Saturday, 29 October 2011

Ding faces Ronnie in Masters opener

When the the curtain raises on the first Masters to be held at Alexandra Palace in January, we'll be kicking off with a corker of a tie.

Defending champion Ding Junhui faces four-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in a re-match of one of the most iconic snooker matches of the past decade.

When the two met at Wembley in the 2007 Masters final, Ronnie glided to comfortable 10-3 win. This triumph was exactly what the London crowd wanted but it was to be a rude awakening for Ding, snooker's Chinese prodigy.

O'Sullivan made seven breaks over 90 in the match , including five centuries in a performance that will go down as one of his greatest in a final.

But then just 20-years-old, Ding took defeat like a dagger to the heart.

Slumped in his chair for most of the match, he struggled to cope in conditions where every fan in the arena was behind Ronnie. His confidence was shot and he played not a fraction near his best.

Already a China Open and UK Championship winner, Ding's emergence was already well on the way but this heavy defeat marked a moment where his temperament would begin to be called in to question.

Having already enjoyed success in his career, it was easy to forget how young Ding still was he faced O'Sullivan playing somewhere near his best.

Everyone will remember how Ronnie honourably consoled him at the end of the match, but it was a sad sight to see such a young talent ripped to shreds and looking so lost and bewildered in an environment he so obviously belonged.

A lot has changed since then. More recently Ding has proved he can play under pressure and on the biggest stages. He's moved as high as number four in the world rankings, won another UK title and reached the semi-finals at the Crucible as well as other rankings titles.

As defending champion, it shows he far he has come from that he's arguably favourite for this match versus Ronnie. You can never write Ronnie off, especially in front of his home London crowd. But it promises to be a tight one.

Ding's 10-4 win against Marco Fu in last year's all-Asian Masters final brought an end to life of the tournament at Wembley, as it moves to its new home, nicknamed Ally Pally.

Although the invitational event remains in London, the move means it will be played at even bigger arena.

With the entire top 16 battling it out for one of the most prestigious titles in the sport, there was never going to be a bad draw, but in fact, it's a stunner.

Full first round draw:

Ding Junhui v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham
Neil Robertson v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Stephen Maguire
Mark Selby v Stephen Lee
Shaun Murphy v Martin Gould
Ali Carter v Graeme Dott
John Higgins v Matthew Stevens

Friday, 28 October 2011

60 seconds with... Ashley Wright

Snooker fans are beginning to talk about Ashley Wright again.

Wins against Marcus Campbell and Passakorn Suwannawat saw the 24-year-old from Grimsby reach the last 32 of PTC8 in Killarney, before his run was ended by world champion John Higgins.

Talented Ashley was previously on the professional tour in 2007/08 season. After a lengthy absence, he picked his cue up again for this campaign after securing sponsorship.

Bidding to return to the pro ranks, he's played consistent snooker in the PTC series, entering them all and going through the qualifying phases on all but two occasions.

He's watched Grimsby's current professional Stuart Carrington gain his maiden card with victory in QSchool and plans on using the same route to secure his second spell among the game's elite.

OnCue caught up with Lincolnshire potter to find out more...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Could chalkless tips be the future?

That's the opinion of Jayson Waller, who has recently taken on the role of UK licensed distributor for a new exciting product, called Grip Tip.

OnCue asked him more about the product and why he thinks it could be a big win...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Robertson rumbles Trump

Neil Robertson won the Alex Higgins International Trophy and said he’s a better player than when he won the world title in 2010.

It’s difficult to disagree either.

The Australian lifted the sport’s biggest trophy at the Crucible nearly 18 months ago and since then has been proving he’s more than just a talented long potter.

In fact, he’s shown he’s capable of toughing it out with the best of them.

Robertson has a knack of adapting his game to whoever he’s playing and last night we saw he can learn from his mistakes too.

