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Still LIVING the dream…

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” Vince Lombardi.

 

Warrior Kyren Wilson appeared in his first maiden World Championship final over the weekend, as the 2020 BetFred World Championship came to an end.

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Wilson has now appeared in two major finals. The Masters and the World Championship final.

It had been 17 days of tears, sweat, and joy as 32 players battled on the baize with no crowds, apart from day one and days 16 and 17, but it still gave us some dramatic moments.

For 28-year-old Kyren, reaching his maiden World final was a significant achievement as the semi-final against Scotland’s Anthony McGill was a draining and tense affair.

That match turned out to be a Crucible classic with a deciding last frame that saw both McGill and Wilson make mistakes and, according to McGill at the end, the snooker gods had stolen it from him.

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up to 300 lucky souls got to see Ronnie O’Sullivan lift his sixth World title and 37th ranking title at The Crucible.

Going into the final, Wilson was up against the best player to ever hold a cue in Ronnie O’Sullivan. He was on for his sixth World Championship title to equal Steve Davis and Ray Reardon.

The first session saw the 44-year-old Rocket race into a 6 – 2 lead but in the second session, as both men looked tired and drained from their epic semi-final matches. Ronnie looked the more tired as the Warrior battled in the second session to reduce his arrears to just three frames to a 10 – 7 overnight trail.

But in the third session, it appeared both men had had good night rests and O’Sullivan, who had been complaining he couldn’t get a cue action, seemed to up the gears as he won the session 7 – 1, to go 17 – 8 needing just one to become World Champion for the sixth time.

A break of 96 in the evening session for the Rocket sealed the deal for the win.

O’Sullivan said after:  “I was happy to get one world title at one stage. Once I got to four I knew I could call myself one of the greats, because that’s how many times John Higgins had won it. Anything above that and you are in fantastic company.

 

One thing I have got is longevity. I go in and out of form and my mind can wander sometimes. Then I get a bit of a taste for it again and want to see if I’ve still got it, so I try to have a go at it as I have done in this tournament.

 

When you practice for five or six hours a day it’s because you want to know whether you are hitting it straight enough to stand up under pressure.”

O’Sullivan said Kyren is a top top player and he will be standing here at some point as a winner. He also said he was ahead of his generation of players.

He added: “Not to put too much pressure on him.”

For 27 years, O’Sullivan has been entertaining and dazzling audiences with his incredible skills on a snooker table and 1997 is still a memorable year for fans who watched him compile the fastest maximum break in snooker history at 5 mins 20 seconds (now revised to 5 mins 8 second).

In 2001 he won his first and now, 19 years after, he’s won his sixth. An incredible feat of longevity at 44.

Pundits such as Steve Davis, whom Ronnie now has the same amount of titles as said it was now possible for Ronnie to go on – if he so wants to and win a seventh World title to equal Stephen Hendry.

Last season, he made more by being the first player to achieve 1000 centuries.

Wilson said after it was a dream come true, and added: “I’m not going to beat myself up too much. It was a dream come true to play Ronnie in the final. I really struggled in the first session yesterday. We both had a bit of a hangover from the semi-finals. I’m a fighter. I tried to just relax, let the shackles off and go for it.”

O’Sullivan pocketed 500K and is now back to World no 2.

2019 World Champion Judd Trump, who was knocked out by Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals is still World no 1.

But for Wilson, he can take heed of this…

As the song by Chumbawumba says: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. you are never going to keep me down.”

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“Rocky and the King”…

World Seniors Snooker Tour Chairman Jason Francis has hit out at critics who claim the 2020 World Seniors Snooker Championship was just an invitation for old mates to play at the top venue.

According to Francis, who has run a very successful World Seniors Tour for a few years now and has also ran the successful Snooker Legends Tour, he hits out at those threads on Facebook who see the WSST as just an “Old Mates” Snooker Legends tour.

In a statement, he wrote: “To claim any personal friendships played any part in selections is quite frankly very disappointing to see.

