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Snooker

Excellent display from Wilson, scrambled over the line a little at the end as reality and tiredness got the better of both of them. Be interesting to see if Jones can make the most of his top 16 position, after very little similar in his career, other than the World Championship last year. Was good to see that his game has quickened up since last year's slow slog. Seems to overhit the ball occasionally but surely the confidence gained here will kick start his career.

Amazing that Mink Nutcharut at 121st, repeats Reanne Evans last year and gets back on without having to play in qualifiers, Still find it remarkable that 4 players, slow and uncompetitive make it on tour without any great chance of winning more than a handful of games in a season. The whole system should be based on qualifiers and ranking points. It is odd that only one player qualifies from the World Amateur Snooker Championship and yet the same qualify for Juniors and Women's Championship. The winners being Ma Hailong (95 after 1 year), Si Jiahui (20 on list), Ashley Hugill (just missed out at 67 on rankings), Liu Hongyu (78 after 1 year - he didn'y get a card after qualifying in 2018 for age and then Covid reasons). Clearly all of these are streets ahead of the women players. One of the oddities of equality that 4 players qualify from a non equality system. Two should be the limit of wasted places on the tour for this.
 
So my final rankings for the season. Ronnie O'Sullivan finishes top again, slipped down the World Rankings and likely to drop further on that if he isn't going to turn up much next season.

World Seniors on Channel 5 this week, Jimmy White trying to defend title. Will find ratings I have in a second or two.

1715176371089.png
 
Poor event this year, only 5 of the 16 players are on my ranking list. An odd sort of qualifying, seems to be based on players that have gone the furthest in past Crucibles and then a few players from around the world and ladies plus some qualifiers.

1715176981285.png

Last year White beat Alfie Burden who isn't in this year. Drago lost in the semi finals. Morgan, Johnson, Doherty and Knowles lost in the last 16. No others were entered. The draw as follows.

1715177245597.png
 
Poor event this year, only 5 of the 16 players are on my ranking list. An odd sort of qualifying, seems to be based on players that have gone the furthest in past Crucibles and then a few players from around the world and ladies plus some qualifiers.

View attachment 145879

Last year White beat Alfie Burden who isn't in this year. Drago lost in the semi finals. Morgan, Johnson, Doherty and Knowles lost in the last 16. No others were entered. The draw as follows.

View attachment 145880
..... as you say it looks a pretty pathetic affair and an absolute tenth rate tournament. One would think that past players well above their sell by date would be eager to enter a tournament like this, even to take part is an honour and something to look forward to. There must be players out there long gone as fas as winning chances go, but at least it is a chance to keep up there in the limelight and to put something back into the game to remind supporters of the times they once were, I don't think spectators would be up to ridiculing their attempts, I for one admire some of these guys for having the bottle to get up there and having a go. It is much better than seeing the likes of Stephen Hendry making a fool of himself having a crack at tournaments that are well out of his reach these days and then having the cheek to omit himself from tournaments like this probably where he may have more chances in than the ones he has busied himself in during his foolish adventures. ;)
 

Becoming world champion 'means everything' to snooker star Kyren Wilson.

Kyren Wilson admits winning the 2024 Cazoo World Snooker Championship 'means everything' to him.
The Kettering potter saw off the stubborn Jak Jones 18-14 in Monday's final at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to become the world champion for the first time.
The 32-year-old looked to be cruising to glory when he opened up a 7-0 lead in the first session of the final, but Jones showed great character and skill to fight his way back into the match, and take it to late in the the final session.
But despite Jones' exceptional efforts, Wilson always had his nose in front, never allowing his advantage following that flying start to slip below a three-frame lead, and in the end he got over the line.
It was an emotional moment for Wilson as he became the 28th champion of the world, and the normally placid player even allowed himself a fist pump and shout of 'come on' when he hit the match ball in a break of 42, something for which he was quick to apologize to his opponent for.
After his win, an emotional Wilson was congratulated and embraced by his sons Finley and Bailey and wife Sophie, as well as his parents Sonya and Rob and brother Tayler, who all got to pose with the iconic Championship trophy.
For Wilson, winning the world title is the ultimate reward for all of the hard work he has put into his career since first picking up a cue as a young boy.
"I have dreamed of this since I was six years old," said Wilson, who said he was going celebrate his title win with a few beers and a kebab!
"To win it with all my family there was just how I imagined it.
"Jak fought and made it so hard for me, it was tough to hold it all together.
"In the last frame I just kept potting balls and suddenly I had potted match ball and I was world champion. It means everything."
The final was the second of Wilson's career. ;)
 

Stephen Hendry shuts down Kyren Wilson after World Snooker Championship title win.

Kyren Wilson lifted the World Snooker Championship for the first time in his career but has been shut down by seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.​

Stephen Hendry has shut down Kyren Wilson in the aftermath of 32-year-old’s first ever World Snooker Championship title glory. Wilson, who overcame qualifier Jak Jones 18-14 in the final, had suggested the pocket sizes were tighter than normal during this year’s tournament.
When asked whether the pockets at the Crucible had shrunk, Wilson told the Snooker Club podcast: “I do think so. I must admit, when it’s gone to one-table I don’t think it was as tight as the two tables. Maybe it was because of the new cloth for the semis so it’s going to slide in more. Then for the final they change the cushion cloth so it slides in more as well.
“I remember playing John [Higgins] last year and he played a black down the cushion and he was walking [to his next shot]. There’s no way that would go in this year so they’re definitely tighter than last year, 100 per cent. And obviously I’ve won it so they’re mega tight.”

