Friday, 26 April 2013

Apologie des Dechawat



Anlässlich des aktuellen Blogs des geschätzten Kollegen Gunnar Beuth (@sportal_gunnar), in dem er etwas provokativ fragt “[ist das] Noch Snooker oder schon Zirkus?”, möchte ich in diesem Rahmen eine Verteidigungsrede für Jack Poomy (aka Dechawat Poomjaeng) schreiben.


Beuth schreibt, völlig korrekt, dass Snooker seit jeher ein Sport ist, indem nicht alles erlaubt ist, was den Regeln nach nicht verboten ist - oftmals zusammengefasst unter dem Begriff “Gentlemen’s sport”. Gerade Dechawat hat aber, so finde ich, zumindest in den Frames, die ich bisher von ihm gesehen hab, nicht dagegen verstoßen. Sicherlich: er macht hin und wieder Faxen und zeigt seine Emotionen wohl deutlicher als jeder andere Spieler auf der Tour - und ist damit gewissermaßen die Antithese zu den meisten anderen Asiatischen Spielern.


Und doch ist er ein fairer Spieler. Er entschuldigt sich sofort für Flukes (z.T. sogar, wenn man streiten kann ob es sich um Flukes handelt - z.B. in einer Situationen, in der eine günstige Carambolage eine etwas bessere Stellung hervorbrachte). Er hat ein Foul gegen M. White angezeigt, bei dem Schiedsrichterin Michaela Tabb nicht sicher war, ob es denn eines war (rot und pink wurden fast gleichzeitig berührt). Und: all seine Faxen macht er nur, wenn er selbst am Tisch ist, zumindest habe ich nie gesehen, dass er den Gegner bei der Stoßvorbereitung oder gar beim Stoß irritiert. Selbst den obligatorischen Hand-shake hat er stets 1-2 Portionen herzlicher ausgeführt, als das bei anderen Spielern der Fall ist. Daher finde ich: der Gegner muss das abkönnen.


Was man bei der ganzen Sache nicht vergessen darf: Poomy ist ein solider Spieler, aber kein Weltstar. Seine Schwächen im Positionsspiel und im “Decision-making” sind unübersehbar und es würde mich nicht wundern, wenn er es nie wieder ins Crucible schafft (im Gegensatz zu M. White). Das ganze ist eine “Once in a lifetime”-Chance für ihn und es ist nur verständlich, dass er in gewissem Maße Aufmerksamkeit auf sich ziehen will. Spieler außerhalb der Weltspitze müssen auch immer sehen, wie sie mit ihrem Geld auskommen und das ganze ist eine gute Gelegenheit für ihn sich für mögliche Sponsoren interessant zu machen. Zumal er bei der WM auch ein Land repräsentiert, dass seit James Wattana keinen Achtelfinalisten mehr hatte und das auch außerhalb des Snookers nur wenige international bekannte Spitzensportler aufweisen kann (mir fällt spontan zumindest keiner ein).


Er begeistert die Zuschauer und selbst Spieler wie Mike Dunn und Judd Trump haben sich positiv über ihn geäußert. Gegen Maguire hat er vielleicht das beste Spiel seiner Karriere hingelegt, gegen White in der ersten Session übermotiviert gewirkt - ist Bälle angegeangen, die er besser nicht angegangen wäre und gegen Maguire auch nicht angegangen ist - und hat hier und da auch etwas Pech gehabt. Ich glaube nicht, dass er das Spiel wird drehen können und das Phänomen Jack Poomy wird damit von begrenzter Dauer sein. Trotzdem hat es einen Heidenspaß gemacht ihm zuzusehen und ich freu mich auf die beiden ausstehenden Sessions mit ihm. Er hat die WM um eine besondere Note bereichert.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Die Päckchentheorie

It has been a while since my last blog, but dont forget I never intended to this on a regulary basis. So today I'm gonna come up with something new and it will be in German as its German-related.

Die Päckchentheorie

Rolf Kalb, unser aller Lieblingsmoderator auf Eurosport, spricht öfters von ihr. Sie besagt, dass es oftmals so sei, dass Spieler in langen Spielen ihre Frames in Päckchen gewinnen und nicht abwechselnd. Ich will es mir im Folgenden zur Aufgabe machen das zu überprüfen. 

Wenn das stimmt würde das bedeuten, dass ein ein Spieler nachdem er einen Frame gewonnen hat, im anschließenden Frame eine erhöhte Wahrscheinlichkeit auf den Sieg hat, denn ansonsten würde ja kein Päckchen entstehen.

