My internet is once again down at the moment – beyond a joke now! – so apologies for not writing a report on day two at the International Championship qualifiers.
Most of you will know the results by now but I’ll briefly summarise what happened, and the rest of the snooker news from this week.
Again, there were very few shocks. In the first couple of events that used this new flat 128 format there were, unsurprisingly, a few casualties among the big names as they got adjusted to unfamiliar surrounding.
However, it was only going to be a matter of time before they re-acclimatised themselves to the conditions of their early careers and the familiar adage prevailed once again – the best players prevail no matter what the format or system is.
One of the bigger upsets on the second day was Ken Doherty’s defeat by Stuart Carrington – a player ranked outside the top 100.
The Dubliner appeared to be knocking the ball confidently en route to a 3-1 mid-session interval advantage but conceded five frames on the trot thereafter to succumb to a very disappointing defeat.
Fellow Irishman David Morris has enjoyed a fantastic return to the professional scene this season but ran into a Stephen Maguire very much “On Fire”, ultimately going down 6-1 to the Scot.
Defending champion Judd Trump and John Higgins were almost denied a trip to China but both former world no.1s eventually emerged unscathed in tight encounters with Cao Xinlong and John Astley respectively.
Neil Robertson, the man who currently leads the rankings list, excelled in a stunning 6-2 triumph over Li Hang where the Australian compiled no fewer than four century breaks – including a 140 total clearance.
Kyren Wilson kept up his promising form, having recently reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time, by hammering inconsistent Jamie Cope 6-1 while Andrew Higginson was denied by China’s Li Han by the same scoreline.
In all, it was a mixed bag of results for the Chinese hoping to appear at the venue stage in their home country but the big-hitters all remain in the last 64 – Ding Junhui, Xiao Guodong, Liang Wenbo and Cao Yupeng.
Indeed, Cao’s match recorded an interesting statistic . The ninth frame was won by his opponent James Cahill 39-3, making it the lowest ever aggregate frame score.
All the results and the draw for the Last 64 can be viewed by clicking here.
World Seniors Championship
The qualifiers for the fourth successive World Seniors Championship also took place in Barnsley yesterday with Dave Harold and Welshman Philip Williams progressing to the main event.
Harold, still a strong force on the Main Tour, was always going to be favourite to qualify and he didn’t seem to be troubled – winning all four of his encounters 2-0.
Williams, meanwhile, enjoyed a similar path to the first round proper with consecutive whitewashes over some formidable names.
A former World Amateur Championship semi-finalist, Williams knocked out Gary Wilkinson, Karl Townsend, Patsy Fagan and Les Dodd.
His reward for his superb effort is a date with former world champion Cliff Thorburn, while Harold will be in a clash of styles with his opponent, Tony ‘Tornado’ Drago.
The tournament will be played in a fortnight with all three former champions in the draw – Jimmy White, Darren Morgan and last year’s winner Nigel Bond.
Joining them this year will once again be the likes of Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson, but also, for the first time, seven-time world champion and recently retired Stephen Hendry.
As ever, it promises to be a fun but competitive weekend.
The full draw for the Last 16 can be viewed by clicking here.
Ruhr Open – ET5
Finally, the fifth European Tour event of the season got under way yesterday in Mulheim, Germany, with the professionals entering the fray today in the last 128.
The amateur rounds have taken place and there were some good wins for recognisable Englishmen Ben Harrison, fresh off his victory in last weekend’s Snookerbacker Classic qualifier, Sanderson Lam, Oliver Lines and Ryan Causton.
Three Belgians progressed – Kevin van Hove, Jurian Heusdens and female Wendy Jans, who impressively claimed three male scalps to send out a message to regular women’s star Reanne Evans.
Jans reward could have been better, with no offence intended but being paired with Nigel Bond is not the sufficient exhilaration deserved of a breakthrough moment like this.
Anyway, German Phil Barnes also made it through qualifying and will surely enjoy another crack at a pro on home soil.
Germany has been one of the big success stories of the last few seasons and it is always a privilege to have tournaments staged there.
The crowds are respectful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. In fact, they are really proving to be of the best fans in the world.
With 64 matches in the opening round, I’m not going to bother previewing this in much detail.
The story is repeated in almost every PTC at any rate. There’ll be a few shocks, there’ll be a few lower ranked players making it to Sunday, and then, predominantly, one of the bigger guns will lift the trophy.
Aside from John Higgins, most of the big boys are in Germany, including world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who seems to have a decent enthusiasm for the sport right now under a system of picking and choosing that thoroughly suits his character.
The ‘Rocket’ and world no.1 Neil Robertson are in opposite halves of the draw and I’m sure nobody would be disappointed if the pair were to meet in the final.
The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.
Oh, and I have no reason for headlining this article “It’s Friday!” other than for the fact I’m happy it’s Friday. Have a good weekend, all!