The summer months saw more and more invitational events take place before the return of the ranking event circuit in September. Click below for the penultimate part of my look back at 2009…
July began with the news that due to the demise of the ranking events in Bahrain and Northern Ireland, the ranking points tariffs would be altered for the 2009/10 season.
The real action however was away from the ranking circuit with events staged in Bangkok, Beijing and Hong Kong early in the month. The Sangsom 6-Red event saw a return to winning ways for Jimmy White while Liang Wenbo took his first professional title at the Beijing International Challenge. He could not make it two titles however as he lost out to Ricky Walden in the final of the General Cup International. Also out in Asia, Nigel Bond defeated David Grace to take victory in the 2009 World Games.
Closer to home Stuart Bingham took the English Open title at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, an event that I attended and you can find my reports and pictures on my archive page here. Indeed it was a busy week at the NSC as in the days following, the first Pro Challenge Series event was staged with top seed Stephen Maguire coming through to take the title.
Finally Liam Highfield followed up his final in the first event of the new PIOS season by winning the second to almost guarantee promotion to the main tour in 2010/11 already. 110sport also announced that for the first time, the qualifying tournaments staged at Pontin’s would be streamed over the internet for the first time.
The month of August saw the new season properly get underway as the Shanghai Masters qualifiers took place at Pontin’s, Prestatyn. Most notably, Ken Doherty continued to demonstrate the improved form that was on evidence in July’s Pro Challenge event by defeating both Rod Lawler and Fergal O’Brien to reach the last 32.
One man who was doubtful for the last 32 however was Welshman Mark Williams following the broken wrist that he sustained when slipping on a floor tile at home. Ultimately though he did manage to recover in time to take his place in the draw.
Noppon Saengkham meanwhile became the first amateur player to secure his place on the 2010/11 circuit by winning the IBSF World U-21 Championship in Iran. Many had expected former professional Liu Chuang to come through what was a depleted field, but he was to fall to Saengkham in the last four.
It was also announced that the inaugural 6-Red World Championship would take place in Killarney at the end of the year, while Shaun Murphy won the Paul Hunter Classic tournament for a second successive year in Furth.
Finally both Peter Ebdon and Liang Wenbo were cleared of any wrongdoing in connection to their match at the 2008 Northern Ireland Trophy.
Ronnie O’Sullivan captured his 22nd ranking event title by winning September’s Shanghai Masters with a 10-5 victory over surprise finalist Liang Wenbo. Elsewhere in the tournament Ken Doherty progressed through to the quarter-finals while world number two Stephen Maguire was forced to withdraw following a shoulder injury.
The Grand Prix qualifiers meanwhile saw Matt Selt manage to maintain his 100% record at Pontin’s this season and win another four matches to qualify for his second successive venue stage.
The second event of the new Pro Challenge Series took place at Pontin’s and it was the popular Ken Doherty who came through to take home the trophy.
Away from the table, unrest was building as the governing body gave short shrift to the ideas of the newly formed Snooker Players Association. As we now know however, they was not to go away…