Was man jetzt braucht ist eine Liste von Snookerspielen, in dem jeder einzelne Frameergebnis bekannt ist. Zum Glück hab ich Chris Downers Snooker Almanach hier rumliegen, der dies für alle Weltmeisterschaftsspiele von 1977-2011 leisten kann.

Nun muss man noch ein paar Kleinigkeiten beachten: ich habe ausschließlich Spiele untersucht, die sich erst im Decider entschieden haben? Warum? Nun dass es bei einem 10:0 nur ein Päckchen (in dem Fall dann schon eher Paket) gibt ist selbsterklärend. Auch bei einem 10:5 müssen zwingend Päckchen vorhanden sein. Bei einem 10:9 oder anderen knappen Spielständen kann das vermieden werden.

Nun ist die Grundannahme, dass in solchen knappen Spielern wo jeder Spieler fast gleichviele Frames gewinnt, die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass ein Spieler nach einem Frameerfolg auch den nächsten gewinnt etwa 50% beträgt. Sollte die Päckchentheorie hingegen stimmen, sollte die Wahrscheinlichkeit signifikant höher sein (z.B. 60%). 

Ich habe nun also 27 Spiele untersucht, alle Spiele die bei den Weltmeisterschaften zwischen 2006 und 2011 im Decider entschieden wurden und jeden Frame darauf geprüft ob der Spieler ihn gewonnen hat, der auch den vorherigen gewann. Wenn das so war steht eine 1 in meiner Excel-Tabelle, wenn nicht dann eine 0. Am Ende wird das aufsummiert und durch die untersuchte Anzahl an Frames geteilt (aufpassen: bei einem 10:9 teilt man durch 18, da man den ersten Frame ja nicht darauf untersuchen kann wer den vorherigen "Frame null" gewann). 

Letzter technischer Hinweis: Ich habe der Einfachheit halber auch Sessionübergreifende Päckchen/Nicht-Päckchen untersucht.

Das Ergebnis

Von 588 untersuchten Frames gewann in 285 Fällen der Spieler, der den vorherigen gewann. Das sind 48,47 % und somit sogar ein kleines bisschen weniger, als statistisch vorhergesagt (wobei 1,5 % Abweichung bei der Stichprobengröße völlig normal sein sollte) 

In einzelnen Spielen schwankt das Ergebnis einigermaßen stark:

28 %, das päckchenärmste Spiel (2008 Ebdon gegen Cope)
0:1 0:2 0:3 1:3 1:4 2:4 2:5 3:5 4:5 4:6 5:6 5:7 6:7 7:7 8:7 8:8 9:8 9:9 10:9
hierbei gewann der zuvor siegreiche Spieler den nächsten Frame insgesamt 5 mal (von 18)

72 %, das päckchenreichste Spiel (2008 Carter gegen Hawkins)

0:1 0:2 0:3 1:3 2:3 3:3 4:3 5:3 6:3 7:3 7:4 7:5 7:6 8:6 9:6 9:7 9:8 9:9 10:9
entspricht 13 von 18

Fazit

Die Päckchentheorie lässt sich, vorausgesetzt man kann mir keine methodischen Fehler nachweisen, anhand meiner Daten nicht bestätigen. 

Das bedeutet nicht, dass es keine Päckchen gibt, sondern nur, dass sie im Snooker nicht wahrscheinlicher sind als z.B. beim zufälligen Werfen einer Münze (da kann mit einer gewissen Wahrscheinlichkeit auch 3x Kopf und dann 3x Zahl hintereinanderkommen ohne das jemand auf die Idee käme, die Münze würde Ergebnisse in Päckchenform abliefern.)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The structure of the World Snooker Tour

Hi folks,

it's been a while since my last posting, and I apologize for that. However I never intended this as a news-blog (like Pro Snooker Blog or Snookerbacker etc. - if you dont know that sites yet, check them out!) but as a place for snooker-related specials / spotlights / essays / whatever you wanna call it.

WorldSnooker announced today, that from 2014/15 on, the World ranking will be a Order of merit instead of the current ranking systems, and I wanna write down my thoughts here regarding the structure of the tour.

the snooker pro tour compared to golf & tennis

First of you have to consider, that you can't compare snooker to golf in my humble opinion. Snooker is based on 1vs1 matches, while you play golf for yourself/against the rest of the field. This means, you dont have to think about scheudles and you can't "protect" higher ranked players by giving them a couple of wildcards like its done in snooker at the moment.

