spent long periods in Santorini since 2003, and has been living there non-stop for the best of the last ten months, I have to say that, unfortunately, what was reported about Harry Maguire right after the incident sounded only too familiar. Rich/celeb tourists behaving like they own the place, being rude and abusive to the locals and believing that money will get them out of whatever trouble they get themselves into – trashing properties, drink driving, importuning waitresses… you name it – and “of course” all locals are open to bribery. That’s the way some think. I have seen this far too often, the arrogance, the contempt. I certainly don’t think the police here is particularly hard on foreigners, quite the opposite. Of course it’s a minority – most tourists are here to enjoy themselves peacefully and Greeks are naturally very welcoming – but that minority causes serious problems.

But I digress…

Back to the snooker, I concentrated on Fan Zhengyi yesterday and I’m glad that he finished in second place. He deserved it. He could have done better, not winning the group, but winning two matches. He plays attacking, positive snooker, and is a very good potter, as long as he doesn’t have to “force” the shots. When he had to do that, he missed a good few, and that’s probably down to his technique. By-the-book solid technique is what keep players going when pressure is on. Fan should probably work on that aspect, if possible. That said … Joe Swail didn’t do too badly uh? The other part of his game still wanting is cue ball control, and position. In the amateur game, being the best potter will get you the win more often than not. Not so in professional snooker.

Today marks the return of Jamie Jones to  professional snooker. My attention will be shared between him and Jackson Page.

 

 

 

Championship League Snooker – Sponsor and how to watch

BetVictor will be the title sponsor for the event.

Matchroom Multi Sport is pleased to announce that BetVictor, a leading online gambling company, will be the title sponsor of the next two stagings of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker, which begins at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes on Sunday, September 13th.

Following the unprecedented success of this summer’s Championship League, the event has been expanded to a full WST ranking event featuring 128 players over 21 days, split into three weeks across September and October.

The popular group format employed during the summer’s Championship League returns, with players split into 32 four-man groups for Stage One and prize money standing at £328,000. World No.1 Judd Trump gets the tournament underway on September 13, while newly crowned six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan enters the fray as the second seed on October 5th.

Matchroom Multi Sport Managing Director Emily Frazer said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with BetVictor once again. We have a strong, well-established relationship with BetVictor having worked with them across a number of Matchroom Multi Sport events, including last season’s Championship League Snooker.

“This new agreement builds upon their support of snooker and we’re thrilled to be able to work alongside BetVictor with a longer-term commitment for the next two Championship League Snooker events.”

BetVictor Director of Sportsbook Matt Scarrott added: “It’s a pleasure to team up with Matchroom Multi Sport again and we’re really looking forward to what should be a fantastic tournament. There’s plenty riding on it for the players with the Championship League Snooker now a full WST ranking event and we’re expecting three weeks of exciting, high-quality, quick-fire action.”

And how/where to watch has been announced.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker will be broadcast live around the world, with two tables of action to be enjoyed every day.

The first two weeks will be broadcast globaly on the below platforms, with FREE UK coverage at  Matchroom.Live

Table One
Viaplay – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland
Zhibo.TV – China (including Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)
SportKlub – Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Luxembourg
Silknet – Georgia
TV Poland
NTV – Russia
Rest of the World – Matchroom.Live

Table Two
Zhibo.TV – China (including Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)
Rest of the World – Matchroom.Live

So, unfortunately, nothing changes. The sponsor is again a betting/gaming company, and because it is specifically specified that the coverage will be free in the UK, I can only suppose that the rest of the World will have to pay.

This, once again, shows that, although snooker has the ambition to be a global sport, it remains in so many ways strongly UK centered. OK, this is a matchroom event, but it counts as a WST – WORLD Snooker Tour – ranking event. Because of the history of the sport, and because England still accounts for about half of the main tour, and China is the second best represented nation, you would expect that the majority of viewers would be in the UK and China. So this decision is hard to explain by the “costs” aspect, as it’s free for them. New viewers and new fans are more likely to come from the “Rest of the World”, those for whom it’s not free. That doesn’t make sense to me in terms of promoting the sport globally.

