WPBSA Statement – Liang Wenbo

The first Asia-Oceania Q-School will conclude today. The first semi-final is underway. I will post on that when both laureates are known.

Meanwhile, here is the statement by WPBSA about Liang Wenbo:

WPBSA Statement – Liang Wenbo

WPBSA Statement 4th June 2022 

The WPBSA and Liang Wenbo Disciplinary Hearing Finding

At a WPBSA Disciplinary Committee hearing on 26th May 2022, Liang Wenbo accepted that he had breached the WPBSA Rules and his players contract with World Snooker Limited (WSL).

 This case arose from his criminal conviction at Sheffield Magistrates Court on 9th February 2022 and subsequent sentence hearing on 1st April 2022. The conviction was for domestic-related assault by beating where he pleaded guilty. He was fined a total of £1,380 and given a 12-month community order.

Despite this case being a matter outside of the sport itself, and the fact that it had been dealt with by a criminal court, the WPBSA decided that the case was so serious that there was a case for Liang to answer for breaches of the WPBSA Rules and his WSL players contract. The basis for this is that Liang’s behaviour and subsequent conviction is conduct unbecoming of a sportsperson and brings the sport of snooker into disrepute. Due to the serious nature of this, WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson immediately suspended Liang pending disciplinary proceedings just prior to him appearing in the World Snooker Championship.

The Independent Disciplinary Committee has subsequently found Liang to be in breach of the WPBSA Members Rules and his players contract with WSL.

On 3rd June 2022, the sanction imposed by the Independent Disciplinary Committee is that Liang be suspended from playing or being involved in all snooker events for a period of four months until 1st August 2022, and to pay £1,000 towards the costs of the hearing.

Liang has the right to appeal the decision of the Independent Disciplinary Committee.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said “I have no doubt that this was a difficult case for the Independent Disciplinary Committee to deal with as it had already been heard in a criminal court. Despite this, neither I, nor the WPBSA could accept this type of behaviour from one of our members which led me to immediately suspend Liang just prior to the largest event and with the biggest prize money of the snooker season. I am pleased the Committee upheld this decision.”

The WPBSA Members Rules

1.1   Members shall, at all times (i.e., whether at a Tournament or not), behave in a proper and correct manner consistent with their status as professional sportsmen.

1.3   A Member shall not make or cause to be made any statement or commit or cause to be committed any act which in the reasonable view of the WPBSA is likely to bring into disrepute the games of snooker and/or billiards. 

WSL Players Contract

3.5.1      Behave in a professional and reputable manner befitting a professional sportsperson.

I deliberately let a night “pass” after the announcement before posting about it.

There were a lot of very strong reactions on social media, calling for a much harder punishment. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by the relatively “short” ban period.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I don’t condone Liang’s actions in any way. What he did is plain wrong, no matter what the private circumstances might have been.

  • Some of the social media reactions were going about “beating a woman earns you a milder punishment than breaking the betting rules”. Right but … WPBSA has no power to punish Liang specifically for the beating, that’s a matter for the Magistrate. Liang was found guilty by the court, and ordered to serve 12 months of community service as well as paying a fine of £1,380. That sounds pretty mild to me, but then again, I don’t know the private circumstances. Possibly, the combined facts that Liang apparently collaborated with the justice authorities and that it was a first offence explain the rather “light” punishment. WPBSA however were only able to fine him for bringing the game into disrepute.
  • When it comes to breaking the betting rules, the situation is different. First of all, those are not laws, those are rules set the the sports’ gouverning body, and the same body is competent to examine, judge and punish infringements of those rules. Particularly in case of proven match fixing or intent to fix matches, the fans have to realise that infringements of those rules are casting doubts over the integrity of the sport of snooker as a whole as well as its exponents’ integrity.  This in turn is likely to have consequences – serious consequences – when it comes to the public’s, possible sponsor’s and broadcasters’ perception of the sport itself.
  • Many comments were about the fact that Liang would miss very little of the season. That’s true, but they forget that, because of his suspension, he has already missed the World Championship itself, by far, the biggest earning opportunity in snooker. May I remember all of you that when John Higgins, as the reigning 2010 World Champion, appeared to accept to fix several matches AND be ready to involve other players as well, he was banned for a longer period, BUT, didn’t miss ANY of the majors, despite this “incident” being potentially much more damaging for the sport as a whole than Liang’s behaviour, no matter how terrible  it is (and it truly IS terrible). That John was set up is irrelevant, he didn’t know that, so the way he reacted would have been the same if the approach had been genuine.

So those are the reasons why the rather “mild” punishment didn’t surprise me and why I believe that the comparison with what happens when “betting rules” are broken isn’t a valid one.

Having said all that, I have witnessed some extreme emotional reactions by Liang in the past, both in joy and in anger. I’m not sure if this is within the power of WPBSA, but, maybe some mandatory “counselling” on anger management would be a good idea.

Reactions on yesterday’s announcements

Yesterday’s annoucements were received favourably by players and fans alike. The return of best of 19 at the World Championship qualifiers was unanimously applauded.

The fact that first round losers still get nothing though was a disappointment for many.

The gouverning body explained their decision in this interview with Phil Haigh:

On the changes to the prize money structure and the lack of funds for first round losers, a WST spokesperson said: ‘We have made prize money increases to various events and we have made amendments which are aimed at creating a more balanced prize money ranking system. These changes are based on discussions and feedback from players and the WPBSA Players Board.

Our two biggest ranking events, the World Championship and UK Championship, now have tiered structures and all players inside the top 80 are guaranteed prize money in those events.

Our principal remains that we reward excellence and in most events players must win matches to earn prize money.

We are constantly aiming to provide as many tournaments and earning opportunities as possible for all players.

I do understand and agree with the concept of rewarding excellence but not THIS way. If players do their job properly they should be able to earn from it whilst they are on the tour.

I’d rather look for a way to ensure that players who are underperforming badly can’t return on tour every two years mainly because they have experience with the surroundings and playing conditions whilst more talented/motivated amateurs fail purely because they are placed in a completely alien environment and, with short matches and a plain knock-out system, they get no real chance to adapt.

If a player can’t win a minimal number of matches – minimal to de defined – over two seasons, and have shown no or very little improvement in the second season, then, barring exceptional health or personnal circumstances, it means that either they aren’t good enough, and/or they didn’t put enough work and efforts into their snooker. I would be in favour to “ban” them from Q-school – or any other qualifying process – for two seasons. Time for them to reflect on their own situation and motivation. Time to look at the possible issues and address them.

