Tony Drago withdraws from the WSS World Championship and is replaced by Wayne Cooper

Unfortunately, Tony Drago, following his doctor advice, had to withdraw from the WSS ROKiT Phones.com World Championship. He is replaced by Sheffield’s very own Wayne Cooper.

Here is the announcement that was published on social media by Jason Francis:

YORKSHIRES WAYNE COOPER GET CRUCIBLE CHANCE…
Following a consultation in Malta with his doctor, and with the current COVID situation, the Tornado Tony Drago has made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship.
Former Professional Wayne Cooper who is next highest placed on the World Seniors Ranking list will replace him. Cooper was due to attend the testing next Tuesday in case any positive tests were returned, he will now take Tony’s place in the event and plays Gary Filtness next Thursday at 1pm in the Last 16 of the Event
Wayne Cooper
Wayne said “I feel terribly sorry for Tony but one phone call last night has changed my life, its up to me now to make the most of it”
Tony said “Nobody is more disappointed than me. I love playing seniors events but my health have to come first. I’m healthy again thank god but because of Covid 19 I decide to pull out thank you all for your understanding”
The ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship begins on Wednesday 19th and will be shown across the BBC Digital Platforms.

 

A very important message from Jason Francis regarding the Seniors World Championship line-up

This message was share by Jason on Facebook yesterday. It explains how the line-up for the 2020 Seniors World Championship was decided.

As I did read some criticisms about this line-up myself, I thought it’s important to share Jason’s explanation on this blog as well.

Dear all,
I was made aware of a thread started on Facebook last night around the validity of the 16 players who received invitations to the Rokit world seniors snooker championship and although no one has asked me directly, choosing rather to jump to incorrect conclusions, I am happy to explain the rationale.
I don’t expect everyone to agree, the game is all about opinions, but to claim any personal friendships played any part in selections is quite frankly very disappointing to see.
The criteria of our world championship has always been very transparent. A minimum 25% of the field to come from qualifiers, 50% to come from invited legends of the game who bring Commercial value to the event (this ensuring ticket sales and broadcast interest, and 25% to be used by the WSF to extend continental invitations to the senior champions of the continents.
Of course if this season had been fully played there would of been 6 spots for qualifiers, exceeding our pledge, as we all know covid has wrecked our season as well as much of many other sports.
It would have been very easy to cancel the world seniors championships, with no audience the tour is deprived of its major income stream of course. But we didn’t give up and we not only decided to stage an event but also secured the BBC as our broadcast partner.
These two important victories came as a result of brilliant work by the new additions to the board. These people were put in place by Jason Ferguson and I to ensure the tour is able to be sustainable in years to come.
I am disappointed to still see this referred to as the legends tour or snooker legends tour, it’s quite clearly the WPBSA World Seniors Tour so that’s very misleading.
Also misleading is that only one player qualified by right, our event in Toronto was won by bob chaperon who because of covid travel restrictions was unable to take up his place. People seem to have forgotten that.
Again because of Covid the WSF were unable to extend continental invitations this year, denying the champions of other continents the chance to send their nominations
So in a landmark deal, which helps secure the future sustainability of the tour, current professionals over 40 ranked 65-128 can choose to enter qualifying events from next season.
This season the continental places have been awarded to 4 Former world seniors champions. No member of our tour has lost out because of this.
Some players won their right to a final stage TV event in Coleraine to see it cancelled. They earn their right and are rewarded with their place.
8 spots are taken by the commercially selected legends, all multiple ranking event winners or former world professional champions. Without these, with all due respect to the rest of the tour there would be no TV, no crucible and no prize money.
None of these invited legends have taken a place of a tour player.
The last three places were made up from our official ranking list, top ups in exactly the same way world snooker do. Complete transparency. We put emphasis on our ranking list and if we had ignored it that would have been an insult to those who had consistently performed to get where they are.
If after Reading this then you still think the board have made mistakes then that’s a personal opinion but to start a thread full of inaccuracies is quite frankly disrespectful to those who have been invited on merit.
So in conclusion
1, it’s not a legends tour
2, the selection criteria given the position covid put us in is transparent even if you don’t personally agree with it
3, no one person is making these decisions
4, all those selected will do our event proud.
So can I ask the tour as a whole now gets behind the event and uses social media to promote it rather than criticise the 16 who in my opinion are the deserving ones on Merit
And spare a thought for bob chaperon
Thanks
Jason

The 2020 Seniors World Championship – first round format and schedule

The schedule and format for the 2020 WSS ROKiT Phones.com World Championship is now available. The matches will be best of 7. The setup is just one table.

