McLeod4

Rory, Ronnie and the Run-Up to Christmas

McLeod5

After an uncharacteristically quiet week here at PSB due to a few unforeseen technical gremlins, I am now happy to confirm that all systems are now (hopefully) go ahead of snooker’s return to China during the next fortnight.

Today I take a look back at last week’s action in Germany, as well as some of the other stories from the snooker world at the moment…

Rory in Ruhr

Where else to start but with Rory McLeod’s unlikely victory at the Ruhr Open last week, the man ranked 61st ahead of the tournament defeating 70th placed Tian Pengfei in one of the most unpredictable European Tour events since their inception back in 2010.

His high break for the tournament might have been just 67, but with victories against the likes of Tian, Ben Woollaston, Mark Davis and Jamie Jones en route to the title, he had to overcome a string of higher ranked players to claim the biggest single prize cheque of his career to date.

McLeod4

Of course for Rory, the biggest thrill will been to get his hands on the trophy, but it is impossible to ignore the other rewards that will now come thanks to the £18,750 won in Germany, including a place at the Players Championship, possibly the World Grand Prix and definitely at least another season the main tour.

For more on how the European Order of Merit currently stands in terms of tour places, read my blog over at WPBSA.com from earlier in the week, while other blogs concerning all of the important ranking lists will also follow over the coming days.

O’Sullivan Misses Coventry

Rory will also be rewarded for his success with a place at the Champion of Champions event next month in Coventry, a prize confirmed following the announcement on Monday that two-time defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will not be taking up his place at the tournament in 2015.

Speculation as to whether O’Sullivan would compete in the event had been mounting on social media and the topic had become something of a saga, but in fairness to the five-time world champion he had maintained (publicly at least), that he would not be playing in the event from as far back as early September.

ROS

Of course Ronnie has both missed events and withdrawn from events before at short-notice, so the fan frustration and almost weariness of the media attention given to the question of his participation is to some degree understandable. He remains by far the sport’s most popular player to the casual fan and obviously there is a lot of interest externally in seeing him back at the table after what has now been a six month absence following his defeat to Stuart Bingham at the World Championship in April.

That said however, on this occasion the talk has not come from Ronnie himself and so it is hard to blame him for exercising his right not to play at the Ricoh Arena. Clearly he has his reasons for not playing in professional events at the moment and under the current system he has earned the right to pick and choose his events as he sees fit.

Inevitably, media speculation will now turn to the question of whether he will opt to defend his UK title in York next month, with the entry deadline for that event due to pass on 28th October 2015.

Asian Swing

As is always the way in snooker and indeed sport generally, following the action in Germany, the focus has already switched to the next set of events as we return to China for the Asian Tour 1 and International Championship events.

Marking the first (and possibly only) event of the Asian Tour series this season, despite the lower (but still increased for 2015) prize money relative to other events, it will be very interesting to follow with two tour places and eight places at the Players Championship also up for grabs.

You can view the draw for the Haining Open, won last season by Stuart Bingham, here.

The circuit then moves on to the International Championship in Daqing, a new venue after a three-year stint in Chengdu. The majority of the big names will be there, with the exception of Ronnie O’Sullivan (not entered) and Judd Trump, who of course fell in qualifying to Michael Wild in recent weeks. Nonetheless, with a welcome return to a longer best of 11 frame format and big money on offer with a £125,000 top prize, this is now undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the tour to win.

The event also marks the seeding cut-off for the UK Championship, which again will be seeded 1 v 128, 2 v 127 and so on, allowing players to have some idea as to who their likely opposition will be early at the Barbican Centre.

With that and the various ranking battles for tournament entries and tour cards also beginning to take shape, the run-up to Christmas usually signifies the start of what feels like a relentless chase to the Crucible next April and no doubt that this year will be no different…