Earlier this year, he was unable to defend his title as world champion after losing to Judd Trump in the first round of the World Championship. He met the same player in Killarney’s final but set about to stifle him.

It definitely wasn’t a pretty final as he won 4-1 but Robertson won ugly and proved again he’s got the safety game to back up his natural attacking style.

The way Trump was playing in Ireland it would have been suicidal to go out with the intention of potting him off the table. In that kind of form, Judd is difficult to live with.

That’s why his tactic of keeping him on a tight leash was so masterful. He had a game plan and stuck to it with real

Victory also means Robertson has now won two PTC titles this season after he also triumphed in Poland. That’s another marked improvement for the Thunder from Down Under, who largely struggled in this new format last season.

Now, he’s making the most of the extra tournaments and showing signs he could be set to make a charge back to the top of the rankings.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Hurricane finish

The Alex Higgins International Trophy has been one of the most exciting PTCs of the season.

Down to the quarter-final and there's still six top 16 players fighting for the title along with PTC3 winner Ben Woollaston and Scotland's Alan McManus.

Even though the event has been poorly attended, the action on the table has been as good as ever.

It's hard to pick who will win the trophy from here, although multiple PTC winners Judd Trump and Mark Selby have as big a shout as anyone.

Neil Robertson has found his feet in the series this season and John Higgins will be fighting until the very end.

Then there's Stuart Bingham and Mark Allen. The prospect of those two meeting in the final appeals after the public spat they had earlier this season.

Allen would be a particularly fitting winner as Northern Ireland's number one and the best player to come out of the country since Dennis Taylor and the Hurricane himself.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Paul Collier’s Premier League nights: Exeter

OnCue columnist Paul Collier often lives life in the fast lane.

That’s no surprise considering the packed schedule in snooker nowadays.

He was at it again this week.

He returned from his holiday in Spain and lunged straight back in to the Premier League with a trip to Exeter.

That’s great commitment and just a few hours after that he was back penning another column for the blog. Here’s what he had to say this week...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Trump tops Premier League

Judd Trump continued his impressive start to the Premier League campaign with victory in Exeter.

Back-to-back 3-1 wins against Ali Carter and Neil Robertson guided him to a second consecutive six-point haul as he sits pretty at the top of the table with 12 points already in the bag.

With two events still to play, making the play-offs now looks a formality for the world number eight.

Trump is the kind of player born for the biggest stage and, so far, he has looked completely at home in the competition.

His performance last night  was described as "perfect" by the Premier League official site although Judd claimed he played a few loose shots, struggled at times, was a little bit scrappy but still had to win the frames.

Looking critically at his own game shows Judd is not one to rest on his laurels. While that's good, it's hard to deny Judd was brilliant in patches. But we should not be at all surprised. He's the kind of player who has the ability to raise his game for the big crowd.

A showman and an entertainer. He belongs with the big boys and continues to show why he's rated as snooker's hottest prospect.

Well played Judd!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ranking system changes announced

Let's be honest, we all knew more changes were coming.

Barry Hearn can't help himself as he continues to transform snooker at the speed of a runaway train.

Today's announcement from World Snooker told us the professional tour will increase to 128 players. This is a positive step because it shows Hearn appreciates the increasing number of young talented players in the game.

Another change announced means new players onto tour will receive their card for two years, instead of just one.

This means players will have longer to settle and begin their life as a professional without being immediately under the cosh to retain their status. It takes the pressure off and helps them to concentrate on how they're playing, instead of where they are in the rankings.

It also makes perfect sense to give players two years because this reflects the period the rankings are based across.

My only concern is that with players at the lower end of the rankings list already struggling financially, how does World Snooker intend to support even more players? My guess is that there are a few bigger ranking events already on the horizon, which make this feasible. But I guess time will tell.

These changes should also eliminate the chance of any talented players being beaten by the system. A couple of tough draws in qualifying will not completely scupper their chances of staying on, and they'll have longer to prove they're good enough.

