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Hello. This is Alexandra Palace. Ali Pali in north London. The PVC darts
boys and girls have packed away the arrows, they have had their fun,
they have at the moment, and now it is the turn of snooker. The 16 top
players in the world have turned up here, hoping for a very happy start
to 2017, as the Masters champion, the second longest running event in
snooker. And arguably, this is the greatest field we have ever
assembled. For the first time, every one of the players involved already
owns in major world ranking title. That's the first. But none of them
in this field has mastered this great event more offered than the
man who will be taking those off this afternoon - the six time
champion, the defending champion, the Rocket, Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Ronnie O'Sullivan, playing his best ever of the week to take the Masters
title. I'm a Londoner. Being in London, I'm looking forward to it.
MUSIC It looks like his fourth Masters
title now... I love winning, I love it!
and, like running, the only other six time winner of the Masters,
Stephen Hendry, is trying to look cool calm and collected at the
prospect of perhaps losing that record. Warning on a roll, going for
a seven. Steve Davis, he has long since worried about other people
making his record! Happy New Year to you both. What are the chances of
Ronnie itching himself alone in the history of this event. He has as
good a chance of anybody -- Ronnie itching himself into the history of
this event. He has been slipping up against the other top players.
He has been beating players, maybe not fancying it so much against the
top players. He won this last year in superb fashion. Obviously he
loves the big occasion,... It's an interesting point. You look back at
the last three months. He's been in a big final three times, he lost the
Judd Trump, John Higgins, and of course Mark Selby Dustin December.
How do you read that form? No disgrace to lose the those three
players. -- just in December. It is getting more difficult to guaranteed
to win events. All you can really do is get your solving the frame and
give yourself a chance. He is getting there. So will get yourself
in the frame. It's just getting over the line has always been difficult
and will be more difficult. Is he going to be nervous with that record
in the last three months, though? I don't think he looks at it that way.
He's had lots of match practice. When it comes to this event, this is
a massive crowd now. It's like a big auditorium. One table, all eyes on
the one match. As Stephen said, a big occasion player. This, I've
probably said it before, this is his office, he is harder to beat here
than anywhere else in the world. Is going to be fascinating over the
next week or so. Ronnie O'Sullivan and the world number one Mark Selby
drawn to face each other in the final at the top and bottom of the
order. There are a huge number of very capable, very expert players
who could take this title themselves.
First up it's O'Sullivan against China's charismatic Liang Wenbo, a
real firecracker. A home event for the Essex boy. Flamboyant Judd Trump
meets Marco Fu, he was informed. World number two Stuart Bingham
playing the Gentleman Joe Perry tomorrow. The only debit and this
year, Kettering's Ireland Wilson. 2015 winner Shaun Murphy playing
last year's for up Barry Hawkins. And the world number one meets Mark
Williams. It gets going in a couple of moments when Ronnie O'Sullivan
works out to this great arena, 2000 strong, against Liang Wenbo this
afternoon. As you know, this time last year he came to Ali Pali off
the back of a seven month sabbatical away from the sport, not the first
time he's done that. He's also had something of a bit of a love hate
relationship with snooker. He's in love with a together the moment
because he tells us that he would now love to be viewed as the Lionel
Messi of this game. People that are watching, they're saying, he don't
just win, but he delivers on it. I think it's very important. Sometimes
people say like you can't play like that, but Lionel Messi proves that
you can, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer do. I want to try and be one
of them. Arguably he has been that, one of those great entertainers all
of his career. This is his 23rd campaign in the Masters. Let's meet
the man he is going to be playing today. 29-year-old Liang Wenbo. This
fella could cause a few problems. The odds have been stacked against
Liang Wenbo consider the previous match-ups. Ronnie with five wins the
Wenbo's one. The recent contests have been pretty close. Ronnie has
reportedly given Liang Wenbo one or two pieces of playing device. It
will be interesting to see what difference it makes today. And how
about this? Liang getting his big first title in the English open in
October, really that. Loved A lot of people will remember he was in the
UK championship final two years ago. A quirky character, a heavy scorer.
I wonder how many questions he is capable of asking Ronnie today? As
you said that, I think his heavy scorer, he is going to have to do
that today. You know, Ronnie is going to be well up for this match.
Liang has to match in the scoring department. His temperament also,
he's got to keep that in check. You know, he concedes a lot of times,
Liang, he shows his emotions. He starts swearing, shaking his head,
his he smacks himself in the face. He's got to keep his temperament in
check as well stop like the crowd will be thoroughly behind Ronnie
O'Sullivan. That is a withering experience for a player in the past.
Good luck you do well in by the final it is the full crowd.
But this is round one, you are right in the deep end. It's a shock to the
system for every player that comes here. Usually you is your solving
the tournament. Wenbo has a bit about him, though. So you is
yourself into the tournament. Perhaps the early start, it would be
good for Wenbo to get off to a good start from his perspective. But this
tournament is a shock to the system. A blogger made a very good point, it
is required reading. Ronnie seems to like playing. If you watch his body
language, he is always smiling against Wenbo. Do you get that
impression about him? They are very good friends off the table. Liang
amuses Ronnie, possibly off the table as well. He likes his antics
around the table, he's a breath of fresh. So many of the players
nowadays show very little emotion at all, if any. He is different from
that, he's good to watch and good to play against. He has a 5-1
advantage, he is comfortable with that. From the perspective of
Stephen, my perspective from my rack and Stephen's era, we prefer to have
an aura around us that we were untouchable. We didn't make friends
too much with our opposition, if at all. Do such an extent that we were
quite disliked! But it seems different now, the game has changed
enough. But I don't like the thought of getting too friendly with another
player. Judd Trump did it in the UK championship, he had dinner with the
guy who beat him. And suddenly it's a different culture now. You see
them before talking to each other before they go out, we would never
have done that. OK, I don't know who is buying goods to write, but we'll
find out. Liang is -- buying dinner tonight. Ronnie is 13 and Liang is
11. But this 2000 strong crowd is already the start. It will be lively
and crackling with anticipation. As we get ready to get underway, the
honour is being done by the man who won this great title exactly 30
years ago, Mr Dennis Taylor. Would you please welcome into the arena, a
player who lifted his first title just a couple of months in ago in
Manchester. The reigning English professional champion, Liang Wenbo!
APPLAUSE And his opponent, would you please
give a warm welcome, he is the defending Masters champion. He is
five times a world champion, six times in Masters champion, it's the
rocking Ronnie O'Sullivan! It's lively, all right! A quick
sprint into the commentary box. You have done your Sunday work-out
already! Sit back and revel in one of the great sporting occasions of
any year, is the Masters, best of 11 frames in the opening round. We'll
get a win this afternoon. Dennis on his way to meet three-time Masters
champion John Parrott, good afternoon, John.
COMMENTATOR: Welcome to a very lively Alexandra Palace. The top 16
players in the world put into the melting pot. And usually when you do
that combination, it comes out to be very exciting. Away we go for what
should be fascinating week of Sugra. -- a week of snooker.
I don't think he has covered the outside read here. This is a chance
for Ronnie. Not easy of course, first shot in this year's event for
him. So, not to be. I agree with the
boys, his attempt at the long pot. It's very important to get a good
start at any match. Particularly against Ronnie O'Sullivan,
ineffectively his own backyard. He has got the score to date, Liang,
and heavily. I love watching Liang Wenbo play. He
really is very exciting. Bit of a character as well.
And he's one of those players who just loves a stage like this. Packed
house at the Alexandra Palace. He plays his best snooker under these
conditions. What conditions they are. Look at this wonderful venue. I
think it was 1500 couple of years ago, now it is 2000 capacity. A very
popular event here in London, and why not? We should be in for a treat
here this week. The tournament first started in
1974-75 season by the late, great John Spencer. He was beaten in the
final. It has kept going ever since. From 79-2006 it was a conference
centre. The next five years it went to the arena, and then for the last,
well, this will be the 60th year at Ali Poly. This was seamlessly taken
over as a great host for a wonderful event -- the 16th year at the Ali
Paoli. Of course we mustn't forget the New London Theatre in Drury
Lane. It was played there. That was a terrific venue. Well-established
now, as you say, John, almost packed out here.
I always used to love playing this event, Dennis. There's a real buzz
about it. It's your reward for playing well throughout the year and
being a top player. You know full well you've got to be at it right
from the get go. There's nowhere to hide here. You're the centre of
attention, only one table, and you've got to bring your stuff with
you, no good trying to find it, because you won't win this event by
doing this. You've got to win here by bringing to a game. -- your a
game. Well, that could be the end of
break. He was just a bit unlucky. He didn't get quite enough right-hand
side when potting that brown. Justin Gilbert Moorside and he would hit
the pink and red. -- just a bit more on the side. He will be
disappointed, his first proper visit on the table and it was a big target
for him to hit. Liang Wenbo 27. Decided to have a go at the double.
The only red he could leave was the one he tried to double. He has left
a chance for Ronnie to follow that red. Can you put the camera away,
please? They did mention no cameras, please. The referee just emphasising
that. I don't know whether he saw the red
going and he kept the angle to get into the pack like Liang did. Wow.
You know, his angle and that wasn't the same as Liang's, it was more of
a difficult shot. Couldn't quite get the side on.
Yes, it's so easy to going off that last shot on the attempted. That's
the angle he had. You need to hit it at the right-hand side and avoid the
middle pocket. Didn't quite manage that.
Even though it's the best of 11, it's always nice to get off to a
good start. And he's had plenty of good starts in the match, six times
in Masters champion. Yes, I think some of Ronnie's best
snooker ever has been played at this event. The 10-3 was as close to
perfection as you could see. The demolition of Ding Junhui was
absolutely outstanding. He has played some great stuff here.
Not particularly appetising for Liang. He's just got to be careful
here. Probably trying to drop in the back of the pack here.
We always talk about Ronnie being the greatest break-builder of all
time. He's got a fabulous tactical and safety game, which you have to
have. You have to be able to mix it. Not the best safety this time from
Ronnie. Liang Wenbo can have a go at this red and get himself onto the
black. It's a bit of a free shot. The only ball he can leave will be
the red. If he misses it, you can quite easily send it into the pack.
It's a half chance. He is pretty good at this type of pot.
He concentrated so hard on getting the pot, which was difficult in
itself. Straight in the centre of the pocket, but just lost the white.
If it stops there, it would have been perfect. Not much he can do
here, really. Just going back to the venues, John,
the Wembley conference centre. You were so far away from the table.
Here you are closer to the table. It was quite a long walk back to your
seat, it took a lot of getting used to in that venue. But there again,
you would have 2700 people there for the final.
Many a time players forgot where they were and tripped over the
plants in that place! That's a terrific shot. I think you
can take the brown because there is a red just the right of pink that is
available. Oh! He didn't see that coming. He
was perfectly on the red. A second chance for Liang. Just caught the
near jaw. Now, perfect position on the blue.
This is a lovely pack to go into. The red next to the pink is making
it even better. If he can hit that one, the red and pink together, it
should open up lovely. He has just got to be careful that the pink
doesn't head towards the left corner pocket when he cannons into them.
Well, is he on that red? I thought he would hit them a little harder
than that. I think he got a little bit lucky to finish there. They were
begging to be hit hard. He is an one.
I'll tell you what, this table looks beautiful. I thought he was going to
come up short on the blue, but it's very quick and the players like it
that way. He has a nice shot here. He pops this blue and leaves it low
on the red, he can split the pack up that way. He needs the cue ball to
go a bit more. If it does, that's what he's looking for. If it does,
what the red and Canada into the pink, quite a few open in the plate
-- cannon into. I'd love to have another couple of inches of role and
that cue ball, it would have been perfect. With the 34 point
advantage, he can win the frame if he can play the shot that John
suggested. Is it a little too straight from the red to do that?
