Our Seniors Snooker World Champion wins Q-Tour event One

David Lilley won the first Q-Tour event of this season. There are four such events sheduled this season, with the player topping the order of merit getting a two year professional tour card.

Here is the report by WPBSA

Lilley Crowned King of the Castle at Q Tour

England’s David Lilley has claimed the inaugural WPBSA Q Tour title following a 5-1 final defeat of China’s Si Jiahui at the Castle Snooker & Sports Bar in Brighton.

The WPBSA Q Tour is an official pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won across the season from four tournaments. The events are open to all players, with 48 players automatically qualified for the last 64 stage through their position on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit.

Reigning World Seniors Snooker champion Lilley was one of eight players competing on the final day having seen the field reduced from 107 since the start of the tournament and was impressed throughout, compiling 14 breaks of 50, including three centuries during his six matches played.

Having already dispatched English trio Hamim Hussain, Daniel Womersley and John Astley, his closest match came at the quarter-finals stage where he won the final two frames to edge out Welshman Daniel Wells 4-3, before dominating Alex Millington to reach the title match.

There he would face fellow former professional Si, who himself had seen off Lee Shanker, Soheil Vahedi and Alfie Lee to reach the final day, before toppling Keishin Kamihashi and Simon Bedford to earn the right to face Lilley.

The 19-year-old would have no answer in the decisive match, however, as he quickly fell 4-0 behind – potting just five balls prior to the mid-session interval – leaving Lilley just one frame from the title. Although Si would claim the first frame upon their resumption with a cool clearance of 84, Lilley would not be denied and took out the decider with a break of 76 to become the first Q Tour champion of the season.

The victory puts Lilley in pole position for the first World Snooker Tour card available from the new Q Tour series, with the top ranked player following this season’s four scheduled events set to qualify. A further 16 players will contest a play-off tournament for the second card.

The WPBSA would like to thank all of the players, officials and in particular the Castle Snooker Club and its staff, who helped to ensure the success of the first Q Tour event – which saw an impressive 28 century breaks compiled across three days.

The WPBSA Q Tour will return with Event Two from 10-12 December at the Terry Griffiths Matchroom, Llanelli. The closing date for entries for the event is 4:30pm on Friday 26 November 2021

 

 

Ahmed Aly Elsayed books his spot at the Crucible

We will see an American Senior at the Crucible next May

Congratulations Aly and best of luck at the Theatre of Dreams

Aly Wins Pan American Seniors Snooker Title

Ahmed Aly Elsayed is set to realise a dream and appear at the Crucible Theatre next May after winning the 2021 Pan American Seniors Snooker Championship in Canada.

The American – who last month won a record-breaking sixth national championship title – claimed the continental accolade at the Corner Bank venue in Toronto. The triumph means he earns a coveted berth at the 2022 World Seniors Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

Organised by the Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA), a total of 48 players representing Brazil, Canada and the United States of America took part in the competition that initially featured an eight-group round robin phase which was followed by knockout rounds.

New York cueist Aly qualified from his group and then defeated Alan Whitefield 3-1, Ali Baba 4-3 and Eddie Galati 4-1 before denying Levi Meiller 4-1 in the final.

Aly will now turn his attention to the Pan American Snooker Championship which takes place at the same venue over the next few days. The winner of this premier continental event for the Americas will secure a two-year World Snooker Tour card.

Article by Michael Day.

