Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien make up the Republic side who had suffered a slow start to their World Cup campaign after losses to England and Iran. Mark Allen and Jordan Brown had fared better for Northern Ireland and found themselves top of group B coming into today.
A break of 60 from 1999 British Open champion O’Brien helped Republic into a 1-0 lead, before six-time ranking event winner Doherty overcame Allen to add to his side’s advantage. They made it 3-0 in the doubles and shared the remaining singles frames to secure the commanding 4-1 win.
The top two teams in each group will progress and that result puts Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland into a three-way tie with Hong Kong for second spot. Hong Kong defeated Saudi Arabia 4-1 to move themselves up the table. Meanwhile England’s Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski took their opportunity to go top thanks to a narrow 3-2 win over Iran.
One day, we'll do a serious interview with these boys. One day.
John Higgins and Stephen Maguire secured a 5-0 win for Scotland over Israel to move to the verge of progression. The result moves the Scots one point clear of Belgium, who recorded a 4-1 win over Malaysia, at the top of group C.
Maguire said: “We are over the moon with that result. That is better than what I was expecting. It has been a brilliant start to the tournament.”
Higgins added: “We were just concentrating trying to win the match tonight, because Israel are our rivals in the group alongside Belgium. We’ve stolen a march on them and probably only need a couple of frames in the remaining matches.”
China’s A team of Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao are in pole position in group A after their third consecutive victory of the event, seeing off Austria 4-1.
Thailand’s team of Noppon Saengkham and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh continued their recovery from defeat earlier in the week by edging past Poland 3-2. Victory was sealed with a sublime run of 115 by Saengkham in the decider.
Meanwhile Germany kept themselves in contention to progress thanks to a 3-2 win over Norway.
China B whitewashed Switzerland 5-0 to move clear at the top of group D. The pairing of Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong required just over an hour and a half to secure the runaway victory.
The Welsh team of Mark Williams and Ryan Day trail the Chinese duo by just one point after they defeated Malta 4-1. Williams composed a fine break of 127 to close out victory in the final frame.
Bingham suffered a narrow 13-11 loss to eventual runner-up John Higgins at the World Championship.
Stuart Bingham secured wins at the English Open and the Gibraltar Open in an impressive campaign last season, now the 2015 World Champion is hoping to add further titles to his silverware collection.
We spoke with 43-year-old Bingham to find out what he has been up to over the summer and discuss his ambitions for the season ahead…
Stuart, the recent qualifiers saw you get a win over Tian Pengfei to qualify for the International Championship. However, before that you lost out to Li Hang at Riga Masters qualifying. How would you assess your game currently?
“There were a few nerves and maybe a bit of rustiness in my match with Li Hang. It felt like I was playing alright going into that game, but I was found out really. I wasn’t looking forward to my next game after that. Tian Pengfei got unlucky a few times and just kept sticking me up. I managed to score well from there and got the win, so I was pleased to get through that one.
“I’ve been practising a bit, but I probably could have given myself a bit more of a look in. Next season I may well not even put my cue down after the World Championship and just keep going. I just felt a little bit out of it. Even if I just start playing an hour a day to keep things ticking over. It is important to make sure you get a good start to the season.”
You are now up to six ranking titles. Only ten players have ever reached double figures, do you have aspirations to try and reach ten before the end of your career?
“Definitely, that is actually my target now. I think when I reached six last season I started looking at it and I believe I can get to ten. That’s a target that I really want to go for and is the one keeping me hungry and keeping me practising. If it doesn’t happen I have still had a great career, but I feel I have more tournament victories in me. When that belief starts to go and things start dropping off, then I will begin to look at different avenues. However, for now I’m still hungry and still really enjoying it.”
You have worked with Terry Griffiths as your coach over the last couple of seasons. He recently announced that he won’t be travelling to events anymore. What is your current coaching situation?