.Any chance to reconsider Matchroom? 

2020 European Masters (2) – draw and format

WST have published the draw and format for this season European Masters:

The draw and format for the 2020 European Masters world ranking event is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The tournament will run from September 21 to 27 at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. All 128 players will start in round one. Matches will be best of nine frames up to and including the quarter-finals, best of 11 for the semi-finals and best of 17 for the final on September 27.

At 7pm on the opening day, world number one Judd Trump’s first round opponent will be Ukrainian prodigy Iulian Boiko, the youngest ever pro player who turns 15 the following day.

Defending champion Neil Robertson has been drawn against Thailand’s Sunny Akani in the first round, while World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be up against Daniel Wells.

The event will receive extensive coverage on Eurosport, with details of further broadcasters to be announced soon.

Prize money
Winner: £80,000
Runner-up: £35,000
Semi-finals: £17,500
Quarter-finals: £11,000
Last 16: £6,000
Last 32: £4,000
Last 64: £3,000
High break: £5,000
Total: £407,000

Ronnie will play his first-rond match on Tuesday, 22 September at 7pm.

Young Iulian Boiko faces some start in his professional career: he’s facing Judd Trump in his first ever pro match, and his first opponent in the CLS the next week will be Ronnie.

There are a few interesting matches in the first round, unfortunately most of them likely to be played away from the cameras. Here are my picks:

  • Antoni Kowalski v Sean Maddocks
  • James Cahill v Elliot Slessor
  • Zhou Yuelong v Alexander Ursenbacher
  • Jamie Wilson v Simon Lichtenberg
  • Stuart Bingham v Louis Heathcote (that one may actually be on TV)
  • John Higgins v Martin Gould (will likely be on TV)
  • Jamie Clarke v Ricky Walden
  • Lei Peifan v Joe O’Connor

 

 

Experts’ opinions on the upcoming season

WST asked experts their views on the upcoming season:

With the 2020/21 World Snooker Tour season getting underway on Sunday, we asked some of snooker’s top journalists and analysts to give their predictions for the year ahead…

Most Likely Maiden Ranking Event Winner

Neal Foulds, Former World Number Three and TV Pundit

Noppon Saengkham – At the Crucible, Saengkham gave us a timely reminder that he is still on the up as a match player. In some ways his 13-12 defeat to a rejuvenated Mark Selby was as impressive as his comfortable win over Shaun Murphy in the round before. He works incredibly hard at his game and I believe he’s now capable of lifting a trophy.

David Hendon, Snooker Commentator and Journalist

Zhou Yuelong – He came close a couple of times last season, albeit he had a nightmare against Robertson in the European Masters final. He seems quite a calm character and I think he could be heading for the top 16.

Michael McMullan, Snooker Commentator and Journalist

Scott Donaldson – I’ve been very interested in his progress over the last couple of seasons. He’s very good at winning the close, scrappy frames, and I’ve felt for some time that if he could weigh in a bit more heavily with his scoring he could be a top 16 player. There were some signs last season that he’s improving in that regard, and of course he’s already won a non-ranking tournament with a very strong field, so I think a ranking title could definitely be on the cards for him soon.

Hector Nunns, Snooker Journalist

Kurt Maflin – Always a tough category to call, and there are plenty of possible candidates including Dave Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Scott Donaldson. But I’m going for Kurt Maflin. The Norwegian showed again in the recent World Championship what a powerful player he is and only one poor session against Anthony McGill denied him further progress at the Crucible.

Phil Haigh, Metro Snooker Journalist

David Gilbert – It feels like just a matter of time before Gilbert claims a title of some sort, and it would be little surprise if it was a relatively minor event or one of the major trophies.

A World Championship and Masters semi-finalist in the last 18 months, the artist formerly known as the Angry Farmer has been competing at elite level and has come close to glory, reaching four ranking finals in the past.