But Hendry has now had his say on the matter as he explained: “There's been a lot of talk about the tight pockets. I'm not out there playing, the players are playing - so you've got to trust their opinions.
“But what happened to all the so-called best players in the world [who were knocked out early]? Ronnie [O’Sullivan], Judd [Trump], Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen - the new world number one. I'm sure I'll get a backlash from the players saying the tables were tight, but I say what I see.”

Wilson enjoyed a scintillating tournament in Sheffield as he thrashed Dominic Dale 10-1 in the first round before seeing off Joe O’Connor 13-6 in his second match. The Englishman then dispatched four-time world champion John Higgins 13-8 in the quarter-finals before overcoming David Gilbert 17-11 in the last four. And Wilson held his nerve to defeat Jones in the showpiece event.
The pocket sizes were a regular topic of debate at this year’s World Snooker Championship, with plenty of players giving their verdicts on the apparent change. Shaun Murphy, who won the title in 2005, explained: “The pockets are much smaller. These new batch of Star tables we’ve been using all season, they are more difficult. I don’t know who made the decision to make the pockets smaller but they probably should have consulted with the players first.”

But seven-time world champion O’Sullivan said: “They seem all right to me. If you hit them sweet they go in, if you don’t, they don’t go in. Simple as. That’s always been my motto. The tighter the better, really. It makes you more accurate.” ;)
 

‘I didn’t want to live’ – Tony Drago bravely opens up about mental health concerns.

Tony Drago reached the semi-finals of the World Seniors Snooker Championship on Friday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.





The popular player from Malta, who reached a career-high of number 10 in the world rankings during his heyday in the 1990s, beat Stuart Watson 3-1 in the last eight.
Drago won the first frame with a trademark quick-fire break of 91 before adding the second frame as well to assert his early control on the contest.
However, Watson got back into the affair by winning a tight third and should have forced a decider only to miss an easy final black, which he left over the pocket.


Drago duly potted the ball to set up an exciting semi-final fixture against Igor Figueiredo.


But the 58 year-old had everyone concerned about his mental health after revealing how he has experienced a difficult period in his life of late.


“If you said to me before I came here that you’re going to be in the semi-finals, I would have probably said to go where to sun don’t shine,” Tony Drago said live on 5Action.


“Because, you know, I’m telling you, I don’t mind saying it in front of television, because it’s true.”
“I spoke to Neal [Foulds] a few months ago. I didn’t want to live. I wanted to commit suicide with my problems I had, so to be here…”


Drago, who was understandably emotional, couldn’t finish the sentence but received a warm round of applause from everyone inside the Crucible Theatre.


A professional on the main tour for three decades between 1985 and 2016, Drago was nicknamed the Tornado for his lightning speed around the table.


Recognised as one of the most naturally gifted players ever to grace the game, his wild style and a sometimes erratic temperament meant that he perhaps didn’t win the silverware that his incredible talent merited.


But Drago is now two victories away from landing a maiden title on the World Seniors Snooker Tour and a top prize worth £20,000.


“It feels great,” he later said. “I’m just a bit disappointed, because I know I’m playing well. But all of a sudden in a best of five, you make a mistake, and it’s game on.”


“It’s just, I’m one of those people unfortunately, the performance means more to me than winning.
“It’s still a great win, but I shouldn’t be going through the way I’m playing. I should be making it easier, because it was all over the place.


“I was on top, then all of a sudden, if he didn’t miss that black, he probably would have won anyway.”


Drago will have another opportunity to produce that perfect performance that he craves when he takes on Figueiredo on Saturday.


The Brazilian thrashed reigning world seniors champion Jimmy White 3-0 to comfortably continue his strong run in the tournament.


On the other side of the draw, pre-tournament favourite Ken Doherty survived a scare before emerging with a 3-2 triumph against Dechawat Poomjaeng.


The Irishman, who was a beaten finalist four years ago, will next face Barry Pinches after the latter’s 3-1 success over James Wattana.


Both semi-finals take place on Saturday before the best-of-nine frame final on Sunday in Sheffield. ;)



 
Drago played ok against Figuereido but couldn't compete against the Brazilian, 2 centuries to complete the match. Plays Doherty in the Final. A little loose sometimes with his game but sad that the economics of snooker and the long distance to home stopped Figuereido making it as a professional. Sure if he could have settled down here he would have had his game tuned to be a top player. Should be a good final.

Drago looked better than he had a previous year when he was recovering from illness. Hopefully can get over his mental health issues, still too fast playing but great to watch. Fell off his chair in the semi final, overcome with the 2nd century!
 

Igor Figueiredo wins World Seniors Snooker Championship.

Igor Figueiredo captured the 2024 World Seniors Snooker Championship crown with a 5-2 victory over Ken Doherty in Sunday’s final.
The Brazilian produced a fine display to see off the challenge of the 1997 world champion at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.


Doherty, who was the pre-tournament favourite, got off to the best possible start when he compiled a break of 100 in the opening frame.


However, Figueiredo responded in assertive fashion, making a break of 72 to quickly restore parity.


After the 46 year-old subsequently moved in front for the first time, he constructed a terrific break of 93 to enter the mid-session interval with a 3-1 cushion.


Nerves began to play a factor following the resumption of play with both players missing balls they would normally expect to pot.


A failed attempt at a green from Doherty proved to be a pivotal moment in the fifth frame, with Figueiredo duly extending his advantage and moving to within the brink of glory.


