From Blackpool with Love – Bond wins Snooker Shootout!

Congratulations to 45-year-old Nigel Bond who tonight emerged as the shock winner of snooker’s newest tournament, the shootout from Blackpool. He defeated Robert Milkins in the final to claim the £32,000 top prize…

Nigel Bond, Shootout champion, who would have thought it? Tonight though he fully deserved it, defeating Mark King, Marcus Campbell and finally Robert Milkins in the final to take the title.

At the start of the night though it could have been oh-so-different as for long periods of his opening match against King it was the 15th seed who looked a warm favourite to move into the semi-finals. Throughout the competition I have been impressed by King’s tactics, not taking any unnecessary risks and keeping it tight and it looked like it would pay off against Nigel. A fabulous long red though, the cue ball coming top side of the blue, changed the complexion of the frame completely and paved the way for a successful counter-attack. Mark was obviously gutted at the end of the match but in this format the matches are so finely balanced that there is often no room for error.

Elsewhere in the quarter-finals, Robert Milkins ousted young Judd Trump to keep his good run going while reigning world champion Neil Robertson crashed out at the hands of Scotland’s Marcus Campbell, despite a late attempt at a comeback. The best performance though came from Ronnie O’Sullivan who took full advantage of an in-off from Mike Dunn to move into the semis with a break of 90.

Following a brief interlude, the first semi-final saw Nigel Bond paired with Marcus Campbell, a tough match to call with Nigel in good form and Marcus himself having made it through with breaks of 67 and 76. Eventually Nigel was to run out a comfortable winner on paper, taking advantage of a missed brown from Marcus but in reality the frame was closer than it looked before the former world finalist edged away at the end.

The second match saw Robert Milkins become the latest man to take on O’Sullivan and as he created the first opening the question was whether he could hold it together mentally to send the favourite out of the tournament. As he soon broke down it looked as though the answer would be no, but a missed red down the cushion from O’Sullivan gave him another chance and this time he was to make no mistake, eventually winning by a 72-35 scoreline to join Nigel in the final. While I cannot say that I was overly surprised to see Ronnie lose, indeed in this format I believe that no result can be considered a true shock, it was nevertheless an excellent result for Robert and one that saw him double his prize money from the event, not an insignificant feat for a player of his ranking.

Bond v Milkins, not the final that many of us expected but it was good to see two good guys, both ranked outside of the top 32, through to a televised final. The first chance fell to Milkins but a rushed second shot on the green handed the advantage back to Bond who eventually earned what proved to be the match-winning chance with a fabulous opening red. Robert tried his best to force a snooker in the closing minutes but it was too little too late and soon the handshake came as Nigel was crowned the champion.

It might not have been a major ranking event but this must surely rank as one of the most memorable moments of Nigel’s long career, taking his first title on British soil since the 1997 Regal Scottish Open. He might not have had the toughest route through to the title on paper but as has been proven this week, there is tremendous depth on the tour and each of the players that he did beat are very capable, as Milkins for example proved with his semi-final victory over O’Sullivan.

I will post a full review of the tournament tomorrow with my definitive thoughts on the format and what I made of the weekend, followed by a preview of the German Masters sometime on Tuesday.

Hope that everyone enjoyed it and thanks to everyone who participated in the chats over the course of the weekend, I am sure that they will be back later in the week for Berlin.

To view all of the results from the event, please click here.