You can, however, compare it to tennis, which is a 1vs1 sport just like snooker. I'm not so much into tennis, but as far as I know there are a lot more tournaments compared to snooker all over the world in different categories depending on price money. The players get ranking points for the stage they reached in a tournament depending on its category and the rankings are updated permanent. The Grand Slams are the most important, where almost everyone competes and the most points and money can be earned and then there are less important tournaments all around the world and often simultaneously in which only a few world class players compete. 

Snooker meanwhile has been a sport, where only 6-10 pro tournaments [carrying ranking points] a year were played for decades, mostly in the UK. Now with the PTC Events the number has increased, but fails to reach the amount of tennis tournaments by far. In contrast to tennis, in snooker almost all players play all events (besides Ronnie). I think its fair to say that this will change, when the new rules apply...

earning money with snooker // spending money on travelling

Imagine you are an England-based player: Why would you want to travel to Bulgaria for - lets say - 1000 pound when you have a 1:128 chance winning 10.000 pound, but a 1:2 chance being knocked out in round 1 without earning a penny? I think it was Mark Williams who said something similar after the Australian Goldfields Open (and thats a full ranking event, not a PTC!). It's kind of a bad deal for the player. Until now, the ranking points kind of forced them to enter more or less all events carrying ranking points (well.... besides Ronnie)

So the main problem is: you have very high travel costs, when you have to travel to events all around the globe, but World Snooker wants to promote snooker in new countries (like Bulgaria) - which is understandable as well. The current solution in full rankers, which already has been adopted for a few PTCs, is that only the Last 32 will play in Australia, Bulgaria (or whereever), while the previous matches are played somehwere in the UK. Good for the UK players, bad for the rest if you consider, that every player that isnt from the UK basically has to change his residence to the UK when we wants to play as a pro. Oh well, and its bad for the atmosphere (I think Stephen Maguire recently complained about that). And last but not least its bad for the non-British amateurs in the PTCs as well.

While this has worked quite well the last couple of years (as 90% of the players were from UK/Ireland), it may not be in the future anymore, when Snooker wants to become a global sport. Like tennis is. Ask Igor Figureido from Brazil, who showed the potential to rise in the rankings 2010/11 but couldnt afford it after a year anymore.

So what are the solutions? I have to be honest: it's hard to give any. WorldSnooker made a right decision with replacing PIOS by Q School. Its much easier for non-UK-players to qualify for the tour. But now they have to take care that all 128 players can participate in tournaments, without taking debts. And thats not an easy task to manage.

ranking points or order of merit?

so we have no ranking points in future anymore. everything is more easy. hooray.

well not really. I understand the idea behind the change, but no it's not that easy. If you compare the prize money with the ranking points you will see its not proportional. The champion gets about 10 times more money compared to a quarterfinalist.

example: World championship 2012:
winner 250k - finalist 125k - half-finalists 52k - quarter-finalists 24k

compared to the ranking points of the same tournament:

winner 10k - finalist 8k - half-finalists 6,4k - quarter-finalists 5k

you dont have to study math to see the difference. The current systems helps average quarterfinalists, while the new one will help tournament winners. So if you discuss about which system is the better system, ask yourself: What is a tournament victory worth? 10x quarterfinal or 2x quarterfinal

Everyone has to answer this for him/herself, I think its somewhere in between. 2x isnt enough, while 10x is too much. 

Final conclusion:

Snooker saw some radical changes already in the last couple of years:
- PTCs
- QSchool
- Power Snooker
- new Premier League rules
- other new Events in new countries (Brazil/Australia)
- 128 players instead of 96
and now:
- money based world ranking; probably associated with a more flat tournament system in all tournaments

Some of them worked well, some were already made undone. Its a work in progress.

And there are more changes yet to come, I am sure. The interests of top-level players, mid to low level players, TV stations, sponsors, audience, WorldSnooker itself and many more have to be considered to design a tour that fits to all expectations.

Snooker is developing quick after years of stagnancy, but there are also some serious problems, as I tried to figure out. Only time will tell, if it was a developement into the right direction or not.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Hendry's Crucible records - made for eternity?

Alright mates, this wont be another "Hendry is such a legend and he will be missed article" (although it's true), you can read that almost everywhere these days. I am going to focus on something else: on his Crucible records plus some speculations if his records can ever be beaten. 

I got that idea to write about this, after I read Steve Davis saying the BBC, that his 7 world titles will never be beaten. And who am I to say Steve Davis is wrong? 