Two half-century contributions kept the Dubliner in the hunt, but despite a couple of shaky moments, Figueiredo completed the triumph with a run of 88 in the seventh frame.
The popular player from Rio de Janeiro first turned professional in 2010 and established a reputation as a dangerous opponent full of flair.
He reached the last 16 of three ranking tournaments but had to relinquish his tour card in 2022 as a result of complications with travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and also the significant expense incurred while competing on the main tour.
With this success in the World Seniors Snooker Championship, Figueiredo takes home a champion’s cheque worth £20,000.
The former IBSF World Amateur Championship runner-up is set to also receive an invite to participate in the lucrative Champion of Champions next season.
He had been the best player throughout the week’s action in Sheffield, following up his initial defeat of Tessa Davidson with a commanding 3-0 beating of reigning world seniors champion Jimmy White in the quarter-finals.
Perhaps his best display materialised in the last four when he wrapped up a 4-1 triumph over Tony Drago with back-to-back century breaks.
Igor Figeuiredo again underlined his natural talent in the final, and his name will now forever be engraved into the history of the tournament. ;)


 

Ronnie O'Sullivan plummets down world snooker rankings after Crucible KO.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has been knocked off the top of the world snooker rankings following his failure to capture an eighth world crown.


The Rocket, 48, was the red-hot favourite to win a record eighth world title heading into the World Snooker Championship, however, he was upset in the quarter-finals by Stuart Bingham, who recorded a superb 13-10 victory.
O'Sullivan's exit coincided with a controversial exchange with referee Desislava Bozhilova. He told Bozhilova to "chill" as she urged him to play a shot. The tournament was eventually won by Kyren Wilson.


Not only did O'Sullivan's loss at The Crucible end his world title hopes, it has also caused him to drop to fifth in the world rankings. He had previously held the No.1 spot for two years.
Mark Allen has replaced O'Sullivan at the top of the rankings with Judd Trump, Wilson and Luca Brecel above O'Sullivan in the top five.


O'Sullivan made plenty of headlines in Sheffield during the tournament, revealing after his exit that he considered skipping the event altogether before being persuaded to take part by a sponsor.



He also suggested a number of changes he would like to see made to showpiece event, which is synonymous with The Crucible. There has been speculation, however, that the event could be moved overseas.


“I think it’s a little bit dated. It could be updated maybe,’ O’Sullivan said of his ideas for a Crucible revamp in The Metro. "It could have some better facilities in here for the players to relax and maybe have some nice food at the venue so you don’t have to keep bringing it in.
“I like the way they’ve got the courtesy cars here this year so you don’t have to scrum your way through the venue every time you come here. You don’t mind coming to the venue now. It’s the first time in years so that’s a real plus.


“I get scones brought to my room before my match and that’s something else you don’t need to worry about. They’ve started to make these little improvements. But if you really put down a wishlist…I think the venue could be more friendly towards players. Relaxation rooms maybe, more practice tables, maybe two more practice tables. Showers maybe, a nice dressing room with showers maybe.



“If you get a clever interior designer or an architect in here you could knock all the walls down and start again. Maybe make it bigger and better and more up to date. Who knows.” ;)
 

Ronnie O'Sullivan plummets down world snooker rankings after Crucible KO.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has been knocked off the top of the world snooker rankings following his failure to capture an eighth world crown.


The Rocket, 48, was the red-hot favourite to win a record eighth world title heading into the World Snooker Championship, however, he was upset in the quarter-finals by Stuart Bingham, who recorded a superb 13-10 victory.
O'Sullivan's exit coincided with a controversial exchange with referee Desislava Bozhilova. He told Bozhilova to "chill" as she urged him to play a shot. The tournament was eventually won by Kyren Wilson.


Not only did O'Sullivan's loss at The Crucible end his world title hopes, it has also caused him to drop to fifth in the world rankings. He had previously held the No.1 spot for two years.
Mark Allen has replaced O'Sullivan at the top of the rankings with Judd Trump, Wilson and Luca Brecel above O'Sullivan in the top five.


O'Sullivan made plenty of headlines in Sheffield during the tournament, revealing after his exit that he considered skipping the event altogether before being persuaded to take part by a sponsor.



He also suggested a number of changes he would like to see made to showpiece event, which is synonymous with The Crucible. There has been speculation, however, that the event could be moved overseas.


“I think it’s a little bit dated. It could be updated maybe,’ O’Sullivan said of his ideas for a Crucible revamp in The Metro. "It could have some better facilities in here for the players to relax and maybe have some nice food at the venue so you don’t have to keep bringing it in.
“I like the way they’ve got the courtesy cars here this year so you don’t have to scrum your way through the venue every time you come here. You don’t mind coming to the venue now. It’s the first time in years so that’s a real plus.


“I get scones brought to my room before my match and that’s something else you don’t need to worry about. They’ve started to make these little improvements. But if you really put down a wishlist…I think the venue could be more friendly towards players. Relaxation rooms maybe, more practice tables, maybe two more practice tables. Showers maybe, a nice dressing room with showers maybe.



“If you get a clever interior designer or an architect in here you could knock all the walls down and start again. Maybe make it bigger and better and more up to date. Who knows.” ;)
Sadly they probably don't have the room to do these things, though I can agree with him they should.
 

James Cahill seeking two-year World Snooker tour card.

James Cahill is among the players looking to win a two-year tour card at World Snooker’s Q School, which gets underway next week.
The 28-year-old from Marton has entered both qualifying events at Leicester’s Morningside Arena.
Tour cards will be handed out to the semi-finalists in both competitions, the first of which runs from May 21-26.
Cahill’s first match comes on May 22, when he takes on Simon Blackwell in the second round (7pm).
The winner then plays either Wayne Townsend or John Minto at the next stage.
In all, Cahill needs to win five matches in order to regain the tour card he claimed in 2022.
Should he prove unsuccessful next week, the second qualifier runs from May 27-June 1.
Again, Cahill comes in at the second round stage when he meets either Riley Powell or Michal Kotiuk on May 28 (10am).
Among the former professionals looking to win tour cards are Peter Lines, Liam Highfield, Rory McLeod, Barry Pinches and Tony Knowles. ;)
 

Kyren Wilson eyeing an early retirement after World Snooker Championship win.