Changes to the qualifying process for upcoming events

This press release was shared by the Seniors World Tour on social media

PRESS RELEASE
Today the World Seniors Snooker Tour announces some changes to the Qualifying criteria for the upcoming events in December 2021 and February 2022.
These changes are immediate and follow lengthy consultations with the players commissions of both the WPBSA and World Seniors and the WPBSA Board. These changes apply to this season only at this stage as a trial, a decision on whether to adopt them for the tour will be taken after the conclusion of the 2022 World Seniors Snooker Championship.
The changes are:
  • For the World Seniors Qualifier in December (14-19) no current professional players will be eligible for entry which means that two Amateur players will progress from that event to the 2022 World Seniors Snooker Championship which will be held at the Crucible Theatre between the 4-8th May 2022.
  • For the World Seniors Qualifier in February (8-13) no amateur players will be eligible for entry which means that two Professional players will progress from that event to the 2022 World Seniors Snooker Championship.
The following amateur players have already secured their places in the final event and so will also not be eligible to enter the December Event. Those players are Patrick Wallace, Michael Judge, Gary Filtness, Wayne Cooper, Bob Chaperon, Frank Sarsfield and Darren Morgan.
Jason Francis, Chairman of World Seniors said, “We must listen to our players and never be afraid to make bold decisions when needed. Its important the tour provides opportunities for both professional and amateur senior players.
With some of the very best over 40 Amateur players in the world already in Sheffield Decembers event represents a fantastic opportunity for any snooker player over 40 to walk out at the Crucible live on TV”

Personally I think that those changes are good as they guarantee that both older professionals and amateurs will be present at those important events.

Seniors snooker news – 18.10.2021

The draw for the 2022 UK Seniors Championship first round has been made.

2021SeniorsUKDrraw

Darren Morgan has won the Seniors 2021 EBSA (European) Championship in Portugal last week. Congratulations Darren.

This EBSA championship carried a spot into the 2022 Seniors World Championship. Because Darren is already in the draw, this spot will be given to the runner-up, Frank Sarsfield.

FrankSarfield

Here is the Press released as shared on World Seniors Snooker Facebook page.

PRESS RELEASE- FRANK SARSFIELD
Following his run to the final in the EBSA European Seniors Championship World Seniors Snooker is delighted to announce that Frank Sarsfield from Ireland gets a place in our 2022 World Seniors Championship which will be played at the Crucible Theatre in May.

With the current EBSA Seniors Champion already qualified, Darren Morgan, the federation has decided to use their nomination for the runner up from that event.
The news was broken to Frank by EBSA Chairman Maxim Cassis who has been overseeing a tremendous event in Portugal of over 500 personnel. With Darren and Frank in the field the EBSA is well represented.

Jason Francis, Chairman of World Seniors, said “To play snooker at the Crucible Theatre is the pinnacle for any snooker player, it’s the dream we all have when we first pick up a cue. We are delighted to accept the EBSA nomination of Frank Sarsfield from Ireland who will join fellow Irishmen Michael Judge and Ken Doherty in the field next May”

Maxime Cassis said “The EBSA is delighted to nominate Frank Sarsfield to take part into this year’s World Seniors Snooker Championship.

The standard of this year’s European Championships was very high with many top senior players competing and Darren Morgan retaining his title.

To play in the Crucible is the dream of all snooker players and I’m sure Frank and Darren will enjoy it”

The World Seniors Championship plays from the 4th to the 8th May 2022.

Good luck and enjoy the Crucible Frank!

Some information about next season

WPBSA has today published the following announcement:

New Qualifying Dates Announced for 2022 World Seniors Championship

World Seniors Snooker (WSS) has today announced the dates for two new qualifying tournaments which will provide all players over-40 with the opportunity to earn a place at the Crucible Theatre next spring.

Held at the Crucible Theatre since 2019, the World Seniors Snooker Championship is set to return to the home of snooker in 2022 with an all-new 24 player format aimed at providing more senior players with the opportunity to compete at the iconic venue than ever before.

To complete the field, qualifying tournaments will be held from 14-19 December 2021 and 8-13 February 2022, each with two prized places on offer to compete in Sheffield. The four successful qualifiers will join an all-star field which is set to include the likes of defending champion David Lilley, four-time world seniors champion Jimmy White and former UK Seniors champion Ken Doherty.

Both qualifying tournaments will be held at the Crucible Sports and Social Club in Reading, which is a recognised EPSB 147 Club and will be the official qualifying venue for the WSS Tour this season.