A player of his class will not go a career without a title on his CV and there’s no reason this won’t be his season as tournaments come thick and fast in Milton Keynes, just down the road from his Midlands home.

Shane MacDermott, Snooker Journalist

Jack Lisowski – Jack is arguably the best player never to win a ranking title and I feel his time will come this season after a few near misses in recent years.

Neil Goulding, Snooker Journalist

Jack Lisowski – Jack has all the talent in the world and has lost in three ranking finals in the past two years. Those experiences will hold him in good stead and it’s only a matter of time until he’s in the winners’ enclosure.

Jamie Broughton, BBC Radio Snooker Correspondent

David Gilbert – A really talented player. He should win an event in the near future.

 

Surprise Package of the Season

Neal Foulds

Martin Gould – He starts the new season officially ranked 56th, but given his good run at Sheffield I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets back in the top 32 or better. Gould is certainly still very capable and now that his tour card is safe, we might see a return to the kind of form which saw him win the German Masters in 2016.

David Hendon

Elliot Slessor – He showed tremendous steel in almost pulling off a great comeback against Yan Bingtao at the Crucible. He’s got himself in the top 64 with plenty to build on.

Michael McMullan

Ashley Carty – He showed some promising signs towards the end of the extended 2019/20 season, culminating in a good showing against Stuart Bingham in the first round of the World Championship. We’ve often seen players put up a good display on their Crucible debut only to struggle when it comes to building on that the following season, but Carty only recently turned 25 which is young by today’s standards, so I think there could be a lot more to come from him.

Hector Nunns

Sean Maddocks – You need luck and a following wind to make your mark as a rookie on the World Snooker Tour as well as talent, and Maddocks may be a name we will all be more familiar with in a year’s time. The 18-year-old from Liverpool has had to overcome serious injury breaking his cueing arm. He made made his first competitive 147 at the age of 15.

Phil Haigh

Alexander Ursenbacher – The 24-year-old didn’t have the kind of Crucible debut he will have dreamt of this year, losing 10-2 to Barry Hawkins in round one, but hopefully it was a learning experience rather than a demoralising one.

The Swiss was fantastic in qualifying for the World Championship, seeing off the likes of Gary Wilson and Andrew Higginson and showing the class that has taken him to a ranking semi-final – the 2017 English Open.

Ursenbacher has spoken of taking the game much more seriously over the last few months. A first trip to the Crucible showed that his hard work is paying off and I expect further improvements this season after a tough, but useful lesson at the hands of the Hawk.

Shane MacDermott

Martin Gould – The world No 53 has struggled on and off the table over the past few years but hammered an in-form Stephen Maguire at the worlds and ran runner-up Kyren Wilson close.

Neil Goulding

Jordan Brown – The Northern Irish potter will be full of confidence after reaching his maiden World Championship and will be desperate to build on that this season.

Jamie Broughton

Louis Heathcote –  There aren’t any surprises anymore. Heathcote had a good debut season on tour, and you’d expect him to build on that this campaign.

 

Ronnie World Champion 2020

Star Player Of The Season

Neal Foulds

Ronnie O’Sullivan – Not an easy category to define, as you’d have to decide what being the “Star Player” involves. I’d say if a player was to win two of the so called Triple Crown events that would qualify. Most likely to achieve that? I’ll go with O’Sullivan.

David Hendon

Ronnie O’Sullivan – I think the fact that for the foreseeable time all tournaments are in the same location without fans or much media will suit him, as the different set-up at the Crucible did. He says he likes playing for enjoyment and less travelling may help in that. Now that he is world champion again after seven years he will surely be feeling confident.

Michael McMullan

Judd Trump – Trump delivered for me on this prediction last season, and he has all the look of a player who’s ready to go on and perform like that for years to come. It must have been so frustrating that the defence of his world title had to be postponed when he had so much momentum built up, but I expect him to put that to one side and focus on having another productive campaign ahead.