Kyren Wilson is not planning on playing into his 50s, with the newly crowned world champion eyeing up 45 as the ideal age to put his cue away for good.


The 32-year-old is on top of the snooker world after beating Jak Jones in the Sheffield final on Monday night, claiming his first Crucible crown and writing his name into history.


Only three players in the world’s top 16 are younger than the world champion, so he has a lot of time left among the sport’s elite, but he doesn’t intend to keep playing forever.


Wilson’s wife, two sons, brother and parents are all forces behind his fantastic success on the table and he wants as much time to spend with his family in retirement as possible after so many sacrifices during his career.
The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins are still competing hard as they approach 50, but the Warrior doesn’t think he’ll do the same.




‘I don’t think I’ll be like some of the other guys, to tell you the truth, if I’m being totally honest,’ Wilson told Metro. ‘My wife and my kids have had to sacrifice so much.


‘And I’ve seen so many times in life, people building up towards when they retire and they want to sail off into the sunset. Then unfortunately they fall ill or things have gone wrong and they haven’t been able to enjoy it. I don’t want to be one of those people.
‘I’ve always said in my head, up to about 45 is a good age to be looking at. We’ll see, that’s obviously a long way off and hopefully I’ll have done enough then to look back and say I’m worthy of the history I’ve built.’


As for a post-playing career, Wilson has already tried his hand at punditry and commentary and enjoyed being in the box during the World Championship.
‘It’s given me another insight into it,’ he said. ‘Commentating on John Higgins’ game against Jamie Jones, I’ve seen it all from a new perspective.


‘You go out there as a player, you feel like all eyes are on you, there’s so much pressure and it feels so horrible sometimes. Sometimes it feels great. But to watch it from the comms box you think, what’s the big issue? It’s not as daunting as you first think. And I enjoy it, working with some of the legends, it’s great.’
There is a lot of snooker to be played before Wilson hangs his cue up, though, with the Warrior eyeing up the world number one spot and more World Championships in his future.




While this is a new experience to embark on next season as reigning world champion, he feels like he has mentally prepared for it, having long pictured himself in this position.


‘I’m fully aware of what comes with it,’ he said. ‘I’ve had near misses, I’ve been on the cusp and been a potential winner. I’ve been to the final, semi-finals. Four of the last seven years I’ve been to the one-table set-up, so I’ve seen who has gone on to win and always then watched how they’ve handled it and how they’ve done it.


‘I’ve felt that it’s been close to being me and now I am that person so I feel well equipped. I’ve dreamt of being this person, so I’ll take everything I’ve ever learned and what everyone’s taught me and now it’s up to me to manage it.’ ;)
 

Sheffield snooker: Gloomy fans think the game is up as city battles to hang on to world championship.

"It's all about the money. Anyone who thinks otherwise is having themselves on"
Sheffield already has venues that could hold a bigger World Snooker audience but some fans fear the city will lose the tournament due to another factor - money.
The city has the English Institute of Sport, Ponds Forge, Sheffield Arena and the O2 Academy on Arundel Gate, all of which can hold many more fans than the 980-seat Crucible.
But Sheffield cannot compete with the Saudis and Chinese for prize money, fans believe.
The issue was debated on The Star’s Facebook page in response to former World Snooker Tour boss Barry Hearn calling for a bigger venue “for the fans and the players,” adding: “We've been saying this for many years and we're looking to Sheffield City Council to do it."
Sam Heeley said the city had “loads of big venues if that was the only issue.”
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He added: “They already hold the qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport which could seat 3,000 easy. Or Ponds Forge where they have held other qualifying events. Or Sheffield Arena where they recently filmed Gladiators. Now the O2. Take yer pick Bazza, but none of them will have as good an atmosphere as the Crucible!”
Nicky Marshall cut to the chase: "It's all about the money. Anyone who thinks otherwise is having themselves on. It'll be gone in a couple of years so make the most of it while you can.”
Sheffield City Council has an agreement with World Snooker to host the tournament until 2027.
Garry Bates agreed: “Stop all the speculation, it’s going to Saudi Arabia. It’s all about the money.”
Paul Weston echoed them both: “Mr Barry Hearn knows full well that it's not about the capacity, it's about the amount of money that would come his way, along with various snooker players, by holding the world snooker championships in countries Saudi Arabia who are prepared to pay huge amounts”
Stephen Harrison was in favour of converting the O2 Academy, which has been closed since September after crumbly concrete tests.
He said: “Crack on and get this through ASAP. This is an ideal location keeping the spirit of snooker in Sheffield. Unfortunately the size will mean we lose the intimacy of the Crucible and the magical atmosphere but I suppose this would be just about acceptable - better than going abroad.”
But James William felt it had to stay at the Crucible.
“The history is within that building. The only option I can see is raising the roof to increase capacity.
“It's not just the money that the world champs brings into the city that week that needs considering. All of the snooker clubs around the city would suffer if Sheffield lost the world champs.
“The prize money needs to increase especially for the runner up. If you listen to the interviews, the top players and ex-world champs are happy for it to stay, generally. It's the runner-ups that are calling for more prize money.”
Dominic Dominic was among many concerned about venues being too big.
“And how are we supposed to see the table from the back seats? Any bigger than the Crucible and you will be too far away and have to watch on giant tv screens.
“The Crucible is the perfect size and half a million quid for winning it is also enough money. Do not try and fix something that is not broke, nothing should be held in Saudi or China with their disgusting human rights records.”
;)
 

Neil Robertson remembers moving gesture from ‘very classy’ Dene O’Kane after tragic death.