Not a lot of room there. So, a change of plan. Is he going to
go far enough? I think is going to have to take the pink. He's going to
split the reds. Straightaway he gets the rest out. It's a natural angle
to pot the pink and split those five reds. We have seen it already, but
both players have had a go on the brown and in quite get enough of the
side of the cue ball in the frame. Sometimes on these new cushions,
they throw a little bit different. If he judges this correctly...
Well, missed the pack. And this has all come from the one off the blue.
If he had just got the right angle on the bottom red, it was from over.
Not from as wide as he fought and missed the back. -- not thrown as
wide as he thought. He might have a 41 point leave here,
Liang. This is a dangerous board. If he hits the roads here, only the
brown in an awkward position, he has to be very careful.
Well, this will require good cueing. He can only just see enough of this
thread. He has had a look at that. -- of this red.
Just a safety shot. He needs a good cue ball here.
That's not bad, but there is a half chance for Liang. He is a
devastating long putter, and runny nose that. He practices enough with
this Chinese player. -- and Ronnie knows that. This is not
straightforward. He has defined the Gap back around the table. -- he has
defined the gap. What damage has he done here? Mis-hit that completely.
What a chance for Ronnie to get right back in this opening frame.
It's not only the damage of missing it, he flipped the red off the side
cushion, a double whammy. He brings the red into play. A good chance...
It should have been. Can he just sneak back the yellow
enough to pot the green? Just a bit of noise. There is a
latecomer coming into a seat, and somebody is making noise there. It
has been spotted. Just a couple of flights, I think. They might be the
line of sight, which is off-putting -- a of lights.
Just reflecting on to the railings. They are catching Ronnie's I.
He is going to wait to get the light off. It is putting him. He knows it
is quite a good chance to get himself back into the frame. We've
got to find the switch that will get rid of that blue light. There is
just one red that is safe here that could come to Liang Wenbo's rescue.
The one near the ocean, as John mentioned, he knocked the other red
red out into the open. -- the one near the cushion. Frank Baker just
heading off. The light is safely switched off. I suppose, Dennis, we
mentioned the top cushion. Ideally Ronnie would like to get into the
black and only dropped the red in to get it back on the spot. In a
perfect world, that is what he would like to do.
The Wiggo, if you can get on the black now... -- there we go.
Change of plan. He did play on the black there.
This is a lively cloth. He has overhit that by the way. This is a
little cut back. Can he avoid the contact on the
brown? Of all he will have to put a little juice on it. Only just.
I haven't used that term before, a little bit of juice, another word
for a little bit of side. I mentioned earlier, it looked like
a dangerous position for Liang, even though he was a few points in front.
The ball is in a portable position, with maybe the exception of the
brown. You can see Ronnie trying to work out the best way. Ideally, as I
say, he'd like to drop the black and play on the loose red. This has got
counter clearance by the North Everett. -- written all over it.
Liang could kick himself with the chances he has had in this frame.
Doing exactly as you predicted, getting the black back on the spot.
And he doesn't want to be dead straight, though. And that looks as
if it is almost straight. Not much of an angle.
Yes, that could always happen. Trying to play the snookering behind
the black. -- the snooker in. Very little angle to work with. In fact,
the red jumped a few times. Not the best safety Liang Wenbo has
ever played. On the other hand, this is far from easy.
What a pot! What a cracking pot that is! Ronnie O'Sullivan special. All
about brown to blue now, that's going to be the key factor.
I agree with you Dennis, this cloth is lively, hardly touched that.
Straight back. Perfect angle. Deserves to win the frame. Has he
left himself a decent angle or is he a little bit straight?
Had that little bit of angle. Is it going to come up a little bit short?
He only needs the pink, no problem, doesn't matter about getting on the
plaque. -- the black. It has to be said, Liang Wenbo had
if you chances to take the opening frame and he didn't, Ronnie
O'Sullivan takes the frame and he leads 0- one. The defending champion
off and running, effectively a tale of. Yes, one that Ronnie turned
down, you can see the situation here, he looked at they read a
couple of times and perhaps if he is 2-0 or 3-0 in front he takes it on,
but he knows the importance of this frame so he refuses it and place the
safety shot and gets in. Looks like he was possibly going to win the
frame. The next long red and we are going to see is when you had to take
on, there is no safety shot. Hardly hit it, this was just all timing.
Also in stroke as well? Yes, came straight at the red on the top
cushion but looks to be cueing very nicely on what looks to be a
lightning fast piece of cloth, snooker on ice effectively and no
better player than Ronnie O'Sullivan per controlling the cue ball on fast
conditions. And perhaps that safety shot that Liang Wenbo played, when
it rolled a few more inches down the table gave Ronnie the chance. Safety
becomes difficult on fast clots, everything is tricky on a very fast
cloth. There were a few nervous moments as you would expect from
both men and I think that lends to the intensity and intimacy of this
venue. Liang Wenbo will be disappointed, he had three or four
chances in the frame and if he keeps needing that he will get beaten
today so he has to up his game if he wants to win. Back we go, the second
frame. COMMENTATOR: I would agree with Stephen Hendry, Liang Wenbo
cannot carry on as he did in that opening frame. Had a few decent
chances. But he knows that only too well John. Yes. Playing against the
very best chances seem to be few and far between and he had enough of
them in the opening frame but have to make the most of them.
That certainly will help his confidence. It was a long red
similar to that that he hit two thick in the previous frame. No
problem this time, right in the centre of the pocket. This is a
really good chance. Reds spread around, could score plenty of points
before you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of opening up the pack.
Could score a few here. The pink is out of commission at the
moment, but the black has a red either side of it. In a few shots
time he could have the black in the open. Got to be very precise with
this, needs to pull up a little bit. That looks to be absolutely perfect.
Yeah, he is on the black, you can tell by his body language. Looks a
bit tight but I think he's OK. If he is on it it's the best shot he has
played in the match. Have already mentioned how quick the cloth is.
That's a fabulous shot. Excellent control. But his heart was in his
mouth when the cue ball was running. And now he has the black in the
open, that truly was a superb positional shot.
I remember a good few years ago we were in the commentary box and I
remember seeing I thought Liang Wenbo was the next big thing. I had
seen him play and thought his cue ball control and scoring was
absolutely fantastic and I thought this boy would going to win lots of
events and it's fair to say he went missing for a few years but
thankfully he is back on the big-time here in top 16. Won a
ranking event in 2016, he has found something from somewhere and it's
good to have him back because he certainly supremely talented.
Well, this might have just gone astray. Misjudged the cannon, think
his left things very difficult for himself.
This is tough, it will just go past the blue up into the corner. A
beauty! Yes, excellent recovery. Could have
easily been disappointed from the shot he played before. Really had to
do so little with the cue ball on this cloth, it is zipping around the
angles. Just got to make sure that this next positional shot, it's
important, got to get the right angle.
Isn't it ironic John, when he played the previous shot in the first frame
to split the reds he did not get enough side, that time he got too
much side on. He was thinking about the shot he played as we show you
out again, this time getting too much side on it. No easy safety
shot, has to just roll into them, cannot do everything else. Ronnie
cannot run away up the table. Of that red. Closest to the tank.
Following a similar pattern to the opening frame here where Liang Wenbo
was leading by 40 points. Once again the safety shot has to be very
careful. Have to get the cue ball glued to the bottom fusion cushion.
That's pretty good but there is an easy safety shot for Ronnie of the
reds just to the left of the pink as we look at them.
He needs the green to come to the rescue here. It's not. Round of
applause but there is a gap through to this red. This would be some shot
but knowing Liang Wenbo he will play at. This will be interesting to
watch because it was a long part in the opening frame when he was in
front and not in much trouble that caused him to ultimately lose the
frame. What will he do here? That was not the cue action I'm afraid.
Looked like a lot of pressure on that.
Let's have a look, the reds sitting on the black spots will have to go
directly behind because of the other spots are occupied. I think that
last part that Liang Wenbo missed, he's just concerned about who's
coming behind him, he's got Ronnie O'Sullivan, the six time Masters
champion and that puts a much pressure on a part like that and
that's where the mental strength comes in, you have to try to forget
what you are playing and think about what you're going to leave. But that
is easier said than done. I think the red goes that is closest to the
black, but he cannot get on that red, the angle he has left the pink
but there is no problem, plenty of other choices. Usually manages to
sort out which way to go doesn't he? Adept at seeing the table and
getting the computer working, where to leave the cue ball. To make the
break as easy as possible. Fair to say he's been fairly useful at that
over the years. He can leave that red next to the
black for the time being. He played the last red, playing to try to come
dead straight on the pink to run through for the red next to the
black, did not quite get there are so a change of plan. Just trying to
leave himself that angle to run through and get on that red by the
black. But if you don't quite manage it you have to change the way you go
about it. And he is they are now. -- there
now. A couple of tricky reds, the one next to the blue is available
only in corner pockets. That one jumped quite a bit but did not
affect the shot. The one that is near the right side cushion is
slightly awkward, I wonder if he will try to develop that? A little
risky. That's what he's played. And didn't develop it.
Just having a look to see if the red passes the blue to the green pocket
which I think it does. I think that was the table again,
the reaction he got. It really is so fast. This is awkward because he's
so close to the red. And look at that shot. APPLAUSE
Difficult to pick the angle out when you're so close to it and he can
take the green here and swing this around the angles to head towards
that last difficult red. Here comes the cue ball, where is it going to
vanish? Just slipping past it. 15 in front, they are all on. Needs a good
snooker here. APPLAUSE I think he'd have to use web around
this stick at the edge of it. It's quite tricky to judge with the blue
and green playing with a touch of swerve. Where is the red going?
Well, this will pot, to take the second frame.
For all the world and looks like 2-0 now to Ronnie O'Sullivan. If I was
Liang Wenbo I would be sitting in that chair kicking myself because
the scoreline at the moment is self-inflicted. Two long reds, one
in the opening frame that he missed by a mile and that one there in the
last frame that he missed when he was 40 points in front...
That's the one in the first frame that he missed by a mile. Cost him
the frame. And then this one which was a really good opportunity for
someone of his class. Because of those looks like he's going to be
2-0 down. Well, no fireworks just yet but
Liang Wenbo could have quite easily led 2-0 but the scoreline currently
reads Ronnie O'Sullivan 2-0 Liang Wenbo.
Defending champion has a 2-0 lead and John Parrott summed it up,
self-inflicted he said from the perspective of Liang Wenbo, do you
agree? Of course, Liang Wenbo wins his first ranking event, his stock
rises and with that comes different problems and one of those is
expectation. Now Liang Wenbo possibly going to come into
tournaments from now on in expecting it to do better and that puts
pressure on. Only his second appearance at the Masters, on his
debut last year, this is a 23rd appearance for Ronnie. How
intimidating is this place when you're just getting used to it? You
are battling against the Ronnie O'Sullivan show when you come here,
you have you have to have tremendous mental strength to get through it. I
remember when I used to play Jimmy White at the old Wembley conference
Centre and it was the same thing. Forget about the surroundings and
just, anyone who plays a top player, cut out the unforced errors and
you'd be amazed how well you do. It's quite obvious when you are
looking at all these factors, he has been caught cold in the first couple
of frames, couple of misses that you could put in the easy category, how
do you set yourself down? It's just an unforced, it's trying 100%
concentration into every shot. He needs to win frame quickly in this
match. COMMENTATOR: We always say you never really settle until you
get your first frame on the scoreboard. And that is what Liang
Wenbo will be thinking about, must get a frame sooner rather than
later. Now, has that red cover of the one
near the pocket? I don't think so, Liang Wenbo can get through to cut
this in. And I think he will avoid cannoning into the bunch of reds and
the pink. Even if he did it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world but
it's all about making sure of the pot and letting the quite take care
of itself. -- the white. Come through a gap that I didn't
see. That is what he was looking at, wasn't absolutely certain about the
cue ball, but to find the gap was a bonus as we show you the shot again.
