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The Hitman Struck Gold in Watford…

Michael “The Hitman” Holt landed his first-ever ranking title at the 2020 BetVictor Shootout at the weekend, 24 years after turning pro.

MichaelHolt

The 41-year-old has now erased his name off a list of older players good enough but never to have yet won a ranking event, as he saw off China’s growing talent the young 22-year-old Zhou Yuelong in the final.

Holt becomes the 30th player to have won just ONE ranking event.

The madness of the Shootout brought real drama and tension throughout its four days as Holt also created Shootout history by getting to the final two years in a row. Last year he was runner-up to the Thai speed King Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Chinese Domination…

It was a good run for the Chinese players in this year’s event as three of the four semi-finalists were from China with only Yan Bingtao being the only one to have won a ranking event on the list.

Zhou had made it through to another ranking final, bouncing back from his 9 – 0 drubbing by Neil Robertson at the European Masters in Belgium a few weeks ago.

snooker Shootout
Zhou Yuelong had erased the disappointment of his 9 – 0 drubbing to Neil Robertson weeks earlier.

Holt’s win in the Shootout meant he had thrust himself into the Players Championship in Southport, and, also knocked out Ronnie O’Sullivan who was sixteenth on the list. That means Ronnie O’Sullivan will NOT be defending his title this week.

After winning the Shootout, Holt said to Eurosport: “I’m just lucky.”

He added he thought the reason he has “success” in the event was that he didn’t have time to think and plays on instinct whereas in the normal snooker format he overthinks.too much, and he said at the Shootout he just plays.

The Nottingham man also joins a growing list of single ranking event winners in the past three years including the likes of German Masters champion Anthony Hamilton, Northern Ireland Open winner Mark King, and German Masters winner Martin Gould, all who broke their ducks and got the monkey off their backs.

Holt also added: “If I can just be the best I can be, I’ll be alright.” He was talking in relation to kicking on from winning his first and achieving more success in the sport.

On winning the Shootout, Holt has landed a Champion of Champions place in November after bagging the 50K ranking points in Watford.

Holt will face Judd Trump in Southport.

The Shootout also had some real drama in earlier matches where, in one match with rookie tour player Brandon Sargeant, he was 63 behind and fought back with a 61 before the frame went to a black ball fight which saw Sargeant steely knock in the black to win the frame! It was one of the best comebacks in a snooker frame, considering the pressure of the shot clock and the noise of the crowd, not just in the Shootout, but in snooker history.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW NOW…

There were also some great memories for another recent pro “rookie” Billy Joe Castle who knocked out the Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan in the earlier rounds.

There were also four tons in the event, as Rory Thor managed the highest break of 133. Two of the Chinese players Chang Bingyu and Xiao Guodong, a former runner-up in the event also had a ton. Jak Jones had the other.

 

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Watch: Mink Breaks off BUT that’s it…

The 2020 Betvictor Snooker Shootout is currently on in Watford.

Mink
Even though she didn’t get a chance, Mink was still smiling…

It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s fun, but it’s also controversial as it’s a ranking event with 128 players battling it out in one frame shootouts over 10-minute frames with 15 seconds on the first five mins and 10 seconds a shot on the last five.

The winner on Sunday will bag 50K.

The event showcases MOST of the tour’s best players, and in the 2020 edition, Ronnie O’Sullivan will be making an appearance on Friday evening.

However, the event also showcases some of the world’s talented amateurs – including the talented female known as Mink, Nutcharut Wongharuthai from Thailand.

She, along with 12-times World Champion Reanne Evans play in the event.

Last year, SnookerZone proudly interviewed the talented U-21 Champion Emma Parker, who did manage to get some shots in the 2019 edition!

Snooker is a cruel game…

However, the 20-year-old gifted Thai, runner-up in the World Championships last year, who’s also made an acclaimed 147 in practice, sadly didn’t get to showcase her skills LIVE on TV on Thursday night.

Unfortunately, she was overshadowed by Malaysian professional Thor Leong, who, has not won a match all season, and, as soon he gets to the Shootout and draws Mink, this happens!.

Mink’s break-off was decent. But, it was the Malaysian who potted a cool long red to get in, and made a 133 the highest break so far of the event.

His 133 superseded China’s teenage star Chang Bingyu, who made a cool 120.

Just shows you, you can do nothing when your opponent is at the table potting balls. That’s what is so fascinating about snooker.

That’s why we love it!

The Shootout continues until Sunday.