Hector Nunns

Mark Selby – Judd Trump’s rivals are going to have to go some to eclipse his likely achievements in the coming campaign, but Selby showed signs of a real return to form last term. That should have resulted in a win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in their epic Crucible semi-final, though victory slipped away. However working with Chris Henry has seen Selby regain much of his steel and confidence.

Phil Haigh

Mark Selby –  Selby appears to have rediscovered his confidence, his clarity of thought and some of his best form. Or at least he is in the middle of rediscovering it thanks to the help of coach Chris Henry.

The three-time world champion has not been working with Henry long, but the relationship is bearing fruit, with runs to the Tour Championship and the World Championship semi-finals in recent months.

The 37-year-old won two ranking titles last season and his performance in the final of the English Open was one of the finest you could wish to see.

Everything seems to be coming together again for Selby, he looks like he is just about ready to click into top gear, and if he does he is extremely difficult to stop.

Shane MacDermott

Ronnie O’Sullivan – When Ronnie is tuned in to being the best player in the world he is nigh on unstoppable. He has talked about entering more tournaments this season after winning a sixth world title last month and seems to be taking his snooker seriously again.

Neil Goulding

Judd Trump – Despite having over £850,000 to defend, Judd looked in sublime form before lockdown. If he can return to his blistering best he will be tough to beat this season.

Jamie Broughton

Judd Trump – He won a recording breaking number of ranking events last season. I wouldn’t back against him hitting top form again and winning many more tournaments.

 

World Number One at the End of the Season

Neal Foulds

Judd Trump – Surely between Trump and O’Sullivan this one. Judd’s points for winning the 2019 World Champs will disappear at the end of the 2020/21 season, but he has achieved so much in other ranking events in the last 12 months I’d be shocked if he was overhauled.

David Hendon

Judd Trump – He still has a good lead in the rankings and although his world title points will be coming off at the end of the season you would expect him to be winning tournaments. He may even feel more determined now that O’Sullivan has taken the world title. For me, the Trump-O’Sullivan dynamic will be the most interesting thing to watch this season.

Michael McMullan

Judd Trump – With so many points for winning the World Championship, O’Sullivan came from nowhere to finish second on the one-year list, and of course the current number one Trump will have his own points for winning in Sheffield in 2019 coming off at the end of the season. I think O’Sullivan would relish the idea of knocking Trump off his perch, but as ever a lot will depend on whether he plays enough to mount a serious challenge, so overall I’d expect Trump to still be top come next May.

Hector Nunns

Judd Trump – Trump has a big lead over his rivals and despite defending around £850,000 over the season from a spectacular 2018-19 culminating in a first world title, you would expect him to add to his CV in the coming months. Should the big-money Chinese tournaments pencilled in for 2021 not take place, that could open the door for others defending less money.

Phil Haigh

Judd Trump – Starting the season with a lead of over £540,000 makes Trump’s top spot very difficult to overhaul. Not impossible, because Trump’s World Championship winnings from 2019 will be removed at the end of the season, but extremely tricky.

If Ronnie O’Sullivan was guaranteed to compete in every ranking event then he would have a very real chance of catching Judd, but he is unlikely to do so, which makes him difficult to back in this market.

Neil Robertson has a chance, but it is tough to see Trump failing to win at least a couple of events this season and that should be enough to keep him in the top spot.

Losing his World Championship title will have hurt and he may not fire from the start of the season, but when he hits his stride again, trophies will start to amass once more.

Shane MacDermott

Ronnie O’Sullivan – The world champion has almost £350,000 less to defend than arch-rival Judd Trump and that could prove vital in the race for No 1 this term.

Neil Goulding

Judd Trump – Despite having over £850,000 to defend, Judd looked in sublime form before lockdown. If he can return to his blistering best he will be tough to beat this season.

Jamie Broughton

Judd Trump –  Someone will have to play consistently well to take the number one slot from him.

For what it’s worth here are mine…

Surprise package: Louis Heathcote.

Louis had a great season as a rookie, I don’t think he will succumb to the pressure in his second year. He looks solid mentally and was highly motivated by Ronnie’s appreciative comments about him. I think that he’s capable to reach the top 48 this season and beat some household names in the process. Alternative choice: Jamie Clarke.

