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Meet Your New Shootout King, the Humble Thepchaiya Un Nooh

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Humbled by his talent and victory, Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un Nooh cruised to his first ranking title over the weekend.

Un Nooh, the fastest player on tour, racked up a whopping 213 points in two frames in the semi-finals and final respectively with breaks of 139 and 74 in snooker’s fast and furious Shootout at the Watford Colosseum. He’s the 27th player to have won just one ranking event – compared to Hendry, who has won 36…

He beat the Hitman Michael Holt, who was appearing in his first ranking event final since the Riga Masters a couple of seasons ago when he lost out to Neil Robertson. For Un Nooh, it was an emotional scene as the Thai became the second Thai to win a ranking event following on from James Wattana’s Thailand Masters in 1995. Thep bagged 32K and potentially gets himself into the Champion of Champions later on in the year.

Four Days of Shootout Thrills and Spills

The 2019 edition of the Shootout saw four days of thrills and spills with a mixture of old and new talent on show -, especially from the amateur ranks. There were approx 25 amateurs on show, including two women which gave fans a short if not inconclusive taste of what talent was on offer outside of the professional bubble. The amateurs fell by the last 16.

Fearless Ryan Davies, 16…

The most notable talent who reached a last 16 placing was 16-year-old Ryan Davies, a fearless long potter and English junior amateur champion, who showed he was developing an all-around game beyond his years, but he couldn’t overcome the experience of the finalist Michael Holt in the last 16.

Snooker’s Rod “The Plod” Lawler “Plodded On” to Quarter-finals

There were also great performances by Rod Lawler, reaching a second Shootout quarter-final and Rod the Plod, as he is nicknamed, although not the fastest player in the game, seems to hold himself well in the Shootout with his wealth of knowledge on tactics and safety.

It was an also positive experience for Welshman Jamie Clarke, whose first year as a pro – saw him reach a semi-final in Watford, as the Welsh Whirlwind, as he is nicknamed, came onto the tour through the EBSA playoffs. He had previously lost 13 matches before coming into the Shootout, but he then won five matches on the bounce.

Runner-up Michael Holt said after the event of the whole event: “It’s 10 mins of chaos but it is what it is..”

He added: “I personally think it’s OK.”

Here’s what Thepchaiya said after to World Snooker…

A poll SnookerZone conducted sees a tight result with 90 votes so far, but it seems 51% are in favour of the Shootout seeing it as giving snooker a good image…

Thepchaiya’s 139 was the highest break in the history of the event – pipping former German Master Martin Gould’s 135. Gould had made a 100 in this edition and Brecel and Walden made 133 and 132 respectively early on.

If you missed it, watch Thepchaiya’s 139 below…

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Controversial Snooker Shootout 2019 Pots Off…

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The fast and furious Snooker Shootout 2019 potted off yesterday and always provides fans with tons of drama.

This edition has already provided some controversial talking points. It started yesterday with Ricky Walden playing a 12-year-old Welsh prospect in Liam James Davies, who was given a tough lesson on his taster of the professional scene as Walden, 36, winner of 3 ranking tournaments, racked the 12th ton of the Shootout’s history, a 132. The Pinner potter Martin Gould holds the highest break of a Shootout with a 135.

There was another teenager playing in the event, from Belgium, prospect Ben Mertens, who put on a great show against the Thai legend James Wattana, who very nearly pulled off a comeback against the 14-year-old, but Wattana was too late to pot the last pink and so Mertens landed into the last 64!

Whirlwind V Reanne Evans

But the highlight of the day was the 10-time ranking event winner Jimmy White play Dudley’s 11-time World Champion Reanne Evans. It was a nervy frame from both with the spotlight on both – as Reanne showed glimpses of her talent. Unfortunately, a miscue on the black and a spot of messy safety saw Jimmy come through the match in the end. Jimmy is fighting to keep his tour card.

The Snooker Shootout Rules

  • Frames last 10 mins
  • There’s a 15-second shot clock on the first five, and then a 10 second on the last five mins
  • Players lag for the break – closest to the cushion wins break
  • If a foul is committed, the cue ball can be placed anywhere on the table, unlike in normal snooker where it has to be placed in the D area.
  • A ball must hit a cushion – so players can’t just trickle up to balls to snooker their opponent

That’s not all! As yet more drama will unfold on Friday, with another talented female player Emma Parker will be playing in the evening session of the Shootout.