PS: Watch Mink’s 147 at Hi End in Thailand below if you’ve not seen it…

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Shaun Murphy Casts Some Magical Snooker in Wales

Shaun Murphy displayed some magical snooker to win his ninth ranking title at the 2020 ManBetX Welsh Open at the weekend. 

RayReardon
From one champion to another: Ray Reardon the 87-year-old six times World Champion hands Shaun Murphy the title…

The 37-year-old had done most of the damage in the afternoon session when he led the Warrior Kyren Wilson 7 – 1 and only needed two more frames in the evening to secure his first Welsh Open title, 14 years after appearing in his first final in Wales.

It was a disappointing afternoon for the 28-year-old Kettering potter Wilson, who had come off the back of a terrific week in Cardiff after having knocked in a 147 at the start of the week, and also knocked out Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan on route to the final.

Murphy, receiving a cheque for 70K and the Ray Reardon trophy, said after: “It’s quite difficult this.”

He added that snooker is very much a gladiatorial sport and it’s not easy when things aren’t going well and it’s not like golf where you have a caddy whispering sweet nothings in your ears.

Lady Luck was on Murphy’s Side…

The Magician said he had seriously contemplated quitting the sport last season, but had some serious conversations with his close people and went back to tweak his game.

He had come through a gruelling semi-final match with Yan Bingtao of China 6 – 5 and was expected to come to the final drained, but, instead was as fresh as a daisy and Wilson looked the more fatigued of the two.

Murphy started the afternoon with a ton and ended it with a ton. And on starting the evening, he made a 102 after fluking a red to the middle when missing a long red.

In the final frame he needed to win, Wilson was in first with 56, but he missed a medium-range red and Murphy steely cleared up with a 73.

He admitted after he had had some lucky run of the ball during that match.

KyrenWIlson
Kyren Wilson had made a second career 147 in Cardiff to bag 5K.

Kyren said after about Murphy’s play: I hold my hands up he was fantastic.”

Murphy also told Eurosport after that one of his goals was to make double figure ranking event wins.

He also said he would love a shot at being the World number one as he would love to “wake up and know what that feels like.”

ShaunMurphy
Murphy played the perfect game in the final. Good safety and some great potting. But he did get the run as well.

The former 2005 World Champion has won two ranking events this season, including…

  • The China Championship
  • The Welsh Open

He’s level with Neil Robertson who’s also won two this season. And Judd Trump has won four.

 

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Neil Robertson: The Dominator…

Neil Robertson yet again has bagged another trophy for the ever-growing cabinet – this time his 18th ranking title at the 2020 Coral World Grand Prix – making it three final appearances in three weeks. 

Ranking title no 18 for the Thunder from Down Under

He defeated the 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott in an explosive and thrilling final which saw the 37-year-old Australian make five tons including a 142 and a 127.

However, the Thunder from Down Under did not have it all his own way, for at 9 – 5 up, his form began to dip and Dott, 42, took advantage, and, clawed his way back to 9 – 8. In the final two frames, Dott needed two snookers and got them, before potting a brilliant steely final black to go 9 – 7. Unfortunately, in the last, Dotty couldn’t repeat the tenacity of the previous and get the frame to force a decider.

Graeme Dott
Dott played out of his skin all the way through the tournament…

Dott joked after: “Neil wins a tournament every week, I’ll probably win one every 14 years.”

The Scot has not won a ranking event since 2007, but in recent times has made the finals of the Shootout and the German Masters as well as the Grand Prix.

Robertson’s titles include so far this season:

  • 2019 Champion of Champions
  • 2020 European Masters
  • 2020 World Grand Prix

Robertson paid tribute to Dott in the final after and said Dott’s safety was awesome and said it wouldn’t be long before Dotty was lifting silverware again.

In three weeks, Robbo has bagged over 200K in prize money – with bonuses also in the offing for the BetVictor European series, and, potentially, the Coral Cup.

Neil Robertson is second to Judd Trump in the rankings and the domination of this season, with Trump winning four ranking titles and Robbo two so far.

Robertson will be defending his Welsh Open crown this week in Cardiff.

There were also good runs in Cheltenham for Leicester’s Tom Ford, whom Dott defeated in the semi-final and on the way, Dotty also despatched of the five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Robertson had a tough semi-final match with Kyren Wilson.

Dott and Robertson played in the 2010 World Championship final.