Not the gap he played for but he'll take it. Just giving himself a
little bit of extra time here to make sure that he gets the next shot
right because if he can get good position he can give himself an
early chance here in this third frame.
I think the pink is out of commission looking at it, the black
still a little awkward, like it was in the earlier frame. This is a much
more difficult chance than the one he had in the second frame, the
black is really awkward. Taking his time, I don't blame him. He is 2-0
down after all. If it goes 3-0 down I cannot fancy him at all. Somehow
he has to get around and under the blue, so how does he find the path
round there? He's just checking to see if the pink would possibly going
to the right middle pocket. Looks a bit tight. We'll find out shortly,
the way he plays best shot. That has been overhit by quite some
way. That's just a little bit of tension there. We mentioned how
quick the cloth is, that such a difficult shot to play on a really
quick cloth, of the side cushion. May have left Ronnie along red on
the right-hand side. He's looking at the black, but I don't think it
pots. Very tight if he was to leave it where he is cueing, maybe he can
get on that if he stuns the white through. He had an angle to come an
and off the cushion to get on the black. Unexpected miss from Ronnie
O'Sullivan and a chance for Liang. We know the black is available.
Little bit street, but looks as if he's going to miss to the right of
the pocket as we watch cueing but safely in. This will open the black
up. Little run through to land on the
loose red. I know we keep going on about it but if you're going to have
a future in this match Liang he's got to score now.
Need to keep going, he wanted to have an angle. Looks of it straight.
We'll have to power this through with lots of side. Going to be a bit
close to the condition but he's got the red lives near the right corner.
Quite cleverly played. Often say to people how do you make a break, you
try to leave yourself in positions where there are a couple of options
so that was well played, knew he didn't get on the other red near the
black he still had this one. APPLAUSE
Very well controlled. Really well controlled. You can sense already
that Liang knows how important this is. And he knows how important this
next shot is going to be, leaves himself on the black to split up
this bunch of reds, that's going to be key. This is the one that could
pave the way. To taking his first frame in this match. It's not the
best pack of reds to go into, needs to get plenty of action on this.
That red is available to him. Just run through and leave himself on the
pink or black. Well once again he finds himself with an almost 40
point lead and really there is no excuse from here. Somebody of his
quality, this is an excellent chance. To take the frame.
You can see Liang taking a nice deep breath as he walks around.
Deep breath and go again. Maintain that concentration level.
This is what he is very good at, Liang, close control around the pink
and black area. Scored very heavily and very quickly. A series of little
stuns and screw shots. Racks up the points very quickly.
Yes, he knocked in 30 centuries last season. Nearly 18 this season. He
has just let the white run a little further than he intended. Safely in.
And there you can see, 67 ahead with 59 remaining he can relax a little
bit. Certainly is an excellent response.
We said at the start of this frame, this is what he has to do to score.
A little bit of help for Ronnie in this frame, it has to be said. I
didn't expect Ronnie to miss. But nevertheless, he has taken things
very well. Ronnie's shot, we thought he would come off of the black, but
not to be. Showing very good character here, Liang.
He has got a lovely swagger around the table, a very confident swagger.
Liang Wenbo is a lovely lad. But when he's playing well, you know,
it's as if I'm the boss! The big boss!
You remember that, John, Bruce Lee, the big boss.
No reason why he shouldn't go on to make a century break. The first one
of this year's masters. His cue ball control has been exemplary.
I have a funny feeling he won't be the only one this week. There will
be a few of them, John. A magnificent break from Liang
Wenbo. And coming just at the right time for him and his supporters.
That really set this first-round match up. After the two frames, no
fireworks. Well, we've had a few in this frame, all coming from the
Chinese player. It doesn't matter about the pink. Ronnie missed an
easy red here. Wenbo got one chance, and didn't he take it well? He
missed a century break, but he still trails 2-1.
It very much needed frame for Liang. If there was a shot in that frame
that was a surprise that Ronnie played, with mentioned he played a
drag shot. I thought it was strange, he played with a lot of bottle just
hold for the black. That's the drag shot but you mention, when you hit
the ball on the bottom, swinging backwards, take all of the off of
it. It reverts into top spin, as you can see. It lands on the object ball
softer. That is what he was trying to do with the black, it didn't
quite work out. Consequently, Liang went on to win the frame. Once
again, it's amazing from the break of shot, look at the red either side
of the black. What has happened in all three frames so far, the red
they are hitting seems to be sitting on either side of the black. I think
it is an indication, the pack is really opening.
Actually a very good break off from Ronnie. Can he just get past that
blue just need that read. It looks as if he can. Paul Collier is having
a good look to see. The reason the referee looks is because if you were
to miss it altogether he'd have to get it back, but he can, and he can
avoid it if he hits it than enough. He can play and swerve, even write
up this. That's what he's done. That's what you call a containing
shot. Ronnie just tapping the table. Nothing wrong with that shot.
Sometimes that's all you've got. He thought one pocket might be in the
wake if you didn't get it right, he chose to play that one. Sometimes
you put yourself back into the bit of trouble, but that's all that you
can do. Well, the crowd have got so involved
this afternoon. It's the opening match, a packed house.
He didn't get it in the jaws of the pocket.
This is what the game of snooker is all about, playing, a one-table
situation, 1700 people in, this is what the players turned professional
for. And they strive for it. They've got to play an awful lot of events
these days that are the best of seven frames, mostly cabled venues.
But this is what it's all about. This is your reward. Well, Ronnie, I
think you found the plant here. Just having a look at it. Trying to see
whether it is on the near jaw locked. Which side he is going to
hit it. Of course, it depends a little bit on how much of a gap
there is between the two reds. It looks like it's on to me. If it is
so close and he doesn't get it correctly, he can squeeze the second
read away from the pocket. That is why he is taking extra care -- the
second red. It is going is to the left of the pot. Which means he
would have to make sure that he gets the correct contact on the first
round. It's not a foul shot if you can lift your feet off the table
when you are looking at the short! But you can't do it while you are
playing the shot. Well, we've got a perfect picture to
see whether he judges it or squeezing it away from the pocket. A
foul and MS. -- and a miss. I think because he was striking down
on it, the Kiwis going down and he swerved it, it bounced straight into
the blue. -- the the cue. The final thing that happened in that shot,
the black Kayumova and rested on the plant and moved it. Everything
happened there apart from the lampshade for on his head! -- the
black Kayumova. Of course, the balls wouldn't have
to be placed back, because it is not a miss. It is just a far shot. And
that is a player with quite a bit of confidence. And that century break
has given Liang Wenbo back fat confidence. That was a terrific long
pot. It certainly was -- a bit of confidence. The second frame he hit
right across it. It was excellently cued. He won't be bullied by the
fact that he has seen a couple of mistakes from morning. It is nice
when your opponent is missing one or two poor shots. It helps with your
confidence. Ronnie at 85%, Liang my device
percent. His potting success rate. -- at 95%. 95 is quite high
considering he lost the first two frames. If Liang hasn't got high
enough on the pink, that a stinker. It wasn't easy shot to get up there,
but maybe he's just sneaked an angle out of it. One thing he had to be
there was above the pink to go back down for the reds. Have a look. He's
just made it. And that's OK. So much reverse side on that shot. I
mean, I don't think the crowd realised how much side he had to get
onto that. You can see the whites spinning off
the cushion and heading towards the red. That normally would have run
out into the middle of the table. Yes, quite a bit of work to do with
this chance. It's not a great one. It would be helped if he can get the
blue back on the spot, that's for sure. Just drop this in and get the
angle on the loose red, that would help.
I'm just wondering whether the black goes in the centre pocket. He is
coming round to have a look. If you can drop this into get that handle,
he may get the black back in play. Yes, it does. It looks to have come
well, a natural angle to get back in there.
All of the spots are occupied. The black will have to go behind its own
spot, behind that red there. It shouldn't really put it out of
action. Oh, we've got a wasp! It's a bit early, sorry, a bit late for one
of those, John. Missed it! Well, that's it now, the refs at it,
it'll be coming after you in a minute! I think you got a kick when
he had a go at that wasp! -- I think EE got a kick.
Well, that was looking like not a very promising visit to the table.
But he's negotiated is very well, Leanne. -- Liang Wenbo. He has the
blue back on the spot. Black might still be available. A lot better
than a few shots ago. More importantly, he has started off
dangerous. It is amazing how many top
left-handed players or in the game nowadays, and all terrific players.
Answer me this, why do they all look so good? That's the other thing.
It's like the top-class golfers, left-handed looks brilliant. Bob
Charles, I remember him, and elegant golfer.
Yes, is definitely warming to the task. A bit of a shaky start. Down
by 40 points -- up by 40 points in the opening two frames and lost both
of them. A century in the last frame. Going well here. He is
looking like the player who won that English Open back last year. He met
Judd Trump in the final. He has got a slight problem here. He
didn't get on the pink as he intended. He is going to get a
cannon. I think he can come off the crush and looking at that angle and
hope to bring water or two reds in the plate -- off the caution. Lots
of top spin, I don't know if there is a possible planned there. He's
got a bit of a kick there. He may have been attempting the plant. Yes,
Dennis, I think that's what he's playing for. That was a terrible
kick. 48 up in the air of Mike both balls. He's already had a look at
that. This is not totally straightforward. Quite a bit of
distance between these two reds. They look easy from behind the
pocket, but when you actually see the gap between the two of them...
Well, he's picked the spot on the cushion where he's going to set the
first round to make that angle. Well, that was just... He didn't
have the angle. I'm thinking he was lucky there.
Boy, didn't he give that a good old belt? He has covered the one with
the blue, but there is another to the right corner.
Be careful you don't touch that white, Ronnie, he was clearing
something away and very close to the cue ball with his finger, there.
Now, then, Mr very straightforward in the previous frame which cost him
-- missed a very straightforward red. I didn't collecting the missed
this. It looks like he's got away with it. He has had the right
result. He will be very happy to have left the cue ball where he has.
It could have been a lot easier for Liang year. Here.
Much too thick. He was just hoping to bring the black back into play
there. But he got it particularly wrong. He has just gone slightly out
of sorts for a frame and a bit, Ronnie. Not his usual high matchplay
standard at the moment. Needs to keep running to finish on
the black. Look at that. Once again, it looked as if it was going to come
up short. It's just beautiful to play on. When you're cueing well,
it's beautiful to play on. I don't know if he has got two straight on
this black, though. It looked like he had a few inches on the cue ball
to leave an angle. He's got a little bit. You couldn't force much out of
that cue ball. To be honest, he didn't you it very well either. --
he didn't Huw it. He cued the plant poorly before. It was fairly
straight. A few players would have got a bit more out of that than he
did. Well, there is a half chance for
Ronnie here. If you can get himself onto the black, we will show you the
miss from Liang Wenbo. Yes, he's got a gap. He can avoid three reds and
get round and black or blue. He doesn't want the cannon on the
blue. It has finished a little awkward. Had he have missed the
blue, he'd have been perfect on the black.
Now, the way the red Czar, you'd have to say that Liang Wenbo is a
strong favourite, but you never know with Ronnie O'Sullivan -- the way
the reds. Absolutely superb. Beautifully, all
of the work that he gets on the cue ball, it goes past the blue. Run
inside the back with this red. Can you believe it? Liang Wenbo has come
out of his seat. He can't believe it. That red was a bit of a
distraction, leaning over the two reds. Still, what a mess. -- a miss.
I suppose, at 2-0, Liang Wenbo would be thinking, if I can get just 3-1
down I would be quite happy. The way it's going coming he's going to be
all square. He's going to be all square after missing a couple of
chances as well. Even better. Ronnie has had breaks of 55, 30
five. I don't think that's happened very often. Last week he was on only
55, but that's what's happened today. He was good enough to lead
2-0, but disappointed going into the interval 2-2. Leanne will be
delighted. Game on again. -- Liang Wenbo.