Jimmy White is the defending Champion.

Wednesday 19th of August – 1pm

Ken Doherty v Rodney Goggins

Aaron Canavan v Leo Frenandez

Wednesday 19th of August – 7pm

Jimmy White v Joe Johnson

Patrick Wallace v Darren Morgan

Thursday 20th of August – 1pm

Tony Drago  v Gary Filtness

Michael Judge v Dennis Taylor

Thursday 20th of August – 7pm

Stephen Hendry v Nigel Bond

Tony Knowles v Peter Lines

 

Supporting “Silence of Suicide”

This was announced yesterday on the “World Seniors Snooker” Facebook page:

Following yesterday’s announcement of the ROKiT Phones World Seniors Championship we are delighted to follow on and announce that we have adopted SOS Silence of Suicide as our Official Charity.
The Charity was founded by Seniors Board Director Yvette Greenway-Mansfield and her husband Michael Mansfield QC. The aim is to raise £14,700 to help provide a permanent phone line where anyone within the snooker family who is suffering from any mental health issue can call and someone will be there to listen.
The Charity currently offers a free, confidential, one to one online chat support service between 1-6pm every day, because of our previous fundraising with the ‘First Poke’ Challenges we are pleased to say that during our World Seniors Championships a standard rate phone line will launch.
This will start on 19th August between the hours of 5pm and 7Pm which will be between the sessions of play.
Around 800,000 people a year are dying by suicide (Source: WHO).
If what we do as a snooker family can prevent one of these deaths, it will stop another family being devastated.
On average if your shot time ever hits 35 seconds during that thinking time someone somewhere in the world has taken their own life. Makes you think.
We want to encourage everyone to speak up and eradicate the shame, stigma and silence that surrounds suicide and mental health in general. Please visit the SOS Silence of Suicide website and read their story, learn what they do and how they do it.
Once our events are able to host an audience we will provide a safe and secure place where anyone suffering with mental health issues can talk to one of the SOS Team. ‘First Poke’ will also continue to contribute to SOS.
We look forward to announcing many more initiatives in the new season with this fantastic charity.
SOS support at Crucible

Please support this great initiative by sharing this post. Thank you.

 

 

 

The 2020 ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Championship is ON !!!

This was announced today by WPBSA

ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker (WSS) is today delighted to announce that the 2020 ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Championship will once again be held at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre from 19-22 August.

Won a year ago by the ever-popular ‘People’s Champion’ Jimmy White, the tournament will see a distinguished line-up of 16 players including ‘King of the Crucible’ Stephen Hendry and 1997 champion of the world Ken Doherty, battle it out to lift the trophy at the home of snooker.

For the first time the tournament will be broadcast live on BBC digital platforms with selected matches available on the ‘Red Button.’ Coverage in China will be shown on major digital TV platforms and across the USA via the Matchroom.Live.

ROKiT Phones – pioneers of the glasses-free 3D phone with onboard Value Added Services – will once again be the title sponsor to the event, continuing a partnership which saw the telecommunications company become the naming rights partner of the WSS Tour in 2019.

The event will be held behind closed doors with no tickets available for spectators due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ALL-STAR LINE-UP

An international field of 16 players will be led by defending champion Jimmy White, who will be joined by seven-time world professional champion Stephen Hendry, the ‘Darlin of Dublin’ Ken Doherty and reigning UK Seniors champion Michael Judge as the four seeded players kept apart until the semi-finals

The remaining 12 players will be randomly placed in the draw, including former world champions Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson, as well as former top 10 duo Tony Knowles and Tony Drago. Also set to compete at the Crucible are former World Seniors Snooker champions Peter Lines, Nigel Bond, Aaron Canavan and Darren Morgan.

The draw will be completed by WSS Tour players Leo Fernandez, Patrick Wallace, Rodney Goggins and Gary Filtness.

The inclusion of current professional players has been made possible following a landmark new agreement between WSS and World Snooker Tour which will now allow lower ranked tour players over 40 to compete at WSS eventsPlayers not automatically invited to tournaments will be eligible to enter future qualifying events.

Jason Francis, WSS Chairman said: “The ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Tour has gone from strength to strength and despite these difficult times globally we are delighted to be able to deliver a truly world class event live on the BBC and around the world. I would like to thank our title sponsor ROKiT Phones for their continued support and look forward to seeing some fantastic snooker played later this month.”

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “It is always such a treat to see snooker’s grand masters reappear at the Crucible Theatre. Few could forget the great sporting moments and entertainment   these former champions have given us.