Another potential change announced - although not yet confirmed - is that the rankings will be ordered by prize money, rather than ranking points.

It's difficult to make a judgment on this without further details but the positives are numerous.

This will make the rankings easier to understand for the fans and should mean a fairer reflection of a player's success in the sport.

If this does happen, snooker would not be the first sport to go this way. While many people have already spoken out against the prospect, I definitely think it's worth a shot. It will mean tournaments reward players for what they're really worth and it could even help drum up extra sponsorship for tournaments, thus bolstering the coffers for a bigger professional circuit.

People notoriously dislike change, but there's one thing that cannot be altered. The cream always rises to the top. If players win matches, they move up the rankings in whatever format it takes. That's why the top 16 are who they are. They all started at the bottom and have proven themselves to be the best players.

Power to the top 16

Anyone remember Power Snooker?

Well, it's back and the Sun boldly claimed this morning it's "set to take the country by storm".

That I very much doubt but, Ronnie O'Sullivan certainly has a fight on his hands to defend the title he won last season at the IndigO2 when the event makes its second appearance in Manchester.

To be played on 19 and 20 November at the redesigned Events City near the Trafford Centre, the Rocket will have to come through a field double the size with every top 16 player accepting their invitation.

With £25,000 up for grabs to the winner, this event provides a exciting switch of a format for a one-off weekend in the season and gives players the chance for a healthy addition to their bank balances.

Barry Hearn is keen to bring a new generation of fan to snooker, and while this creative new take on the game is unlikely to go down well again with the sport's traditionalists, it's pointless getting too worked up about something that is nothing more than a bit of fun and a money spinner for the top players.

As well as changes to what we'd traditionally call snooker, the competition also gives the crowd a chance to make some noise and get involved while the players will be treated to a glitzier affair than normal and asked to test their ability  under quickfire pressure matches.

Last season, half a million people tuned in for ITV4 broadcast which saw O'Sullivan beat Ding Junhui in the final. It will be interesting to see what take up we get this time round with plans already in place to take Power Snooker to Russia and India in years to come.

Here's a reminder of how it works:

Full first round draw:

Mark Selby v Matthew Stevens
John Higgins v Mark Allen
Ding Junhui v Graeme Dott
Ali Carter v Ronnie O'Sullivan
Judd Trump v Martin Gould
Shaun Murphy v Stuart Bingham
Neil Robertson v Stephen Maguire
Mark Williams v Stephen Lee

For more information and how to book tickets, visit

Are players being blackmailed?

Ronnie O'Sullivan has never been afraid to speak his mind.

The BBC quoted him this week saying he feels bribed into playing in the PTCs.

"I feel blackmailed," rapped Ronnie.

"They put these ranking events on and ranking points at these tournaments and it just feels like the winner's prize is not great."

The winner of each PTC tournament takes home £10,000 and 2,000 ranking points. O'Sullivan has won two of the seven events played so far this season but makes light of the prizes on offer having earned more than £6 million throughout his snooker career and enjoyed five spells as world number one.

While Ronnie can afford to sneer at the reward on offer, the prize for players who don't go all the way, or even lose in the first round, is even paler.

Ronnie added: "Most players are going there and losing money, but they're putting ranking points on so it's forcing the players to play in it, which is not great, but what do you do? You have to go.

"The lower-ranked players can't afford it and the top-ranked players don't really get rewarded for what they do, so no-one is a winner.

"But I have to play in them, there's not a lot you can do, you've got to do it. But I don't agree with them."

You have to admire Ronnie. He's not afraid to pack a punch and is only voicing the opinions shared by many other top players.

We already know Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen feel the same.

Allen said: "For me now there are only crappy PTCs from now till December 3rd when the UK Championships starts," while Maguire told  Snooker Scene: "I’ve lost all respect for the ranking system. All anyone is looking at is the cut-off points and if I won’t drop down then I won’t play in a PTC.