This edition has seen many amateurs playing in the event with the prize of 32K on offer for the winner and ranking points. Defending champion Michael Georgiou successfully won his first match.

It’s still the most controversial event on the calendar as fans are mixed about whether it should be a ranking event or not.

Now, do you think the Shootout gives snooker a good image? Vote in the poll below…

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Vafaei Racks the 23rd Professional 146 Break…

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There may have been 148 professional 147s, but, did you know there’s only been 23 146s!

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei has racked the 23rd 146 in the 2019 China Open qualifiers in Cannock, UK, as the highest break so far of the qualifiers.

The 24–year-old reached a milestone semi-final last week in the Welsh Open in Cardiff but got a drubbing from the eventual winner of the event Neil Robertson.

Vafaei’s 146 means he’s the 13th player to have made just one rare 146.

Four other players have made 11 between them…They are: Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Allen and Stephen Hendry and John Higgins

  • Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has made three 146s
  • Former Masters Champion Mark Allen has made three 146s
  • Record 7-times Champion of the World Stephen Hendry has made two
  • And 4-times World title holder John Higgins has two 146s to his name

Neil Robertson also headed to the China Open qualifiers in fine scoring form racking a 142 in the qualifiers after having made a maximum in the Welsh Open along with Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham where they shared £17K.

According to information provided, Vafaei’s 146 break doesn’t receive anything – but the TV high break at the main venue in China stands at £7K with the winner trousering an incredible £225K – half of what the winner of the World Championship stands to get – a nice round 475K.

The China Open is a long standing ranking event that saw China’s no 1 player Ding Junhui breakthrough with his win in 2005, two years after turning professional.

It’s the penultimate ranking event of the pro season and sees players battle for final top 16 places to go to the Crucible as top seeds.

Those from 17 onwards, have to qualify for final 16 places to reach the last 32 at the Crucible in Sheffield.

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Snooker: Meet the New Prince of Wales, the Incredible Neil Robertson

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Australia’s Neil Robertson claimed his 15th ranking title in Cardiff over the weekend as he hung on in a tight final to win the ManBetX Welsh Open eventually in style – 9 – 7.

Robertson, 37, had double success in Wales as he had originally racked a 147 break but had to share half of the 17K prize with Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.

But, it was Robbo in steely manner who lifted the Ray Reardon trophy and a 70K first prize cheque after beating Stuart Bingham, who made a gutsy comeback from 4 – 1 and 7 – 3 down respectively. It’s his second Welsh Open title since 2007.

At 7 – 7 it was looking nervy but “Big Robbo” as he is sometimes called won the scrappy frame before coming out in frame 16 and potting a stunning long red to get in and rack a plucky 83 break to seal the deal.

After, Robertson, lavished praised on Bingham, and told Eurosport: “I think Stuart was the better player today.” He added that Bingham missed a few balls but his safety is top draw and he was always being put in a snooker.

He also said about his hopes for winning a second World Championship, which he has not won one since 2010: “I need to push on now, and get another World title.”

Early on in the season, Robertson had won in Riga, but he admitted he generally doesn’t do a lot later on in seasons, and said it was good to win one nearer the World Championships as it gives you great confidence.

For Bingham, it was a gutsy comeback from 7 – 3 down – despite not playing his best stuff in the final. He had made 11 tons during the event.

Robbo equals Bingham in having won two Home Nations events, which include:

  • 2017 Scottish Open
  • 2019 Welsh Open

Bingham’s wins include;

  • 2017 Welsh Open
  • 2018 English Open

Positives for Iran’s Vafaei and young Joe O’Connor

Leicester’s Joe O’Connor, English Amateur Champion had a remarkable journey in Wales, after beating German Master Kyren Wilson, Ding Junhui, and, John Higgins, but fell short in the semi’s with Bingham. It was also a good run for Iran’s Hossein Vafaei who unfortunately was whitewashed 6 – 0 in the semi’s but nevertheless is on route to becoming a future tournament winner. Fans rushed to congratulate the 23-year-old on his great run in Cardiff. As he’s only been on the tour under a year.