“We parted ways after the World Championship. We both spoke at the Welsh Open about changing things and him not travelling anymore, so it worked out both ways. The last two years working with him have been great. He is such a character and has been there and got the t-shirt himself. I am on my own at the moment and looking at a few different options. For the time being, I will work on my own and see what happens. I think both of us had reasons to stop. I didn’t use him enough and I probably should have got more out of him. We only really met up at venues and I’m the sort of person who really needs to meet week in week out.”
There was a time when the general perception of the public was that a snooker player’s best years were behind them when they reached the age of 40. Your generation has categorically shown that not to be the case. What do you think has changed?
“I think our age group has an all round game that allows us to still compete. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins have managed to develop a combination of styles between both the Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry eras. You obviously have the Judd Trump generation coming through now as well now who just pot balls off the lampshades and play good snooker. The safety and tactical element is why the 40-year-olds are still winning.
“The overall standard is so high now. I think only three or four years ago you could turn up at a qualifying event and be guaranteed 90 percent of your wins. Now, if you have an off day then you will get beat. I think that keeps everyone on their toes.”
You’ve recently finished a snooker themed tattoo on your back. What inspired you to go for it?
“I already had the World Championship trophy on my back. A little bit of me regretted it in a way, but I thought that I would then put all of the other trophies I had won in the background. Literally a week before getting it done I changed my mind and decided to do something different. I went for animals representing the countries where I have won. The tattooist put some pictures together and it worked out perfectly. I am now already talking about getting a sleeve done. I think it will probably be a family theme down the left arm. We will see.”
Hong Kong’s team of Andy Lee and Ka Wei Cheung had assumed a surprise 2-0 lead after the opening singles frames. However, Northern Ireland kept themselves in it by taking the doubles, before a break of 68 from Allen forced a decider. Brown held his nerve to secure the win.
With group table standings being determined by the number of frames won, that result put Northern Ireland into first position, after they defeated Saudi Arabia 4-1 in the opening round of games. Hong Kong remain in contention to progress, having narrowly lost out to England 3-2 in their first match.
Brown said: “That was just typical Northern Ireland style. We all get behind each other, no matter what tournament we are in. It was pure grit and determination. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but it doesn’t need to be.”
Allen added: “We dug in really well considering the fact we made a lot of mistakes to go 2-0 down. It was looking bleak but we dug in and I’m proud of Jordan to get us over the line in the end. He played the perfect frame really.”
Saudi Arabia made history by winning their first ever World Cup match with a hard fought 3-2 victory over Iran.
The Saudi pairing of Omar Alajlani and Ahmed Aseeri are competing as amateurs this week, but both won matches at Q School earlier this season. They opened up an early 2-0 lead after winning the first two singles frames.
The Iranian duo Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi battled back by taking the doubles, before Vahedi claimed the fourth frame to force a decider at 2-2. Ahmed then stood up to the pressure and composed a break of 66 to secure the momentous victory.
Meanwhile England occupy second place in the group after narrowly edging past Republic of Ireland with a 3-2 win.
First EVER World Cup Win For Saudi Arabia! - YouTube
Wales and China B are locked together in first position of group D. The Welsh partnership of Mark Williams and Ryan Day beat Australia 4-1. China B has a slightly less comfortable afternoon, requiring a deciding frame to beat Malta 3-2.
Scotland’s John Higgins and Stephen Maguire were runners-up in 2015 and they kept themselves on track to progress this week after a 4-1 defeat of the UAE in group C. They are tied for top spot with Belgium, who also won by a 4-1 scoreline with a defeat of Isreal.
Both Ding and Yan are former World Cup winners and hold strong pedigree in the event. Two-time champion Ding is defending his title this week, having been victorious in the most recent running of the event in 2017 alongside Liang Wenbo. Yan sensationally won the event as part of China’s B team in 2015 with Zhou Yuelong.
This afternoon’s group A match saw an impressive performance from 13-time ranking event winner Ding, who is competing for the first time this season. Ding fired in breaks of 73, 104 and 83 as he and Yan saw off the German duo with relative ease.