“I feel like a bit of a prostitute, turning up for these events because I have to. Some of us got stick (from Hearn) for not entering tournaments because we wanted more time with our families. It’s up to me if I choose not to enter an event. If you don’t want to play you shouldn’t be forced into it.

“If you travel anywhere now you’re out of pocket unless you do really well.”

While on the face of it, this smells like like case of a spoilt professional sports stars throwing their toys out the pram, do they have a point?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Bond looks ahead to senior service

A bonfire bonanza of seniors snooker is nearly upon us.

The 2011 World Seniors Championship will take place in Peterborough on 5 and 6 November with Jimmy White looking defend the title he won a year ago.

Proving a massive hit with the fans who travelled to Bradford for the maiden competition last season, this year's tournament promises to be bigger and better with 16 players fighting for the crown.

The field includes four players still competing on the professional tour. Jimmy White and Steve Davis who were last season's winner and runner-up respectively, plus Malta's Tony Drago and Nigel Bond, who was another of last season's success stories reaching the semi-finals.

Bond won five matches en route to the final four last time out, including qualifying wins against Joe Swail, Dave Harold and Peter Lines, a victory against Peter Ebdon in the pre-qualifying match and the scalp of Ken Doherty in the quarter-final.

Currently ranked 44 in the world, Nigel is one of the heavy favourites to win the title this season and he's looking forward to launching a championship charge.

He said: "I'm looking to it because it's a bit of respite from the pressure of the ranking events.

"It was great fun to play in last year and I think I've got a great chance of winning it."

This season's event will be aired live on Sky, instead of repeated at Christmas, as it was last season.

Bond added: "This goes to show how popular it was.

"Hopefully we'll have a full house and there will be a real buzz about the weekend.

"Snooker fans love watching the older players because they're remembered for playing the game when snooker was at its ascendancy.

"The likes of Dennis Taylor, Jimmy, Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn are household names and it must remind the fans of the good old days when these characters were on the box."

Although Bond now lines up along the senior stars, he's at the lower end of the bracket and remembers watching some of his rivals as a young boy himself.

He said: "I went to watch the 1987 World Championship final between Joe Johnson and Steve Davis at the Crucible and now I'm in an event against the players I used to idolise as a kid.

"A lot of these players were ending their professional careers as I was starting mine so it's great to be playing in the seniors with them now."

With a larger field of 16 players, Bond says it shows how popular the event is with the players, as well as the fans.

"There's been a lot more players picking up their cues after a long time and the tournament has come a long way," he said.

"Joe Johnson and his partner should take a lot of credit for getting the event off the ground last season but Barry Hearn has stepped in to help out with prize money and TV deals, so the tournament is in a really strong place." 

Full first round draw:

Tony Drago v Steve Davis
Dene O'Kane v Neal Foulds
Karl Townsend v Steve Ventham
John Parrott v Joe Johnson
Jimmy White v Tony Knowles
Nigel Bond v Dennis Taylor
Gary Wilkinson v Darren Morgan
Cliff Thorburn v Doug Mountjoy

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Legends get set for cup

Snooker legends are loved like none other in the sporting world.

Even those who have retired manage to keep their profiles high years after leaving the professional ranks. Snooker folk just never forget them.

Getting the chance to see them all play in recent years has been largely down to the great work of Jason Francis and Nick George, who do a great job organising the Snooker Legends tour.

Their hardwork has helped take some of the game's greats across the country, and this week they've taken a massive step to keeping that going with the announcement of the first ever Legends Cup.

Hosted at the The Civic Hall in Bedworth, Warwickshire, the event will be played shortly after next year's World Championship pitting a team from England and Northern Ireland against the rest of the world.

Dennis Taylor will captain the England and Northern Ireland team including Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and John Parrott, while Canada's Cliff Thorburn will skipper Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and Tony Drago.

Jan Verhaas and Michaela Tabb will take charge with John Virgo heading up the ceremonies. The competition will be played over four sessions on 12 and 13 May including both singles and doubles formats.