But, to be honest, I'm not totally convinced, to be honest. 7 world titles seem possible to me (although it takes another legend to actually do this), but snooker players have a careertime of 20-25 years, which means they'd have to win one championship out of three in their entire career to equal Hendry. Not easy, but also not impossible. 

We have Higgins with 4 and O'Sullivan with the chance for his forth title. I think both are already too old to attack the 7. But maybe someone of the young players will be able to do so in future. Maybe Robbo who already has one or Judd Trump? Time will tell. But lets take a look at other records:

most matches played at the Crucible:

Hendry leads here with 90, followed by Steve Davis (84) and Jimmy White (75). I dont think those both will beat that, although Davis maybe can qualify for another world championship or two. But 6 games - I doubt it. But, if you consider Hendry retired relatively early in his career, maybe somewhen someone.... but as I said: time will tell. Not impossible, but unlikely to be beaten any time soon.

By the way one thing in general: You have to take into consideration, that its possible that Barry Hearn or someone else in the future changes the way of competition, e.g. with more games/frames at the Crucible stages, which could disort things a little, as its always the same for about 35 years now.

most matches won at the Crucible:

Its pretty similar to matches played. Hendry leads with 70, followed by Davis (60) and White (50). If Ronnie O'Sullivan wins this year he will be forth with 48. O'Sullivan would need to continue to play for a long time (which seems not very likely), the rest of the established players are too far away. So this record won't be beaten soon I think.

most prize money at the Crucible: 

With 2.25 milion pounds (before 2012) Hendry leads this statistic too, in front of Ronnie (1.68) and Higgins (1.47). This category is very likely to be beaten in my opinion, as the prize money will go upwards and inflation will do its job as well.

most frames played/won at the Crucible:

you may already guessed it: Hendry (1043/1800) > Davis (966/1680) > White (847/1558). 
Davis and White wont be able to beat those numbers, and I think they are very likely to remain eternal.

most maximum breaks at the Crucible:

Hendry made his third maximum this year to tie O'Sullivan. I can easily imagine O'Sullivan doing his forth or even other players to make 3 or more in future. So this probably wont be an eternal record.

most century breaks at the Crucible:

Hendry leads with 124, but Higgins (109) and O'Sullivan (106) are coming closer and closer. (all numbers pre 2012) - I'd say this wont be forever.

most century breaks in one year at the Crucible:

Hendry is first in this ranking with 16 century breaks in 2002. Higgins (14; 1998) and O'Sullivan (13; 2004) follow. This is tough, but not impossible to beat.

youngest player at the Crucible:

Luca Brecel broke this record this year, being approx. one and a half month younger than Hendry at his first appearance in 1986.

youngest champion at the Crucible:

21 years and 106 days are to be beaten. Possible. Judd Trump in 2011 was a little older (he lost the final anyways as you probably know), but it shows, that this record is not impossible to reach.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Does the game of Snooker need Judd Trump?

Hi folks,
First, I have to admit, the headline "Does the game of Snooker needs Judd Trump?" is a little provocative.So whats this all about?

Recently I read this article in a huge German newspaper called Süddeutsche Zeitung. For those who are not familiar with German newspapers, its known as a quality paper, maybe comparable to The Guardian in UK.

While it is in general a very nice signal, that non-sport-newspapers write about snooker in Germany, I was sad about the content itself. For two reasons: 

First: it was poorly investigated in some points (e.g. mashing up "Championship League" with "Champions League" or saying "Barry Hearn made major changed in the game" [which is correct], but then only focus on Power Snooker and leave out all the much more important changes like PTC, Q School, move towards China and Europe etc.). 

But okay, snooker is a "Randgruppensportart" (sport for a margin group) here and although Eurosport attracts up to 1 million German viewers, I understand that the market is comparatively small and not every newspaper can have its expert.

But what made me even more think, and what is the reason for writing this article: The media starts to search for another figurehead, after Ronnie seems to become less interesting.

The headline of the article is "Männlich, ledig, jung - und hochbegabt" (male, single, young - and highly gifted) It's about Judd Trump, the so-called "Retter" (saivor) of snooker and that he is the topfavorite of this years championship (beside Mark Selby). Well you can discuss hard about favorites (most of them are out already, lol), but I seriously hope that the sport of snooker is not dependent on a single player. 

Later in the article it is written that successful players nowadays act "fehlerfrei, mechanisch und roboterhaft" (flawless, mechanic and botlike), which is, according to the article, sometimes fascinating but more often terribly boring. 