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Humble Hancorn Makes History claiming 100th English Amateur Championship

But it was only the best of nine! And the last time it was a best of nine was in 1936!

Ben Hancorn may not be the most recognized name on the planet, but to snooker fans across the globe, they’ll remember him as the 100th winner of snooker’s oldest event since 1916 – the English Amateur Championship. 

Ben Hancorn
Hancorn humbled by win: Screenshot from EPSB website…

This year, the event had a glitzy but albeit shortened revamp as they cut it from a best of 19 frame battle to a best of nine frame race to the line.

And, although it was played in front of a much bigger crowd than it normally is where it’s normally played in snooker clubs in places like Sheffield or Gloucester, this 100th edition felt all a little rushed and slapdash, especially played in between the professional event matches being played at The Centaur, the 2020 World Grand Prix.

Both Rory McLeod and Hancorn were welcomed onto the floor by the MC currently MCing the World Grand Prix, Phil Seymour, who SnookerZone has proudly already interviewed!

Hancorn, appearing in his second EAC final since 2008, where he lost to David Grace, however, joins a list of illustrious winners who’ve previously won the title as amateurs and achieved MUCH greater things at the professional level.

  • Stuart Bingham won the title and went onto win the World title in 2015.
  • Jimmy White won the title and went on to appear in six World finals.
  • Martin Gould won the title and went on to win a German Masters title as his first ranking title.

Ronnie O’Sullivan was a runner-up but went onto win five World titles!

Hancorn wrote on Facebook after: “Well: That’s a great feeling. I’m completely overawed with the win. The 100th English Amateur Champion has a good ring to it. And to beat one of the best in Rory to get it was even better. I knew I had to play well. The good thing was I really enjoyed it out there as I didn’t really know what to expect.”

[bctt tweet=” If you look back on the list of previous scorelines though, 5 – 3 does look a bit out of place for 2020 as the 100th!” username=”@chrisgaynor2″]

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The Ace Judd Trump is top of the deck – again…

Judd Trump has bagged his 15th ranking title in Germany and his seventh over 12 months and his fourth this season in 2019/2020.

Judd Trump
Es ist eine harte Schule: It’s a tough school.

The Ace, 30, defeated Neil Robertson 9 – 6 in the BetVictor German Masters in a thrilling final as it saw Judd get some revenge for being narrowly beaten in the Champion of Champions final last year.

Robertson, 37, who was on to win back to back ranking titles after winning the European Masters just over a week ago, couldn’t overcome Trump’s safety in key frames as Judd won most of the tactical battles.

At four each it was looking perfectly poised to go all the way, but Judd went up a gear. He managed to finish out the match in style with a ton in the last frame he needed to bag his first German Master’s title.

He had been runner-up in 2014 to Ding Junhui.

Watch Neil Robertson’s Cue Action Analysis by Snooker Pro Club – Now…

Trump’s Triumphs in 2019/2020

So far, this season, Judd has bagged:

  • The International Championship
  • The World Open
  • Northern Ireland Open
  • German Masters

Only Stephen Hendry has performed better in a season after winning the World title at 21 in 1990 where he won five titles.

His five ranking titles included:

  • Grand Prix
  • Asian Open
  • Dubai Classic
  • UK Championship
  • British Open

In fact, the six-time World Champion Hendry could have won six that season after winning the first World title as he was runner-up in The Classic, losing to Jimmy White in the final.

Although, there are more ranking events now, and there’s a greater depth of talent winning just one ranking event now is tough.

But Trump definitely has the game to win at least one more ranking title this season, which could, you never know, be his second World title!

NeilRobertson
Back to back finals was a great achievement for Robertson…

Robertson paid tribute to Judd after and said: “sometimes, you have to hold your hand up and say well played.”

Will they or won’t they play in Shootout?

Trump said he thought his safety was top-notch, and he said you have to make sure your game is tight as you know that Neil can clear up when in.

The £150,000 for coming top in the BetVictor series is still on for both Judd and Neil if they decide to play in the Shootout.

Judd said he wasn’t sure if he’d play in it although he joked he probably would just to take the money off Neil. Had Neil won he would have been guaranteed the bonus.

Trump bagged 80K for this event, and so far has trousered 621K since the start of the 2019/2020 season.

There is no rest for the wicked as the Coral series of events gets underway this week in Cheltenham with the World Grand Prix and, yes, that man of the moment Judd Trump is defending the title!

You wouldn’t bet against the Ace to go all the way again at the races.