Predictably, Hearn came back again with the “golf” comparison. Only to get this answer by Steve Feeney, Mr Sightright, who coaches snooker and golf players.

Steve Feeney - golf comparison

Hearn once scorned at me for saying that the comparison doesn’t hold. Well, it really doesn’t hold. In golf, you play your own ball. Where you find it is where you placed it, There is no interference from your opponent(s). It’s entirely in your hands. Same for darts, it’s entirely in your hands. That’s not the case in snooker. As Steve wrote, in snooker you can play great and lose, snooker is matchplay, it’s different.

Mark Williams also reacted in answer to Sean O’Sullivan’s tweets

Sean O'Sullivan + Willo prsemoney announcement 2022

It’s obvious that Willo harbours no hope whatsoever for a change regarding the prize money situation despite being convinced that no player would oppose it. The tiered system somehow “softens” the situation a bit as less players stay out of pocket and the lowest ranked ones get more winnable first round matches. But it has other drawbacks of course, notably in terms of exposure, television appearance and experience of the main venues. Exposure and television appearance or the lack of it impact their chances to find a personal sponsor as well.





Best of 19 return for the World Qualifiers and other Tour News

WST just published this:

Best Of 19 For World Qualifiers From 2023

All qualifying rounds of the Cazoo World Championship will be played over the best of 19 frames from 2023.

This is a change to the format of recent seasons, where the first three rounds were played over best of 11 frames.

Based on feedback from the WPBSA and players, WST has taken the decision to revert to best of 19 frames from next season’s qualifying event, to take place in April 2023.

Dates for the qualifying event will be announced in due course.

We are also pleased to announce prize money increases for several events for the coming 2022/23 season.

Click here for the prize money breakdown for these events. The breakdowns for remaining events will be announced in due course.

2022:23 Prize money increase

This is excellent news. I can only suppose that this will also mean a return of eight tables in operation, which is great for the fans who come to watch those qualifiers. It may nor have the glamour of the Crucible but it’s a very important, and very interesting event to attend.

What’s not so great is that there is still no money for the first round losers. That’s bad. It really is, especially in the current state of the economy. If some money was paid – only just enough to cover the basic expenses the players face for doing their job (travel, accomodation and some food) and doesn’t count towards ranking, it wouldn’t “protect” them in any way. Those not good enough wouldn’t be able to stay on tour. It also wouldn’t allow them to really earn a living out of it because that money would only just cover what it costs them to do their job. The “not rewarding mediocrity” argument doesn’t hold. I’ll say it once again: by playing to the best of their ability they bring value to the tournament, the sponsors, the venue and the broadcaster. They should not be out of pocket for doing their job properly.  Giving them £250 would cost less than the prize money of one losing semi-finalist. Surely that’s not impossible? If a player blatantly doesn’t try, or doesn’t show up, that’s a different situation of course.


Snooker and Ronnie News – 11.05.2022

The always excellent Phil Haigh has caught up with Jason Ferguson about a number of interesting snooker topics ahead of the new season:

Jason Ferguson on Hong Kong, sponsorship, Ronnie O’Sullivan, prize money and the Crucible

Evergrande 2017 World Snooker China Championship - Press Conference & Red Carpet
Jason Ferguson ha offered updates on a number of issues in snooker (Picture: Getty Images)

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has offered the latest on various things going on in snooker at the minute, from new tournaments, to sponsorship deals to changes in prize money.

Ferguson’s work rarely stops as he promotes the game across the globe and the first piece of business is on the potential return to Hong Kong for an event this season.

A tournament in Hong Kong?

Marco Fu suggested that a tournament in his homeland is on the cards, tweeting: ‘Lots of happy moments in the last major tournament in Hong Kong. Looks like there will be one this summer! Hope it will happen!’

Ferguson told Metro.co.uk: ‘We are in talks in Hong Kong, we do have a broadcaster.

‘There’s a broadcaster in Hong Kong which takes all of the snooker coverage and we do know their viewing figures are huge.

‘We are in discussions over it, it’s not finalised as yet, but we’re very optimistic about it.

‘A lot of it is down to travel restrictions. Demand for us to put on events in Asia is huge, but it’s down to whether we can make it work from a travel perspective.

‘Of course we’d love to go back there. There’s a great following for the sport, the passion is there.’

On what kind of event it could be, he added: ‘At this stage I couldn’t really say how it’s going to pan out. It might be that we have to do a smaller field to try and comply with travel restrictions.

‘The idea is to try and put a marker down, push to get an event on in Asia, put those protocols in place and then push to expand on that.

‘We can’t be too ambitious at this stage, so I imagine it will be a fairly small field if we do it.

‘At the moment we’re looking at 21 days quarantine after travel, which means it’s impossible. At the moment we’re pushing to ease those travel restrictions or get some kind of exemption under sports travel, but it’s very tight at the moment and very difficult.’

Marco Fu's HK event tweet

On where else we could see new events, the chairman said: ‘We’re more likely to see things like Turkey. That’s been a fantastic addition to the calendar: new market, huge demand from fans and we’re more likely to see that kind of event pop up – around the Mediterranean, snooker is growing and those places are opening up.

In the new year, we have put dates aside for China events but if they don’t come off then we are working on things to fill those gaps. While those flights might not be long haul, we will have chance to put some nice events on.’

Cazoo sponsorship

As Cazoo extend their involvement with snooker by sponsoring the World Championship, Ferguson welcomed them further on board and thanked previous sponsors Betfred for their excellent work.

They’re proving to be a great partner,’ said Ferguson. ‘They’ve come back for more sponsorship rights, more exposure and we’re delighted to work with them. They’re a new brand, it’s clean, a great outlook for us.

But lets not forget what Betfred have done for his sport and the support they’ve given is, it’s been incredible. Fred Done is an incredible individual. He loves this sport, loves to see it develop and has loved being a part of it. I thanked Fred last week, not just for the sponsorship and high level stuff, but the percentage of investment he puts in that we use at grassroots to get kids off streets and into clubs, keep clubs open. We see that side of the investment on the ground and it’s been an incredible commitment.

Ronnie 2022 Betfred World Champion gettyimages-1240404160
It will no longer be the Betfred World Snooker Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

‘It’s a system that we’ve got that makes sure a percentage of what comes into the sport goes into projects and development and we’ll continue that work with the Cazoo support. We’re in good shape as a sport.’