Just over one hour and three minutes before the first four frames. It has
been pretty fluent staff. -- fluent stuff.
Could have played to move the red, but decided, being a left-hander,
I'll just dropping behind it. It doesn't matter if he misses this.
He'd like to clear it, but it doesn't really matter.
He lost a bit of concentration. Now the frame as well and truly over. A
shaky start the Liang Wenbo, but I'll tell you what committee didn't
half finish in style. He goes to the mid-session interval all square.
It's two frames each. STUDIO: We thought there would be a
turnaround in that frame, but Ronnie misses a relatively simple red. You
could hear the audio bowl last of the audience when that happened --
be audible gasp. So from that happens. You play a bit of
brilliance, and the some reason you miss the next shot. Either you think
it is easy or you put too much pressure on yourself. Have those
ever happen to you? No? I didn't think so! Many times! It
interesting. Ronnie O'Sullivan goes 2-0 up, you think he is the best
frontrunner there has ever been. You think, that's it, he's going to push
on now. He missed a long red with a drag. And he has been pulled back to
2-2. A couple of unforced errors from Ronnie. The confidence levels
you could see beginning to surge through the anchor. He makes the
will -- through Liang. He has missed a couple of long once, he is now
needing help from Ronnie to get into the match and he got it. You got to
say the Wenbo, perhaps Wenbo a number of years ago wouldn't have
had the strength of character that perhaps take the next smack frames,
but he's an experienced winner now and he is using all of that to good
as dead -- the next two frames. It wasn't as pretty as he would have
liked -- he is using all of that experience. Will Ronnie be feeling
despondent at this stage about how he has performed? No, I think he
plays on a pretty, he is pretty level-headed about it, in his
attitude to matches and how they go these days. He is prepared to win
ugly. Winning the match is the most important thing. Sooner or later, he
would be too disappointed. It is interesting. Ronnie has won this
Master six times, as we know. He has also been in five other finals as
well, and incredible strike rate over 23 years, this is his 23rd
campaign. He is just wanting to win here, but what has been interesting,
and interesting he did on BBC radio five Live and indeed on the telly,
he was very keen to stress that he wanted to win with style. We showed
you the quote about him wanting to be the Lionel Messi of snooker. He
has been in rather expansive form in that chat with Jamie Elliott. --
Jamie earlier. It'd be great to get another
Masters. I does want to win another Masters. I want to win another world
is. I want to win another Welsh, and China Open. I just want to win more
tournaments. What are your memories of last year, and how well do you
think you played between the corners? I was struggling last year,
because I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to play properly again
because of my back. Seven or eight years ago I would probably have
thrown in the towel. I had to fight to win matches that normally I
wouldn't win. It was good for me, you know. Do you take a lot of
positives out of getting to the final of the UK championship? I know
it wasn't the result you wanted, but for the neutral watching it was an
amazing final? For me, it was about people coming to watch, you know, it
was on the TV, good entertainment. But I want to win it with style. I
want to play an exciting, aggressive, attacking game. So that
the people watching say, you know what, he doesn't just win, he
delivers entertainment as well. I think it's important. Some people
say, you can't play like that and when. But Lionel Messi proves that
you can, Tiger Woods does and Roger Federer. I want to try and be one of
them. Does it worry you, the lack of development, particularly the
amateur game in the UK and Europe? When I turned professional, in 1992,
I think. They basically just allowed everybody to turn pro, there's no
amateur game, there is nothing further to go and do. You turned
pro, go and get beaten 6-0. That's what's happening now, all of these
pros turning pro who are not good enough to be professional. A lot of
guys are wasting their time really. A lot of players are struggling to
stay on the tour financially. They are playing lots and lots of
variance. And it's training them. -- lots and lots of events, and it is
training them. If you're glad wanted to be a pro, would you encourage
him? I've told him, he's not allowed to. I'm going to be strong on that.
I said to my daughter, I know that girls play snooker, but I don't want
you to play. I don't think it is a good life for a snooker now coming
into the game. If you are Selby, me or John Higgins, or Judd Trump, yes,
but for the other 120 if you like, it's a nightmare. They are literally
struggling to put food in the fridge. You know, I don't want my
children being brought up in a system that only benefits the top,
top people, know. It's a bit like the banking world, you. Everyone
else is struggling to kind of make ends meet when the top people get
fortunes. It's like that in snooker. I don't want my children being
involved in an industry where that is the culture, you know. I want
them to be in something where it's a bit more even, you know. Do you feel
that you are playing at the level that you are happy with, or would
you feel that you can't lay better? I think I'm OK. For six weeks I had
-- you can play better. I had to really struggle. The last 16 was a
good result. I could have got beat early. My form over the last, say,
November to December, I had a really good plate when I fault had with my
game, I was confident and enjoying it, and it was good. My game is a
lot better place now than it was, say, early September. Your champion,
Ronnie O'Sullivan! Is there a bit more expectation, it is a London
tournament, and most of the fans are behind you and want you to do well?
I no longer here to put all of my eggs in one basket. You know, I
think the winner Masters, this is the bonus, for me. I don't ever now
make snooker my number one goal. This is part of what I do, is not
everything I do. I don't take it too seriously no more. I enjoy having
that freedom of not being a slave to the sport as much as I used to be.
And it's just about having it in my life rather than dominating my life.
I enjoyed coming in this room here day after day, playing for three or
four hours. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad. But other things I've been
doing really good fun, you know. You get to meet different people. I feel
it has made me a happier and better person by taking the pressure off
and just playing snooker. So I think it's more important for me at this
stage of my career but I have a happy, stress-free life. I'm not
going to be regretting, you know, on my tombstone it won't be, you know,
I wish it was seven world titles instead of five, I don't think it
actually matters when it comes to Judgment Day. It's just about
enjoying whatever it is that I'm here to do. I love to play and I
love to compete. I've got my book coming out, that's been great. I
love doing my exhibitions. I've enjoyed doing the American show.
That's enjoyment for me. Believe it or not, I know its work, but I see
it as enjoyment. This is work, coming to place Newco, talking about
snooker, that's work. Because that's where I'm scrutinised, and that's
where I Judd myself and where everybody judges me. You are really
under the microscope. All the other stuff, just being myself, you know,
I haven't got to be the best pundit in the world, I haven't got to be
the best tour guide in the American show, just got to have a laugh.
He has broken out and is doing other projects were other TV stations, he
has a lot in his life. We drill down to the specifics of the titles and
the number of titles, he says it doesn't matter if he wins seven
world titles or Masters titles. But I am interested, the other side of
that airs this is the first time he can actually own one of the records
in snooker's three major events outright. He has chased you two over
the last 20, 25 years, your title of six in the UK he now co-owns and
your total of six in the Masters and seven in the World Championship, he
can overtake you and that is a watershed moment potentially for the
sport. Discuss. CHUCKLES I think it's right, when I was
playing, I had something in the distance all the time I was going
for. Ronnie has got the same and it's good to have that target. But
listening to that it looks like he's not bothered about it, whether he
does it or not. I think when he gets on the table he's a winning animal
like both of us wear. But he's given himself that comfort zone of if he
doesn't win then he's looking back and saying it doesn't really matter.
Secretly, deep down, how much do you feel it would matter to him as a
professional, as a snooker animal? What you have to recognise is that
is a 40-year-old man talking and I don't think a 40-year-old will have
the aspirations of a 25-year-old or even a 30-year-old. What is coming
out of his mouth is how years trying to deal with the daily pressures of
playing in a competitive game. He's unloading the pressure a little bit
by saying it doesn't matter, a 20-year-old doesn't say that, nor
does a 30-year-old, they are committed and focused. So when you
listen to him talking about other players in the game, you have to
consider its not ill informed but it's coming from his perspective
because it absolutely rubbish that Ronnie O'Sullivan says the rest of
them should not be professionals. You have aspirations as a young
player coming through, you might not be good enough at the moment but you
practice hard, do like Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham have done and
suddenly you can improve your standard and could be one of the
players to get through and makes the money. You cannot say the player
ranked hundred and 20th is wasting his time because the player at 120th
is not wasting his time, he has got a dream. Ronnie O'Sullivan does not
have a dream any more, at least not in snooker. But these other players,
it doesn't mean it's not worth achieving or chasing. It's a
political dimension to this discussion that we address that the
UK championship, we did a feature on the economics of the current regime.
For Ronnie to say it's not a career he would now have his son going to
or his daughter, it's a strong statement. The great thing is that
he won't have a choice in the matter because if his son wants to be a
professional snooker player he will be. What is your take on all of
this? When you started out at 13, 14 and you are looking at the records
and were having to get your bottom skelter couple times in matches back
then, how did you go about processing? There were so many
deserting voices sing I was too young when I was coming through at
16, saying I would lose my love for the game but when you're younger you
dream. You think what could happen if I have some success in this game
that you love playing and you have to keep that focus and that belief.
That you can do something. I am sure somewhere in the back of his mind
the target of seven 's Masters title and owning something outright, it is
a huge shining goal for 25 years of your life. It should be but I think
possibly if you try too hard as you get older you put too much pressure
on yourself so secretly he wants it as much, but perhaps the way to
achieve it is to say it's not as important any more, that might be
the way to do it. Fascinating stuff but it will work out over the next
seven frames potentially. Before we go to the match, we saw Dennis
Taylor introducing the players in some style, 30 years ago this year
was when he beat Alex Higgins and 9-8, he is partial to a final frame
decider. He still has a couple of tricks up his sleeve. Six times
world champion, seven times world champion, this is a difficult trick
shot I am going to attempt, send a height of three cushions, it should
come between the gap in the queues. Very difficult shot, under pressure.
Let's see what happens, go on, get up there. Go and knew little beauty.
Go on! CHEERING APPLAUSE
Fantastic Dennis, you never lose it. It's good but you are going to
struggle to beat one of the trick shots that you might have seen, it
has just gone viral on social media, 400 million views on this one from
the all stars snooker club in Bristol. If you have not seen this,
watch this. Starts at the top of a flight of stairs, the golf club does
the damage. It took four hours to set up, four hours of tinkering
before it all came right, over 90 attempts before they actually nailed
it. The cue ball sent on its way with the golf putter, the brainchild
of the general manager. They set it up at closing time in the club, they
kept tinkering with the set and till dawn when the cleaners were about to
come in and the club was about to open. It involves the stairs, the
snooker table, these two are mesmerised by this, two American
pull tables, six English pool tables and even a role across the floor.
What do you think? It's a good job the floors are level. It's quite an
architectural feat of engineering. It's fascinating, shows what you can
do with some imagination and a few snooker cues. There have been things
like this before with dominoes on the table, it's a magnificent
effort, the Labour of love that has gone into this is fantastic. It's
the first time it's been done from table to table, this has been seen
on the Internet before, but the sophistication of this, the area it
takes up in the club... This is the sticky point. That is where the
floor needed to be a fraction of level. Using pool tables and snooker
tables, I don't know if it goes to the dartboard? No. It's over 500
feet and for about two minutes they are already planning to top this but
look at this. Onto the bar. Some golf required at the end of this.