Francis said that 25% of the field selected for WSST events were from qualifiers, 50% come from invited legends of the game who bring commercial value, and spark  BIG interest for people watching snooker lIVE.

He added: “We all know Covid has wrecked our season as well as much of many other sports. It would have been very easy to have cancelled the WSSC with no audience, the tour is deprived of its major streams of income of course.  But we didn’t give up and we not only decided to stage an event but also secured the BBC as one of our broadcast partners.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year, to which we are still in a global pandemic, there was only one qualifying event, which came from Toronto, Canada, and Bob Chaperon qualified for the main event. But Chaperon was unable to take up his place due to travel restrictions.

On Sunday, the World Seniors Snooker Tour Championship draw was announced at this year’s BetFred World Snooker Championships, which is currently being played in August rather than April due to the nature of the Covid-19 situation this year.

Stephen Hendry will face Nigel Bond in the first round of the 2020 Rokit World Seniors Championship in Sheffield…

Seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry will face an old rival Nigel Bond, winner of the 1996 British Open in the first round of the event this year as one of the Legends who provides commercial value to the event and is a favourite of nostalgic snooker fans.

Hendry beat Bond at The Crucible to win one of his seven World titles in 1995. But Bond also beat the King of the Crucible in the 2006 World Championship in the last 32 10 – 9.

The event will take place at the sport’s spiritual home at the Crucible on August 19 – 22nd, as fans get to see yet another snooker event put on this year safely during a pandemic. Snooker has already led the way in putting on safe events three times this year since the March lockdown was enforced and the Pandemic hit UK shores.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman had said ahead of the 2020 World Seniors Championship draw: “It is always such a treat to see snooker’s grandmasters reappear at the Crucible Theatre.”

 

Adding: “Few could forget the great sporting moments and entertainment these former champions have given us.”

Amateurs over 40 can compete in the qualifying rounds as the slogan #DaretoDream inspires players from all walks of snooker to fulfill their dream of playing on some of snooker’s biggest and most desirable stages. A dream come true, if you dare…

Francis added: “The ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Tour has gone from strength to strength and despite these difficult times globally we are delighted to be able to deliver a truly world class event live on the BBC and around the world.”

There are some coaches in the draw including the London Coach Gary Filtness, a regular on the WSST who plays the Tony Tornado Drago, who was the fastest player to make a ton in 3 mins at the Crucible.

Filtness simply said this on Facebook: “Thanks for all the support, but getting my nut down now. I feel like Rocky.”

Update From World Seniors:

Sadly Tony the Tornado Drago has had to pull out of the event due to health worries.

YORKSHIRES WAYNE COOPER GETS CRUCIBLE CHANCE…

Following a consultation in Malta with his doctor, and with the current COVID situation, the Tornado Tony Drago II has made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship.

Former Professional Wayne Cooper who is next highest placed on the World Seniors Ranking list will replace him.

Cooper was due to attend the testing next Tuesday in case any positive tests were returned, he will now take Tony’s place in the event and plays Gary Filtness next Thursday at 1pm in the Last 16 of the Event

Wayne Cooper said “I feel terribly sorry for Tony but one phone call last night has changed my life, its up to me now to make the most of it”

Tony said “Nobody is more disappointed than me. I love playing seniors events but my health have to come first. I’m healthy again thank god but because of Covid 19 I decide to pull out thank you all for your understanding”

The ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship begins on Wednesday 19th and will be shown across the BBC Digital Platforms.

 

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Boiling point…

While the UK basks in a heatwave, the unusual summer drama at the Crucible is also bubbling up as the tournament enters its final stages.

The 2020 BetFred World Snooker Championship has produced some quality drama both on and off the baize, despite the fact that no audiences have been allowed in, but the tension has still been gripping.

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Anthony McGill explains away the fracas he was involved with in his match with Jamie Clarke…

Anthony McGill came through a dramatic second-round clash with Crucible debutant Jamie Clarke on Sunday to reach his second Crucible quarter-final in five years.