This kind of event comes as a great way to round off the season and a good chance for fans to watch legends of the past as well as some of the greats still plying their trade on the main tour. So, the event gets a big thumbs up from.

For more information visit or call 02476 376707 for tickets.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Remembering the hero of Higgins

Snooker will remember one of its most iconic players this weekend when the PTC series takes a trip to Killarney.

The PTC event eight - being held in the Republic of Ireland - has been renamed the Alex Higgins Trophy and comes as a fitting tribute to an incredible talisman of the baize.

While it's fair to say Higgins could have won more given his natural ability to play the game, the Hurricane's impact on the sport is still up there with the very best.

To many, he is the original People's Champion. After all, he was the man who brought the crowds in to a game which was floundering in the lowly depths of the sporting pyramid.

For all the controversy he caused, his talent can never be denied and, as a result, fans of the game were quick to take Alex to their hearts.

Higgins, who was twice crowned world champion, was an unpredictable and difficult character but played the game a way the people loved. Without fear and as his natural eye told him.

Talk to any ardent fan of the game and Higgins is up there with the very best of the legends.

Even though trouble did follow his every step, his contribution to the game saw the sport transform into a blockbuster throughout the 1980s.

For this reason, he will always be remembered as one of the games greats and as a focal point in the history of the sport.

Whoever goes on to win this weekend's tournament should be bowled over with the honour of having their name next to Alex Higgins on the trophy.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Behind Academy lines

You won't be greeted with a warmer welcome anywhere than the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Home to several of the games overseas stars, the Academy is a practice venue of the highest standards.

Opening its doors to its resident professionals, amateurs and anyone else who wants to stay sharp on the baize, this place is a credit to the sport.

Together Keith Warren and Gary Baldrey run a slick ship. They've been at their current home at the Sheffield United FC training academy for 12 months but were formerly based at the World Snooker Academy.

The most high profile star who resides here is world number four Ding Junhui but they also play home to professionals James Wattana, Xiao Guodong, Tian Pengfei, Li Yan, Liu Chuang, Passakorn Suwannawat, Dechawat Poomjaeng, Aditya Mehta and Lucky Vatnani.

Then there's the players who come down for regular practice sessions including Ronnie O'Sullivan, Ken Doherty, Alan McManus and others.

OnCue went along to meet Keith and find out more about the Academy...

Paul Collier's Premier League nights: Stoke

This season's snooker schedule is proving hectic for everyone, including referee Paul Collier.

Juggling the workload between World Snooker events and the Premier League has seen the blog's resident columnist rack up plenty of miles.

After taking charge of Thursday night's Premier League in Stoke, he headed straight to Bristol airport for a well-deserved break with his wife.

Such is his commitment though, while en route to his flight for a week-long holiday in Benidorm, he still had time to talk to OnCue. Here's what he said....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Ding Potters to Stoke win

Ding Junhui became the sixth different winner of a Premier League night this season with victory in Stoke.

The world number four joins Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Matthew Stevens, Mark Williams and Judd Trump as venue winners in what is without doubt becoming the most fiercely contested Premier League tournament of all time.

This season saw the traditional old league format ditched in favour of ten separate knock-out nights each competed in by four players with the results being tallied into an overall league ladder.

With matches being played as best-of-five-frame matches and the possibility of Shoot-Out style deciding frame, there's been plenty of thrills and spills, and it means we're no closer to knowing who will reign supreme.

Only John Higgins and Jimmy White are unable to qualify to the finals event so far, but tonight, Ding staked his claim with victories against White and Ali Carter.

Ding isn't always at his glorious best in the Premier League, and he can probably count himself lucky to have picked up maximum points here too.

He knocked out Jimmy in a tense Shoot-Out frame in his semi-final, but the veteran in honesty should have won the match ten times over. He then defeated Ali 3-1 in the final, but was aided by his opponent going in-off on the pink in a crucial frame three, to earn a 2-1 lead.