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Joe O’Connor Sinks a Warrior, a Dragon & a Wizard All In One Week

The four-times World Champion John Higgins was taken out by a rookie 20 years younger than him

2018 English Amateur Champion Joe O’Connor has played the snooker of his life this week in Cardiff – but his run doesn’t stop as he has reached his first ranking event semi-final as a professional.

O’Connor, 23, has shrugged off the Warrior Kyren Wilson, the Dragon Ding Junhui and on Friday 15th February, he played the biggest match of his snooker career and beat the legend and Wizard of Wishaw John Higgins, a player twice his age and twice the experience.

It was a shocking start for those who have not seen O’Connor play as the young Leicester potter came out and stormed into a 2 – 0 lead with a steely first frame break of 73 – but, understandably, there were still a hint of nerves as he was pegged back by Higgins at the mid session interval at 2 – 2.

It didn’t deter the determined player who hails from the hotbed of snooker from Leicester as he managed to go 4 – 3 up in the remainder of the match. You would have been forgiven for thinking that O’Connor’s lack of experience on the match table and the TV lights and spotlight would have sent him crumbling but his plucky and steely confidence meant in the last frame he racked an incredible 131 – now his highest break in pro competition. Originally he had made a 113 in the northern Ireland Open.

Whatever happens in the semi-finals, O’Connor has proved he has no fear of the spotlight, no fear of the pressure of the pressure balls, and no fear of legendary opponents.

More to come from him in future…

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O’Sullivan Exits 2019 ManBetX Welsh Open & Noppon Saengkham Hits Maximum Perfection

It’s back to watching it on the sofa for Ronnie in Wales…

The Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan is yet another top player to fall in the Welsh Open in Cardiff at the Motorpoint Arena.

The 43-year-old 19 major winner exited in the last 32 at the hands of Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher, 22, who’s not had much to shout about for a year and a half since his semi-final run in the English Open.

But today on Valentine’s Day, the Swiss fish, as he is nicknamed, had plenty to shout about as he ran out a 4 – 2 winner against the Rocket – and in the final frame he needed, he potted an outstanding yellow with the rest with lots of side and screw to get back onto the green. He said after Ursenbacher, ranked 71, that if he missed the yellow, he’d probably snooker him on the green, but he knew if he potted the yellow he would win the match.

O’Sullivan joins a growing list of stars to shockingly exit early from this year’s Welsh Open the final part of the Home Nations series. Mark Allen also got knocked out in Cardiff, who is struggling with form at the moment.Barry Hawkins is also out in the last 32.

First Maximum For Noppon & 149th 147

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Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham, 26, has racked his first career 147 in Cardiff. Neil Robertson, who made the first a day or so ago, will now have to share 17K with Noppon who held himself together well and fisted the air in celebration after he made the perfect 36 pots in a frame against Mark Selby. That’s the 10th maximum of the season, and with plenty of snooker still to play this season, there’s a chance the highest number of maximums, 13, in a season could be overthrown. We’ll see!

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Stephen Hendry to Star in Six Reds Legends Next Month in Belfast…

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64 players from the qualifiers at The Crucible Sports Bar and Club, Newbury this month competed to roll onto the elite 8 man event to be hosted in Belfast on March 2/3rd 2019.

It was a strong field of ex-pros and top amateurs, but it was the usual suspect, Jonathan Bagley, a regular on the World Seniors tour, who managed to land a spot in the top 8, who will compete for a winner takes all 20K cheque in northern Ireland.

Bagley will come up against the Whirlwind of London town Jimmy White in the round 1/quarter finals with a chance of playing the 7-times World Champion the amazing Stephen Hendry in the last four. Hendry will face the 1986 World Champion and now Eurosport commentator Joe Johnson.

Another regular qualifier onto the main Seniors spotlight Patrick Wallace will play the Irish 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty.

The World Seniors is a great chance to see some of the Legends of yesteryear unpack their cues and see them play against over 40 qualifier amateurs who get to play their idols in a dream venue befitting to snooker.

In January, fans saw Jimmy White, still competing on the main tour, roll back the years winning the Irish Senior Masters in Goffs, and fans can enjoy some thrilling six reds with the Legends at the Waterfront in Belfast.