Dene O’Kane’s untimely death has seen a wave of tributes from the snooker world, including from Neil Robertson who remembers his fellow Australasian star of the baize very fondly.


O’Kane tragically passed away this week at just 61 years old after an accident at his home in New Zealand.


The two-time World Championship quarter-finalist was very supportive of Robertson as the Australian faced the same obstacles of making it in the British-based game from the other side of the world.


The Thunder from Down Under remembers a rousing call for support that O’Kane made on his behalf even after a defeat on the table.
I dropped off tour in 2002, then won the World Under-21s and got my tour card back, then had a really good season,’ Robertson told Metro. ‘I came back home and played in a really big tournament which Dene was playing in as well. The Fred Osborne, the biggest tournament in Australia, it’s a great tournament.




‘He was really keen to see me play and congratulate me on having a really good season. He wanted to know how I was settling in and make sure I had a good established base. Back then there weren’t academies like there are now in Sheffield, there wasn’t anything like that then.


‘Dene knew the importance of a base, especially for people from that far overseas, to the point where you need to uproot to move to the UK. He wanted to make sure I had that base, good practice facilities because he knew the uphill struggle I would be facing.
‘I played him in the final of that tournament, I won and he gave this really nice runner-up speech. There was a really good crowd there, he did the speech in front of a lot of people and he put all the emphasis of the speech on me, trying to get everyone to get behind me, saying everyone in Australia should get behind this kid because it’s really tough. “He needs it, he needs everyone’s support if he’s going to do great things in the game.”


‘It was really, really nice to hear that. He put so much emphasis on the potential I had but I needed that support, it was just really nice.’


Robertson recalls being excited to meet one of the few stars of Australasian snooker for the first time, with O’Kane leaving a brilliant impression on him.


‘The first time I met Dene, he was one of the Australasian superstars,’ said Robertson. ‘There weren’t many. Warren King, John Campbell, Robby Foldvari. I was very pleased to meet him and have really good chats.




‘He was a really good guy, really well-liked, very classy kind of guy. He had a really eloquent way about him, a real gentleman. He was a really nice guy.’
The 2010 world champion has had incredible success on the snooker table, swapping life in Australia for England to pursue it and he says this huge change in lifestyle creates a bond between overseas plays
I met Dene a few times either at tournaments back in Australia or over here. The overseas players tend to have a really good connection with each other because we know how hard it is,’ said the 42-year-old. ‘Players from this country will never in a million years understand how hard it is.


‘Dene understood it, he was a professional for a long time and lived here when it was even harder to. He would have been writing letters back home to New Zealand and the odd incredibly expensive phone call.


‘I remember what it was like even in 2001/02 when I was in Leicester for six months. Internet cafes were kind of dotted around here and there and that was my communication with my family, sending emails and then gong to check a few days later. Back then it would have been incredibly difficult and probably why there haven’t been so many overseas players.’


O’Kane reached a peak of number 18 in the world rankings, comfortably the most successful player ever to emerge from New Zealand.
Robertson points out that there have been other fine cueists from the country, but the lack of professional success illustrates how difficult it is for players from the other side of the world to make it on tour.



‘They’ve had some really good players,’ Robertson said of New Zealand. ‘Chris McBreen was a really good player. There was a father and son Daniel Haenga and Harry Haenga, they were both brilliant players.


‘There have been one or two that have given it a go but it’s just tough, it’s so difficult. People having to uproot their whole lives to move here and give it a go, it’s always going to be a struggle to get more players from places like Australia, New Zealand, the Americas.


‘I hope more people can come through from New Zealand and Australia. Dene passed on some experience to me, hopefully I can do that for others and we can keep that going.’ ;)
 

Maximum 147 breaks at the World Snooker Championship.

There have been 14 maximum 147 breaks in World Snooker Championship matches at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.





When the sport’s blue-riband tournament first moved to the Crucible in 1977, not a single 147 break had been made in professional competition on the main tour.
For the next couple of decades it continued to be a rare sight, making the early ones that were compiled that bit more memorable.
But while the chances of a 147 in snooker have improved over the years with the development of table conditions and the rise in the overall standard of play, the feat continues to be a special one.


Let’s take a brief rundown of all of those brilliant maximum 147 breaks at the World Snooker Championship.


Cliff Thorburn – 1983​


Cliff Thorburn’s wonderful maximum moment came against Terry Griffiths in the second round, for which he won £18,000 in bonuses.


The Canadian, the world champion from three years earlier, beat Griffiths 13-12 in a grinding encounter that finished just before 4am before eventually losing in that year’s final.


Jimmy White – 1992​


It took another nine years for a 147 to be made at the Crucible and it was achieved by the People’s Champion, Jimmy White.


The Whirlwind compiled the perfect knock against Tony Drago in the opening round, earning £114,000 in bonuses.


Stephen Hendry – 1995​


Three years on, White was in the opponent’s chair watching on as Stephen Hendry made the break in Sheffield for the first of three times.


The Scot, who had already beaten White in four finals, won the semi-final clash en route to securing a fifth Crucible crown and was the first player to collect the famous £147,000 maximum break prize.


Ronnie O’Sullivan – 1997​


Like Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan has tallied a hat-trick of World Snooker Championship 147 breaks.


Nothing quite compares to his first, which was conjured in a breathtaking five minutes and eight seconds, signifying not only a special piece of snooker history but an iconic sporting memory as well.


Ronnie O’Sullivan – 2003​


The Rocket won only six frames at the 2003 World Snooker Championship, losing to Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in round one.
One of those frames earned him a staggering £169,000, however, with his maximum break and highest break bonuses that year eclipsing what the player finishing runner-up took home.