While I still wonder which player on the tour has 100% stats in pots and safeties (thats what "flawless" means to me), I hardly disagree, that the status quo is boring. I like snooker, because its not screaming for attention, not about gossip, not that much show. Maybe thats old-fashioned.
Okay, Germany neither has a rising star like countries like Belgium or a tradition of famous players in the past like Canada or maybe Australia. So the author probably wanted a story about the world championship and needed an interesting story to build around to generate clicks. But its frustrating nevertheless. 

Snooker does not need saivors or figureheads. The beauty of the game is the game itself. And while Judd Trump is a brilliant player, I could not care less if he is a "playboy", about his hair or if he is dating with so-called celeberties. And if the only way for snooker to grow, is attracting people who do care about that, then please stop growing, snooker.

nuff said.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

a trophy, a place in history books, and 250.000 pounds. (1)

today we saw the draws for this years world snooker championship take place, and this blogpost should be a little candidate check. remember: the action starts at 21st april - 4 days away from the moment i am writing this.

first of all i should mention, that its much harder to predict the winner of the world championship nowadays, than it was until 2000, when Reardon (70s), Davis (80s) and Hendry (90s) dominated their decades. Since Hendry, noone was able to defend his title, so now we have a handful of players, that would be no surprise, if they'd win the title this year.



1 JOHN HIGGINS

He is the most successful player of the recent years, winning four titles, the last two in 2009 and 2011, but I give him little chances this year. Through the season his game wasnt at its best, and it seems to me, that there are "more hungry" players out there. Still he is a hard to beat and very experienced of course.

prediction: quarterfinals


2 MARK SELBY

He is the current World No. 1 in the rankings, but he never has been the type of player, that wins lots of tournaments, and to be honest I still wonder why. Without doubt he is one of the most gifted players of our days (I saw him playing live at the German Masters 2011), but when its about winning a tournament, he seems to struggle under pressure; you may even call him underachiever with just two ranking titles yet. In my prediction I see him progressing to the final, but there he will lose against... oh well you can read that somewhere below. ;)

prediction: runner up

3 MARK WILLIAMS

The Welsh Potting Machine is a two time world champion already (2000 and 2003) but he had'nt had his best season so far, just like Higgins. I'll give him a win over Liu Chuang and the winner of Ebdon/O'Sullivan, but in the quarters I predict a loss.

prediction: quarterfinals


4 JUDD TRUMP

The youngster had his breakthrough a year ago with the China Open trophy and the 2nd place at the crucible. This season his story of success went on, he won the UK Championship and made good progress in a couple of other tournaments. He is a great player, and he will be a world champion probably, but not in 2012 I'd say. Why? because it's boring to bet on the favorite (thats what he is, you according to most betting sites)

prediction: quarterfinals

  
5 SHAUN MURPHY

Shaun played a Mark-Selby-resque season so far, with lots of semifinals and quartersfinals, but without a title (just one first round defeat too though). I give him a win over Jones, but in the clash of the giants against Stephen Lee, I see him lose. Sure he is not a player you want to play against, because, as almost all high seeded players, his game is pretty complete, but his recent games didnt convinced me, that he can repeat his 2005 title.

prediction: 2nd round


6 NEIL ROBERTSON

Robbo is one of my favorite players out of the current snooker elite and so maybe I am not that neutral, but I give him a semifinal spot. His season was decent, besides the Masters title, but he is a player that shows no nerves under pressure. Although he lost his first ranking final recently (PTC Grand Finals) he is a monster in finals too.

prediction: halffinals


7 DING JUNHUI

I hate to predict him. If he is in the mood, he is unstopable, if not, then he is not. Just a bit like Ronnie, you never know what you can expect. This season he had lots of negative first round defeats, but also won Welsh Open and Championship League. I see him out in round 2 (against Allen), but it wouldnt be a huge surprise if he wins the tournament as well.

prediction: 2nd round


8 STEPHEN MAGUIRE

Ladies and gentlemen: my winner. He may not be the big favorite, but Maguire's game looked very solid this season, and he wasnt rewarded with a tournament victory yet (two ranking finals though), so that I choose him. Moreover he avoids very strong opponents in the first two rounds (well everyone is strong etc. pp., but Brecel and then Dott/Perry seems doable)

prediction: winner


9 GRAEME DOTT

No offense, but somehow I dont like Dott. I dont know him as a person, he may be a nice guy, but as a television viewer I cant really enjoy his games. I know he reached the final of the WC three times, and I'm not saying he is no good player, but somehow I cant give him more than a first round win over Perry before he will be knocked out by Maguire.