Here we go. The best all in one you will ever see. Extraordinary isn't
it? Have you ever seen anything so elaborate? That goes back to the old
dominoes. Dennis I know you were watching that, the man who set that
up is going to come in during the final next Sunday so has some tips
to give you and perhaps you can give him some in return? I am looking
forward to it, I might introduce that into my routine but it would
take about a week to set up. That was absolutely incredible. Something
I have been thinking about, wouldn't it be great if we got some of you
guys to think about maybe doing something at home and sending in
videos? I am just thinking good job they never assured that before the
Dennis! Absolutely, before we get back to the action, tonight 's
match. Kyren Wilson the only debit and
tear, the youngest and lowest ranked player here, ranked number 16 but
earned his place after victory in the Shanghai matters last season. He
will be making his debut this evening. Let's hear a bit more and
introduce you to master Wilson. Good old foot massage. Most
definitely James Bond, Daniel Craig. My dad playing in his best mates, he
had a pool room built and I was too young to go in and play so I was
banging on the door trying to get in. Dedication. Bad loser. I once
wrote happy anniversary to my fiance on the sand in the beach. He took it
well. Not really, I am quite laid back
when it comes to that sort of thing. Ranji jumping naked. -- bungee
jumping naked. Chilling out with my fiance and my
son and lovely warm weather. After winning Shanghai I bought myself a
new car. In just about a year he has managed to vault into the top 16 and
is now amongst the elite, earned his place here. Fantastic temperament,
what do you make of his potential? Yes, he's improved a lot, I remember
commentating on him to three years ago at the Crucible and he did not
look comfortable at all. Last year he was a dark horse to win the World
Championship. I disagree slightly about his temperament, I think you
can let things get to them, when his opponent is getting good luck you
start pulling faces so that might be a weakness but a tremendous potter.
I am sure he is taking that on board because he's a very bright guy. As
for his opponent, Ding Junhui, the first Asian winner of this title in
2011, has not won a match at Alexandra Palace since.
Extraordinary. It is, you can only put it down to the fact that the
first-round series against the top 16 player, you are not that much of
a favourite. The first round of other events you are much more
likely to get off to a good start as one of the top players. But still,
for Ding Junhui who has won five ranking events in a season and has
been very strong, amazing. Probably coincidence, just the way it
rumbles. He's already won avec tournament this season, was in a
final where he was dumped by Mark Selby and was a Crucible finalist.
Given the history, is he vulnerable? I worry a little bit, I think in
York he went out with a whimper, did not look like he was enjoying
himself, bad attitude for such a big tournament. Interesting to see how
the break over Christmas and New Year will change his attitude. That
match will be on the red button from 7pm this evening. If you have other
plans I will be back at 11:45pm on BBC Two with the highlights. But we
have this opening match of the Masters to conclude, it has become a
best-of-7 frames, let's see if Dennis has managed another trick by
sprinting into the commentary box to join John?
COMMENTATOR: I just made it! Not as quick as I used to be.
Liang Wenbo will be hoping to continue where he left off. That's a
pretty decent break-off shot. Hazel asked just before the
interval, do you think you'd be disappointed with his early
performance, I spoke to Ronnie in the interval, had a cup of coffee
with him and he said he is enjoying being out there, just happy to be
playing. Seems very level-headed it all. Did he mention anything about
the tip? When I passed him he was looking for sandpaper. Yes, he did
give some surgery to the end of it but he seems fine now. No great
issues. In good spirits. Last weekend we were over in Dublin,
Ireland played England in Legends match, it was fabulous and Ronnie
was in form. Mark Selby was there. Kyren Wilson will be on tonight, he
played really well, the Irish crowd took to him. That wasn't as easy as
it looked. A pot you would expect him to make
here of course but positional is -- play is difficult of this. Don't
think he can hold for the blue. Just having a look to see which way the
cue ball will go if he plays a screenshot. -- screw shot. No
problem with the opening Marin but what's he going to get on? He thinks
he can pot this, go past the blue, come off the side cushion and get
somewhere close to that red he was looking at and get somewhere near
the black. This will be some shot. Seemed to have a little bit of
movement on that shot. Didn't cue that one as smoothly as he had been
cueing the ones before the interval. Those shots with a bit more pressure
on them, you just ten to see an more function in the cue action with
Liang occasionally. What a chance he has left Ronnie O'Sullivan now.
Had a 55 break in the second frame but look at how the reds are
situated here. All the colours are in open play.
You're not going to mention the M word are you? It's a bit too early
but as you can see, they are sitting nicely.
Even though we are not mentioning it I am going to talk about it. Three
maximum is made here in the history of this tournament, do you know all
three of them? I remember Stevens with a white shoot making the first
one -- suit. Jimmy White made one. I'm not sure about that. It was Ding
Junhui. And the other was Marco Fu. Jimmy White was playing against a
Canadian, Kirk Stevens, when he made his.
Chatting away there, no chance of a maximum in this frame. Highest break
in itself is well worth winning, ?10,000 for the highest break here.
Not to be sniffed at. Ronnie will be trying to put a marker down for that
one. Taking these very well so far,
Ronnie. The break helped by Liang at the start of it. Poor shot on the
Marin, should not be missing those. -- on the red.
Looks like his concentration is back in order, Dennis. Yeah, I think the
interval came at the right time to Ronnie, just to get in and get a cup
of tea, relax. But this is him showing all his experience.
Frame safe. Concentrate on a possible century. 856 centuries he
has made in his career. There is a strong possibility he could go on to
be a player that makes a thousand century breaks in a career? APPLAUSE
Just hit the wrong red, might have spoiled the century. Just cannoned
the wrong red otherwise he would have cleared the table. Just had to
try. But OK, it might be in, no. But he's come out firing on all
cylinders after the mid-session interval is. The fabulous break
enough to take the frame. Ronnie O'Sullivan back in front.
At one point the M word was being mentioned, the maximum, there have
been seven already this season, Mark Davis, the first of his career in
the championship league just last week. Tell me about the demeanour of
Ronnie O'Sullivan as he's wandering around the table, he has the swagger
and it will do him good to have got a semi-decent sized break? It was
lovely. Again supplied by a bad miss from Liang Wenbo. You would think
having got himself back in the match at 2-2, presented with a great
chance, missing an easy red in the middle. He's done well to get back
to 2-2 but that's not job done, you have to keep your focus and
concentration. After that it looked inevitable that Ronnie was going to
win the frame. Their personal series so far has been emphatically in
Ronnie's favour with this 5-1 record but Liang Wenbo has been getting
closer, a final frame decider in September in Shanghai so he knows
how to get close to him. He has lots of grit and determination apart from
being a heavy scorer. The difficulty for players like Liang Wenbo to
become regular winners is how do you outplay your opponents, not just
beat them. You have to outplay them and put your authority on matches
and that's not easy playing against this standard. But every time you do
miss an easy shot and let your opponent in your progress and run
halts so it's back to square one again. They start the match off,
lose the first frame, start the session, lose the first frame and
play catch up. It is still tense, don't feel the match is caught fire
as yet. No, no real fireworks. Every frame has had mistakes so it's not
been flawless by any stretch but it has been interesting. Very
interesting indeed. A stunning final previously between Mark Selby and
Ronnie O'Sullivan. Back we go. COMMENTATOR: Not quite on the
cushion with the cue ball. One shot the players do practice a lot these
days, this type of shot. APPLAUSE
Cue ball needs to pull up. It just keeps on rolling, all he can do is
nestling behind the brown. Good opening pot.
Nice pot, but that fast cloth prevented him from stopping nicely
on the right colour. He's fouled that. I think he touched the brown.
Trying to get a bit of swear bonnet. -- a bit of swerve bonnet. I think
Liang Wenbo had put it so close to the brown it made it quite difficult
to get the angle. In the end just got a bit too much
on it. But left one to the middle pocket.
If he is this red into the left middle pocket it would be perfect on
the black. Would like to stun it in that makes the shot slightly more
difficult. Hampered slightly. Actually, not too bad. If he can get
some screw on it will get closer to the black.
Doesn't quite seem to cue as well when there is that little bit of
The trouble is when you have this man following new you tend to pay
your mistakes. Quite a good chance already with that was red at the
back of the pack. Ideally Ronnie would like to play
this with the cue ball slightly low on the bottom red, could pot that
and bring a few more into play. That's what he's played for.
Had to play the run-through, but again promoted a read. -- red.
Has a choice of shots here. Can either move the packed out or screw
and move the loose red away. That's the one he played on.
25. 26. Ideally he would like to stand up into the pack here. Played
the screw shot, could not have come out any better. APPLAUSE
33. Looks like he's going through the
gearbox. One of the best in the business at that particular type of
shot, so much action on the cue ball, it stops in the pack and then
keeps on spinning. Last frame lasted under ten minutes,
break of 89. This frame is not going to last very long by the looks of
things. No, not while he looks as focused as he does. The interval has
been very good, I agree. Simple shot into the loose red on
the outside. Left on the three will be available.
Bottom one on the right is also available. Better position for him.
He has taken these supremely well, and once again, I think he has done
well, it looks very simple. Potting that red has cleared the path for
the other two to the right corner. You see the difference, 61 in the
frame already, and already safe. Once again, a matter of whether he
can make a century. Will not be easy with the read out on the side
cushion. Almost got the century in the previous frame. Little cannon
may have spoiled it. All about winning frames this century is nice,
but... APPLAUSE You would have to be a spectacular
red down the cushion to keep this effort going. He will not be too
concerned about that. He just got the one chance, and what did he do,
he won the frame with that chance. Now, Ronnie O'Sullivan opens up a
two frame advantage. 4-2, to the Rocket. One shop there that paved
the way, plays it so well, black when you go into the reds, a lot of
people stick in the reds, but the way that Ronnie plays, the way that
a lot of the top players play, they make it look so easy. Playing with
lots of bottom, deft hand side, because it is not a good pack to go
into, but when he hits it, it stops and keeps on spinning. A lot of
players will play this, there will not be a lot of work -- enough work
on the cue ball for it to come back, I prefer when you play that shot you
play a stamp up into it, it's the -- cue ball up into the table. This is
what happens with the cue ball. You can see the back spin, spinning
away, spinning away, and then, whenever he hits the red, because he
has so much spin on it, it does not stop, it keeps on spinning, and
eventually, it works its way through the reds, and he played it
perfectly. That is a great example there, we have seen, with the
special black and white ball, made by Stephen Hendrie, I think. --
played. STUDIO: Was that you? It was! 89 and
80, and suddenly looks like he is in the groove. Seems to have found an
extra gear, to really punish Liang Wenbo, amazing how, losing an
insignificant shot, but when Wenbo misses the red in the middle in the
fifth frame, since then, it has been Ronnie O'Sullivan, in the balls now,
he looks like he is a certainty to win the frame. Wenbo was first in
there, and it was punishing once again. The best players in the world
convert more chances among the balls than the players further down the
rankings. Even so, a little smile from Wenbo, I think he has got
himself into the game, a couple of frames, has not got the
embarrassment of being whitewashed, anything like that. He just has too
see how much he can dig in again. I think the smile there from Ronnie
O'Sullivan, back to the action. COMMENTATOR: Wenbo's turn to break
off. Good opening part, what will the
attempt on the green, will he attempt something special? He is, he
is, look at the action on that cue ball. What a positional shot that
is. My goodness... APPLAUSE CO-COMMENTATOR: What a shot, what a
shot! Work on the angles, superb. Left this purposely low, pops this
red... All about the positioning, manoeuvring reds into play. -- pots
this red. If you take the black on, good luck. He is looking at the
black, I tell you what... Almost typed on the cushion. Wow, this is
tough. The odds slightly against that going in.
Tough shot, even for the greats. Found himself 2-0 down in this
match, nice to claw his way back to 2-2. Two friends down again. And he
is going to do exactly the same thing again now. -- two frames down
again. If it were 5-2, that would end the match. That is the
importance of this visit. We said when we were 2-0 down, test
of his character. Did very well to go to the mid-session all square. Is
he up to it again? Another test. Did not want to be straight, slight
angle, might just be able to stun onto the red on the right of the
pack, that will develop things, enough angle to stun onto the red to
the right. At one of these early in the match, just sneaked past it, did
not quite get it, he needs to get the edge, as long as he does not hit
it hard, just click the edge. APPLAUSE
Good shot. Just got the cannon how he wanted. Made it look easy but
those are tough shots. I think the bottom red on the cluster will part.