It has today also been announced that the scheduled Seniors Masters and Irish Masters events will now not take place in 2022. Although it is recognised that this decision will come as a disappointment to fans in Ireland and London, during what remains a challenging climate to stage events of this size, the Board has taken the responsible decision to focus on successfully delivering both the World and UK Championship tournaments at this time.

The news does mean that all players who had previously qualified for either the Masters or Irish Masters tournaments will now be invited to the Crucible to compete at next year’s World Seniors Championship. These players are: Patrick Wallace, Michael Judge, Wayne Cooper, Gary Filtness, Darren Morgan, Bob Chaperon and Rory McLeod.

Further information regarding the qualifying tournaments for the World Seniors Championship qualifiers, including how to enter, will be released soon.

We are going through difficult times and there are still a lot of uncertainties regarding the coming months. The governing body is doing its best to deliver quality events whilst keeping everyone safe.

 

And a great interview with Tony Drago

Tony Drago will play in the UK Championship in Hull come January and here is a great interview where he tells us about his childhood in Malta, his career and his advice to aspiring players

50 Shades of Greats: ‘Follow your heart not your head’ – Tony Drago

The Malta Independent on Sunday meets Tony Drago, he speaks about being considered a talent, turning pro, missing Malta, his Snooker and pool career and players for the future

Tony Drago was born in Malta’s capital city on the 27th September, 1965.  

Nicknamed the Tornado, there are few more entertaining sights in snooker than an on-form Tony Drago whose speed around the table can be summed up by the fact that he is the holder of the record for the fast century break in a ranking event tournament, timed at a ridiculous three minutes and 31 seconds back in 1996.  

‘It was a normal upbringing for me in Valletta. We used to play together as kids in the streets especially football which I used to love and still do. It was football and snooker. But from a tender age I think I was born to be a cueist since my orientation drove me always to the green table.’

‘As regards my educational background I attended St Albert College, Valletta and The Lyceum in Hamrun but school was not my forte since I was fully focused on snooker from a very young age.’

How did Tony’s interest in snooker begin? Was it a first love sport? ‘I used to play football because of my friends. But snooker was something different since everyone used to tell me that I will be a great player. My first touch of a cue was at the famous Pawlu Curmi, il-Pampalun who is a Carnival legend. But I also played at Fossa and Mandragg and obviously my childhood club Anglo Maltese in Merchant Street. I was there at the age of eleven but three years later I started competing and the promise was there to see.’

His local competitive career started with success in the Boys Championships. ‘Yes I won against Arthur Cachia way back in 1980. Arthur is still a good friend of mine. When I won the Boys event I was already a promising player. The association decided to put me straight into the Second Division rather than play in the Third since I would have been too superior to my opponents. In the first year I won the Second and thus was promoted to the First Division. When the draws were made I was drawn in the group of Pawlu Mifsud and was so excited about it. Unfortunately Mifsud had an accident which left him away from playing for a number of months. So I won in 1983 against Alfred Micallef and lost the famous final played at De La Salle College against Pawlu Mifsud a year later. In 1985 it was time to turn professional.

‘I was accepted as a pro in 1984 but they wanted me to play in the World Amateur. I didn’t succeed and lost in the quarter-final and then I turned pro the following year.’

Turning from an amateur to a professional meant a cultural shock which needed time to adjust. ‘Yes for the first couple of years I struggled with results. But in the second year I made it to the Quarter Final of the UK Open against Steve Davis losing by a 9-8 score. But there was a mix of results during my career. I did well and have been in the top 10 and been top 16 for five years. But I did reach a couple of massive finals, the Scottish International 1997, losing to Hendry, and I lost in 1991 Mita World Masters which at the time was the biggest tournament ever. I have won small invitations, I beat Steve Davis in a final in China and I did win a ranking event, a Strachan. It was a minor ranking event but there was only 5 or 6 who didn’t enter it and I beat Ken Doherty in the final. But I did underachieve because in the first five or six years as a pro I got homesick after every week. So that affected my game.’