The WPBSA chairman suggested there was more to the move than pre-empting a possible ban on sponsorship by bookmakers.

I don’t think that was necessarily the angle,’ he said. ‘All of our rights agreements come up for renewal on a regular basis and there’s always more than one runner in the race for those rights. That’s a pleasing position to be in.

You go back 15 years and you were wondering, post-tobacco, where the next sponsorship deal was coming from. We’re here today and we’ve actually sold out, we’ve got more bidders for events than we’ve got events, which is an amazing position to be in. It’s an ongoing position of renewing agreements and some things change. Maybe they’ll be back at the table at some point.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s disciplinary matters

The Rocket faced disciplinary action after making a lewd gesture during his first round match at the World Championship, with that process ongoing.

Ferguson explained: ‘There’s no outcome of it yet, but the matter was referred. It will all get wrapped up pretty quickly, there’s a process for these things.

O’Sullivan’s clash with referee Olivier Marteel in the Crucible final, though, is not being dealt with by anyone else, with the matter wrapped up at the time.

It was dealt with within the match and that is the correct thing to do,’ said Ferguson. ‘The referee’s in charge, the referee deals with it and gives the warning. The referee is in charge of awarding frames and matches if he has to, if matters continue.

It was dealt with and I know that Ronnie was very decent about it afterwards, he spoke to Olivier and I think he apologised for how he spoke to him in the arena and that matter has gone away.’

The Crucible

Ambitious plans were revealed for a new ‘second Crucible’ attached to the current one by a bridge and Ferguson explains that discussions are ongoing with Sheffield City Council, although the idea remains just a concept at this point.

We’ve met with the City Council,’ said the chairman. ‘[Architect] James Burland is someone I’ve worked with previously and we spoke a few months back about rekindling the concept and having another look at it.

New Crucible
The plans from James Burland are eye-catching to say the least (Picture: Burland Aura Planning)

We talked about the idea, and it’s just a concept at this moment in time. It will need a great deal of studying over feasibility and longevity, is it viable? You don’t want a white elephant stadium, it’s no good for anybody.

We’ve met with the council and of course they’re very warm to development and very warm to snooker because it brings millions and millions of pounds into the city year after year. I think the last independent study by Sheffield Hallam said the city had benefited by £100m over the years, but it’s significantly more than that in today’s terms.

It’s very much on the drawing board and a concept but it’s a project of interest.

Now’s the time to start talking about what the future looks like. We’re very loyal to Sheffield but now is the time to think about longer term, especially if there’s going to be a regeneration project, because these things take time.

‘We should never underestimate the size and scale of this sport, it’s only going to get bigger. It isn’t going to go backwards anymore.’

Prize money

There is set to be a restructuring of prize money distribution for the season ahead, with a bid to make the spread a bit fairer and for the rankings to more accurately reflect achievement.

We’re looking at prize money breakdowns, how that’s balancing the ranking system,’ said Ferguson. ‘Finer detail on that is being done now in terms of how it works.

We’re just trying to balance out what players win round-by-round to make a fairer ranking system. At the moment sometimes players get to the latter stages of one event that’s worth the same as one win in another event. There’s bigger and smaller events so we’ll always get some of that, but there’s a bit of work being done around all that.

We’re reviewing every event for this season coming. Comparing the winner’s prize to first round matches, and in conjunction with that, what’s the round structure like.

It’ll be available very quickly, we’re working very hard on that. I have to compliment the WPBSA players board, they’ve done a real good job in recent months identifying key areas that can be improved and getting the message across. I’m really pleased with that new structure with the player’s body, it’s really starting to work.

I do hope that amongst the things “to be improved”, they will consider paying a fee, covering basic expenses, to the first round losers, not counting towards ranking. That’s no “rewarding mediocrity”, that’s simply making sure that doing their job, as professionals, doesn’t cost the players. I have said this countless times before, but I’ll say it again: you need two players to have a match. One will lose, but by playing they have brought value to the tournament, the venue, the sponsors and the broadcaster. That should be recognised. They shouldn’t be out of pocket for doing their job properly. 

Phil also spoke to Ronnie about his plans to go to Singapore… 

Ronnie O’Sullivan excited for snooker venture as he announces Singapore trip

Ronnie 2002 World Champion gettyimages-1395021891
Ronnie O’Sullivan has a busy summer ahead (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan is heading to Singapore for his first ever exhibition in the country and to cast an eye over the work being done at his academy there.

The Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy opened at the end of 2021, with the Rocket speaking of his excitement about the venture earlier in the year.

He told the Sun a year ago: ‘We have already got the facilities. It’s a 16,000-square feet space.

We are putting tables in there. We will have some professional coaches. We hope to roll it out all over Asia. Ronnie O’Sullivan snooker academies with the long-term view to try and create an amateur scene.

Over there they are much more supportive of their amateurs and juniors and get excited over that. It is something I think will work. While snooker gives me the platform to do projects like that, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.’

ronnie-singapore-f837 - Ronnie exho Singapore June 2022
(Picture: Ronnie O’Sullivan Snooker Academy)

Now he is heading over to Singapore next month to perform exhibitions from 11-18 June, while he also confirmed that he will be working on coaching in his academy as well.

Looking forward to going over to Singapore in June, it should be great. The academy looks fantastic out there,’ O’Sullivan said after lifting a seventh world title.

I’m excited to get out there and spend some time there, see what they’re up to. I’ll work out some coaching plans and developing snooker in Asia is going to be a really fun thing to do.

Further explaining his plan for Asian expansion to the Sun, O’Sullivan said: ‘The idea is to get the first one right, get it successful and then once that is going well, it will be easier to roll out the rest of them.

China definitely is a massive part of the plan but the first one will start out in Singapore.

The good ones that come through the academy we would like to support them, to try and get their main Tour Card and become professional players.

Hopefully one day become a world champion.’

Ronnie has also been speaking to Desmond Kane (Eurosport)


Ronnie O’Sullivan passed snooker’s ultimate test to claim a career-defining seventh Crucible title, but the world champion tells Desmond Kane why the journey to potting paradise remains one of the most mentally demanding and draining in professional sport. “I just wasn’t sure if it was possible,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport as he reflected on securing his legacy as the snooker GOAT.


Who needs the Rovers Return when you have the Rocket’s return?

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump’s very own epic kitchen-sink drama in Yorkshire last Monday evening proved more engaging for the great British public than Coronation Street or EastEnders on the other two main terrestrial TV channels.