Welshman Clarke was at one stage in the match 8 – 2 up on the Scot but let a lead slip after an unusual exchange where McGill complained Clarke was in his eyeline on shots. Subsequently, he confronted him off stage at the venue.

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Jamie Clarke did himself proud as he took McGill all the way. His win in the first round against Mark Allen showed he can match against the best…

Once referee Jan Verhaas had given them a talking to after the second session, all was well again, although McGill looked sheepish on his entry into the final session on Sunday night.

On the baize, it was nip and tuck as both players continued to come back at each other again and again. Clarke towards the end was looking a wee bit tired in phases, at around 10 – 10, but pushed on.

McGill, who played Shaun Murphy in his maiden quarter-final in 2015, told WST: “I can’t believe I won that match,” said the 29-year-old. “Especially considering the position he was in at 12-11 when he missed the pink. My scoring wasn’t there, I felt like I only had about three breaks in the whole match. The only reason I won was that I tried as hard as I could. I’m going to need to pull something out of the bag in my next match.”

 

When McGill was asked about the fracas regarding the incident, he said: “During the first session, there were three or four shots where I was shooting down towards the black end in safety battles and Jamie was standing in my eyeline. I told myself to forget about it because he probably didn’t mean to.”

 

He added: “But I decided that if it continued in the second session I would ask him if he would mind sitting down or standing behind me. A shot like that came up and I asked him politely if he wouldn’t mind sitting down, because it is distracting when someone is standing up and you can see him. He took it the wrong way and it blew into a massive thing, when it should have been resolved in about three seconds.

 

“I didn’t have any intentions at all behind it. I know people are saying I was trying to unnerve him, but that’s not the type of game I play, you can ask any professional player. A lot of people might not rate me as a player, but nobody can say anything about my conduct at the table when it comes to sportsmanship.”

McGill will play Kurt Maflin as there is guaranteed to be a qualifier in the semi-finals of the event.

25-year-old Clarke said on his performance in the tournament.

“Even though I lost 13-12, I am very proud of myself. There’s a lot of tension out there and you have to take the rough with the smooth. It has been an immense experience.”

Watch the slight fracas below…

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Norwegian Surprise…

Mighty Kurt Maflin Battled through epic to win against four-time World Champion John Higgins.

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Kurt Maflin never let up against John Higgins and showed great fight to pull ahead in the final stages of the match…

Kurt “The Viking” Maflin had the eyes of a tiger in the last frames of his second round encounter with the Wizard of Wishaw John Higgins.

His dogged determination came through at the end as it was a snooker battle of epic proportions with the Norwegian snooker player passing with flying colours.

There was barely a frame between them throughout most of the match, but as the match neared the winning line, Maflin upped his gears and in the final three frames he made three convincing breaks over 50.

This is the first time Kurt Maflin has rached the quarter-final stages of the World Championship, as in 2014/15 he secured his debut at the Crucible and was drawn to Mark Selby in the first round. He led 9 – 5 at one stage but could not seal the deal and Selby won that encounter 10 – 9.

In this year’s BetFred World Snooker Championship, fans are guaranteed a qualifier in the semi-finals stages as Maflin will play either Anthony McGill or debutant Jamie Clarke.

Said Maflin, 36: “It was a really good, hard-fought, entertaining game. I enjoyed it. It had everything, and it was a high standard. It was great to be involved in.”

 

He added: “At the interval I spoke to my dad and he told me to speed up because I was taking too long over shots. He said I’m good enough and I should go for my shots and keep focused. John made it so tough, I gave it everything in the locker. I was running out of gas at 11-10 down but the reserve tank kicked in.”

John Higgins
Higgins has won 16 consecutive matches at The Crucible over three years and appeared in three World finals.

The maximum man John Higgins goes away with 55K – assuming no-one else makes a 147 before the end of the tournament. His incredible run of 16 match wins at The Crucible on the trot over three years has come to an end. Higgins appeared in three World finals on the spin.