But who is the toughest opponent that Tony has played against? ‘Well the hardest player I have ever played is Steve Davis. But the most talented player I have ever played against is Ronnie O’Sullivan. But the best, the greatest player all round with the pressure, the nitty-gritty and everything is John Higgins.’

Tony also found time to compare his days with today. ‘Today there are better players as a whole crop. But when one looks more into detail you find that when I was number 10, John Higgins was number 1 in the world, Ronnie O’Sullivan was third ranked player and number 5 was Mark Williams. And twenty five years past the line and they are still three of the best players.’

Drago won the Sportsman of the year award twice in 1991 and 1996 but though a much appreciated award he also looks back at his local participation when ranking tournaments were held yearly on the island. ‘For me it was always a nightmare. The pressure of the Maltese was felt not only on the table but even before. People calling me and requesting tickets and all kinds of things which didn’t leave me much time for maximum concentration. Once I made it to the semi-final losing to Jimmy White and I still can’t believe how I made it to the last four. Obviously I wanted to win it in front and for the Maltese public but I wasn’t able to handle the pressure.’

But how did Tony turn his attention to pool and what attracted him to this game? ‘To be honest I always used to watch it on Eurosport and I always used to say I’d try it someday. Then I got a letter from Matchroom and I spoke to Barry Hearn on the phone and asked him about it and he said the invitation is there for you to play in the World Championship in Cardiff. So I started to play and I got to like the game.’

Drago’s first major Pool win was the 2003 World Pool Masters, which came just a few weeks after a run to the semi-finals of that year’s World Pool Championship. ‘I was a member of the winning European team at the 2007 and 2008 Mosconi Cup. In 2007 in Las Vegas, I won all of my single matches which earned me the Most Valuable Player Award. And a year later I also won the Predator International 10-ball Championship, beating Francisco Bustamante 13–10.’

And for Tony what is the difference between snooker and pool. Which is the most difficult to play? In snooker you play a lot of the same types of shots and you have situations occurring frequently such as in and around the black, but in 9 or 10-ball each game is more different. In pool you always play for one ball but in snooker we all play for 2 or 3 reds so if you’re not on this one you’re on this one. In pool you can’t do that, if you’re not on the next ball in pool you’re in trouble.’

And what about billiards? ‘I didn’t play it so much. And to be honest I didn’t play it badly. Once I even made it to the Final losing it to my great friend Guzi Grech who has just passed away in the past days. Some say that it helps to have a good background of Billiards when playing Snooker but let’s face it the top players don’t even know what this game is.’

How does Tony see the future of the game on our island? ‘Alex Borg is still playing and he is now in his fifties. He is not one for the future like me. Duncan Bezzina is now in his forties. There are Aaron Busuttil and Brian Cini. I personally think that Cini is the only present hope for Malta to have a professional player. But if he doesn’t go and live in the UK it’s useless.  He has to train against the best to reach the top. Here it’s difficult since me and Alex don’t play a lot. But the level is good, Brian and Aaron are good. Chris Peplow is also coming up.’

Sport Malta recently invested in a Snooker Academy which is located at the ex-Maria Assunta School, in Hamrun. The Academy boasts 7 professional heated snooker tables as well as 5 small tables for children. ‘Yes surely the Academy is a step in the right direction. It will help in producing more top level players.’

In this last part of this interview with one of the giants both locally and internationally Tony talked about the other side of his life, the personal one. ‘A normal day for me is playing some Pool and Snooker, chatting with my friends and watch sport especially football and tennis. Obviously my love for Valletta which I go and watch them in every game and Juventus is there but I like all kinds of sport.’

His favourite food is by far Chinese but he has also got his chosen chef. ‘My mum Sina is the best. Her food is second to none.’ And what about favourite destination?

‘The United States is the best place to be.  A lot of people say that they are boasters but they have got all the ingredients to boast of. For me they are a complete country. I also love London a lot, it is like my second home.’

When he has time on his hands Tony enjoys a bus ride since he doesn’t drive. He used to go as far as Mellieha and Bugibba but when Covid took over he didn’t feel that safe anymore.