Almost six million viewers piped themselves into O’Sullivan’s rousing 18-13 win over Trump that saw him battle to a magnificent seventh world title and equal Stephen Hendry’s historic haul from the 1990s.

Betty Turpin’s hot pots from Corrie were never as tasty as the hot pots Rocket Ronnie can serve up.

In discovering the level of snooker’s popularity from a breathless 17 days at the 46th World Championship, O’Sullivan said: “Oh really? Wow. Amazing. It is brilliant getting more viewers than Coronation Street.


It is a long time playing at the World Championship, a lot of stress and I’m just recovering. It is hard work, but it was job done, so worth it.

With O’Sullivan installed as 7/2 favourite for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ahead of Tyson Fury – the world heavyweight boxing champion of all things and a genuine sporting goliath – it felt like a trip down memory lane to an era when snooker was the only show in town.

In the 1980s when there were only four channels, everybody thought they knew you. It was like you were in EastEnders,” commented Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White, the six-time world finalist.

Some four decades on, O’Sullivan’s career-defining victory broadcast to millions across the BBC and Eurosport was as much of a cliff-hanger as Dirty Den divorcing Angie in the Queen Vic as the sport’s two brightest talents illuminated the final with their unique attacking colour.

O’Sullivan is the undisputed king of his domain after an awe-inspiring few weeks saw him reach seventh heaven with his inimitable élan, technical supremacy and swagger with cue in hand.

He stands alongside Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins and White as genuine crowd-pleasers who have changed the face of snooker since the Crucible first housed the World Championship in 1977, bringing a greater popularity to the green baize beyond working-class blokes potting balls in darkened halls set against the sweat of heavy industry.

When Higgins lifted his second world title in 1982, the Northern Irishman memorably cradled baby daughter Lauren, wife Lynn and the trophy as the tears flowed.


In a timely little slice of history repeating itself 40 years later, O’Sullivan – the natural successor to Higgins and White as ‘The People’s Champion’ – sobbed as the enormity of the achievement sunk in with dad Ronnie Sr and kids Lily and Ronnie Jr joining him to celebrate. Memories are made of his.

I didn’t wake up last Tuesday feeling any different. I just thought that it was more about everybody else enjoying themselves,” he said.

My dad was there for the whole three weeks of the tournament enjoying it, hanging out with a lot of snooker people that follow the game.

Then I thought it would be great if the kids could be there if they wanted to. It was a good experience for everyone as it might never happen again.


It was a relief to get the job done. It was a professional job. It’s a test. That is how I look at it every time I enter a tournament like that.

You go there and prepare as well as you can. To win it is great. You don’t always win it, but it is nice to win it again at my stage in the game.

O’Sullivan usurped the Welshman Ray Reardon – the tactical coach behind his 2004 triumph – to become the oldest world champion since the inception of the modern era.

O’Sullivan had 46 years and 148 days behind him when he held aloft the little silver lady on a priceless Bank Holiday Monday.
Reardon was 45 years and 203 days when he completed a 25-18 win over South Africa’s Perrie Mans in the 1978 final to carry off his sixth and final world title.

O’Sullivan concedes the level of play he reached suggests his career at the elite level can run for several more years after rolling in 15 century breaks and 46 knocks over 50.

It is perhaps fitting that O’Sullivan is planning to release a Netflix-style fly-on-the-wall documentary surrounding his rise to a seventh crown.

A camera crew apparently tailed his every move in a style similar to Michael Jordan’s last NBA season with the Chicago Bulls in 1998 titled The Last Dance.

For O’Sullivan, this was never going to be the last chance, but better to tie up legacy loose ends now.

A remorseless single-mindedness in such a cut-throat environment is a quality O’Sullivan shares with Jordan, Roger Federer, Lionel Messi and Tiger Woods in other fields of play.

He knows how and when to get the job done on the grandest stage of all. Like all the great champions, he also senses the right time to express his superior class.

With a record 39 ranking titles carried off and 1,169 centuries compiled, he is the sport’s undisputed GOAT, a seventh wonder of the sporting world since turning professional in 1992. To argue otherwise does not make sense.

There is only one Ronnie O’Sullivan, a figure who will remarkably start the 2022/23 campaign as the world No. 1 – 20 years after he first scaled the summit at the age of 26.

This is astonishing longevity in a solitary, mentally undulating game that can play tricks on the mind when you are stuck in a chair and the other guy is potting balls.

The World Championship is no place for weak or wilting spirit with Peter Ebdon, hardly resembling ‘Big’ Bill Werbeniuk, infamously shedding stones due to the nervous energy of winning the trophy in 2002 with a fraught 18-17 win over Hendry.

Not that O’Sullivan spends too much time isolated in his seat. When he is at the table, he plays like he owns it. He is enshrined by a youthfulness, vibrancy and expressiveness that bewitches millions across the globe.

I’m 46 banging on 47 so to know I can still win it lets me know I could have another five decent years,” said O’Sullivan.


It is such a long tournament. It is a bit like the Grand Slams in tennis when they play five sets rather than just the three.

It is more about lasting the event more than anything. A lot of players reach the quarter-finals and by then they think they’ve run their course.
“Whereas the top players are better conditioned, have been over the course and know how to pace themselves.

The World Championship is similar to that. You make the semi-finals and once you get to that point you are still only halfway through so you want to leave a bit in the tank.

That just comes with experience and knowing what it takes to get over the line.


O’Sullivan felt his form was on an upward trajectory at the Gibraltar Open in March despite losing 4-3 to Ben Woollaston in the first round.

His optimism was further enhanced at the Tour Championship when he edged out Mark Williams – a marvellous competitor who only lost 17-16 by Trump in the Crucible last four – 10-9 in the quarter-finals in Llandudno before losing 10-9 to Neil Robertson in the semi-finals last month.

He weighed in with 10 tons and eight half centuries to hint at greater riches.

The minute it switched on for me was when I went to Gibraltar,” he admitted.

Even though I lost, I felt like I was playing well despite missing the odd few balls. A week before I went to Llandudno, I put some good practice in. I was scoring well.

There were a couple of things that needed sharpening up in my game, but I played great in Llandudno and went away for two weeks before the worlds.

I put in a lot of hard work before the tournament, sharpened up and by the time I got to Sheffield I thought: ‘My game is in good shape’.

If it comes together great, but if it doesn’t what can you do. But I felt my game was alright.


Who knows? But yeah, I surprised myself there.