Ding won't worry one bit though as his chances of making good money in the Premier League remain wide open.

It was always going to be interesting seeing what frame of mind Ding turned up in for this event, after his recent and upcoming PTC omissions. It's difficult to understand why he's chosen not to take part given how competitive life is in the rankings right now.

My only guess is that he's slightly concerned about burning out ahead of the biggest events of the season still to come. That said, you'd assume the PTCs would give him the adequate match sharpness to bolster his hopes of titles.

Whatever his reasons, despite not being at his very best in Stoke, a win is a win and he's definitely not one to write off in the Premier League.

When he turns up at his break-building best, he's a match for anyone under any format.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Record-breaking Ronnie wins Pink PTC

Ronnie O'Sullivan became the first player to win two PTC titles in the same season tonight.

His 4-2 victory against Matthew Stevens in the PTC7 final in Gloucester - renamed the Pink PTC for its support of Breast Cancer Care - also means he joins Judd Trump and Mark Selby as the only multiple PTC winners.

That in itself is no easy task.

The reason only three players have managed to lift the trophy twice out of the 19 events so far is because it's such an unforgiving format.

They're short matches played intensely over a few days with no seeding priority for any of the top players. For the professionals, it takes seven straight wins to come out on top.

But Ronnie has managed it twice this season - and fully deserved his win this weekend.

From the very first ball of this tournament, he was 100 per cent focused on the job in hand. And unfortunately, this isn't something you can always say with confidence about Ronnie.

It's been widely publicised that O'Sullivan dislikes the PTC format. He'd much rather be playing the big tournaments. But if he doesn't apply himself to these pro-am tournaments, he'll lose the right to compete in the majors.

The first part of this season for Ronnie has been all about fighting to preserve his top 16 status. Victory at the PTC1 in Sheffield went a long way to staving off the chasing pack, but it looks as if he faces the same challenge again up until the second rankings revisions.

That's the harsh reality for a player who still stakes a massive claim as the best in the business. But judging by Ronnie's attitude in Gloucester this weekend, he's prepared to face up to it and graft out matches in these smaller events.

That's because despite his bravado, snooker still means everything to Ronnie.

If it didn't, he wouldn't be playing like he did this weekend. He showed great application, fighting tooth and nail in every match and as a result, came out the victor. That's no huge surprise. When Ronnie gets in the zone like he did this weekend, he'll always be in with a great shout of taking home the trophy.

And that's exactly what he did. He made some glorious breaks along the way and even showed his will to win frames that looked beyond him. For the first time in ages, he continued into the snookers required stages of frames, showing fantastic resolve.

That heart for the fight along with his devastating  break-building skills is only going to make a recipe for success.

If he continues to show both, he will retain his top 16 status with ease and will start challenging for the major honours again. There's no doubt about that.

The other fantastic success story of this tournament was Stevens' trip to the final. He became the first Welshman to make a PTC final this season, and came mighty to close to what would have been a fairytale win.

On the same day as the fifth anniversary of Paul Hunter's death, it would have been a fitting tribute for his best friend, Matthew, to win the tournament.

It wasn't quite to be, but Ronnie cannot be denied his win.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Paul Collier's Premier League nights: Weston-Super-Mare

This season's Premier League continues to rattle along at a rate of knots.

For week five, the players went to Weston-Super-Mare.

Paul Collier returns to give his verdict exclusively to OnCue...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Born for the big occasion

Judd Trump got his Premier League campaign off to a flyer in Weston-Super-Mare last night.

The world number eight, who won this year’s China Open to qualify, beat flying Welsh duo Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens en route to the maximum six points from his first of four events.

While the 22-year-old is still a relative novice making only his second appearance in the Premier League series, his early success here comes as no surprise.

After all, he has built a reputation for saving his best snooker for the biggest occasions. He’s a snookering showman who loves to play aggressive and attacking exhibition shots.