Most Likely Maiden Ranking Event Winner: Scott Donaldson.

Mainly because he looks very solid under pressure. He still needs to score more heavily probably, but his safety is good and his temperament is excellent. Winning a ranking event rarely is about brilliance, more often it’s about resilience. Scott has that aplenty.

Star Player Of The Season: Ronnie

Bit of wishful thinking but … hey! He’s being mesmerising the crowds for 28 years and counting after all. And he hasn’t changed that much 😉

World Number One at the End of the Season: Judd Trump

Judd has a big lead even considering the amount of points he has to defend. It’s unclear at this stage how many, or even if any, of the lucrative Chinese events will be played this season, and I doubt that Ronnie – the one closest to Judd in the rankings – will play in everything.

Yours? 

A strange build-up to the new season

It’s been a strange second half of the 2019/20 season, and it’s a strange start of the new one …

The first event of the season is getting under way on Sunday, it’s a ranking event, but not a WST event; indeed it’s a Matchroom event. The event has its own twitter account. Yesterday we finally got to know the fixtures. But we still don’t know where we will able to watch it, or indeed if we will be able to watch it at all, because it it’s only on chosen betting sites, it’s a “no go” for many of us. People keep asking the question and keep getting “coming soon” as the answer. It may be coming soon, but it’s not coming fast. Let’s hope that like the fabled tortoise it comes out a winner eventually.

WST have got themselves a banner for the new season:

WSTSeasonPoster

It features all the winners of the previous season.

However, the original version, that they used on their twitter account for a short while was this:

WSTSeasonPoster-Trump

Bizarrely, Judd Trump. who was 2019/20 most prolific winner, was missing, leaving a “hole” between Neil Robertson and Ding. It got the fans talking and speculating. I can only suppose that someone at WST made a mistake and picked an unfinished version of the intended image …

That said… Judd Trump actually almost missed the start of the season.

Judd Mykonos Screenshot 2020-09-08 at 15.05.05

Phew!

Now, on a more serious note, WST has been publising some really good interviews in the build-up of the new season. Here are my picks so far:

Kyren Wilson reflects on his run to the World Championship final

Speaking about his rivalry with the Judd Trump, the crazy semi-final against Anthony McGill, the thrill of the walking down the Crucible steps for the Final, applauded by the crowd and learning from the experience.

They interviewed Fan Zhengyi, after his Q-school successful campaign

Fan has really struggled in his two first years as a professional. Shaun Murphy used to claim that if you are good enough, you are old enough, often referring at his own experience of turning professional at 15. What Shaun forgets is that he was surrounded by his family, competing mainly in his own country. Turning pro is a big step, the demands are huge. When, in addition, you have to expatriate, live far away from family and friends, immerge in a completely different culture and learn a completely different language, it can be too much when you are only 17. Fan wasn’t ready. He worked hard and vastly improved towards the end of last season. I’m glad he gets another chance.

They talked to Jamie Wilson, the youngest Q-school graduate

Jamie is a “cuestars” boy and works with Tim Dunkley. He’s only 16. He entered the Q-school mainly to gain experience … and managed to turn professional. Well done!

As well as to “veteran” Rory McLeod

Rory played on the Seniors tour last season. I met him there a few times. He was missing the professional tour terribly. He loves his snooker and is determined to enjoy every match. This season, thanks to the new agreement between WST and WSS he will be able to compete on both tours.

 

Detailed Schedule for the coming Championship League Snooker now available

WST has now published the detailed schedule for the CLS starting on Sunday

The match schedule for the first stage of the Championship League is now available.

Click here for the fixtures

Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Neil Robertson are among the players contesting the world ranking event at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Stage one is played across two blocks of eight days: September 13-20 and September 28–October 5. This stage features 32 groups of four players, with two tables per day hosting one group each. The player who tops each group will progress to Stage Two.

Details of how to watch the event will be released shortly. For more details about the event CLICK HERE