Achieving immortality in the toughest of all cue sports does not come easy even for the green baize’s main protagonist. The tale of the table does not always reward the best man.

He trailed 3-0 to David Gilbert in his tournament opener, but was a figure of unrelenting focus in adversity, ending the first session 6-3 clear in a match from which he would run out a 10-5 winner. His unflustered play was a pivotal theme of the event. Almost like he knew the end destination was more likely than not if he refused to panic.

He overpowered Mark Allen 13-4 in the last 16 before shredding Stephen Maguire 13-5 in the quarter-finals.

A match with his fierce foe John Higgins – the player he defeated 18-14 to claim his first world title in 2001 – was always likely to prove the ultimate test of O’Sullivan’s technique in the three-day semi-final torture chamber. The talent has never been in doubt.

Two key moments of that contest summed up O’Sullivan’s commitment to the cause after he had trailed 3-0: his opportunism to force a re-spotted black in the 16th and final frame of the second session that gave him a 10-6 lead before the final day.

And the miraculous clearance of 82 he made leading 10-7 on the Saturday morning after a taut period of tough safety play with the Scotsman attempting to turn the match back in his favour.

That break was arguably the most memorable of the tournament, ranking alongside the 92 he produced in the seventh frame of the 2012 final against Ali Carter in an 18-11 win.

It provided O’Sullivan with the impetus to complete a comfortable 17-11 victory over Higgins, who was left proclaiming him as the greatest in history.
It is a mammoth tournament,” O’Sullivan commented.


I was just competing in every area and doing all things pretty well.

I remember nicking a frame when I needed two blacks and won it on the re-spotted black against John. I also remember we had a long drawn out safety battle with me and Higgins then potting a long red before clearing up.

Just lots of frames were big turning points. When you win the close ones against John, you know you’ve got a chance.

It is alright winning frames with big breaks. That is nice, but at some point in these events you are going to face someone who is scoring as well as you and then it comes down to who can pinch the close ones.

As I got into the match with John, I started to eke out a few of those close ones. That dented his confidence, gave me more confidence and probably changed the momentum of the match.

John is more suited to winning the tactical frames and I’m probably more suited to the open scoring frames, but it was good to compete with him in the ones where he was probably favourite.”


O’Sullivan’s impeccable rise to the title in the final was far from a coronation. He galloped 12-5 clear on the first day of the final only for Trump, the 2019 champion, to claw his way back to 14-11 behind before the conclusion loomed large with the destination of the title unclear.

Rather than look over his shoulder, O’Sullivan quickly disposed of the permutations with a composed air emanating from his cue, compiling unerring breaks of 82, 88, 75 and 85 to complete a stylish gallop to the game’s biggest prize.

One recalls speaking to Jimmy White during the 2012 Masters when the elite tournament was first staged at the Alexandra Palace.

O’Sullivan had lost 6-2 to Trump in the quarter-finals of the event, an encounter that was being described back then as a “changing of the guard”.

When asked if O’Sullivan could add to his three world titles, White responded:

I know O’Sullivan and he will be out to put this all right by the World Championship.

Ronnie has got five or six world titles left in him. He is too good. He is far too good.

The Whirlwind has turned out to be a snooker soothsayer. O’Sullivan has lifted another four titles since that point. Who would bet against him reaching 10 before he pots his final ball? Certainly not Jimmy.

The work carried out with celebrated sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters to maintain a positive mindset and maintain mental equilibrium was a key element in his latest triumph.


I just knew there were keys shots I had to get to and I was confident I was able to do it.

It is a good feeling winning frames from virtually impossible positions.

Car retailer Cazoo will replace bookmakers Betfred as sponsors of the 47th World Championship next year, but O’Sullivan hopes the viewing figures can entice greater interest in the sport.

If you want a blue-chip company, you have to change the image of the sport in many ways,” he said.

At the moment, it is dominated by betting companies, but other sponsors may not want to be associated with that. I don’t know.

In Formula One you have betting companies and Rolex so maybe that isn’t right. It just depends on how they see snooker.

It would be great if the game could kick on like the 1980s. Tobacco companies sponsored snooker and a lot of the big sporting events back then but who knows?

The viewing figures are great so that is always a good thing to put in front of people.


O’Sullivan famously took a season off between his fourth and fifth victories at the event in 2012 and 2013 respectively, but plans to throw himself into the new campaign with new worlds to be conquered. A few more of them in Sheffield perhaps.

He could return at the European Masters in August, but the British Open in late September is likelier.

His appearance as world champion in Brentwood for the English Open in December should be one to savour before a raucous home crowd.

The season starts again in August so I’m pretty much going to play in most things,” he said. “I won’t practise much. I’ve got a few exhibitions and a few holidays with the family.

Come September/October time, I’ll start getting my head down again to practise. I’m just going to play in virtually every tournament.


I haven’t looked at the calendar properly, but I’ll take a look and decide from there.

O’Sullivan’s opportunism is perhaps only rivalled by the launch of his own ‘7 Collection’ the day after the final that included the amusing “You saw nothing” response to referee Olivier Marteel after he had been accused of an inappropriate gesture.

Clothing and cups are all the rage these days in sport, but what was the plan if he had not reached seven?

Keep them for next year mate.

Judging by this latest astonishing triumph for O’Sullivan’s timeless vitality, the merch could be out of date by then.

Desmond Kane

What surprised me most here is what he says about his feelings about his game in Gibraltar, although it’s not the first time I hear/read about a player assessing their game seemingly at odds with their recent results. The thing is: we can only watch, they know how they feel.

On the topic of distancing themselves from betting companies, I’m not sure I entirely believe that the move to Cazoo is unrelated to the recent developments when it comes to raising awareness and tackling gambling addictions – in youth in particular – as well as what happened at the 2021 Scottish Open. Remember? It had to be moved to Llandudno after the venue’s management took the decision to no more host events sponsored by bookies.

Note that many parts in bold are my “highligths” and were not in bold in the original text.

Tour News – 9.3.2022 – Marco Fu returns, World Champs Wilcards, Gibraltar Open Draw

Whilst the Turkish Masters continues in Antalya a few interesting news have emerged regarding the rest of the season.

Marco Fu, who hasn’t played in a professional event at all for about 2 years, has announced that he has entered the 2022 World Championship. The news was received with joy by fans as well as by fellow pros. Marco is currently LAST in the professional rankings, having not played at all in the previous and this seasons. He is facing a very tough task. Should he manage to reach the Crucible however, he would of course get a new 2 years tour card.