prediction: 2nd round


10 MARK ALLEN

The most diplomatic player on the tour, always humble and friendly. Well not really, but with the win at the city of dead cats, he became on of the extended favorites. In my draw he collides with Selby in the quarters, and thats a game that is hard to predict. I could easily imagine Allen winning, I just see it 51:49 in favour of Selby and someone has to lose.

prediction: quarterfinals


11 MARTIN GOULD

Gould is new in the Top16 and the highest ranked player I wouldnt give a true chance to win the title. Sure his game improved and he played a great season, but I'm not convinced that this will be his breakthrough tournament. Its up to him to prove me wrong now.

prediction: 2nd round


12 STEPHEN LEE

Lee played an extraordiary season. According to interviews, he really benefited by the enlarged number of tournaments and won his first major title since 2006. In my draw he knocks out Trump, but loses against Maguire in the semifinals.

prediction: halffinals


13 ALLISTER CARTER

I am not sure about the status of his injuries, but his season wasnt good and he'll fall out of the Top16 after the season, if he cant start a very good run. Moreover he will meet Mark Davis, one of the hardest qualifiers to beat in the first round. I see him losing this, although I really like to see him playing. Hard to believe he can repeat his performance of 2008, when he went to the final, only losing to a brilliant Ronnie O'Sullivan back then.

prediction: 1st round


14 RONNIE O'SULLIVAN

Dark Horse. You never know what you get. His starting game against Ebdon will be a clash of playing styles. In my draw I gave him a win against Ebdon (65:35 I'd say), but against his very close friend (attention: sarcasm) Mark Williams he will suffer a narrow lose.

prediction: 2nd round


15 MATTHEW STEVENS

Havent watched him play enough to really judge. Fu seems beatable, but further progress would be a surprise to me.

prediction: 2nd round


16 STUART BINGHAM

The veteran, who won the Australian Masters recently, got one of the hardest qualifiers. Stephen Hendry. Feels kind of odd to wrote that. Bingham is a solid player, but not solid enough to come to the second round.

prediction: 1st round


Agree? Disagree? I dont care? tmv has no idea about whatsoever? 
Let me know what you think. 

And/or prove it at http://event-prediction.com you find me as
"a. stoffers" (country: Germany)
there!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

*beep beep*. i'm still alive

Hi folks, glad you found your way here,

it has been a while since my last blogpost. Basically it has to do with a busy real life + my work at wikipedia etc pp.. Moreover, I am running out of countries to continue my "Focus on...."-series. There are a few left (Belgium/Netherlands e.g.) but somehow I cant find the right motivation right now. Maybe somewhen else, but this blog shall not become totally inactive, so I'll just write some random stuff going through my mind.

While I am writing this, the Snooker WC qualifiers are underway and all those guys battle hard to make their way to the Crucible. Most impressive for me was Scotsman Anthony McGill, who whitewashed Adam Wicheard

But lots of other players showed good performances too so far, including Luca Brecel, Yu Delu and Justin Astley. Besides that, Igor Figueiredo still has all chances to be the first Brazilian player at the Crucible, after he won a thrilling match today against Liu Song (sad, that it wasnt streamed though).

If you take a look at the last years, some of the lower ranked outsiders always made it through to the Crucible. Recent examples are Zhang Anda 2010 and Andrew Paggett 2011. Both made it through all 4 qualification matches.

The most extreme example still is John Giles, who qualified as #497 of the world rankings in 1993. Spencer Dunn follows at #460; also in 1993. It was the time when the game went open and the main tour wasnt limited to 96 (or 99 or 128) players as it is now.

In the same year, Ronnie O'Sullivan played his first World Championship as #415 of the world by the way. (all stats from Chris Downer's Crucible Almanach. God, I love this book.)

The lowest ranked quarterfinalists were Peter Ebdon (unranked in his debut season 1992) and Lee Walker (1997 as #189). If we go further to half/semifinals, either Shaun Murphy, the world champion of 2005 as #48 or Terry Griffiths as an unranked player in 1979 are winning, both are hard to compare though.


Well, I "stole" enough content of the Almanach for today I guess. I'm looking forward to a great WC and a short snookerless time afterwards (Q-School, new season begins in June already). So I'll finish here for the moment.


P.S. Just noticed, that I just had my 666th visitor (well, I guess ~ 100 out of those were my, myself and I, but however...), so we end this with a classic song. ;)

P.P.S. Stephen Maguire is still my under the radar favorite for the WC (because its boring to bet on Trump, O'Sullivan or Higgins ;)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Focus on small Snooker-countries - Part 7: East Europe

Aloha! another issue of my 'Focus on small Snooker-countries' awaits you. This time I offer a little insight to countries in Eastern Europe. Comments/Opinions/Retweets appreciated (as always).