Tornado Drago wanted to send one final message to the sporting public. ‘Always give your hundred per cent. Follow your heart not your head. Train as much as you can and set a goal in order to succeed.’

Good luck in Hull Tony!

 

A great interview with the reigning Seniors World Champion

This great interview originally appeared in United

Snooker star David Lilley on a memorable 2021 and his Toon support

/media/60677/20210902-david-lilley.jpg

The last three or four months has been a bit of a golden time for North East snooker, with Gary Wilson and Elliot Slessor making waves at the British Open in recent weeks and DAVID LILLEY seeing off the likes of Ken Doherty and Jimmy White to win the World Seniors Championship at the Crucible in May. And for 45-year-old Lilley, who spends much of his time across the Tyne at Gateshead Snooker Centre, the best could still be to come…

I started playing snooker when I was 13. I’d been playing pool for a little bit, and one day I said to my dad that I wanted to play on one of the big tables. I was hooked straight away. I won my first major – the European Championship – when I was 19. The same year, I lost the Northern Amateur final to the late Paul Hunter. And then I got a job and I had to grow up, basically; there wasn’t a lot of money around, and I couldn’t get a sponsor. I’d have loved to turn pro but I didn’t have the coin to do it.

After the tobacco sponsors were squished, snooker really suffered – to the point where there were only around six tournaments a year. At that point, I’d won the English Amateur title, I was CIU champ three years in a row, I was one of the top amateurs in the world and I had quite a good job as well, so I didn’t feel it was worth giving that up to play in a handful of tournaments a year. I continued working in the insurance industry for a number of years, and then Barry Hearn took over and took snooker back to what it was like in the Eighties, where there were 16 or 17 tournaments a year again. And I thought: ‘You know, I’m coming up to 40 years old – I need to make a decision and just go for it.’ I was actually at work, at a team-building workshop, when I eventually made the call. There was a guest speaker there called Brendan Hall, who’d taken part in the Round the World Yacht Race, and a lot of the things he said just struck a chord with me. That was it. I thought: ‘These are signs that are telling me I’ve got to leave work and go and play snooker full-time.’ I told my gaffer I was going to leave, and I did.

I got on the tour – the World Snooker Tour – two years ago now. The irony is that, after waiting all of my life to turn pro, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it, because Covid kicked in and just about every tournament got cancelled!

However, winning the World Seniors Championship earlier this year has really changed everything for me. After overcoming a shoulder problem (the result of going from spending eight hours a week at the table as an amateur to something like 48 as a pro!), I could feel myself starting to play well again and it all came good that week in May. The experience was second to none. It was at the Crucible – the home of snooker – and it was just unreal. You see it on the TV where there are two tables side by side, but even just playing the one-table arena, the place felt really small. It was intense, and you feel the pressure straight away. You’re being interviewed every two minutes, and it all just builds. I felt I got better with every game I played, all the way through to the final against Jimmy White. To be playing against Jimmy – my hero – was really quite surreal. He’s such a nice guy, too – he couldn’t have been friendlier throughout the week.

David poses with the World Seniors Championship trophy at the Crucible.

Last month, I played in the British Open in Leicester. It was the first time the tournament had been played since 2004, and it’s a little like snooker’s version of the FA Cup – it’s really good for the neutral because two top players can come up against one another in the first round, as was the case with Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy this year. I won my first game and I played really well. I didn’t give my opponent, Craig Steadman, much of a chance, and I got over the line 3-1. The draw for the next round took place and I ended up playing Jordan Brown, but it was one of those where everything I touched went wrong and whatever he touched went right. After the way I’d been playing, it was disappointing to lose, but you have to take your medicine and come back fighting.