Also have the red on the left-hand side as well. -- will pot. Should
have after he has ported the black. Well played. Could not hold a cue
ball for that. Scrapping for cue ball control the,
not perfect on every shot he has had on the last few. Obviously you would
expect him to pop this but he has not had the cue ball under maximum
control. 32. Good pot, not quite on the
black, he is going to have to play the cannon announced, the red was
available, but you can't really hold for that, so it'll be the cannon.
And just got a little bit too much on it, hoping he's pushed the red
into a plank there. That would be a bonus. He should be buying a lottery
ticket, because that would be incredible if he's made that into a
plant, looks pretty much spot on. What a result that is. One thing he
has got be careful on, and we will show you the attempted cannon, if he
hits the other red, and he plays the plant, the white will go close to
the left corner pocket, he needs to avoid cannon ink-jet. -- he needs to
avoid cannon -- cannoning it. INAUDIBLE
Wow! That is amazing. That was basically going to be frame
ball there are, could position of the green. -- good position of the
green. Little bit more to do now, of the angle. As I say, it has been the
feature of this break, hasn't quite have the cue ball perfect. Keeps on
going. Another difficult positional shot.
Personally played. We have seen this afternoon, one or two shots have had
extra ball. Did not cue them very well but cue that one beautifully.
Great recovery. Deserves everything he gets after that shot.
I don't think any of these three ribs are available. Another key shot
coming up here. Might just be OK, if that red keeps on running, yes, I
think he has a choice of reds, into both middle pockets. For a moment,
stuck on the red, but he is OK. Now you see it, now you don't. This
really has been an excellent contribution, on more than one
occasion through this break, cue ball was not perfect, what he has
managed to make a break and keep going. -- but he has managed. What
was that shot? 52 in front, and that is the reaction from Liang Wenbo,
because he knows he is not safe, Ronnie needs one snooker, but how
did he manage to get the white there, with the red over the middle,
I think you just made sure of the black. The only needed to stun the
black and then he could pop the red over the middle, he didn't have to
screw back, very strange shot. Chance of sniggering yourself if you
play the full screw shot but if he stands it, puts the red over the
middle pocket, game over. -- chance of snooker in yourself. --
snookering. Liang Wenbo still the massive
favourite to win this, but there is enough friends to know that when you
should win a friend, get it over with, the last thing you want to do
is give yourself another 15, 20 minutes of aggravation, trying to
get back into this match from two friends behind. Should have got it
over a lot quicker. APPLAUSE What a pot that was.
The pot was difficult enough playing with your opposite hand but to screw
it back for the black? Just checking the scoreboard, to see the high
value colour, which one he can take, so he still only needs the one
snooker, he is OK, he has a future work with. -- he has a few to work
with. All of a sudden, a friend that should have been over a few minutes
ago, Liang Wenbo is going to have to suffer for a while. Didn't mean to
hit the pink, that cue ball, close to the corner pocket... Needing a
snooker, not a bad thing to hit the pain. He has left him a lovely angle
to play a thin clip off, not the worst.
See this read full ball, he can stay in behind the yellow and the red
backed up the table. And he could do, that may have spoiled things,
catching the middle jaw. -- red. -- back. It was a certain snooker. If I
was Liang here, I would be concentrating on the long pot,
putting everything into it, because this is a frame that could go wrong,
he should have had it one already, and the chance with a bump,
concentrate, knock this read in, get the frame over. -- should have added
won already. What was he going towards... What was he doing going
towards the middle pocket with the cue ball, if it had gone in, need
could have lost the frame! That was close. This is a good effort, this
is a very good effort. Is it hard enough? Just coming up a little bit
Well played. Some shop, that. Just wondering whether if he swerves
this, checks on the cue ball, could not hit enough of it... -- some
shot, that. Is thinking, if Ronnie potted this
read he would have to get the black, and then would still only need one
snooker, you want to keep the red on the table, more chance of a snooker.
Looking to see if he cut this read, and can he hold for the black,
because the yellow is never brown... That is what he has played. Is he on
the black? He can still take the black up into the corner, had he
have missed the cannon, would have gone on the black, potted it, up for
the yellow, in behind the brown, that was his plan. Needs to pot
this. That jump, jumped quite a bit. Ronnie O'Sullivan, one. The chance
has gone, it will be a relief yang Wenbo. Both the black jumped and the
cue ball. -- this will be a relief for the end Wenbo. -- Liang Wenbo.
Foul. Liang Wenbo two, Ronnie O'Sullivan four. He has decided...
Too difficult to get the snooker is required, Liang Wenbo has stopped
the rot, he has a frame back. STUDIO: Like sweating blood to get
that one in the end, over the line, did well to keep the break going,
one plant in particular that allowed him to do so, the crowd were doing
and dying, but he settled in nicely. Missed a cannon, but he created
this, not a difficult shot. -- oohing and ahhing. The pressure
shot, this could have cost him, if he had missed this, lovely pot. The
facial expressions, by Wenbo, were going ten to the dozen, but it
should have been over, he should have kept going because it is a lot
of aggravation, as John Parrott would say. He was always playing
catch up, I think Wenbo is improving his confidence, that shows, that
blue, struck in nicely. He is gritty and as the match goes closer, if it
does, we will see more facial expressions from Liang Wenbo, as it
gets closer to the end, every player begins to live and die... Burning...
A little bit, we all do that, even the best in the world. -- gurning.
He has endeared himself, over the last couple of years, he has become
far more popular because you can see some of his internal thoughts, he
wears his heart on his sleeve. For us watching, makes it interesting,
we have said, we were never ones to show any emotion, quite miserable,
we cornered the market in miserable as. Definitely good value. Ronnie
certainly knows he's in a match. Ronnie O'Sullivan to break.
CO-COMMENTATOR: He certainly is in a match, 4-3 ahead, some stuff from
the boys in the studio there, I agree with them, if you were looking
for... INAUDIBLE COMMENTATOR: Saw them both outside
the bar last week, I asked what they were doing, they said, waiting for
happy hour to finish... (!) -- I agree with them, if you were looking
for two more unhappy fellows, you couldn't do better than those two.
The two lads were talking early on, the fact that the players are a lot
more friendly these days, and some of the players go out for dinner
together. In their day, that would not have happened. Having a giggle
at their expense. Those two would not give you too much! 13 world's
titles between them. Seven for Stephen, 64 Steve It obviously
worked. -- seven for Stephen, six for Steve. So it obviously worked.
Good shot that he has played. Moving roads around. Up near the yellow and
the brown, that is one you have got to cover. A bit more pressure on
this. -- moving those around. There might be a gap through to that
one. Tight, but maybe the brown... Can't pot that.
Read into the right corner, not very inviting, because he cannot get on a
colour. -- red. Not often you see a player playing a
safety shot up this end of the table. That was the case there.
Just looking to see where he can leave the cue ball err on the side
cushion. Playing off the loose red the back of the pack. Obviously he
wants to cover the red, so it is not easy for Liang to get down. But as
he hit it just a little bit too hard? He might have left that red is
just to clip of past the yellow. That has just helped the situation.
It is brought to the pink into play. The match is tied up at the moment.
I think Oblak is tied up. Liang can play off the face of this red. You
have to be careful with the red going across and hitting the pack of
reds. They might be something across the other corner. Even with a shot
like this, you have to be a little bit careful.
He played that really well. Didn't cannon into anything else. Good
touch. I think the brown is going to come
to the rescue. As he covered it? I think he has. It is imperative that
he got a good cue ball there. I think Liang is just seeing if he can
leave the cue ball at the top cushion, just hit the red half ball.
I don't think he can pot that. If he was away from the cushion, I think
he could but it is not a shot that is available to him. Of course he
could come off the side cushion and play that red but either way it
looks like that is what he's going to have to do. Alessi has better
eyesight than both of us. That was a better shot than the one
I was looking at. Had he played the other red, he could have left that
red to cut back. In much better choice of shot than mine. He red the
pot but boy, is that a test of your cueing. Here goes. Change of plan.
Ronnie O'Sullivan has been very measured. He hasn't taken any undue
risks. That is what we call playing the percentages. He knows if he can
get this frame under his belt, he will only need one and Liang Wenbo
would have to win three. They have both played some excellent
safety shots but that one is coming up a little short. At first glance,
it looks like everything is covering each other.
He played that has a shot to nothing. This is pretty difficult to
do. And there is another one. It happens quite a lot, Dennis, on
these fast clocks. You are trying to be too delicate. And then he has on
to hit it. It is so easy to hit it a little bit of -- a little bit hard,
just trying to nestle onto it. He is taking the brown. An extra red.
That would look a lot more different than it would. He had that lovely,
didn't he? Yes, it was a clever shot. They were all covering each
other, as you mentioned. One good positional shot away from giving
himself an early opportunity here, in a frame that could get him back
all square. He may just have to take a chance of playing into an area
here, if he lands on one, which he has done. That could not have come
out much better. Left-handed, even better.
He is quite a tall lad, Liang Wenbo. Around the 6-foot mark.
He could have played the last shot a bit better. One thing he did not
want to do with this is leave himself straight on. It looks like
an easy shot, but there are limits to what you can do. He has played
that particularly well. Make no mistake about it, he will
consider this to be a very good chance to draw level in this match.
Not the best with the cue ball there. The cue ball has run eight
inches to fire there. I don't really know what he played
on there. Just make sure he gets the green in, which is obviously the
priority. But he has come on the red into the middle pocket, and that is
a bit of a result. He has taken the slightly more difficult one. If he
was right-handed, it would be straightforward. He has a slight
angle, and he can get it away from the cushion, but he needs a little
bit of existence with the extension on the cue there. -- a little bit of
assistance. And he has played it well. I think is going to need one
more cannon to put himself into a prime position. That was a better
shot than it looked on the screens. Pretty tricky. He negotiated it very
well. Now the cannon. It is pretty good. What a chance this is.
Following a pattern of the frames before the interval, to nail down,
he paid it back to 2-2. -- 2-0 down. It was in the club, he would not be
missing these. In the club, it is well documented
that Liang Wenbo, when he practices, he very rarely misses. A lot of
players like that, but it is the really special ones that can take it
to the practice table. Taking it on to the match arena, that is the key.
I would be slightly annoyed having to play this way. Playing for the
other two on the left, you have to take it down a little bit. You may
have a choice here. The pink mingle in the middle. It certainly does.
And black it is. He is still OK. He has gone a little
bit further than he intended. He had the one that was near the middle
pocket. And they are absolutely sitting
perfectly now. And once again he has taken these
very well. Still punching. One thing is for
sure, he will not give him the match today. Ronnie is going to have to
win it. Ronnie has an awful lot of support
here at the Alexandra Palace, as he has all over the world. Always a
fear crowd here. If the opponent is knocking the ball is in, they give
them the utmost respect and this is exactly what Liang Wenbo is doing
here. The great Ray Reardon, a six time world champion, used to say,
keep potting balls and you will get the crowd your side. -- get the
crowd on your side. A couple of pots away from levelling
the match at four each. A fabulous fight back. And a very
important frame coming up. If he can win the next frame, what a
lovely feeling. Your opponents needed the last two to be true. You
are not over the line but I know which scenario I would prefer. --
needed the last two to beat you. Liang Wenbo will be hoping the
pattern of the match changes because Ronnie won the first two, lost the
next two, won the next two, lost the next two.
There is something about him, I like watching Liang Wenbo. I like his
mannerisms. He has that little swagger. He is good on the eye. But
that is not very good on the eye. But he has done more than an offer.
