World Cup 2019 Teams Announced

The teams for the World Cup 2019 – played in Wuxi – have been announced:

The full line up of players for the Beverly 2019 Snooker World Cup has been confirmed.

The teams are:

Group A
China A: Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao
Thailand: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham
Poland: Adam Stefanow and Kacper Filipiak
Austria: Andreas Ploner and Florian Nuessle
Norway: Kurt Maflin and Christopher Watts
Germany: Simon Lichtenberg and Lukas Kleckers

Group B
Northern Ireland: Mark Allen and Jordan Brown
England: Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski
Iran: Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi
Republic of Ireland: Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien
Hong Kong: Andy Lee and Ka Wai Cheung
Saudi Arabia:  Omar Alajlani and Ahmed Aseeri

Group C
Scotland: John Higgins and Stephen Maguire
Belgium: Luca Brecel and Ben Mertens
Malaysia: Thor Chuan Leong and Moh Keen Hoo
Israel: Eden Sharav and Sachar Ruberg
United Arab Emirates: Mohamed Shehab and Mohammed Al Joaker
Cyprus: Michael Georgiou and Antonis Poullos

Group D
Wales: Mark Williams and Ryan Day
China B: Zhou Yuelong and Liang Wenbo
Switzerland: Alexander Ursenbacher and Luis Vetter
Malta: Alex Borg and Brian Cini
Australia: Steve Mifsud and Ryan Thomerson
India: Himanshu Jain and Lucky Vatnani

At the end of the round robin phase, the top two in each group will then go through to the quarter finals.

Follow this link to see the groups draw, the format and the competitions rules

World Cup 2019 - draw and format


Q-School 2019 – Event 2 – onto the last day

As we enter the last day of the Q-School Event 2, these are the remaining last 16

Q-School 2019 event 2 - Last 16

The first quarter features two young players who have never been pros – Long Zehuang is 22, Dean Young is 17 – a potential “returning” pro, Chen Zifan who is only 23, and a “veteran”, Au Chi Wai, who has never been pro but has been playing on the WSS tour last season and in CBSA events over the years. I would be happy with whoever qualifies from this quarter. I would normally favour younger players, but after this by a BBC journalist

Replying to

Should there be an age limit to entering Q School? The guy is 43, beating a 15 year old. Rather see young talent coming through.

I would be more than happy to see Au Chi Wai through. I never bought the concept of “positive discrimination” (no, not even when it’s about pushing women … ). Except the odd one-off occasion, where commercial or promotional aspects can be considered,  things have to happen on merit. Full stop. As I wrote on twitter, “If you’re good enough, you’re young enough”.

The second quarter is a bit similar: three young players, none of them ever a pro before – Callum Lloyd (24), Riley Parsons (19) and Peifan Lei (15) – and a veteran, potential “returning pro”, Peter Lines. Ideally I would like to see one of the teenagers come through. Peifan Lei however is only 15 and, if he qualifies as a pro, I hope he will get the right people around him. It’s hard for anyone to be alone, very far away from home and family, in an alien culture, and probably needing to learn a foreign language as well. It’s even harder when you’re so very young.

In the third quarter we have again two young players – Louis Heathcote (20) and Si Jiahui (16) – facing two slightly more mature players – Jamie McArdle (33) and Simon Blackwell (26). None of those four have been professional before, so we are guaranteed a new face on the main tour. Again, I’d marginally prefer to see the one of the youngest two go through, provided that Ji Jiahui gets the proper support net, should he be the one emerging from this group.

Finally, the fourth and last quarter features only former professionals. None of them were on the tour in 2018/19. I don’t really care who comes through this one, although have “Paggy” back on tour holds the promise of some “made in Wales” fun and banter on social media 😉 … Willo, I’m sure, is already getting ready.

Both Peifan Lei and Si Jiahui are currently in the top 4 of the Order of Merit.

Other than that, Iulian Boiko, at 13 the youngest player in the draw, was beaten, in round 3, in a deciding frame by Billy Joe Castle in a high quality match; in the process he made a century – in only 5 minutes – to definitely become the youngest “centurion” in professional competition. Iulian is currently 37th in the Q-school order of merit, not high enough to qualify through it, but certainly high enough to get top-up invites during the coming season.

Ng On Yee, the only women remaining at that stage, lost to Peter Lines by 4-1 in round 3. This was somehow a “rematch” of their World Championship 2016 qualifiers round 1 encounter, where Peter beat her 10-1.


Q-School 2019 Event 2 – Day 2

On Yee Ng made a 77 in beating Heikki Niva (Finland) by 4-2. Rebecca Kenna was beaten 4-0 by Paul Davison, but the score isn’t telling the whole story: every frame was extremely hard-fought and very close. Bex was praised both by her opponent and people who watched the match. Despite losing in round 1 in both events so far, she is taking a lot of positives from her Q-School experience. If she plays in the Challenge Tour this season I expect her to further improve.