Also, about the World Championship, it has been confirmed that the format will be only best of 11 in the early rounds, which is a shame. There will be 128 players in the draw including 16 wildcards, that will be selected following these published criteria:

Amateur Players For World Qualifiers Announced

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and World Snooker Tour have today announced the qualification criteria for the 16 amateur qualifiers who will be offered the chance to compete at next month’s Betfred World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

The qualifying rounds for this year’s Championship will return to the English Institute for Sport, Sheffield from 4-13 April and be contested by a field of 128 players. The field will include professionals ranked outside of the world’s top 16 following the Cazoo Tour Championship and amateur top ups from the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

They will be joined by 16 elite amateur players selected by the WPBSA, based on their performances at recognised international competitions held this season. For the first time this includes players from the new WPBSA Q Tour, who will be confirmed following the fourth and final event of the season which is set to conclude on 20 March 2022.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are delighted to be able to announce today the qualifiers who have earned their chance to compete at this year’s professional World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

“Each player has earned their chance following their performances at the sport’s leading amateur competitions, including the recent World Snooker Federation Championships – the biggest international amateur event held in many years with over 300 players having taken part – as well as WPBSA Q Tour, our sport’s premier amateur tour.

“These prestigious events are now leading the way in providing a direct pathway to the World Snooker Tour, whether through two-year tour cards, or other opportunities to compete in major events including the World Championship.”

Full WPBSA Qualifiers list:

  • Si Jiahui – 2022 WSF Championship Winner
  • Lee Stephens – 2022 WSF Championship Runner-up
  • Daniel Wells – 2022 WSF Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Michael White – 2022 WSF Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Anton Kazakov – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Winner
  • Jake Crofts – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Runner-up
  • Liam Davies – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Yorrit Hoes – 2022 WSF Junior Championship Semi-Finalist
  • Nutcharut Wongharuthai – 2022 World Women’s Snooker No.3 / World Champion
  • Rebecca Kenna – 2022 World Women’s Snooker No.4
  • Dylan Emery – 2021 EBSA European Under-21 Championship Winner
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.1 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.2 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.3 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.4 (decided after 20 March)
  • TBC – WPBSA Q Tour No.5 (decided after 20 March)

All players selected will appear subject to acceptance of their place and any travel restrictions in place. Any replacement players will be selected from a reserve list to include performances at World Snooker Federation and recognised regional events.

Any current professional players who do not enter the tournament will be replaced from the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

I have put the last line in bold as this is important to understand. Last year, players high in the Q-school order of merit felt aggrieved because they had not been invited, whilst amateurs emerging from other comps had. Some said the WST was contractually bound to take them in, rather than those guys. This was a misunderstanding. WST is bound to take them as replacement for pros who opted not to enter the event, but those 16 spots are something else. Their “aim” is to promote deserving amateurs who did well in big amateur competitions.

Finally, WST has published the draw for the 2022 Gibraltar Open, and much to my and other’s surprise, Ronnie has entered it.

BetVictor Gibraltar Open Draw

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Kyren Wilson, Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy and defending champion Judd Trump are among the star names competing in the BetVictor Gibraltar Open later this month.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The tournament runs from March 24 to 26 at the Europa Sports Complex. Tickets start at just £20 and it’s a fantastic opportunity to see many of the world’s most decorated players.

Ronnie action WSTTrump has won the title in each of the last two years and this time he starts his defence against Andrew Higginson. O’Sullivan, playing in this tournament for the first time, will meet Ben Woollaston in the first round, while Robertson will take on Liang Wenbo.

The world ranking event has a top prize of £50,000 and it’s also the eighth and final event in the 2021/22 BetVictor Series, with a £150,000 bonus up for grabs. No fewer than 11 players can still win the bonus by topping the BetVictor Series rankings. Higgins and Allen currently top the list but with nine players in pursuit it’s sure to be a dramatic conclusion to the series.

The tournament has been running since 2015, when it was won by Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. Shaun Murphy, Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham lifted the trophy in the following three years, then in 2020 and 2021 the event was dominated by Trump.

A spokesman for WST said: “This is without question the strongest field we have ever had for the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, with so many of our sport’s all-time greats in the draw. For snooker fans in the region it’s an incredible opportunity to see the top stars of snooker’s golden era for the price of a single ticket.

And with so much at stake including a prestigious title and the massive BetVictor Series bonus, it promises to be three days of great excitement and top class live sport.”

Ronnie certainly never showed any interest for this competition and many are wondering why he entered it now, including me. I’m slightly nonplussed. I can only think of two things that could explain this move: the tournament is played right before the Tour Championship and he might want some competitive snooker in order to sharpen for that big one and, maybe, now being single, staying home just hasn’t the much appeal right now.

Turkish Masters and Tour News – 8.3.2020

The Turkish Masters starts tomorrow in Antalya. Hector Nunns is on site and has shared some images on social media: venue, arena and the old port scenery.

From what I understood from his posts on twitter, table 1, 3, 4 and 5 are in one place and table 2 in a different area… bizarre. Maybe I misunderstood.

Mark Allen is already over there and, going by his Instagram, is particularly impressed with the food.

The two highest ranked players in the draw, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson have withdrawn. Mark Selby has decided to take a break from snooker and will not play in any event before the World Championship.

Here is Hector’s piece about this:

Mark Selby To Take A Break Before Defending Betfred World Championship Crown

World No1 Mark Selby will be taking a complete break from snooker before defending his Betfred World Championship crown in Sheffield in April.

Both Selby and Neil Robertson have both pulled out of March’s inaugural Turkish Masters. And reigning world champion Selby, 38, has also withdrawn from the Gibraltar Open – meaning he will not play again before defending his world title at the Crucible next month.

Seeing two of the world’s top four pull out of the first ranking snooker tournament staged in Turkey is a disappointing blow for the pioneering event in the resort city of Antalya, especially as world No2 Ronnie O’Sullivan also decided not to enter in the first place.

Leicester’s four-time world champion Selby revealed in January that his mental health had deteriorated, and that he was suffering with depression.

At first he tried to play on while at the same time receiving professional support – but has now decided a total break is needed before heading for the game’s blue-riband event.

Selby said: “I am very sorry not to be going to the first Turkish Masters as I had been looking forward to the tournament and I’m sure it will be a great event. Unfortunately, it has just come at the wrong time for me with some challenges I am facing.”