Czech Republic

The World series of snooker visited Prague in october 2009 with four local players competing against the pros. Lukáš Křenek was able to steal John Higgins a frame, but the other players were whitewashed. It turned out to be the last WSoS event, followed by the news-of-the-world-scandal and a lifelong ban on Pat Mooney and a six month ban for Higgins - I guess you remember.

But snooker professional came back to Czech a year later with the PTC event number 12. Jakub Rendla was lucky enough to go to the L64 round by recieving a bye against Ronnie, who missed the tournament.

So all in all: as much as I like the country (i was there twice for holidays and its really beautiful): in aspects of snooker its a developing country. I'm not sure if this list is still valid, but according to it, there are nine venues where you can play snooker in the whole country, while a century break in competition is still to come. Wang Sishuo (who played at the WSoS event too) came closest with a 91. I think its fair to say that we probably wont see the first Czech pro player in near future.

Poland

Polish snooker is a huge step further, with Kacper Filipiak competing as the first player from Poland at the pro tour at the moment - although I have to add that he won none of his 15 matches so far. But he is such a young player (born 1995), that he is a guy to look at for the future - especially when you saw his performance at the World Cup, where he won his 1-frame-games against Higgins, Maguire and Fu. Recently he played his first century at the tour, with now only 768 remaining to equal Stephen Hendry ;)

Michal Zielinski (19 years old) played a few PTCs as an amateur and was able to beat a few Englishmen in the prequalifications, but never progressed further than L128. He also played at the WSoS final in Portugal 2009, where he stole Ryan Day a frame.

A Polish team, consisting of Krzysztof Wróbel, Rafał Górecki and Marcin Nitschke finished second in the 2011 European Team Championship. In the final they were beaten by a Welsh team (Walker/Wells/Krysa).

Ukraine

Watch out for Vladyslav Vyshnevskyy! Maybe his name contains much to much 'y's, but for a 13 year old guy, he already showed his talent by wining a pre-qual. match at PTC6 2012 and stealing a frame from Andrew Pagett in the L128. He also survived the group stages of the recent U21-European Championship in Sofia. If he continues to focus on snooker he may have a pro career awaiting him in five years or ten.

Two more players I can mention here are Sergiy Isayenko, who finished L32 at the 2010 European Championship and the 52-year old Alan Trigg who finished second at the EBSA Seniors Masters 2011.


up next: dont know yet.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Focus on small Snooker-countries - Part 6: New Zealand & Brazil

Alright, here we are again with another series of my blog, which features a collection of the most successful players of the various countries, this time introducing you to New Zealand and Brazil. 

New Zealand

We start in the deep past with Clark McConachy: He was the first non-english player, who reached a world championship final. It was 1932, when he challanged Joe Davis, but as all players of this era, he lost. He made it to another final in 1952, when he lost to Horace Lindrum (some more details: see last blog). Like most players of the pre-modern era he was a very successful english billards player too. He is the only cueist from New Zealand in NZ's sports hall of fame.

Dene O'Kane became a professional in 1984 is so far the only who made it to the crucible theatre (six times) and even reached the quarterfinals there twice (1987 and 1992). He has a career high ranking of 18 and made more than 400k pound price money. 

In 1989 he reached the final of the Hong Kong open, a ranking event, which took place only once. He lost there against Mike Hallett and fell off the top32 in 1996/97 and left the main tour in 2000/01, but requalified for a single season in 2006/07 via the oceanian championships. Recently he participated at the world seniors 2011 and beat Neal Foulds in the first round, before losing to Steve Davis in the quarters.

Chris McBreen is another former main tour player from NZ, who lives in Germany nowadays. He competed in the 2001/02 season with the pros, but won only a single game the whole season. He came back for the 2008/09 season, by finishing second in the Oceanian champs (winner Glen Wilkinson refused the main tour ticket) but again just won one single game. Since then he is back at amateurstatus and played a couple of PTCs, but without any surprise wins against famous players. 

The reigning national champion (2011) is Bayden Jackson.

Brazil

Brazil went to the public focus after the Brazil Masters was established this season as a main-tour-invitation-tournament. 

In contrast to New Zealand a history of international successful players is non-existent, but with Igor Figueiredo a very promising young player was invited to the tour in 2010/11 by a WPBSA-wildcard. His debut season was phenomenal if you consider, that he just played on smaller 10-foot-tables in his youth. (I read that somewhere, dont know if its true for 100% to be honest, but it really impressed me.) 

