Championship League Snooker draw
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Ronnie O’Sullivan replaced in Championship League Snooker draw

Ronnie O’Sullivan has apparently withdrawn from the Championship League Snooker draw – the first ranking event of the 2023/24 season.

The Rocket had been due to participate in Group 1 of the competition next week at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

But according to the official Championship League Snooker website, Michael Holt has now replaced O’Sullivan in the draw.

Former Snooker Shoot Out champion Holt will instead take on Scott Donaldson, Alfie Burden, and Rod Lawler.

The winner of the first round-robin phase will advance to the last 32 and Stage Two of the tournament later in July.

Although no reason has been given so far, it will come as a surprise to few to see O’Sullivan pull out of proceedings.

Indeed, it was probably more surprising that the world number one entered in the first place considering his overall lack of enthusiasm for the event in the past.

O’Sullivan has recently been competing in exhibitions in China, in addition to promoting upcoming invitational tournaments not accredited with the World Snooker Tour.

The Englishman’s father – Ronnie O’Sullivan Sr. – tweeted this week a video of his son enjoying the glitz and glamour associated with his invitation to play in Asia again.

“Can’t wait to get back to the UK and play a qualifying match some where up north in the back of (a) bowling alley,” O’Sullivan Sr. sarcastically quipped in an apparent dig at the WST.

It’s unknown when O’Sullivan Jr. will be first seen during the fledgling 2023/24 campaign, but fans will at least have to wait until the European Masters at the end of August.

Meanwhile, Pang Junxu and Long Zehuang reached the last 32 of Championship League Snooker by topping their respective groups in the draw on Thursday.

Pang, the WST Classic runner-up from last season, began his 2023/24 season in strong fashion with an undefeated record from Group 24.

The 23 year-old lost only two frames as he reeled off consecutive victories over Stan Moody, Hammad Miah, and Wu Yize.

Long’s first place in Group 7 was arguably more impressive, however, considering it was his first outing as a professional on the main tour.

Long graduated to the pro ranks thanks to his performances on the CBSA China Tour during the last term.

It didn’t take him long to announce himself on the circuit, backing up his draw with Jackson Page with an impressive 3-1 defeat of pre-group favourite Ali Carter.

Long then overcame amateur Ryan Davies in his last round-robin fixture to finish with seven points from a possible nine.

Pang Junxu and Long Zehuang will feature again in the competition when Stage Two takes place later in July.

On Friday, Stage One continues at the Morningside Arena with Welsh Open champion Robert Milkins entering the fray in Group 8 alongside Dominic Dale, Muhammad Asif, and Alex Taubman.

Group 23 will also be contested with Fan Zhengyi being joined by Sam Craigie, Fergal O’Brien, and Ahmed Aly Elsayed.

Stage 1 draw

Group 1 (July 10)Group 2 (July 11)Group 3 (June 26)Group 4 (July 12)
Michael HoltJudd TrumpCraig SteadmanShaun Murphy
Scott DonaldsonXu SiSean McAllisterTian Pengfei
Rod LawlerJimmy WhiteAdam DuffyLukas Kleckers
Alfie BurdenReanne EvansAshley CartyAndrew Pagett
Group 5 (June 29)Group 6 (June 30)Group 7 (July 6)Group 8 (July 7)
Kyren WilsonMark WilliamsAli CarterRobert Milkins
Andy HicksDylan EmeryJackson PageDominic Dale
Josh MulhollandKen DohertyLong ZehuangMuhammad Asif
Louis HeathcoteDaniel HoloydaRyan DaviesAlex Taubman
Group 9 (July 14)Group 10 (June 28)Group 11 (June 27)Group 12 (July 12)
Gary WilsonRyan DayHossein VafaeiBarry Hawkins
John AstleyMichael WhiteAaron HillZhang Anda
Mink NutcharutHimanshu JainMartin O’DonnellSanderson Lam
Ma HailongJiang JunFergal QuinnJamie O’Neill
Group 13 (July 13)Group 14 (July 14)Group 15 (July 4)Group 16 (July 3)
David GilbertRicky WaldenStuart BinghamJimmy Robertson
Yuan SijunDavid LilleyMatthew StevensBen Woollaston
Sean O’SullivanPeng YisongAllan TaylorLiam Graham
Ishpreet SinghLiu HongyuDuane JonesPeter Lines
Group 17 (July 5)Group 18 (July 11)Group 19 (July 10)Group 20 (July 8)
Zhou YuelongJoe PerryNoppon SaengkhamMatthew Selt
Ashley HugillJamie ClarkeMark DavisJames Cahill
Oliver BrownAndy LeeJenson KendrickAndres Petrov
Rebecca KennaStuart CarringtonRoss MuirSydney Wilson
Group 21 (June 27)Group 22 (June 28)Group 23 (July 7)Group 24 (July 6)
Chris WakelinJoe O’ConnorFan ZhengyiPang Junxu
Oliver LinesRobbie WilliamsSam CraigieWu Yize
Anton KazakovZak SuretyFergal O’BrienHammad Miah
Liam PullenAlfie DaviesAhmed Aly ElsayedStan Moody
Group 25 (July 8)Group 26 (July 5)Group 27 (June 30)Group 28 (July 4)
Si JiahuiJak JonesJordan BrownAnthony Hamilton
Mark JoyceJamie JonesJulien LeclercqBen Mertens
Mohamed IbrahimRebecca KennaJoshua ThomandRyan Thomerson
Haydon PinheyDean YoungBarry PinchesXing Zihao
Group 29 (June 29)Group 30 (June 26)Group 31 (July 13)Group 32 (July 3)
Thepchaiya Un-NoohGraeme DottCao YupengXiao Guodong
Elliot SlessorDavid GraceLyu HaotianMartin Gould
Victor SarkisDaniel WellsIan BurnsAlexander Ursenbacher
Florian NuessleAndrew HigginsonSteven HallworthRory McLeod

Featured photo credit: WST

2 Comments

  1. Jay Brannon

    Ronnie O’Sullivan pulling out of the Championship League could be down to wanting to watch Wimbledon and the Ashes! I have to say those events and the Tour de France are currently the competitions taking up my sports viewing time.

  2. Why the snooker world would want to support a Communist regime has always been questionable to me in the first place. Couldn’t have anything to do with money, could it? Ronnie, and the rest of the players get to say whatever it is they wish about rules, the governing body, the government in the UK and on and on. Try those tactics in China sometime and you’ll wind up in a cage.

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