Selby’s decision also rules him out of contention from sneaking into the field for the prestigious Tour Championship for the season’s best-performing eight players. He was well back in the one-season rankings and would have needed to win one of the remaining qualification events.


World No 4 Robertson, 40, and the player of the season with three big titles already, will not be playing due to reservations about the long trip with uncertainties created by the war in Ukraine.

He said: “I want to apologise to the fans in Turkey and would have loved to play there. I look forward very much to being there next year.”

Mark Selby’s decision is not really surprising of course, as he is battling depression. As for Neil Robertson’s reasons … maybe someone should offer him a map of Europe?  Antalya is nowhere near the war zone, and the route to it doesn’t get near it at any point either. Never mind…

The poster now looks really weird.


In other news, tickets have gone on sale for the 2022 World Championship qualifiers.

The good news is that there will be a crowd.

The bad news is that there will be only 4 tables and it’s the best of 11 format in the “early” rounds. So what was supposed to be a measure dictated by the covid situation has now been made permanent. The trend to shorten the formats continue. This devaluates the World Championship, and snooker as a sport in general.


Tour News – 21 December, 2021

After several weeks of non-stop action, it’s time to take a break and catch up with the snooker tour news.


WST has published this update about the rankings:

Rankings Update: O’Sullivan Up To Third

2021WGPROSWinner-12Ronnie O’Sullivan is up to third place on the one-year ranking list following his victory at the Cazoo World Grand Prix on Sunday.

O’Sullivan beat Neil Robertson 10-8 in the final in Coventry to capture the £100,000 top prize and climb from seventh place to third, behind only Zhao Xintong and Luca Brecel. The Rocket now looks well placed to qualify for the two remaining events in the Cazoo Series.

Robertson banks £40,000 as runner-up and jumps from eighth to sixth. Stuart Bingham reached the semi-finals and he’s up from 22nd to 18th. Mark Selby was the other losing semi-finalist and he jumps from 21st to 17th.

There are only two counting events to go until the field is confirmed for the second event in the series, the Cazoo Players Championship, as only the top 16 on the one-year list will make it to Wolverhampton (February 7-13).

Those events are the BetVictor Shoot Out (January 20 to 23) and the BetVictor German Masters (January 26 to 30). The qualifying rounds of the latter event have already taken place (click here for the last 32 draw), so certain players such as Bingham only have the BetVictor Shoot Out to try to climb into the top 16.

Four players who are outside the top 16 of the official two-year list  are currently inside the top 16 of the one-year list: David Gilbert, Gary Wilson, Jimmy Robertson and Ricky Walden. Anthony McGill is currently on the bubble in 16th place with £53,500.

Only the top eight will contest the final event of the 2021/22 Cazoo Series, the Cazoo Tour Championship (March 28 to April 3, Llandudno).

On the official two-year rankings, Robertson remains in fourth place while O’Sullivan remains third.

Where prize money is won without a player winning a match in a tournament, NONE of that prize money will count towards these prize money rankings save for the World Grand Prix, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

Where prize money is won by a player at a qualifying venue and that player does not go on to appear at the final venue, for whatever reason, that prize money will not count in the prize money rankings until the situation has been considered by the appeals committee who may, at their absolute discretion, allocate ranking points where it can be demonstrated that there are extreme mitigating circumstances. These points will be allocated from the date of the committee meeting and will not affect previously issued draws.

WST Seeding – Count Back:  Players on equal prize money will be seeded based on the best performance (stage/round reached through winning a match) working backwards from the most recent ranking event. If still equal, frames won when losing will determine their position, working backwards from the most recent ranking event. For the purposes of count back, competing in an event and losing is treated as a better performance than not entering or competing in an event.

For a full explanation of how the rankings work, click here

You will find the “race to the Players Championship” rankings here on snooker.org. With 50000 points between Ronnie third and Mark Williams fourth, it would take something extraordinary for Ronnie to miss out on the Tour Championship.

The 2022 Shoot-Out is the next event counting towards the Players Championship and WST has published the draw and format:

BetVictor Shoot Out Draw

Ryan Day beat Mark Selby in last year’s final

Snooker’s unique BetVictor Shoot Out heads to the Morningside Arena in Leicester in January, with top stars including Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson, Zhao Xintong, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen, Luca Brecel and defending champion Ryan Day in the field.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The draw has been made for the 128-player world ranking event, to run from January 20 to 23.

Notable first round ties include:

New UK Champion Zhao Xintong against 2020 Shoot Out winner Michael Holt – Friday January 21, 7pm session

World number one Mark Selby against Li Hang – Thursday January 20, 7pm session

Three-time UK Champion Ding Junhui against 2012 Shoot Out winner Barry Hawkins – Friday January 21, 1pm session

Two-time Crucible finalist Ali Carter against former Masters and UK Champion Matthew Stevens – Thursday January 20, 1pm session

Former World Champion Shaun Murphy v Chang Bingyu – Thursday January 20, 1pm session

Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams v Stuart Carrington- Thursday January 20, 7pm session

Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans v Fan Zhengyi – Thursday January 20, 7pm session

As always, the tournament features a unique set of rules. All matches last a maximum of ten minutes, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five, while any foul means ball in hand for the opponent.

Televised by Eurosport and a range of other broadcasters and online platforms worldwide, the tournament forms part of the eight-event BetVictor Snooker Series, from which the player earning the most prize money will receive a huge £150,000 bonus.

No Ronnie, no Judd Trump, no Neil Robertson, no John Higgins … unsurprisingly. As you would expect, given that they are just outside the Players Championship qualifying zone, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham have entered. What really surprises me is to see Ding’s name in the draw…

WST has also confirmed the dates for the 2022 Turkish Masters and provided more information about the event.

Nirvana Cosmopolitan To Host Turkish Masters

The fantastic Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel was named as the host of the new Nirvana Turkish Masters world ranking event today at a press conference in Antalya.

The tournament will run from March 7 to 13 in 2022 and it will be the first professional event staged in Turkey, with 64 players heading to the beautiful city of Antalya to compete for total prize money of £500,000.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation Ersan Ercan, VP and Snooker Director Muhammad Leysi, Director of Sport at Nirvana, Mr Burcin Badem and local promoter Tuğba İrten were among those to host the press conference.

Ferguson said: “The Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel is an absolutely superb location to stage what will be a historic event on the World Snooker Tour. The players will love this stunning venue and it will be an incredible opportunity for fans to see the leading stars and to enjoy the local hospitality in Antalya.