“The WPBSA strategy is to grow a sport for all, from aspiring juniors, elite amateurs, professional tour players through to the incredible entertainment of the ROKiT World Seniors Tour. Snooker is a sport for life, and I would like to thank ROKiT Phones, our broadcasters, and partners for the opportunity to add this great event and tour to our group.”

Michael Coombes, ROKiT Phones CEO UK said: “We are delighted to continue our sponsorship to play a part in the Championship, and what will be without doubt, tension filled matches between prestigious players. To celebrate, all our viewers will also be able to benefit from an exclusive offer that will be shared on our website Partners page.”

Jonathan Kendrick, ROKiT Chairman said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with World Seniors Snooker, its great fans will be able to enjoy the action live on their ROKiT Phones for the very first time.”

The 2020 ROKIT Phones World Seniors Snooker Championship takes place from 19-22 August at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.

This is absolutely fantastic news!

The bold highlight has been added by me.

Note that “lower ranked players” mean “not in the top 64”. This is also great news and only right, allowing players reaching the end of their career to smoothly make the transition to the seniors circuit.

 

The reigning WSS World Champion, Jimmy White reaches round 3 at the Main Tour 2020 World Championship Qualifiers

The WSS reigning World Champion, Jimmy White, is playing in his 40th professional snooker World Championship. He needs to win four matches to reach the Crucible stage. The last time he reached that stage was in 2006.

Here are the reports by Eurosport on those two matches:

Round 1: Jimmy White 6-3 Ivan Kakovskii

World Snooker Championship: Jimmy White makes winning start to qualifying

Jimmy White - R1 of the 2020 WC quals

Jimmy White made a highest break of only 58, but was still good enough to complete a 6-3 win over Russian amateur Ivan Kakovskii in his opening qualifier in Sheffield.

The six-times world finalist – runner-up in 1984, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 – last played at the Crucible Theatre in 2006, but has not given up hope of returning to the sport’s biggest stage by coming through four qualifying rounds.

“My focus was in and out. I was expecting great things, but it didn’t happen. I’ve been practising hard and producing good stuff, but when you come to a tournament you want to win so bad and make so many unforced errors, it’s mind-blowing sometimes.

“But that’s why the game is so exciting. I’ve got a bit of conjunctivitis and I think that’s because I’m revved up and ready to go.”

White’s 21-year-old opponent was not even born when he lost 18-17 to Stephen Hendry in his last world final appearance 26 years ago, but he still had too much for his young rival at the English Institute of Sport.

Kakovskii made a break of 60 to level at 1-1 and a 76 to close to 4-3 behind, but the 1992 UK champion finished strongly with runs of 54 and 58 seeing him progress to a match with former Shoot-Out champion Michael Georgiou on Thursday afternoon.

“From 4-2 up, I stole a couple of frames, but when it went 4-3 I felt okay then and it is nice to know I have it in the armoury when I’m under pressure to feel okay,” added White.

“I’ve got to stay focused against Michael and can’t get too ahead of myself. Everybody wants to get to the World Championship and show your class over the longer distance.”

This is Jimmy speaking to WST after his first round win:

Round 2: Jimmy White 6-4 Michael Georgiou

World Snooker Championship: Jimmy White keeps dream alive with tense win over Michael Georgiou.

Jimmy White - R2 of the 2020 WC Quals

Jimmy White fought back from trailing 3-1 to complete a 6-4 qualifying victory over world number 62 Michael Georgiou, who is set to lose his tour card after a tense defeat.

The six-times world finalist – runner-up in 1984, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 – used all his matchplay skills to progress to the third qualifying round despite struggling for any fluency in a nervy and often scrappy encounter at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

At the age of 58, White, the oldest player on the professional tour who competes via an invitational tour card, dominated the final frame of the match to secure a meeting with Robert Milkins in the penultimate round of qualifying, but will know he will have to score heavier with a 54 in the fifth frame his best contribution of the day.

“I was in out and out of focus. At 3-1 behind, I was dead and buried the way I played,” said White.

“In the fifth frame, Michael let me off a couple of times. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to make him win this’ and when it went to 3-3 I really fancied the job.

“During lockdown, it’s been really strange times, but about 10 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get into my club and I just practised solid.

“The last two weeks, I’ve played some good players and was competing against them so my game is there.

“Hopefully, I can gain a bit of confidence and get out the traps quickly against Rob Milkins because the standard is getting better and you have to win a lot more frames at one visit.

“I’m very confident in my game. I know it’s there, it is just finding it. When you are younger, it is easy to switch into the zone. I’ve got through today so I’ll kick on from there.”

‘The Whirlwind’ is only two wins away from his first visit to the Crucible Theatre for the first round of the sport’s biggest tournament since 2006 in what is astonishingly his 40th appearance at the World Championship.