Elsewhere in the group, Norway’s team of Kurt Maflin and amateur Christopher Watts secured a shock 3-2 comeback win over Thailand to open their account with a victory. The Norwegians had trailed 2-0 before surging back to victory by taking the doubles and the remaining two singles frames.
The group also provided another surprise as Austria’s amateur duo Andreas Ploner and Florian Neussle defeated Poland’s Kacper Filipiak and Adam Stefanow 3-2.
Mark Williams extended his impressive World Cup group stage record, as he and Ryan Day secured a 4-1 win for Wales over India in group D. 2018 World Champion Williams has lost just one group stage match in five World Cups. Meanwhile China’s B team whitewashed Australia 5-0 and Switzerland edged past Malta 3-2.
Scotland’s John Higgins and Stephen Maguire got themselves up and running with a 4-1 defeat of Cyprus in group C. They are in a three-way tie for top spot after Belgium also secured a 4-1 win against the UAE. Israel were the other comfortable winners in the group, they defeated Malaysia 4-1.
With the 2019/20 World Snooker Tour season in its embryonic stages, we’ve consulted some of snooker’s top journalists and analysts to see their predictions for the year ahead…
David Gilbert was runner-up at the Yushan World Open and German Masters last season, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the World Championship in a sparkling run.
Most Likely Maiden Ranking Event Winner
Neal Foulds, Former World Number Three and TV Pundit
Jack Lisowski – He will surely win something soon. He was admirably consistent last season and is by far the most gifted player on the tour who is yet to have won anything. Aside from that, almost anyone could win the Shoot-Out so there is every chance there will be another first time winner there.
David Hendon, Snooker Commentator and Journalist
David Gilbert – David is not so much knocking on the door of winning a big title as threatening to remove it from its hinges. We all saw how upset he was in the moments after losing to Higgins in Sheffield but I’m sure he’s since reflected on how well he played there and how well he stood up to the sustained pressure of the World Championship. He goes into this season as a real dangerman and hopefully with a bit more belief if he gets to another final.
Michael McMullan, Snooker Commentator and Journalist
David Gilbert – Last year I went for Jack Lisowski and although he didn’t quite get it done, I still think it may well happen soon. However I’m going to go for another player who also reached two ranking finals in the last campaign. Dave Gilbert had already moved up to a whole new level last season even before his feats in Sheffield. He almost made it in Yushan and Berlin, and didn’t do a great deal wrong in either final to end up losing, so his time may not be long in coming now.
Hector Nunns, Snooker Journalist
Jack Lisowski – Especially in the shorter formats there is always the chance of someone enjoying a spectacular week and coming from nowhere. But the main contenders should be David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski, and the Chinese youngsters (Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, Zhou Yuelong, Lyu Haotian and Yuan Sijun). I’ll go with Lisowski – he is knocking on the door, and his time is surely coming.
Shane MacDermott, Snooker Journalist
Scott Donaldson – The promising Perth potter propelled himself up the rankings last term with his most consistent season to date, ending with a Crucible debut.
Neil Goulding, Snooker Journalist
Yan Bingtao – The Chinese young gun went off the boil a bit last season, but I fully expect him to be back to his best and in the winner’s enclosure this time around.
Jamie Broughton, BBC Radio Snooker Correspondent
David Gilbert – He really impressed last season, and it can’t be long before he wins a tournament.
Joe O’Connor went on a fine run to the semi-finals of last season’s Welsh Open and won the Rookie of the Year award.
Surprise Package of the Season
Joe O’Connor – The Leicester cueman certainly surprised me towards the end of last season and there is no reason why he shouldn’t get even better. He seems to have a very sound temperament, as shown when twice beating John Higgins in ranking events. A really good prospect.
Liam Highfield – He has always struck me as a very talented player but hasn’t yet made his big breakthrough. I know he’s had health problems which obviously haven’t helped. He could be a bit like Kyren Wilson, who suddenly broke through in Shanghai a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. One good tournament is really all it takes.