For more details, see Snooker Legends here…

SEE ALSO SNOOKERZONE’S REVIEW OF HENDRY’S GREAT BOOK ME & THE TABLE, HERE…

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Big Names Fall Early in ManBetX Welsh Open

Mark Williams had a howler against China’s answer to Mighty Mouse in the last 64…

Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy have all fallen in the early rounds of the ManBetX Welsh Open 2019.

But the remaining big guns Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and defending Champion John Higgins and Mark Selby are still in the last 32.

2018 English Amateur Champion Joe O’Connor had a great win over the German Master Kyren Wilson as their match went the full distance as Cardiff’s snooker fans saw some real shocks in the rounds of 128 and 64.

It was also a great win for one of the Welsh compatriots in Duane Jones, who took down a below-par Judd Trump, who Ronnie O’Sullivan said in the commentary it was a “bad day at the office” for the Juddernaut. Jones put on a steely performance during the match despite Trump not being at his best. The 25-year-old from Rhondda Cynon Taf also had a recent good run in the German Masters, reaching the semi-finals.

There was also a bad day at the office for the current World Champion Mark Williams, who struggled in his match with Zhang Anda, from China, nicknamed Mighty Mouse. It took the Chinese player a while to realise he was in with a chance of beating the 43-year-old veteran of the baize, but he eventually got the job done 4 – 2.

As ever, the ManBetX Welsh Open has provided drama of the highest quality as the soap opera continues with the last 32 and 16 rounds being played to a close today on Valentines Day 14th February.

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Neil Robertson Racks Incredible 148th 147

This is Robertson’s fourth 147 in his illustrious snooker career…

Just a few weeks after David Gilbert made history at the Championship League by compiling the 147th 147 in snooker history, Australian Neil Robertson has racked the 148th.

The perfect 36 pots lands Robbo, 37, a potential 17K pay day assuming no-one racks another before close of the 2019 ManBetX Welsh Open, where the winner will pocket 70K.

It was made in the last 128 of the event against newly graduated tour player Jordan Brown from Ireland. This is the ninth maximum of this 2018/19 season. The most number made in a season has been 13.

Watch the perfect break below…

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Masters Champion Judd Trump Magics 10th Ranking Title Equalling Legend Jimmy White’s…

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The 2019 Master Judd Trump breezed to a milestone 10th ranking title over the weekend claiming the 2019 Coral World Grand Prix and putting him on double-figure titles with Jimmy White at 10.

Trump, 29, who’s come in for lots of criticism in the last years or so for not winning more has now secured his place as one of the very top players on the snooker professional tour difficult to beat with his now mixture of much-improved tactical play and potting prowess.

The Ace in the pack started his winning ways last year winning the northern Ireland Open and then continued into the beginning of 2019 with his second major title after the UK Championship in 2011 with the Masters at the Alexandra Palace in London. This bagged him 200K after securing a lightning win beating Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It was now the Coral World Grand Prix which saw Trump struggle in the early rounds of 32 but then he faced the World number one Mark Selby later on and he showed he was again up for the challenge as he competed in the safety and tactical part of the game to defeat the three-time World Champion.

He met Ali Carter in the final who was in his first ranking final since the German Masters a couple of years ago, but he started off the final in good form and it was 2 – 2 by the mid-session interval. By the time the close of the first session, Trump had beefed up a 6 – 3 lead.

The Juddernaut Rolls On…

Going into the second session, Carter, known for his battling qualities on and off the table managed to peg it back to 7 – 6 with some quality breaks over 80 and 90 before Trump won the last three frames he needed to bag 100K first prize and the trophy 10 – 6.

When asked by ITV after if this was Judd Trump at his peak, he jokingly said: “I certainly hope not.” Previously he admitted in a semi-final that the Judd Trump of old would probably not have won the type of matches he’s been winning now.

Carter, although said he took the positives from the week in Cheltenham, added it didn’t feel like a positive at this moment. The Captain walked away with 40K in ranking points. The World Championships are just around the corner and Judd will go into that with bags of confidence.

Can Trump’s Roll to Sheffield Continue…?

There is still plenty of tournaments to win before then with the Players Championship and Tour Championship of both the best 16 top earners on the one-year ranking list and the top 8 respectively. With Judd Trump’s roll of victories on the one year list, this sees him fly up to second behind Mark Allen. With his double win of titles, Masters and World Grand Prix he’s safely into the Champion of Champions later on in the year towards Christmas.