It is a bitter pill to swallow for former Shoot Out winner Georgiou, who enjoyed breaks of 70, 53 and 121 yet still fell to defeat as he faces up returning to qualifying school to win back his tour card a year after himself reaching the Crucible.

Here is Jimmy’s interview after beating Michael Georgiou:

Tomorrow, next up for Jimmy is Robert Milkins.

 

Important message from Jason Francis regarding the next scheduled events

Jason Francis, Chairmam of WSS shared this on Facebook today:

ANNOUNCEMENT – LEEDS 24TH-26TH JULY

Dear ROKiT World Seniors Tour Players,

I hope this finds you all safe and well, we know we are in unprecedented times not knowing when our clubs can open, if our clubs and open but not play snooker and also when we can stage Senior Events.

We’ve been waiting on clarification from the Government and been in constant contact with the Northern Snooker Centre about the last qualifier of the season 24th – 26th July. Sadly after discussions with them, and the viability of being able to stage an event which adheres to the strict covid policies, it is with regret we are forced to cancel.

We understand players may see clubs open, and professional snooker on the television but the sheer amount of work and testing that has been involved in that, not to mention the costs of testing, make an amateur qualifying event at this stage not possible.

Everyone who has entered will be offered a refund of course and I will write to you separately.

The Seniors Board are working hard to try and make sure our World Championships go ahead in August at the crucible, we’re also already planning as to how next season could look with restrictions still likely to be in place.

We hope it won’t be too long before you are able to visit your clubs to play again, and you supporting those clubs is now more important than ever. As soon as we have more news we will update you,

Kind regards

EmptyClub

Jason

There is no doubt that Jason does everything he can to get the players playing, but it’s not in his hands, and the health and safety of everyone involved – players, referees, club staff – are the most important things to consider. We are going through uncertain times and, hopefully, when this is over, the WSS tour can resume with every single member safe, healthy and eager to play. Take good care of yourselves.

Farewell Willie…

The snooker family lost one oh their great characters today: Willie Thorne has left us, he lost his battle against leukaemia in the early hours of this morning.

Willie was a great player, an excellent commentator and a lovely man. No matter his personal issues and concerns, he was always friendly.

He was a prolific breakbuilder, whose style was well ahead of his time.

Willie and his brother Malcolm were well respected and loved by all involved in the amateur game. They helped and supported countless budding players, amongst them, the young Mark Selby.

Here is the BBC tribute to the man nicknamed “Mr Maximum”

Willie Thorne: From Mr Maximum to Snooker Loopy – remembering one of the game’s great characters

By Frank Keogh

BBC Sport

Willie Thorne (left) with Chas and Dave (centre) and his Matchroom Mob colleagues Tony Meo, Terry Griffiths, Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis

Mr Maximum. Snooker Loopy. The Great Willie Thorne.

He was all of these. One of snooker’s most popular players, a respected television commentator and a much-loved figure, although he had a gambling addiction which left him heavily in debt.

Thorne, who has died aged 66, was perhaps recognised for his premature bald head and manicured moustache as much as his break-building prowess.

His soothing tones endeared him to a generation of TV viewers, and he was a popular contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.

In a career that spanned snooker’s boom in the 1980s, he was part of the Matchroom Mob that featured in the surprise 1986 chart hit Snooker Loopy.

Thorne went from top of the pots to Top of the Pops as he played up to Chas and Dave’s line of “Old Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gorn” with the reply: “Perhaps I ought to chalk it!”

Born in Leicester, where he later formed a close friendship with football star and snooker fan Gary Lineker, he was a talented player who reached number seven in the world, although a major title eluded him.

Thorne was haunted by his error in the 1985 UK Championship final against Steve Davis, when 13-8 ahead and on the verge of extending his lead to within two of victory, he missed the simplest of blues off its spot.

He later admitted: “I went back to my seat and the doubts kicked in straight away. I was still 13-9 in front, but all I could think about was the way I’d failed in big games in the past.”

Archive interview: I’d much rather play the attractive game – Willie Thorne

His rise through the snooker ranks was rapid. Having only started playing the game aged 14, within two years he was crowned national under-16 champion.

Swiftly turning professional, he came to be regarded as one of the sport’s finest break builders, earning the nickname Mr Maximum as he became only the third player to secure 100 competitive centuries.

Thorne reached his first of two World Championship quarter-finals in 1982, where he pushed the eventual champion Alex Higgins.

Three years later, just three months before his painful loss to Davis, he won his first and only world ranking title, beating Canadian Cliff Thorburn to lift the Mercantile Credit Classic.