Mark Williams – 2005​


Mark Williams was the next player to add his name to snooker folklore by making a maximum at the Crucible Theatre.


The Welshman, already a two-time world champion, potted the 15 reds and blacks followed by the colours during his first-round 10-1 thrashing of Robert Milkins.


Ronnie O’Sullivan – 2008​


Williams was then the opponent as O’Sullivan completed his third at the 2008 edition en route to claiming his third world crown.


But on this occasion, the player who has made the most 147 breaks in history had to share the big bonus with someone else…


Ali Carter – 2008​


That’s because, for the first time in the tournament’s history, two 147 breaks were made in the same World Snooker Championship.
Just a few days after O’Sullivan did it, Ali Carter got in on the act with a superb performance against Peter Ebdon – although O’Sullivan got the last laugh by winning the final that year at the Captain’s expense.


Stephen Hendry – 2009​


By 2009, seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry’s best days were well and truly behind him.


But there were still fleeting moments of his old flare, including in 2009 when he produced a 147 in a tight quarter-final defeat to Shaun Murphy.


Stephen Hendry – 2012​


Hendry had to qualify for the 2012 World Championship, but after doing so he duly constructed his third maximum break against Stuart Bingham in round one and was the first player to take home the reduced £40,000 prize for a 147.


After subsequently beating reigning world champion John Higgins before losing in the quarters, the Scot shocked the snooker world by announcing his retirement.


John Higgins – 2020​


It took eight years for the next 147 break to be made in a World Championship, and unfortunately it transpired behind closed doors.
At the pandemic-impacted 2020 edition, John Higgins compiled the break but lost his second-round fixture with Kurt Maflin.


Neil Robertson – 2022​


Two years later, Neil Robertson was also on the losing side of a gripping fixture in the last 16 against Jack Lisowski.


But the Melbourne man did manage to write himself into the Crucible annals with a magnificent maximum break.


Kyren Wilson – 2023​


A year later, there were two 147 breaks – the first of which was made by Kyren Wilson during his first-round defeat of Ryan Day.


But like O’Sullivan in 2008, Wilson would have to share the bonus because…


Mark Selby – 2023​


Mark Selby produced an incredible moment during the 2023 World Snooker Championship, making the tournament’s first maximum break in a final.
The Leicester man may have lost the title to Luca Brecel, but he achieved something that no other player had ever managed before. ;)
 

Shaun Murphy – ‘my dream is to bulldoze the Crucible and rebuild a bigger version’.

Shaun Murphy doesn’t want the World Snooker Championship to leave Sheffield but concedes that the Crucible Theatre is too small as a host venue.
The famous venue has staged every World Snooker Championship since 1977 and its current contract runs until 2027.


Beyond that, however, it is unclear where future editions of snooker’s blue-riband tournament will be held.


It was a controversial topic that, in some ways, overshadowed the recently concluded 2024 World Championship that was won by Kyren Wilson.
World Snooker Tour and Matchroom Sport supremo Barry Hearn has publicly stated his wish for Sheffield City Council to fund a new and/or improved venue of greater capacity.
Players and fans have been split on the issue, with many not wanting to sacrifice the history and prestige that is already attached with the intimate setting of the Crucible Theatre.
Others understand the monetary benefit that the sport could generate if the event were able to sell more tickets, including additional options for a corporate audience.
Several alternatives have been suggested, including a move to other venues in Sheffield or the UK, or even travelling abroad with Saudi Arabia and China constantly rumoured as potential destinations.

“Listen, if it were up to me,” Shaun Murphy said on the latest episode of his OneFourSeven Podcast with Phil Seymour.
“If I had a blank cheque book and Bob the Builder on speed dial, I’d be asking him to flatten the Crucible and start again.”
“I don’t want it to move venues, I don’t want it to go to Sheffield Arena. I don’t want it go to somewhere, I want it to stay at the Crucible.
“I think if the Crucible had twice as many seats in it, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation.
“But these are my views, and it’s important I make this clear, because I do wear several hats.
“As a player director, I have to represent the thoughts and feelings of the players that voted myself and my fellow directors onto that board.
“It’s up to us to represent their best interests. Financially, that may not be staying at the Crucible.
“Like Barry Hearn said during the championship, he has a fiduciary duty to the tour to provide and make sure that there’s ample earning opportunities for the players.

“Having our biggest event in our smallest arena doesn’t do that necessarily, does it? It’s a problem that, thankfully, I don’t have to solve.
“My absolute dream scenario would be to bulldoze the Crucible and rebuild a much bigger version of it in its place.
“I made the point during the championship that, if you look at other major sporting venues – let’s take the ones in England that spring to mind, your Wimbledons and Wembleys and places like that – that’s what they’ve done.
“To retain their position in the public’s consciousness, they’ve had to get bigger, to develop, and they’ve had to change from what they were originally.
“Nobody goes to Wimbledon and says that we’re not playing at the same Wimbledon that we did all those years ago.
“It’s one of those things. I think it will have to change, it cannot carry on in its current format.
“I think what we have to remember is, the fact that we’re having this conversation means that the game’s expanding and growing beyond any of our wildest dreams in recent years.

“The fact that we’re considering having to go elsewhere because it’s no longer big enough.
“I’m sure I heard Barry Hearn say that he thinks he could sell the Crucible out five or ten times over for the World Championships.
“If that’s true we don’t know, but we have to start taking notice of things that get said. I’d love to see what offers have actually been tabled to WST.
“That’s not going to happen, I know that. But I’d love to see what they actually are, what are we talking about here.
“And again, that brings into play that we have a responsibility to put on and provide the best events that we can for the tour to compete in.
“That’s our duty. But it’s one of those old things, isn’t it? You just can’t keep everyone happy, we’re not going to please everybody.
“It’s a real difficult one, and it really did overshadow the World Championship this year for me. It became the talking point, I got really bored of it.