While I was there, though, I learned I was going to be playing in snooker’s Champion of Champions later this year. It was a complete surprise; ten seconds before you saw me do an interview for ITV4 on the Tuesday night, that was when I found out! I was stood with Rob Walker, having a bit of craic about the Olympics, and just as the camera was about to start rolling, he said: ‘So, Dave, how do you feel about being in the Champion of Champions?’ I just couldn’t believe it. People will laugh but, in my opinion, it’s the biggest competition there is – all of the players taking part have had to pot match ball to win a tournament. It’s the one I’ve always dreamed of being in. I’m counting down the days ‘til I go and play in it and I’m very thankful to my sponsor, GoSkippy Insurance, for their continued support.

I love the Toon. The last 18 months, not being able to come to St. James’ Park, has been complete torture. I was planning on coming to the Burnley game and the Southampton game as well, but they’ve just revamped the snooker calendar and I had to play in a qualifier! But I’ll definitely be coming to a few games as the season goes on. I just hope we can finish about where we did last season, and we’ll see what happens with this takeover.

Thank you to Andy Chubb for providing the two pictures of David and the World Seniors Championship trophy.

This article originally appeared in UNITED – the Magpies’ official matchday programme – ahead of the Carabao Cup game against Burnley last week. To order a copy of the programme, as well as upcoming issues and programmes from the 2020/21 season, please visit Curtis Sport’s website here.

 

Enjoy!

WSS ROKIT 2021 UK Championship Postponed to 2022

This has just been announced on social media 

Bonus Arena, Hull

SeniorsUKChampsJan2022

We regret to announce the UK Seniors tournament has been postponed until January.

Due to the continuing challenges and restrictions for overseas travel, a decision has been made to delay the competition. The event would have been the first to take place at the Bonus Arena, Hull since March 2020.

However, a decision has been taken to delay the tournament – set to feature Jimmy White, Joe Johnson and Ken Doherty – from 12-15 August to 4-7 January 2022.
It is hoped the international snooker legends based overseas will be able to take part by moving the event to next year.

Tickets already purchased for the event remain valid for the equivalent new dates in January. The full draw for the event will take place next month.
To book tickets for the 2022 event visit –> Bonus Arena Hull Website

It’s unfortunate of course but probably the best decision given the circumstances

WSS ROKIT 2021 UK Championship Qualifiers 2 – Phase 2 results

A bit late but …

Here is what happened in Reading, as the Q-School 2, Event 2 and Super Seniors 2 were played to a conclusion.

Event 2 yielded the last two qualifiers for the coming UK CHampionship in Hull: Lee Walker and Peter Lines. All results and scores for this event are available here. 

LeeWalker

Peter Lines, who just regained his spot in the main tour via the Q-School is an extremely hard worker and passionate about his sport. Lee is a coach and someone who will go out of his way to support snooker at all levels. I remember him, and Michael White, a few years back, traveling about 50 km to spend an afternoon with disabled players. They made time for everyone. Congratulations to both! 

The Super Seniors Event 2 was won by the rustproof, evergreen, ever-vocal Gary Filtness.

Gary Filtness

Well done Gary!

Congratulations to Mark Beale who will join Michaela Tabb and Ian Wagstaff at the Bonus Arena, Hull for the Rokitofficial 2021 UK Seniors Snooker Championship. Mark has done many of our qualifiers over the past few years, and totally deserves this opportunity to officiate on the big scene. Good luck Mark, enjoy!

MarkBeale

 

WSS ROKIT 2021 UK Championship Qualifiers 2 – Phase 1 results

The second batch of qualifiers for the 2021 Seniors UK Championship is underway in Reading. The first Q-School event of the week as well as the first Super Senior event concluded yesterday.

Congratulations to Rod Lawler and Wayne Cooper the Event 1 finalists.

They will play in Hull next month.

You will find everything you need to know about this event – draw, matches results and scores – by following this link.

Congratulations also to Darren Morgan who won the Super Seniors Event 1

Dareen Morgan - 2021 UK Champs Qualifiers - 2 - Super Seniors 1 Winner

Everything about that event can be found here.

The second phase of these qualifiers starts today.

You can follow the scores and find the results here for the qualifying event 2 and here for the Super Seniors 2

Good luck to all involved!