Liang Wenbo takes another frame and all of a sudden it is all square at
four frames each. STUDIO: Shone and Dennis were saying it is a familiar
pattern, and it is all even Stevens. From Liang's point of view, he has
to take charge instead of doing the chase. He has himself into the
position to effectively take it. Ronnie O'Sullivan is still the
person dominating the match, in some ways, therefore it becomes a bread
and butter match to get over the line in which ever way you can. Some
good scoring. 83-65, 109, solid stuff from Liang Wenbo. He is doing
very well. It is turning into a good match. A lot of the time when we
watch Ronnie it is like an occasion. But it has turned into a bit of a
grind, a real high quality snooker match. I would agree. It feels
different to the normal Ronnie occasion. There is definitely a bit
of tension. It is not a done deal. As for winning with style, it is
perhaps not the messy performance he was hoping, more like a solid
midfielder. -- Messi performance. A couple of years ago, the whole thing
seems like the Ronnie show. No two years are the same, but as we have
also said on many occasions, the general standard of the top 16 is
getting better and better. It is tighter and tighter. Every first
round match is more of a potential banana skin. On that subject, at the
top of the show we mention that this is the first time we have had 16
players who are qualified to be there. Often times it was invitation
but now you are here on merit. It is the first time that everyone has
been a major world ranking champion in their own right. That underlines
the quality. You could almost make a case for maybe not every single
player but most of them, for winning this. And actually, an interesting
exercise, obviously the bookmakers do not often get it wrong but let's
say, just for interest, that you were to bet on every outsider of
every match, how you would fear. -- how you would they are. Ronnie has
been the bookies favourite, although Mark Selby has been the number one
for some time. Ronnie, back we go. He attempted a long pot but he has
not left the red. Everything is safe. He could be deemed fortunate
there. The fact that he was snookered on the green and brown in
the ball area, it makes Liang's city shot more difficult. -- in the baulk
area. Not much he can do with the cue ball
because it is so close to the cushion.
A difficult frame. Wonderful horrible frames you get when the
players keep tapping the balls. -- one of those horrible frames.
Because they cannot leave that red in the baulk area. Sometimes the
frames end up looking like rear racks. -- re-racks. The players do
not like these frames either. Either player cannot run away up
into the right corner of the table because they would leave themselves
in trouble. Once again, tight on the cushion,
preventing Liang Wenbo from being able to get any back spin on the
ball. You do not want to leave a part, that is the priority. Just
make sure the cue ball is away from the cushion, bring it back. -- you
do not want to leave a pot. It looks as if he's going to take
this very difficult spot on. Where is the ball going? It is going past
the blue. It does not want to go into the pocket. I thought when he
was getting down to take that on... OK, he hit it a little thinner than
intended, but it was always a distinct possibility. He looks a bit
confused. Directory just asking the crowd...
It is OK to have an atmosphere, but when one player shouts out, it
doesn't help the player that is at the table, even though they mean
good. It can work against you. Usually, when the pressure is at its
highest, the best players produce the most. And this is a good chance
already but if he plays the cannon up into the pack here, he could
force a few reds out. Obviously he has a choice of shots. A few open
reds that he could play, but there is the chance to storm into the pack
if he wanted it. He decided to play the loose one.
It is all about the split here. Deep screw. How is your luck?
I am not surprised he hangs his head. He really did give that a good
old belt. He needed two force it but he did not have too it that hard.
And that is what he thinks of it. -- he did not have to hit it that hard.
It is little shots like that that can get you annoyed. He is 39 in
front. Most of the time, he would go on and make enough to secure the
frame. It is not an easy chance by any
means but it is a chance that Liang Wenbo was not expecting. Good for
him to knock the black in and get that back on its spot. It will help
to get that out of commission. Up in the corner, that is the one he
will take. In the context of the level of snooker we are playing at,
this constitutes a chance. And a pretty big one at that. Two cannons
away here from making this a brilliant opportunity. And he pulled
himself together? -- can he hold himself.
You just want to be straight on this but he is not. A nice angle. Coming
round for the loose red at the bottom. He played that nicely.
Those rates that are above the rate, I don't think he will be parting in
any pockets, they will have to be moved at some point during the
break. Excellent chance, not totally
straightforward. -- those reds. 33. Cue ball into a position where he
was going to have a choice of green, brown or blue, believe it or not.
Interesting to see how he goes about this. No problem with the loose
thread, there are near the pink spot, but those other two, how is he
going to open those up? Just play on it, on the red, and onto the cannon,
or is he going to do something else, interesting. The beauty of this
game, Dennis, all players see it differently.
No problem getting on the red to the left of the pink spot, thought he
may have been able to leave the blue in such a way that he potted the
blue and cannon and the two reds, leaving himself a few options.
Another way that he can play it, he can drop the blue in, pot the red,
flick the other one out on it, if he wants to do that... But now it looks
like he is going to get good position of this and cannon off the
black. This is the big part of the match here, can you negotiate the
cannon off the black and put the two reds up? I'm pretty sure that they
do not pot. Has he gone a little further than he
wanted, he has the cannon, he is OK, you need to get plenty of screw on
this to get the cannon. Not stick on it, either.
That is a poor shot. I think that was just down to a little bit of
tension, he knew the importance of that 1-shot, new new, if he got the
cannon Wright, he could win the frame. -- one shot. -- he knew. Only
11 in front. -- if he got the cannon right. Safe on the side cushion.
This is not the best safety shot he has ever played. Liang Wenbo, 50.
Nice 50 break, though. APPLAUSE It is a good 50. But a couple of
very poor shots on the end of it, shouldn't have missed the cannon,
you don't do that plain good safety, and that wasn't. But he hasn't been
punished for it. Is this... Where is this thread
going to finish? -- red. It was a tough one that he took on there.
Certainly at this stage of proceedings, a lot of pressure on
that attempt. Liang Wenbo looking to see if he can avoid the cannon on
the green if he pops the red, at this stage of the frame, the
priority is to knock the object ball in, which is the red, of course,
sometimes you get the pot, sometimes you have to stand for position.
Could avoid it. Good pot. And now... He has the angle, little bit of
pressure on the black, to say the least.
Just the pace. Any harder, that would have wobbled and stayed out.
If it pops on red and black, he's going to need the yellow... Beside
it... Going to need the yellow even if you played for the black, much
easier to get position when you're close to the ball colours, so good
thinking there from Liang Wenbo. Just means he has got to pot a few
more balls. Good stuff from Liang Wenbo... Mistakes at the end of the
50 break. Didn't get punished by Ronnie, holding himself together
very well here. The tournament favourite, if he's going to get
through in this round, news going to have to do it the hard way, he's
going to have to win the last two frames of his opening match. The
pattern has been broken, two for one player and two for another player.
This will be three in a row for Liang Wenbo, and...
Doesn't matter the fact that he has finished close on the pink. Not far
away. Not far away! 43. APPLAUSE
Well, what a gritty performance from the Chinese buyer, he has won the
last three frames, now gets himself one ahead, he needs one for a famous
victory, it has to be said. -- Chinese player.
STUDIO: Looking so comfortable for Ronnie, and now three on the bounce
for Liang Wenbo, a shot in the air, you sensed Ronnie's frustration,
tried to force it. Little bit of pace required, steered it, hooked it
to some degree, later on in the frame, missed a long read, hit the
wrong side of it, hats he has missed his cue action for the day, can
sometimes happen, in his chair, doesn't look like he has too much
adrenaline pumping around, a bit flat at the moment. Somehow, he's
got to dig himself out of a hole. The way that the match is completely
swung away from him, how do you read it? You've got to give credit to
Liang Wenbo, as himself right back into it, looks... Steve said, his
attitude looks definitely better, looks more alert, and in his chair
and at the table. Pool is, that black, by Ronnie, and a couple of
long pots which he did not even get close, either he is relaxing and
letting his concentration slip, or he's feeling the pressure. -- poor
miss. Talking about attitude to the game, Ronnie is in his 40s, the one
thing that became harder as you got older was the fire in your belly
every match, right from the off. And possibly, mentally, he hasn't got it
as much as he needs to to apply the killer instinct early on and now,
somehow he's got to switch the switch, which is a lot harder to do.
Is going to have to win the last couple of frames. The defending
champion is really under it. COMMENTATOR: We have seen him under
it on many occasions, sometimes that is when he produces his best. He's
going to need it now, against Liang Wenbo, who is growing in confidence.
We always say, the hardest frame to win is the one that gets you over
the line, not so much for the players right at the top, Liang
Wenbo climbing that world ranking ladder. APPLAUSE
Good opener, close to the cushion, showing you the pot again.
Just had the one victory against Ronnie, Ronnie has had five wins.
Close match in the Shanghai Masters, not that long ago. Ronnie won that
on the deciding frame, 5-4. But they had never played each other in the
Masters. That is a cracking shot, if he's
held that for the black. APPLAUSE Pinpoint accuracy there. But that
certainly wasn't pinpoint accuracy with the positional shot.
CO-COMMENTATOR: I bet you he can believe he didn't get the cannon
there. Just played, just to nudge that out of the way, stay on the
other one, but it didn't happen. He can put this in, can't he? Not like
that he can. -- not like that he can't. The blue may have come to his
rescue. Ronnie O'Sullivan, eight. And it has. Not the worst for
Ronnie. That is a poor shot from Liang
Wenbo. OK, not straightforward to get good position. Played some very
good safety shots but that was not one of them there. I said it wasn't
going to be easy to get on a colour, look where he has finished. Not only
that he has knocked a red over the pocket, so that at that, of all the
possible outcomes. Usually know your way around a table, how does he get
out of this one... Playing the yellow, even if he hits it, can he
get it safe? Foul. Ronnie O'Sullivan, one, Liang Wenbo, four.
Into the left corner pocket, having a look at that... He has decided to
put it back... He will have to go back to that, if the position had
been easier, of the other, off the red on the left, he would have taken
it, the fact he could not see the one over on the right, didn't fancy
it, even if Ronnie hits this yellow, will do very well to get it safe.
Foul, miss, Liang Wenbo, four. Coming back again because it is
covering the pocket. Nice situation for Liang Wenbo at the moment. Just
that read that he had over the pocket, wasn't sure what was going
to happen to the cue ball, had the worst possible outcome. Third time
lucky... APPLAUSE Was always going to leave the red
that was over the pocket. Similar scenario for Liang Wenbo, to get
onto a colour. Always tricky, these, to try to get up for the colour, as
you say, getting trapped. Tried to drop it in. I think he was playing
on the pink, in the middle. A bit of pressure on the long blue, if he
wants to take a go. Really need one more frame. Good long potter, wee
bit of pressure on this because there are red is available into the
left corner. Just got to make sure he finishes his cue action here,
right back and right through, low movement. The pressure.
APPLAUSE Me nice and clean, right in the
centre of the pocket. Not out of the woods yet, where
position is concerned. This is a great performance from the
Chinese player, he only played once before in the Masters, losing 6-4,
two John Higgins, at this stage last year. -- losing 6-4, to John
Higgins, every match in the Masters is like a world final, John. It
wasn't in any doubt about Liang Wenbo's ability turning up today,
but it was about his ability to handle the situation and the
occasion. Very intimidating playing Ronnie O'Sullivan here, 2000 people,
99% of them supporting Ronnie, so you are playing against the table,
the balls, Ronnie O'Sullivan and most of the crowd. You have to have
a certain mentality to be able to cope with all of that.
That's pretty poor, a little bit of tension in the arm, he's in no man's
land with the cue ball, so easy to get on the pink or the blue, if you
want to screw back. Why did he's done it, needs to be a screw shot,
if he plays the screw shot, pink or blue, to stand it, give yourself
less of a chance of being on the pink, can only be tension. That was
a very easy shot for him to make a mess of.
What about this for a shot he is taking on.