Si Jiahui (16), Mateusz Baranowski (21 – Poland), Luke Pinches (17), Louis Heathcote (21) , Brian Cini (22 – Malta), Florian Nuessle (17 – Austria), Ka Wai Cheung (20 – HK), Andres Petrov (22 – Estonia) and Rodion Judin (21 – Latvia) were the young players, never being professional before, who won yesterday. What’s good to see as well is how many of those are non-British/Irish. Rodion Judin played at incredible speed: his AST was 15 sec 18! Beware Theppy!

Luke Pinches, who withdrew from event 1, having to sit an A-level exam, was back at the table and with a win as well.

Round 1 concludes today. Reanne Evans will be in action in the first session. Round 2 starts at 11:30 (UK time).


Q-School 2019 Event 2 – Day 1

Event 2 of the 2019 Q-school started yesterday with 39 matches played. There were three walk-overs, all three because one of the players involved graduated through event 1.

Out of 39 winner, 13 are under-22 young players, none of them having been professional before. They are: Lewis Gillen (21), Pang Junxu (19), Long ZeHuang (22), Shane Castle (21), Dylan Emery (18), Keishin Kamihashi (18 – Japan), Aaron Hill (17), Jack Harris (19), Chae Ross (18), Fergal Quinn (19), Peifan Lei (15), Ivan Kakovskiy (20 – Russia) and Manasawin Phetmalaikul (20).

The three “lucky” boys who got a walk-over are all young as well: Daniel Holyda (20 – Poland), Dean Young (17), Noel Landers (19). None of them have been professional before.

Pang Junxu impressed last April when he beat Stuart Carrington by 10-6 at the World Championship qualifiers, before losing to Kurt Maflin by 10-7 in the next round. He’s certainly one to watch. It came a a surprise that he didn’t play in event 1.

So, again, this is a rather good outcome after the event’s first day.

Today, two women are in action. On Yee Ng faces Heikki Niva from Finland. It’s a pity that they have to clash in the first round. Both are very capable to win a few matches in this competition. Rebecca Kenna plays the very experienced Paul Davison. Bex has an excellent safety game but still needs to progress in the scoring department. It’s a tough task she faces here.

Jamie Cope withdrew from the event, and from event 3 as well. The reason for this is not officially known but we can reasonably suppose that, after the disappointment of losing in the first round in event 1, he didn’t fancy his chances in the next events. This is heartbreaking. Jamie is only 33 and he’s very talented. He reached the final of a ranking event twice: at the 2006 Grand-Prix and at the 2007 China Open. He had three 147 in official competitions, and his highest ranking was 13 (in 2010 and 2011). He reached the semi finals at the Masters in 2011, losing by 6-3 to Ding Junhui, the eventual champion. Jamie’s career was ruined by a crippling health issue: an uncontrolable tremor in his cueing arm. He was relegated from the main tour two years ago, after the 2017 World Championship.



Q-school 2019 – Event 1 – Onto the last day.

Today is the last day of the Q-School Event 1. By the end of this afternoon we will know the names of the four who will earn themselves a two years tour card from this event.

Currently this is the line-up for the last 16:

Q-School 2019 Event 1 - L16

Nine of those players are under 26 years old, four being teenagers. Of those nine, seven have never been professionals, four are from China. That’s not a bad outcome from this event. It’s a shame that Ross Bulman and Geng Mingqi have to clash at this stage.


Q-school 2019 – Event 1 – Days 2 and 3.

The first round concluded with fourteen more players under 23, who have never been professionals, winning their first match, amongst them eight teenagers, including three Asian youngsters and one German.  they are: Manasawin Phetmanaikul (20), Chai Ross (18), Jenson Kendrick (18), Yu Kiu Chang (19), Patrick Whelan (21), Ryan Davies (17), Peter Devlin (22), Long Zehuang (22), Ross Bulman (17), Peifan Lei (15), Ben Fortey (22), Geng Mingqi (19), Umut Dikme (19), Ka Wai Cheung (20),

Worth mentioning also Lee Daegyu (23) is from Korea, a country that has produced champions in 3-cushion billiards, but has, until now, shown little interest in snooker.

The second round is under way with some notable results:

The youngest player in the competition, Iulian Boiko – only 13 from Ukraine – has booked his place in the third round, as has the only female player remaining on course, the Women three times and reigning World Champion, Ng On Yee from Hong Kong.  Other young teenagers off to round 3 are Kayden Brierley (17), Sia Jiahui (16), Sean Maddockx (17).

Wang ZePeng (22) and Rodion Judin (22) are two more young players who had a bye to round two and won their first match.

The highest break of the competition, a 133, currently belongs to Brian Ochoiski, a 20 years old from France. Ben Mertens, 14 years old from Belgium made a 126, but narrowly lost to Matthew Glasby, an experienced amateur, by 4-3. It has to be confirmed, but this likely makes him the youngest ever player to make a century in a professional competition.

Luke Pinches (17), son of Barry, had to pull out of the tournament because he had to sit an A level exam. It’s a shame and it illustrates one of the problems caused by having the Q-school held at this time of the year. It was the right decision by Luke though. Having an education gives young people a more solid base for their future and more options. Luke hopefuly will get mzany more opportunities in snooker.