This year’s World Championship was a fine example.

Following his first major ranking title, he progressed all the way to the final, lighting up the Crucible along the way and going toe-to-toe with the eventual champion John Higgins.

The way he played fearless snooker in front of the biggest crowds made him an instant hit with the fans and means he’ll now always have the ability to pull big crowds.

This week spell where Trump won his maiden big title and finished as runner-up in the biggest, announced his arrival in to the big time.

From a young pretender, he had become the game’s newest superstar; a player  with the belif of competing for all the big titles.

Judd is a player who thrives in front of the crowds.

This makes him a prime candidate to challenge eight-time Premier League champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, in a format he’s largely made his own.

The shot-clock event could be a perfect setting for Trump to further propel his status.

Forced to play a quick and instinctive game, he could be difficult to live with.

Watch out Ronnie, Judd is coming.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

60 seconds with... Ben Harrison

Exciting young amateur player Ben Harrison has made a real name for himself this season through participation in the popular PTC series.

The tweeters among us will know plenty about Ben's bubbly character from his presence on our growing online snooker community.

He's a player who loves to attack and has already won plenty of fans off the back of his courageous game.

OnCue caught up with the young gun to see what makes him tick...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Robertson reigns in Poland

Neil Robertson's consistency in this season's PTC series was rewarded last night as he captured the Warsaw Classic title.

The 2010 world champion has entered five PTCs out of six in the current campaign and has made it to the last 16 stage in four of them.

Considering the competitive nature of these short tournaments, that's an incredible record, especially when you remember how he struggled to get to grips with these events last season.

As good as consistency is though, we all know the top players are in it to win it, which Robertson has now done with his 4-1 win against Ricky Walden in last night's final.

This result came on top of wins earlier in the tournament against Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy on a day where he played fairly ruthless snooker.

This continues his imperious record where he's still yet to lose a televised final but more importantly, victory in Warsaw marks Robertson's first ranking in title in just over a year, and shows he's back to somewhere near his best form.

I think it's fair to say Robertson struggled a little last season with patchy form. I'm not sure whether that was caused by the weight of expectation of being world champion, but whatever the reason, it was definitely a worthwhile experience for him if he's to enjoy a prolonged spell at the top of the game.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Paul Collier's Premier League nights: Doncaster

Resident columnist Paul Collier returns to OnCue to pen his thoughts on the latest Premier League night.

This week saw the wagon roll up in Doncaster. There was a good crowd in, which was hardly a surprise given how close it is to the home of snooker, Sheffield.

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan came out on top but crossed the line after Ali Carter was forced to forfeit the fourth frame having fouled three consecutive shots when not snookered.

Here's what Paul had to say....

Nugget joins the last 16 cue

Steve 'The Nugget' Davis rolled back the years yesterday in Poland - advancing to the last 16 of the Warsaw Classic with a BORROWED cue.

The six-time world champion lost his trusty old weapon on his flight over to Eastern Europe, but being the battler he is, it didn't deter him.

He picked up a cue he'd never used before and proceeded to book his place in Sunday's finals day.

His excellent run began with a 4-2 win against Polish amateur Jaroslaw Kowalski before he beat fellow professionals Barry Hawkins and Alan McManus.

At the age of 54, it's incredible to see him at the business end of a tournament but it's all testament to work he stills put in. Rumour has it that he's been practicing hard ahead of this tournament, and it's definitely paid off so far.

While players young enough to be his kids have shined in the PTCs this season, age doesn't seem to be a problem for Davis as he'll still be ranked within the top 48 after Monday's revisions.

Pure and simple, his ability to stay in the top half of the professional rankings is down to his love for the game. A love which is showing no signs of subsiding.

The Nugget continues to grind out results against the odds and is still one of the sport's finest ambassadors.

Dare we dream, he'll be lifting a trophy tomorrow night in Poland.