He told WST after: “Kurt played amazing, to finish it the way he did. He bulldozed his way over the line. I’m disappointed because I had a chance at 11-10. When I come away from the tournament. I will reflect on the 147, but at the moment I’d swap that for a place in the quarter-finals.”

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Wizard Magic…

WIZARD John Higgins has racked his 10th career maximum and the first Crucible 147 since 2012.

John Higgins
It’s Higgins’s first Crucible 147…

The 36 pots of magic came in his tight tussle between Norway’s Kurt Maflin which currently stands at 8 – 8.

The 45-year-old’s perfect break is the first in the history of the Crucible to be played without an audience seeing it – as hundreds of millions would have been viewing it on TV.

He told WST: “This will probably surpass any tournament with the standard you will see. Everybody will be giving it everything for a month solid and put the tough hours in. Everybody will be hungry, there will be nobody tired or jaded. They will all be going in firing on all cylinders. I really think it could be the best tournament standard-wise. Even though we might not have the crowd, I think it could be the best.”

The last time a maximum break was made was 8 years ago when Stephen Hendry made his last swan song at the Theatre of Dreams and made it against Stuart Bingham.

Stephen Hendry was the last person to make a 147 at the Crucible before he retired in 2012.

There have been 11 147s made at the Crucible, with Cliff Thorburn making the first-ever maximum in 1983. Higgins’s is his first he has made at the Sheffield based Theatre.

The Wizard added: “Everything involved adds up to that. Mentally people will be giving it extra because the event could have been taken away from them. Everyone will be sharp as a tack. It could break all the records in terms of centuries. I definitely think there will be a maximum break. There are only a select few players that have made one at the Crucible before. I think the whole situation and the crowd gets on top of you normally at the Crucible. I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t one or maybe even two this year.”

Assuming Higgins’s 147 is the only one made, and there have been a  few attempts already in the first round, he stands to pocket a total of £55K.

That’s 40K for the 147, and £15K for the high break.

Watch the magic break below now…

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Allen Stunned…

Jamie Clarke stunned top seed Mark Allen on Tuesday by booking his place into the second round of the 2020 BetFred World Snooker Championship.

Qualifier Clarke, who was making his debut at the Theatre of Dreams, joins three others who so far have qualified for the next stage of the event in Sheffield’s Home of Snooker.

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Jamie Clarke played some great snooker against Mark Allen…

He followed Thailand’s Noppon, who knocked out 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy, as well as Kurt Maflin and Anthony McGill also qualifying for the next phase.

Today saw the remaining matches of the first round played to a close with qualifier Martin Gould defeating Tour Championship winner Stephen Maguire 10 – 3, leading 7 – 2.

frustrated Maguire was on for a maximum in one of the four frames he won to keep his hopes alive at 9 – 2 but broke down on 96.

it was the first time since 2011 that Gould had reached the second round of the main event.

Barry Hawkins also knocked out another Crucible debutant, Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher.

The young Swiss player started off well by making a break of 54 from his first shot and won the first frame, but we soon saw the 24-year-old was a very attacking player and went for too many shots as the Hawk pounced on his inexperience.

Clarke, 25, nicknamed the Welsh Whirlwind, told WST: “Never in a million years could I have dreamed of this,” said the Welshman. “I went into the qualifiers without a lot of confidence, just hoping to win one match. After that, I got on a roll. I am in shock at the moment. I went out there today to enjoy every minute and I was loving the experience.”

 

He added: “Mark was playing well and I was just trying to hang on to him, until the end when I had a chance to win. I will keep the same attitude in the next round and my belief is growing..”

Mark Allen said Clarke played out of his skin – despite the Northern Irishman racking up five tons.

He added: “For a debutant, Jamie played out of his skin. With no crowd there, it was difficult to put him under pressure. I made too many mistakes on the safety side.”

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Lisowski Feeling Blue?…

Qualifier Anthony McGill sunk a terrific long blue and then a pink in a decider to knock out top seed Jack Lisowski on Monday.