Q-school 2019 – Event 1 – Day 1

There were 42 matches played in Wigan yesterday, as part of the first round of the Q-school 2019 event 1, yielding 21 winners who will go to the next round (last 128).

I may come as a surprise – it did to me anyway – but 10 of those winners are actually teenagers, none of them having been pro before.

They are: Aaron Hill (17), Riley Parsons (19), Ronan Whyte (19), Kayden Brierley (17), Si JiaHui (16), Harry Farell (19), Iulian Boiko (13), Jack Harris (19), Sean Maddockx (17), Ben Mertens (14). Amongst then, the three youngest ones are not from the UK/Ireland. Si JiaHui is from China, Ben Mertens from Belgium and Iulian Boiko from Ukraine.

Regarding Ben and Iulian, who are still only children, they were made to play very late in the evening. And the fact that they come from abroad – Belgium has a one hour time difference with UK, Ukraine has two – made it even later for them. I feel that it wouldn’t have been too much of an effort for Worldsnooker to make sure that those kids would be scheduled to play during actual day time.

In addition to those 10 teenagers, there were six additional winners in their very early twenties: Wang ZePeng (22), Liu JiaMing (22), Thomas Hillborne (22), Xu Si (21), Louis Heathcote (21), Daniel Holoyda (20). Three of them fare rom China – Wang, Liu and Xi – whilst Daniel Holoyda is from Poland.

It is only the first match, on the first day, but this is a very encouraging sign for the future of the game.

All three women involved in the competition were in action yesterday, with only Ng On Yee managing a win. On Yee’s win is not  that surprising considering how close she ran Alan McManus at the World Championship qualifiers last month. Reanne Evans’ form seems to be nowhere near her best. Rebecca Kenna though gave Wayne Townsend, an experienced amateur, a stern test. Wayne was full of praise for Bex on Facebook after the match: her safety in particular was very solid.

Former professionals from India, Aditya Mehta and Lucky Vatnani both won their matches convincingly. I’m very pleased for Adi, a true gentleman. His career has been brought to a halt by a very serious neck injury:

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When Aditya Mehta boards a flight from Mumbai to London on Wednesday night to take part in three qualifying school events in Wigan from May 18, it will be understandable if he takes a moment or two to compose himself.

The two-time former national champion (2011 and 2012) has had a tumultuous four years in the sport and there is much riding on this latest comeback — if he does well, he will secure a two-year pro card. If he does get it, the 33-year-old will have something to look forward to in the short-term. Something to cling on to after a couple of years from hell.

For the Gujarati suffers from a condition known as ‘Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease’. In layman’s terms, three of his discs in his neck (C5, C6 and C7) are damaged. Even as he explains his condition, the agony in his voice is clear.

“It doesn’t heal itself, I have to manage on my own by physiotherapy and so on.”

To rest up properly and gain some strength in his shoulders, he sat out from the sport from April 2018 before getting back to the table in January this year.

But there was a time in his life when he ignored the pain and the warning signs. “2014,” he says. “I kept playing when I shouldn’t have.” There was even a point that year when the pain was so brutal that he collapsed in his room in Manchester. But Mehta soldiered on, hopping from one arena to the next in search of challenges.

The initial diagnosis — or the lack thereof — did not help. “I consulted scores of doctors, chiropractors, physios… but nothing worked to be honest.”

When he had contemplated quitting the sport altogether last year, lady luck had finally decided to pay him a visit. A fellow Indian Oil athlete had recommended a sports physio and since then he has learned to control the pain in the neck area. “At the Worlds in 2018, I decided I couldn’t keep going like this any longer.”

Since coming back to the fold in January, he has already risen to No 3 in India apart from scalping Pankaj Advani in the final of the CCI Invitational in March. He knows he is not yet a 100 per cent but doesn’t want to waste time because Q school events take place only once a year. He isn’t expecting a miracle in Wigan but he has gone through an awful lot. For starters, he has had to change his stance to manage his pain properly.

“The cue usually is in contact with the chin when we line up to strike. Me? Not so much. I have been advised to keep a di­stance of at least four inches be­tween my chin and my cue. It’s not that I don’t have the sh­ots I had previously but it’s now a question of having to adapt.”

Reach the semifinals in one of the three qualifying events and he will get back to the promised land. If he does, he would have answered that question with aplomb.

I wish him the very best.

Infuriatingly, but alas unsurprisingly, Lucky Vatnani’s win over Zhang Yong started speculations about possible foul play – from Zhang – because the Chinese player was favourite with the bookies before being beaten soundly. I can’t help to wonder if such speculations would have been raised if Zhang was English (for instance). Anyway, they were killed in the bud when one Q-school player who was in the venue, and watched the match, firmly stated that it was all about Lucky playing “awesome”.

Finally there were wins for WSS players – who DO dare to dream – Simon Dent, David Lilley, Stuart Watson and Matt Couch.

You can find all detailed results on

On a totally different subject, Ronnie will be on Sunday Brunch later this morning.