I think he was so disappointed with his previous positional shot that he
thought he'd have a go on that, but that was a disappointing shot, under
the circumstances. Classic example of not happy with the positional
shot you played beforehand, so onto a better expression, pushed the boat
out. Will it be costly, though? Mind you, Ronnie didn't play a good shot,
wrong side of the blue, now he's having to pull out another good shot
here. That's a pretty good recovery there are! APPLAUSE
It's gone wrong. Then again, lively cloth... He wanted a full ball, not
half-ball contact on that cannon. Ronnie O'Sullivan, 12. One of those,
I think you might have been snookered on the black, with the jaw
of the pocket, one of those he is pleased the reds did not go in. --
red. Yeah, got a couple of shots he can play here but might roll onto
the red that is just above the cue ball, on the side cushion, could
drop of that, could play the one near the paint, go behind the
yellow, bring it back near the black, a few shots he can play. --
near the pink. What's the sure, it's not going to be an attacking shot.
-- Watts for sure. -- what's for sure. He has got to make sure he
covers the red that is near the green pocket. I don't think he has,
he's left a path through for that. OK, an awful lot of distance between
the cue ball and the object ball, but there is a situation which Liang
Wenbo, not dead straight, one good pot here, you would think he would
come up for the blue, certainly get on a colour. Test of cueing, this.
Well done! APPLAUSE What a chance now for the Chinese
player, required terrific cueing, could not hit it any better.
Well, this is getting tense, big smile from Liang Wenbo. He can
smile, Dennis, but that is a terrible shot, honestly, that is a
stinker, such an area there to fit, to do that... Honestly, that was as
close to frame and match as you were going to get, with that chance.
While! What a mistake. -- Wow! Cannon on either of the two reds
next to the pink. Promoted those towards the corner, ones in the
middle... Liang Wenbo, six. He's doing his
best to lose this frame...! Really tough shots to take on. One. Red,
next to the brown, no problem. Four reds, near the pink, not
perfectly placed, by any means... The one just to the left of the pink
is still available, angle to cannon... Two reds that Liang tried
to cannon. APPLAUSE Played perfectly. 12. He can pop
this and flick the other red away from the pink. -- pot. He can do,
Patsy is thinking, maybe, do I want to take the chance, in case it goes
slightly wrong...? Doesn't look a natural. -- it does look natural, to
pot that red and flick the other one away from the pink.
Straightforward in the end, as you said, I think he was thinking, I
don't really want to be risking any little cannons at this stage. Played
it well. 20. Every chance now that we're going to
have a deciding frame, in the opening match, in this Masters
contest. 27. Ronnie O'Sullivan, looking good in
this frame. Not just yet... Well... That's an interesting... Ronnie
O'Sullivan, 34. What a chance this is. Why didn't he drop in the pink
and secure the frame? I think he's head went a little bit because of
the previous shot. Not inking straight at the moment. Potted a
few... If Liang knocks this one in, it could be frame and match...
APPLAUSE Wobbled its way into the pocket. But
that last... Very strange from Ronnie... Just drop it in, and... He
could pinch the match by just one point. Nine.
14. Wants to get absolutely plumb on the black to make it
straightforward. Needs to bounce off the cushion. APPLAUSE
This one could be going... Right into the pocket. A little bit of
pressure on it, but this will be very slow. No! Can you believe it!
All he had to do was drop the black in. Get in! Ronnie O'Sullivan
thought he was out, we all thought he was out, the crowd thought he was
out, but how did Liang Wenbo misjudge getting the black in, hit
it a little bit harder than he needed, but it is all square, 5-5.
STUDIO: You cannot get your breath, in the palm of his hand, and we are
into a decider. We have all been there as players, the expectation
level therefore Liang Wenbo was to steal the match, he has had his
chance, whatever happens now, he cannot complain, how he must be
feeling at the moment, nothing worse in the game then missing a
relatively easy match ball. You have been there, more often than not you
have come through successfully, what a lifeline for Ronnie. To be honest,
I did not fancy Wenbo to clean up, he was perfect on every single shot,
just... Obviously wanted to be straight on the black, but, I just
didn't fancy him putting it, for some reason, I don't know why, he
needed the black on the spot, I think... The magnitude of the
victory against Ronnie, in a game like this just got to him. Getting
over the line at the best of times against Ronnie O'Sullivan is tough
but in this atmosphere, 2000 people watching you, the tension of this,
Ronnie has not been out in round one for five-year is. When 2000 people
go dead quiet, it is on you! Trains the enough, when he was playing pink
to black, talking about which way to go, I thought that if he goes of the
side cushion and plays the run-through, I think he gets on the
black better. Stunning it down, there was the chance that he would
leave himself low. Perhaps it is just me thinking about the way that
I would have played it myself but Ronnie missed the pink in the middle
pocket, must have thought there was a chance that had gone begging.
Looked OK for Liang Wenbo at that stage, Ronnie O'Sullivan is back in
its now. Those of you who remember last year 's Masters will remember
the final decider, Mark Williams against Ronnie O'Sullivan, Ronnie
came through it and went on to hammer Barry Hawkins, 10-1, in the
final. Goodness me. Then we go. Deciding frame. First match of the
Masters, first decider. COMMENTATOR: Not the best of Rachel
shots. Cover that one. Nice little touch. Patted Ronnie before the
start of the frame. The cannon on the black has come to
his rescue there. Because he would certainly have left Liang Wenbo in
among them. CO-COMMENTATOR: We are in a decider,
I don't know where we are, look at this again, why not play it dead
weight, first day of the tournament, love is then, sliding in a little
bit, drop it into the jaws, let it drop in, gravity would have taken
that one in. He will need some mental fortitude to get that behind
him to get the final frame. -- not the best of break-off shots. Should
have been all over. Ronnie hoping to cover the red. To
the left of the blue, this cuts into the middle pocket. Wouldn't it be
ironic, after missing the black, if Liang Wenbo were to put this in. Cue
ball looks as though it will career into the pink, if this goes in, it
could open things up. Black over the pocket but what a big shot.
. He played a very positive shot. He is unlucky not to finish on the
black. But after the easy black he missed to knock the defending
champion out, that was a great opening red. That was a great part
but you know what it is like, Dennis, when you miss opportunities
in this game, the snookered gods do not forgive you. -- that was a great
pot. Expect a bad run of the balls. He got one there. That was an
excellent box. That is probably the best pot of
this match so far. Fully stretched, you could hear the
groans from Ronnie. It is not about opportunity. -- not a bad
opportunity. I think that red, closest to the
black is available. He will have to be careful. The cue ball was always
going close to the corner pocket. This is not an easy part. And you've
seen the black that Wenbo missed in the last round, nothing is easy.
One player is a little better than the other are getting over the line.
It is all about experience and he has done it so many times. Hard to
believe that this is his 23rd Masters. He has been a champion six
times, runner-up on three occasions. He has seen everything there is to
see in the game of snooker. This is slightly awkward here. He has
decided to pool for the black. You might have thought he would go for
the blue but he did not fancy playing through the gap.
Whoever wins this deciding frame, they have a few days off and will
not play again until Thursday. You say whoever wins this game but I
think this is all over. There is pressure in this final frame but he
has been given a massive lifeline. He knows full well he should have
been out of this year's event. But like all the great champions, and
there are a couple in the studio this afternoon, they note that if
they ever got a second bite of the cherry, they would not let it go
begging. And how many times did we see them
do it in style? Finish with a match-winning break. Just taking a
little bit of time to make sure that he does not play an unnecessary
cannon, to get out of position. Trying to do it without playing a
cannon, to take that risk element out of it. He is worried about the
growing himself behind that red. Like all great champions, he can
smell blood. He knows immediately that this is the chance to win the
frame and the match. In a match he should have lost.
This will be a sore one for Liang. He will be thinking about that black
for a long time. A black that would have knocked out the defending
champion. Just a few more pots away from keeping himself in this year's
Masters. I think we can use to the idea that
there will be many more of these in this year 's event. You have to feel
sorry for Liang Wenbo. He played so well, losing the two opening frames,
he came back and won three in a row. He was just one point away from
knocking out Ronnie O'Sullivan. But how well has he taken these? He has
waltzed around the table like he is in the club. He really is one of the
best closers of matches I have ever seen. This has been him at his best
in the final frame, when it matters most. Top-class performance in the
final frame. A tricky red. That might just finish it.
What a time to make your highest break of the match. A frame that
takes you into the next round. And the crowd will be delighted that
their favourite has stayed in. Quite a few players will be gutted that he
has. I think we are going to keep on
clapping like the way through this frame. They might as well. Well, you
cannot take it away from the defending champion, Ronnie
O'Sullivan. Big smiles and hugs from his good frame, Liang Wenbo. Just
one pot away from knocking out the defending champion, but in the end,
he did it, as great champions always do it, in style, with that
magnificent break of 121. And he goes through to the next round,
beating Liang Wenbo six frames to five. HAZEL IRVINE: The two are
great frames but what a dramatic let off for O'Sullivan and what a way to
complete that incredible match. Your reaction to that? That is the most
focused he was all match. That comes automatically. You have either got
that or you have not and that is what separates the best from the
rest. What a let off. Wenbo will not have a great night's sleep. But it
Ronnie O'Sullivan my sometimes you need is the adrenaline pumping
through his body and throughout that match, it was not that type of
match. There was no real danger at 4-2. But when it looks like he's
going out and Wenbo misses the final black, Ronnie O'Sullivan is on red
alert. He was never going to make any mistakes in that last frame. And
how close was he? Not that close. It will be interesting to see how he
feels about it. A fantastic way to finish but that was pretty close. I
know I have won but I did not deserve it. It was there for the
taking. I did not play very well today. I know what it feels like to
be one ball away from winning the match. It will be hard for him to
deal with that one. What were you thinking when he was on that shot? I
was thinking I might have a nice week off, because I am not feeling
that well. I have felt really tired. I have trouble vision out there. I
am shaking and I just wanted the match to be over. I am hoping that I
will feel a bit better. You looked a little flat in the chair towards the
end. You coming down with something? I have at this for about a month. I
will probably give it to you. -- I have had this. In terms of the
adrenaline kicking in, it was therefore you. I did not feel any
adrenaline. I did not feel like I was involved in the match, I was
just going through the motions. Just trying my hardest, hanging in there,
trying to stay professional. I did not expect to win, because I thought
that he would have finished me off, but I got lucky. In the build-up,
you talk about winning with style, and presumably it fell a bit short
from your standards. I don't mean like I tried to go out there and do
that, I just mean that my style over 20 years has been to play a pretty
game, if you like, to try to win a game in one visit. You cannot always
do that. I think I have done all right over 25 years, and I just
enjoy winning. I do not get much pleasure out of playing poorly.
Maybe Steve and Stephen were different. They were much more
ferocious animals. I just want to play well, even in practice,
otherwise I get down on myself. We were talking during the match about
your chances of breaking Stephen's record and getting seven Masters
titles. And for the first time, warning that record outright. I know
that you do not try to put too much pressure on yourself but it would be
a significant achievement if you pulled it off. If I do not get it
this year, I have a good chance that you're after. I do not look around
and see anyone else doing anything fantastic. If I stay fit and
healthy, I have half a chance. Obviously, there are not a lot of
grassroots coming through. I will play until I am 50, I suppose. Well
done, Ronnie. Get their head down, and you have a few more days until
your next March against Robinson or Ali Carter. -- your next match. And
there is live coverage of that game from 7:00pm. I am back at 1145
tonight were the highlights. And tomorrow, we're back with John
Higgins taking on Mark Allen. Just to distract you from work on a
Monday afternoon. If you need fresh air, ski Sunday is on at 6:15pm this
evening. A classic weekend from Wengen. And at ten o'clock tonight,
Match of the Day too, with Everton city and Man United. From all of us,
you want a drama, you always get it. From our victor today, Ronnie
O'Sullivan, and all the crew, thanks for being with us.