Louis Heathcote – He has already impressed in the qualifiers by coming through two very different matches. It was a real battle against Ryan Day to get to Riga, then he won a high quality match against Noppon Saengkham in the International Championship. Some good amateurs struggle to make the transition, but he’s off to a flying start and looks set for a very strong first season.
James Cahill – The tag of ‘first amateur at the Crucible’ was always slightly misleading, as a former and soon-to-be pro. The sensational shock victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan shows he loves the big stage, and if he can carry that same swagger back onto the tour and maintain the dedication and commitment occasionally lacking in his first stint as a pro, he could do some more damage.
Elliot Slessor – The youngster has shown he’s got the game with two wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan. If he can find that form consistently then he can be a danger.
Jackson Page – The talented Welsh teenager has been highly rated for the last few years and earned a tour card last season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do something similar to what Joe O’Connor did last season.
Joe O’Connor – Always a tricky one to answer as there aren’t really many surprises. I’ll go with O’Connor to build on the promise he showed last season and get to a ranking event final.
Judd Trump claimed his maiden World Championship title last season. In the process he pocked £500,000, the richest prize on the history of the sport.
Star Player Of The Season
Judd Trump – After his dazzling display in winning the world title, there is no reason why Trump shouldn’t go from strength to strength. However, the 2019/20 season will be his biggest test yet, as first time champions don’t always play to the same level during the following season. Saying that I feel that If Judd can keep his feet on the ground, he can establish himself as the man to beat all the season and beyond.
Judd Trump – Judd was my choice last year (just saying) and he goes into this season with the final piece of the jigsaw: the world title. It’s crazy to think how some people had written him off. He’s not yet 30 and has done the triple crown and is now in the perfect position to push on and start winning more titles. You could argue some of the pressure is off him now he’s triumphed at the Crucible. It’s also true that first time world champions often struggle with the added weight of expectation and scrutiny but there are so many tournaments now and a lot of trophies to play for. If he keeps his focus he will win plenty more.
Judd Trump – He looked like a whole different player last season, and obviously he was already exceptionally good before that. Everything about him suggests he’s hungry for much more success, and now that he’s finally landed the world title we’ve all been expecting for so long, I think he’ll kick on very well.
Judd Trump – It is hard to see past Trump. Having finally got the monkey off his back by winning the world title predicted for him since almost before he could walk, The Juddernaut will I’m sure be focusing even more on winning and peaking for the big ones this season. Should be targeting being a multiple World Champion in his career, and no better time to begin that quest.
Judd Trump – The Ace in the Pack really hit his straps last season, hammering Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters final, before producing the best ever performance in a Crucible final to land his first World Championship. He has really matured as a player and we could be embarking on a new era of dominance in the sport.
Neil Robertson – The Aussie ace looked back to his fearsome best towards the backend of last season. He’s enjoying his snooker again and that’s ominous for the rest of the field.
Judd Trump – I’m sure we’ll see him continue to win ranking events this season, and he will be determined to beat the Crucible Curse in Sheffield. You wouldn’t back against him doing it given how well he played to win his first world crown.
Trump will be aiming to reach the summit of the world rankings for the second time in his career this season.
World Number One at the End of the Season
Judd Trump – Difficult one this as whoever wins the world title (£500k first prize) has a strong chance ending up at the top of the world rankings. If Judd Trump can defy the “Crucible Curse” then surely his points tally would be vastly superior to anyone else, almost irrespective of what the others win in the build up to Sheffield.
Judd Trump – He starts with the advantage of 500,000 ranking points from the World Championship alone. Ronnie O’Sullivan is the perpetual unknown quantity – we don’t yet know which tournaments he will be competing in, and he really needs to get into the Coral series to defend his lead in the rankings. So if Trump is consistent and maintains a reasonably full schedule he can take over at the top. Some people may have forgotten he’s already been world no.1 but I think if he got there again it would feel more significant and potentially more permanent.