“I didn’t like the fact that it was being conducted so publicly during the championship with all the dignitaries from Sheffield City Council there.
“I just don’t like that element of people being hung out to dry. It makes me uncomfortable, and I wish things like this were done behind closed doors.
“Maybe we’re part of the problem, because two weeks later, we are still sat here talking about it.
“But I think unfortunately that, despite us wanting it to go away, even if you and I never spoke about it again, this will now only intensify as what was a three-year deal and is now a two-year deal plays out.”
Murphy also offered a tribute to Dene O’Kane, who sadly passed away in New Zealand earlier this week.
O’Kane, who reportedly suffered a fall at his home, was a professional for the best part of 20 years on the main tour – reaching the Hong Kong Open final in 1989.
“He was no age, no age at all,” Shaun Murphy said of the former World Championship quarter-finalist, who was 61.
“Very, very sad to hear that news that Dene O’Kane had passed away. Obviously there is a huge generation gap.”

“When he was playing, I was just getting into the game really. Our paths may have crossed the odd time, I think I can only remember meeting him once.
“Even just in that one meeting, you knew enough of him. He was well-respected enough that you just knew that here was a very classy man.
“A lovely player, and I think he did some commentary as well back in the day. One of New Zealand’s finest exports, certainly in cue sports terms.
“A real gent of a man, and our thoughts have to be with his family and loved ones who he leaves behind.
“But as a snooker family, we come together and remember. We just wish his family well.” ;)










 

Ronnie O'Sullivan left red-faced by awkward comment he made in front of Kyren Wilson.

Ronnie O'Sullivan once snubbed Kyren Wilson during an awkward press conference.

Ronnie O'Sullivan's old comments have come back to haunt him after Kyren Wilson's triumph at the World Snooker Championship. Wilson earned a hard-fought victory over Welsh qualifier Jak Jones in last weekend's final to get his hands on the sport's biggest prize
Wilson was made to work hard by Jones, who lost the opening seven frames but fought back to keep his opponent on his toes. The eventual result saw Wilson become snooker's newest champion, having never won it before despite reaching the final in 2020 and making it to the semi-finals on two occasions.

After the match, a press conference from a few years ago resurfaced on social media with O'Sullivan being left red-faced over the comments he made. The Rocket brutally snubbed Wilson when discussing the best players in the world despite the latter sitting just two seats away from him.

"It's usually the good ones that win it," said O'Sullivan, before pointing at every player sitting around him with the exception of Wilson. "Neil [Robertson], Mark [Selby], [John] Higgins, [Mark] Williams. I'm not disrespecting any of the other guys, but that's why they've been at the top for that long. They're just cut from a different cloth."
O'Sullivan's comments suggested that he did not think Wilson was good enough to win a world title, but he was proven wrong on Sunday when the Kettering native finally got the job done. Wilson came close to walking away from the sport in 2013 but was rewarded for his patience and hard work by achieving Crucible glory at the 12th time of asking.

He reflected on his arduous journey to the top of snooker after beating Jones in the final, saying: "It’s like a Rocky Balboa story. I’ve had to dig in and go back to the grotty gym and find myself again. I remember two years I couldn’t get through Q School. Sophie [wife] looked at me and said: ‘If you don’t do it this year we’ll have to look at alternatives’.
"The setbacks have made me stronger. I said a while ago that I’d be disappointed if I only landed one. I believe I can become a multiple world champion. This first one must be the hardest one to win, surely. I hope it’s the hardest to get off your back. Now I’ve done that no-one can take that away from me.

"I can build a legacy in this sport and that’s something I would like to have a good crack at now I’ve got this one out of the way. You sort of hunt for your first Triple Crown event and there’s no better Triple Crown event to land as your first one than the World Championship." ;)
 

Stephen Hendry shuts down Kyren Wilson after World Snooker Championship title win.

Kyren Wilson lifted the World Snooker Championship for the first time in his career but has been shut down by seven-time champion Stephen Hendry.

Stephen Hendry has shut down Kyren Wilson in the aftermath of 32-year-old’s first ever World Snooker Championship title glory. Wilson, who overcame qualifier Jak Jones 18-14 in the final, had suggested the pocket sizes were tighter than normal during this year’s tournament.
When asked whether the pockets at the Crucible had shrunk, Wilson told the Snooker Club podcast: “I do think so. I must admit, when it’s gone to one-table I don’t think it was as tight as the two tables. Maybe it was because of the new cloth for the semis so it’s going to slide in more. Then for the final they change the cushion cloth so it slides in more as well.

“I remember playing John [Higgins] last year and he played a black down the cushion and he was walking [to his next shot]. There’s no way that would go in this year so they’re definitely tighter than last year, 100 per cent. And obviously I’ve won it so they’re mega tight.”

But Hendry has now had his say on the matter as he explained: “There's been a lot of talk about the tight pockets. I'm not out there playing, the players are playing - so you've got to trust their opinions.
“But what happened to all the so-called best players in the world [who were knocked out early]? Ronnie [O’Sullivan], Judd [Trump], Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen - the new world number one. I'm sure I'll get a backlash from the players saying the tables were tight, but I say what I see.”

Wilson enjoyed a scintillating tournament in Sheffield as he thrashed Dominic Dale 10-1 in the first round before seeing off Joe O’Connor 13-6 in his second match. The Englishman then dispatched four-time world champion John Higgins 13-8 in the quarter-finals before overcoming David Gilbert 17-11 in the last four. And Wilson held his nerve to defeat Jones in the showpiece event. ;)
 

Barry Hearn paints bleak future for poor old Crucible but it’s not all about the money.