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Anthony McGill pulled right ahead of Lisowski in the match but was pegged back…

McGill, whose best run at the Crucible was in 2015 when he made his debut, clambered over the line in a gripping decider that went right down to the colours.

Lisowski gave away 16 points in fouls unnecessarily in the decider when McGill had put him in a relatively straightforward get out snooker.

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Lisowski had chances in the decider but couldn’t take them…

The decider was poignant because the two-time ranking event winner was 9 – 6 up on Jack Lisowski but it was Lisowski who clawed his way back to 9 – 9 with a barrage of breaks.

McGill is the second qualifier to make it through to the second round at the Theatre of Dreams along with Norway’s Kurt Maflin.

He told WST after: “When I was standing behind the blue, it was horrible. I didn’t have a safety shot. I had to strike it nice and pure and hope it went in. I hit it sweet as a nut but then I wasn’t sure it it was going to drop, and when it did I was so happy.”

 

The Scot, ranked 39,  added: “I enjoyed the battle. It’s good to be in that arena in a tight match, pitting your wits against one of the top 16. I felt Jack was always on top when we were on the blue, I was just trying not to leave him a pot. I love it here. I was just praying I didn’t lose in the qualifiers because I feel when I get to the Crucible I have a chance of playing well.”

WATCH THE BLUE BELOW HERE…

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The Claps…

Enter from stage behind, the fake claps…

IT was a dramatic first weekend at the Theatre of Dreams as the 2020 BetFred World Snooker Championship got underway.

As fans began to get used to the new set-up with no audience allowed in to watch the drama unfold, the tech crew came up with an obvious idea…

David Gilbert
David Gilbert had an emotional roller coaster last year at the Crucible but this year could not see off Norway’s Kurt Maflin in Round one.

Fake crowds clapping.

As the centuries started rolling in, with Neil Robertson and Tom Ford currently holding the high break of 140 between them, the noise of the fake crowds got louder and louder. Good job.

However, watching great shots by some players go without a clap is infuriating.

Watch these, and CLAP, CLAP, CLAP…

There was also a fresh addition to the BBC commentary team. A football commentator in David Farrar, whose low-pitched voice reminded SnookerZone of Ted Lowe’s whispering dulcet tones.

What has the tech crew backstage got up their sleeve, next?

It comes as big names such as John Virgo, famous for, “where’s the cue ball going? was unable to attend the venue due to being abroad.

The sad passing of Willie Thorne a few months ago is also another dramatic loss to the 17 days of action at Sheffield’s home of snooker in what is a very strange World Championships for a number of reasons.

  • It’s being held in summer
  • There are no audiences allowed in

Despite there being no crowds, some players are still feeling the pressure whereas others are basking in playing with freedom and knocking in big breaks.

Qualifiers Dropping like flies…

The 16 qualifiers, however, are dropping like flies this year in Round One as one by one the top seeds show that little extra to book their places into the second round.

However, for top seed David Gilbert, it wasn’t a procession into the second round as the former World Championship semi-finalist of last year, bowed out in a very close encounter against Norway’s Kurt Maflin, who stuck with Gilbert all the way until Maflin went 9 – 8 in front.

Gilbert had his chances in frame 18 but could not force the decider as The Viking, as he is nicknamed by MC Rob Walker clambered over the line and is the only qualifier so far to proceed into the last 16.

Maflin told WST after: “I felt like I played pretty well and pretty solid. I feel like I could have beat Dave 10-6 or something, and I made it a little bit hard for myself. It meant a lot as I think I have grown a little bit as a snooker player. My all round game is getting stronger, I feel like I can mix it up with anyone now.

 

He added: “I think this result will take off in Norway in terms of social media. I have quite a big following and fanbase behind me. There are many people interested and sending me good luck messages on Twitter. They are a real good bunch of people and I really appreciate all the support I am getting from back home in Norway.

Enjoy the first week of action, and remember, CLAP…