Judd Trump – Bearing in mind that he earned more points than anyone last season, and that I’ve tipped him to be the star of the new season, it follows that I expect Trump to be number one soon. It’s been largely forgotten that he’s already been number one when he was 23, but it was only for a very short while. If he gets back there, he could very well stay on top for five or six years this time.
Judd Trump – The huge first prize at the Crucible may once again leave this in the balance until the World Championship, but if Judd Trump enjoys a campaign that is anything like last term, he should soon regain the top spot first last briefly held over six years ago – and be there at the season’s end.
Judd Trump – Judd is only marginally behind Ronnie O’Sullivan in the race for the world number one spot. Ronnie has openly said he won’t be entering much this season, leaving the door wide open for Judd to pounce.
Neil Robertson – If the former world champion carries on his fantastic form then there’s no reason he can’t return to the summit of the rankings.
Neil Robertson – Back to his best last season. He’ll be challenging to win all the major titles again.
Please note that the Paul Hunter Classic will change from a Ranking event to an Invitational Event. Additionally, we are working towards finalising options for both the Indian Open and the European Masters within the tour however these events are subject to contract and cannot be confirmed at this stage.
England’s Reanne Evans won the World Women’s Snooker Championship for a record-extending 12th time with a 6-3 victory over Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai in Bangkok.
World number one Evans had to watch Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee lift the trophy during each of the past two years since her last success in 2016, but this time was not to be denied as she emerged from a high-quality international field of 53 players to reclaim the biggest title in women’s snooker.
The final proved to be a high-quality affair, 19-year-old Wongharuthai taking the opening frame with a break of 61 before Evans claimed the next two to hit the front.
The following two frames were shared to give Evans a 3-2 lead at the mid-session interval, before the Dudley star added the sixth to move two clear for the first time.
Back came Wongharuthai with a break of 56 but it was Evans who was to finish in style, a tournament-high run of 92 enough to secure the high break prize before she claimed what would prove to be the final frame with a run of 43 to seal the title.
“It feels pretty good!” said a thrilled Evans shortly after the final. “It has been a long time coming after my 11th and it does mean more after losing during the past two years. I had such a good run [winning the title 10 years in a row from 2005-2014] but it obviously has been frustrating and gutting for that to end and to have lost a bit of confidence.
“The final was really tight all the way through. I was a little bit edgy at the start but I still felt good and towards the end I felt even better, I wasn’t letting it go this year.”
Despite her loss in today’s final, Evans was impressed by her young opponent who continues to show improvement in her game.
“You can tell her shot selection is getting better,” added 33-year-old Evans. “Her technique is brilliant, she is a lovely person and her temperament is great. She laughs everything off and just gets on with it, that’s the right way to be.”
Evans reflected on what has been a fantastic week for women’s snooker which saw the staging of the inaugural Women’s Snooker World Cup and the biggest World Championship for a generation with players having travelled from 14 different countries to compete.
“I’m really happy because the standard has been so good here this year,” continued Evans. “It could have been anyone winning it from the quarter-finals stage and fingers crossed that these players will keep competing and inspire others to play. I’m just happy to win against all the youngsters now, they are so attacking. A few shot selections have let them down but that’s about it and that comes with experience.
“The tournament has been amazing, one of the best ones ever. The facilities have been top class, the hospitality has been fantastic, it has been well-run and all the people have been brilliant. It has also been amazing to have so many matches streamed live which will only add to the interest in women’s snooker.”
Earlier in the day Evans came through a tough semi-final contest against another Thai player, Baipat Siripaporn winning 5-3, while Wongharuthai ended the challenge of 12-time European champion Wendy Jans 5-2.
The victory represents a sixth ranking event title success of the season for Evans and extends a streak dating back to her maiden title in 2005 of the World Women’s Snooker Championship being won by her and three-time champion On Yee.
There was victory for Hong Kong in the Challenge Cup event for players who did not make it to the knockout rounds of the main competition as So Man Yan defeated India’s Chitra Magimairaj 3-2 in the final.