08 february 2021 publish date
Just 16 players remain at the BetVictor Shoot Out, with the champion to be crowned by 11pm on Sunday night.
Pick of the fourth round ties is three-time World Champion Mark Williams against 2019 Shoot Out king Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Williams enjoyed a last-gasp win over Xiao Guodong in the last 32 to boost his hopes of reaching the final of this event for the first time. With ten seconds remaining and the score tied at 28-28, Xiao played a loose safety shot, leaving Williams a chance at a red to a baulk corner, which he thumped in just as the clock hit zero.
Williams, Un-Nooh, Mark Selby, Mark Allen and David Gilbert are all aiming to become the first player ranked inside the world’s top 16 to win this event.
Three amateurs are still in the draw: Craig Steadman, Ian Martin and Northern Ireland’s Declan Lavery. Martin trailed Sunny Akani 15-5 with 70 seconds to go, then had a huge slice of luck as an attempted red to a top corner flicked off another red and went in. He added pink, red and blue for victory.
Hayden Pinhey almost joined them as he led Lyu Haotian 33-15 in the closing stages, but a missed red cost Pinhey as Lyu punished him with a break of 22.
Ken Doherty was 27-10 up on Noppon Saengkham when he went in-off as he potted the blue, and that ended the Irishman’s hopes as Thailand’s Saengkham went through with a run of 22.
So the last 16 line up was:
Mark Williams v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Mark Selby v Declan Lavery
Ian Martin v Martin O’Donnell
Noppon Saengkham v Craig Steadman
Robert Milkins v Lyu Haotian
Gerard Greene v Louis Heathcote
Zhou Yuelong v Ryan Day
Mark Allen v David Gilbert
The next stages of the competition successively determined four semifinalists, two of whom were three-time world champions Mark Williams and Mark Selby. Meeting of the titled rivals in the final would be a great sign, but for that both two Marks needed to win over Ryan Day and Craig Stedman. Selby completed his part of the task and reached the final, defeating Stedman with 43:15. But in the battle of the Welsh, Ryan Day proved to be stronger - he defeated his famous countryman Williams 31:18 and won a place in the final.
The main question whether the victory in Shoot Out will be the rule for players outside the top 16 should be decided in the finals between 4 and 50 world ranking numbers Mark Selby and Ryan Day, respectively.
Selby had two early chances in the final but could only build a 24 point lead. After a safety exchange, Day slotted a tricky red into a centre pocket, and then used the last five minutes of the contest to build a match-winning break.
His previous ranking titles came at the 2017 Riga Masters and 2018 Gibraltar Open. After losing in the final in Gibraltar in 2019, he suffered a loss of form and confidence so severe that he hadn’t gone beyond the last 32 of a ranking event in almost two years.
So this triumph comes as a welcome relief for the Pontycymmer cueman. And the spin-offs are considerable as he leaps into the top 16 of the one-year ranking list and is sure of a place in the Cazoo Players Championship later this month, and he may also earn a spot in the Champion of Champions later this year.
Day said: “I am just delighted to win. I got lucky in the last 16 because Zhou Yuelong should have beaten me, he was 25 points ahead with only a couple of minutes left and if he had played safe I would have been on my way home now, but he missed the blue and left me a chance.
“Those are the kind of things you need to go your way in this event. Mark was unlucky in the final to run out of position, and when I got my chance I held myself together. It’s not snooker as we know it – but it’s still a great win for me and I will take a lot from it.
“Hopefully this will be the start of better things for me. It takes the pressure off in terms of my ranking. It was in my mind that if I had a stinker of a finish to this season then I could have dropped out of the top 64. You never know what this game might bring.
“The money is handy because I bought a hot tub for my family last week and it was more expensive than I thought!”
He is up to third place in the BetVictor European Series, while Selby’s £20,000 runner-up prize keeps him in second and moves him closer to leader Judd Trump. The leader of that ranking list after the next two events will bank a £150,000 bonus.
The article is based on WST.TV