He requalified for another season via PTC-order of merit. His best results were Last64 appearances at the World Open and Shanghai Masters and a run to the last 16 at PTC3. Sadly he had problems finding a sponsor and just counldnt afford a second pro-season, but when he was invited to the already mentioned Brazil Masters he showed his class and beat Jamie Cope in his opeining match, before losing to the later finalist Graeme Dott.

He also participated in the 2008 10-ball pool world championship but didnt survived the group stages. There were some difficulties with the Brazilian snooker association, which caused him missing the World Cup in Thailand, although he was invited by the WPBSA.

Fabio Luersen and Noel Rodrigues played instead for Brazil, finishing last in the group stages but at least made a narrow victory against Belgium. Another notable player from Brazil is Itaro Santos, but he plays now for Germany and is mentioned in part 1 of this blog, where I focused on German players.


Hope u enjoyed, comments and retweets appreciated of course. ;)
Next episode: Eastern Europe

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Focus on small Snooker-countries - Part 5: Australia

Again, it took a while for me to write another part of my "focus on small snooker-countries"-series. This time I'll focus on Australia.

Wait what? Australia? small? Well... you might argue, that Neil Robertson was world champion and world number one, and I cant prove you wrong. But... besides him...? See, thats the reason I includeded Australia, but I'll leave out Robertson, as he is famous enough to inform about him elsewhere, just like I did with Marco Fu and Hong Kong here.

Australia

When we take a look deep into history, the first famous Australian name you'll find is Horace Lindrum. He was a finalist in the world championships three times (1936, 1937 and 1946) but lost all of them against the unbeaten champion Joe Davis. You have to keep in mind, that the World championship wasnt anything like today, as it had just a few participants and snooker was not really a competitive sport like today.

When in 1952 the Billiards Association and Control Council and the Players Association made two different World championships, Lindrum won the BA&CC-version (as one of only two participants), so he is even included in some lists of world champions, although the legitimacy of this event as a world championship is disputed. 

It is said, that he made more than 1000 centuries in public events, although records from this era shouldnt be viewed too credulously.

After him, Eddie Charlton was the next Australian to reach a final of a world championship. When the WCs were played in challange-events (comparable to chess or boxing) he challanged John Pulman, but lost 39:34.

He made it into two more WC finals in 1973 and 1975 (in Melbourne!), when the event was already played as a tournament, but before it went to Sheffield. He lost both matches to welshman Ray Reardon. In 1972, 1973 and 1980 he won the Pot Black Cup, the World Matchplay 1976 and he was a world championship finalist in English Billards too. 

Another one who made it to a world championship final is Warren Simpson. He played in 1971 in Sydney against John Spencer, but lost 37:29. I couldnt find out much more about him, except that wikipedia says he died in 1980 suffering from diabetes.

Warren King is a notable player, who reached the final of the Classic in 1990 and qualified for the world championship four times. (career high rank: 35)

Glen Wilkinson is another veteran player, who played at the professional circut at the begin of the 90s. He meanwhile returned to Australia and won a couple of national and continental championships.

Well, we slowly come closer to present, and our next player is Quinten Hann, who was a pretty successful player, reaching the halffinals in the Irish Masters 2004 and being a top-16-player for two season. Moreover he earned more than 400k pound in his professional career. Unfortunately he always was kind of an enfant terrible. He was brought to court for raping but was acquitted. After losing a game to Andy Hicks he challanged him for a boxing fight. Mark King accepted on Hicks' place and both got proper boxing licences. Hann won. 

His star finally sunk, when he was accused of betting manipulation in 2005 by journalists of the gutter paper "The Sun". Hann finally recieved an eight year ban from professional snooker in 2006. 

Johl Younger played two years on the main tour (2002/03 and 2003/04) making it to the Last 64 in the World Championships as well as the British Open as his best career results.

Another player of format is Steve Mifsud, who won the IBSF amateur championship 2002. He was a main tour player in 2003/04 and 2007/08 but wasnt very successful. The probably best known player he was able to beat was Liang Wenbo, before his breakthrough. He played as Robertsons double partner at the 2011 World Cup and gained a wildcard for the Australian Goldfield Masters Event 2011, just like his brother James Mifsud (both lost their opening matches though). 

Since 2006 Vinnie Calabrese regulary plays at the main-tour-qualification events (PIOS/Q-School) and maybe we'll see him as the second Australian main tour player soon. 




Thanks for reading and plug in for the next episode - I'll take New Zealand and Brazil in Part six.