But Thorne was already struggling with a gambling addiction, and journey to the UK semi-finals in 1987 – where he was beaten 9-2 by Davis – represented the last big tournament run.

Thorne revealed the extent of his gambling issues in an interview with the Guardian in 2004,external-link recalling an incident in which he placed a bet of £38,000 on John Parrott losing a game, because he had lost his cue.

He was commentating on the game for the BBC, and said: “I put £38,000 on Parrott to lose because he didn’t have his cue, but he ended up winning the bloody game.

“I’m having to close the commentary by saying it’s unbelievable, spewing up as I say it.”

Thorne twice reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship

Thorne, who worked as a BBC commentator for 30 years, later revealed he lost £1m to gambling in his career. He was declared bankrupt in 2016.

He remained a familiar figure within the sport and competed in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 with partner Erin Boag, being voted out in 12th place.

He was married to ex-Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby, but they split up after 24 years as his gambling troubles escalated.

Thorne announced he was beginning treatment for leukaemia in March 2020.

He died on Wednesday at the age of 66, having being placed into an induced coma in hospital in Spain after suffering respiratory failure.

The tributes tell their own story – former world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno and darts legend Phil Taylor demonstrating how his popularity transcended snooker.

“Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker,” said seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry.”I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do) but he was one of the game’s greatest ever characters.”

Dennis Taylor, who famously beat Davis to win the world title in 1985, said: “Devastating news about Willie Thorne. We laughed our way around the world for 45 years.

“RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT.”

There were far too many tributes on social media to cite them all, but here are a few notable ones:

Cliff Thorburn on Twitter:

Very sad to hear of my great friend Willie Thorne’s passing. O the memories, the happiness and the laughter ❤️Condolences and deepest sympathies to his family Cliff and Barbara Thorburn xxx

Ronnie O’Sullivan on Twitter and Facebook:

Just want to say what a beautiful man, big heart great company. Had a week in ireland with him I’ll never forget. Will be missed by a lot of people in the Snooker world. RIP WT

World Seniors Snooker on their official FB page

Everyone at World Seniors Snooker is devastated to learn of the passing of the great WT. After 27 years of not playing Willie Thorne picked up his cue again on the seniors tour and got to walk out at the Crucible Theatre last August which we know meant a lot to him. RIP Mr Maximum.

Farewell Willie … we are missing you already.

The Snooker Family comes together, plays and sings to support Health Services.

Jason Francis, chairman of  World Seniors Snooker and “inventor “of the Snooker Legends is passionate about snooker, caring about people, extremely dynamic, has a background in the world theatre, panto and shows … and a creative mind.

Since the lockdown, he has come up with a number of initiatives aiming at keeping people busy and positive whilst gathering money to support the NHS, and its equivalent organisations in other countries. 

The first one was the blue ball challenge. 

Players who have a table at home were invited to attempt to pot the blue – on its spot – playing from the D. There were given 10 attempts and were invited either to do it “live” on facebook or to record their performance to be shown later on social media. Everyone interested in supporting them, were invited to have a guess about how many they would get, just for fun, to watch and, if possible, to make a donation to support a health service, NHS, or a local hospital, a charity or the player’s national health service if they aren’t British.

Players from all abilities and background took the challenge: seniors, juniors, main tour, men and women, ablebodied and disabled. Players came from Britain, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, Bermuda, Thailand … and I’m sure I’m missing quite a few.

On May 4, this was proudly published

Blue Ball Challenge

Polo shirts are now available, featuring the players name and their score. They are availbale for £20, of wich £10 goes to the cause.

Here is the “Dylan Smith” one … Dylan is only 12 years old and scored 8 out of 10!

Dylan Smith Polo

If you are interested in getting a polo, and support the cause, here is the link allowing you to order one by email

The blue ball challenge was a great success but, as not every player has access to a table at home, the cause is currently running out of blue ball challengers…

So Jason is now coming up with a different challenge: the first poke.

Here is Jason explaining what it’s all about:

And that’s not all … the snooker family got together to produce this 🎤:

Here is what was shared by Jason on the World Seniors Snooker official Facebook page, regarding the song and rights attached to it:

The Snooker Family have come together to continue our fundraising for Health Workers. If you enjoy this please consider donating to our cause at

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/snookerfamily

This recording is a cover performed with permission of the owner of the backing track. Karaoke. Co. Uk Original Song written by Sting (c) A&M records ltd. We do not own the copyright or any rights to the song

So, if you want to help and support your health services, there are plenty of ways you can do just that AND have fun at the same time! THANK YOU!