“Our greatest ambition is to bring our sport to all corners of the globe and to stage an event in Turkey for the first time, where we know there is huge support for snooker, is a crucial step forward. We look forward to delivering a top class event and working with our partners in the region: the Turkish Billiard Federation, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kilit Group and the Nirvana Hotel, along with our promoter Tugba Irten.”

Antalya is known for its history, scenery and culture

Antalya is renowned as one of Europe’s outstanding destinations, known for its culture, history and ideal location on the Mediterranean coast.

WST has agreed a four-year deal with the Turkish Billiards Federation and Big Break Promotions to stage the Turkish Masters every season until at least 2024/2025. Overall prize money will increase each year.

A qualifying round will be staged with players needing to win one match to make it to the final stages. Two Turkish wild cards will also be handed places in the main event in Antalya. The tournament will be televised by a range of broadcasters worldwide including Eurosport and Matchroom Live.

Obviously the prize money is good and Antalya is a beautiful place with a rich history. Turkish cuisine isn’t bad either. Having the whole event played in a luxury hotel is reminiscent of the glorious old days when snooker was really a prominent sport and its exponents true stars.

Whether there will be held-over matches is unclear to me.  The first sentence in bold seems to indicate that all players will need to qualify ahead of the main event. The second sentence in bold on the other hand says that the two Turkish wildcards will play at the main venue, therefore, unless they play each other, two players at least will have their first round match held-over. WST will probably go “by ranking” but the sponsors may have something to say about it too, especially for a first event in the country. We shall see.

Finally … it was ten days ago but surely worth mentioning … Si Jiahui won the Q Tour event 2.

Success For Si At WPBSA Q Tour

Si Jiahui has won the second event of the 2021/22 WPBSA Q Tour following a dramatic 5-4 victory against former professional Michael White at the Terry Griffiths Matchroom, Llanelli.

The WPBSA Q Tour is an official pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season from four tournaments. The events are open to all players, with 48 players automatically qualified for the last 64 stage through their position on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

China’s Si had previously reached the final of Event one in Brighton just three weeks ago and having again progressed to the quarter-finals on Saturday, made it back to back finals with victories against Sydney Wilson and Sean O’Sullivan.

Awaiting him would be two-time ranking event winner Michael White, who added a further two century breaks to the five he had already compiled the previous day during wins against Alex Clenshaw and Belgium’s Ben Mertens.

Having fallen 4-0 behind against David Lilley in the previous final, it was Si who this time made the stronger start, breaks of 54, 82 and 53 ensuring that he would stand just one frame from the title at the mid-session interval.

With a lead of 45-1 during frame five, a whitewash appeared to be on the cards but there was to be a twist in the tale as White hit back with 50 before eventually snatching the frame on the pink, before adding breaks of 58 and 70 on his way to drawing level at 4-4.

The decider was to prove no less dramatic as White once again erased an early deficit – which included a snooker on the colours – but this time Si was not to be denied as he potted green, brown and blue to secure victory.

With 11 match wins from 12 played from the first two events, Si has put himself in a strong position on the Q Tour Ranking list at the halfway point of the season, but there remains all to play for ahead of the final two events in Leicester and Leeds over the coming months.

Two World Snooker Tour cards are available from the Q Tour series, with the top ranked player following this season’s four scheduled events set to qualify. A further 16 players will contest a play-off tournament for the second card.

The WPBSA would like to thank all of the players, officials and in particular the Terry Griffiths Matchroom and its staff, who helped to support another fantastic weekend of snooker in south Wales.

The WPBSA Q Tour will return with Event Three from 28-30 January at The Winchester Snooker Club, Leicestershire. The closing date for entries for the event is 4:30pm on Friday 14 January

Congratulations Si!

And of course … the traditional Championship league is under way, with Group 1 concluding today.

He is WST info about this season’s groups:

BetVictor Championship League Groups Confirmed

The 2022 BetVictor Championship League Snooker Invitational gets underway with Group 1 live from the Morningside Arena, Leicester on Monday 20, December starring Jack Lisowski, Gary Wilson, Graeme Dott, Zhou Yuelong, Tom Ford, Liang Wenbo and Ryan Day, broadcast live on FreeSports in the UK and Ireland, Viaplay in the Nordics and Baltics alongside broadcasters worldwide.

Both Tables 1 and 2 will be available live globally with Lisowski set to take on Zhou in the opening match of the tournament at 11am. Group 2 will take place on December 22-23 before Groups 3-5 get underway from January 3-8 and Group 6 on January 17-18. Group 7 and the Winners’ Group to find out the winner will take place from January 31-February 3.

Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and invitational defending champion Kyren Wilson are all set to feature during the group stage.

The groups can be found below with missing spots completed by the previous group’s 5th placed player, two losing semi-finalists and losing group finalist.

Group 1 

Jack Lisowski, Zhou Yuelong, Graeme Dott, Tom Ford, Gary Wilson, Ryan Day, Liang Wenbo

Group 2

Xiao Guodong, Lu Ning, Joe Perry

Group 3

Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Stuart Bingham

Group 4

Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, Barry Hawkins

Group 5

David Gilbert, Martin Gould, Ali Carter

Group 6

Yan Bingtao, Ricky Walden, Ding Junhui

Group 7

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, John Higgins

Where to Watch 

  • Foxtel – Australia
  • FreeSports – UK and Ireland
  • Nova – Czech Republic & Slovakia
  • NTV – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan
  • Sky Network – New Zealand
  • SuperSport – Africa
  • Sportklub – Croatia & Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, and Slovenia
  • TVP – Poland
  • Viaplay – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Viaplay – Iceland
  • Viaplay – Scandinavia
  • Zhibo.TV – China
  • Matchroom.Live – Table 1 is available exclusively to those outside of the countries listed above. Table 2 will be available live on Matchroom.Live excluding the Nordic and Baltic regions
  • The tournament will also be live on betting websites around the world

The tournament carries a prize fund of £205,000 with players earning £100 per frame won with significant bonuses for their final group position and increased prize money in the Winners’ Group. A place in the 2022 Cazoo Champion of Champions is also on the line with each group featuring seven players with matches being held over two days.

All matches are a best-of-five, and each group is played to a round-robin format. The top four in each group contest the play-offs, with the eventual winner advancing to Winners’ Group. The three play-off players who don’t advance will move into the next group, where they are joined by the player who finished fifth in the table and three new players. Those finishing sixth and seventh in each group are eliminated from the competition.