Barry Hearn appeared to hammer another nail in the coffin of the Crucible as home of the World Snooker Championship, claiming the Sheffield theatre is ‘past its sell-by date’.


The debate over the future of the event raged during the recent World Championship, with Hearn sounding set on a move away from the Crucible to either a fictional, much bigger arena in Sheffield or to pastures new and bountiful elsewhere.


The current contract runs until 2027 so the World Championship will reach its 50th anniversary at the Crucible, but the way the President of Matchroom Sport is talking, it could be 50 and out for the iconic venue.




‘We’ve got to live in the real world. There comes a time where people, things, businesses become past their sell-by date,’ Hearn told talkSPORT, before making a pretty big claim.
‘The Crucible is past its sell-by date. We love Sheffield, we’ve brought billions and billions of pounds of investment into Sheffield via China etc. We’ve played our part. Not just the footfall, over 500 million people watched the World Championship this year globally. 40 per cent of those are Chinese.


‘What we’re saying is, for the sport to be bigger, we’re going to be judged by prize money so my job is to commercialise sport so players can see an escalating prize money level and have more chance to change their life through sport, which is the whole reasons why, in my professional opinion, people play sport.


‘The Crucible cannot cope with more than about 850 tickets, I could sell 5,000 tickets a session and I’ve got 40 sessions. All I’m saying is boys, it’s been fabulous, but it’s like the Olympics, I’m not a fan. I think it’s a wonderful achievement, but try and eat a medal. In all sport it does come down to money, whether we like it or not.’
No one is questioning that more tickets could be sold elsewhere if the World Championship moved from the 980-seat Crucible, but 5,000 for every session is fanciful stuff.


The final, sure. Any match Ronnie O’Sullivan is playing in, okay. A handful of other matches, yeah. But even the old master of promotion is not getting 5,000 through the door for Rob Milkins vs Pang Junxu or Tom Ford vs Ricky Walden, two examples of first round matches at this year’s World Championship.




The issue of the crowd is where some suggested moves really fall down. Saudi Arabia is being touted as a possible destination for the World Championship, but there is absolutely no way Hearn is getting in the same ballpark of his 5,000 tickets-per-session in the Kingdom.


The World Masters of Snooker, the sport’s first venture to Riyadh this year, was reportedly a sell out, but if everyone did turn up they were very convincingly dressed as empty seats.


The crowds did emerge for the O’Sullivan’s matches, as they do wherever the Rocket lands, but not so much for anyone else.
Hossein Vafaei, who was a memorable critic of the Crucible during this year’s event, is open to moving elsewhere but only if a good crowd is on the cards, which is not necessarily the case in Saudi.


‘They have lots of good facilities over there [The Middle East] and I’m sure if the tournament moved to somewhere around there everyone is going to enjoy it,’ Vafaei said in Sheffield.


‘But can you play in front of no fans? This is the problem as well. For me fans are important, I respect the fans, they are the reason I am playing this sport. I’m a performer, I love to perform in front of the good fans. If the tournament moved to Saudi Arabia and no one is watching it? I’m so sorry…’


Judd Trump has flipped and flopped on the subject, admitting he can’t come to a firm conclusion, but agrees that the claim on ticket sales would need to be followed through for the event to move elsewhere.



‘I’ve changed my mind about 10 times now,’ he admitted. ‘I think they either keep it as it is or move it. I don’t think they should knock the Crucible down or build something else. I think they move it to a different city or keep it as it is. It’s tough. I think there’s no right or wrong decision.
‘I’d like to maybe see it in London [if it did move]. You could get 5,000-10,000 people for the final in London. I’d like for it to go somewhere where you’d know there is going to be a good crowd.’


Hearn is keen to make the point that his only duty is to the players and that duty is to make them as much money as possible.


The biggest pot of gold available is in Saudi Arabia, with the country continuing to build itself as a sporting hub and Hearn saying: ‘The money they pay is something I’ve never seen in my lifetime.’


Certainly it is enough cash to convince the 75-year-old that money beats history, something that he was far from convinced about when in 2017 he said: ‘On my tombstone will not be written “this is the man that took the World Championships away from the Crucible”, it’s staying and it don’t matter how much is involved.’


Now with the vast riches on offer elsewhere, Hearn says of those who want the Crucible to remain the home of snooker: ‘Life’s not a level playing field, quite frankly. It’s just traditionalism. Everybody feels that what it is, it should stay.
‘Traditionalists who buy tickets to my events are five per cent, the casual people that buy tickets are 95 per cent. That 95 per cent are uncomplicated and want to watch the best in the world.



‘Traditionalists will stay at the Crucible even if there was one other person in the audience. Live in the real world!


‘My employers, if I have employers, are the sportsmen and women we promote. I’ve had these top 16 players in snooker saying they don’t want to leave the Crucible because of the history, but if I say I’ll make the prize money five times what it is now and ask if they want to go to Saudi, every single one of them would.


‘My sportsmen and women look at me and if I don’t supply the prize money that they want then someone else will.’


That final line from Hearn is of interest as it acknowledges threats of outside forces and current partners.


A running thread during the World Championship was the possibility of a breakaway tour and World Snooker Tour making changes to keep hold of their top stars.


There is, of course, also the possibility that not working with the mega-rich Saudis – and other powerful investors – could lead to them poaching the best players for their own events. Fans may resist a shift in power in snooker, but the alternative may be a more fractured and splintered game which would be much less to their liking. ;)
 
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