2016 World Championship - Selby gets Final place

Mark Selby is the second finalist of this year's Betfred World Championship after beating Marco Fu 17-15 in the semi-final. Selby will now face Ding Junhui (more on his victory here) in a the grand final which will take place in the following two days.

He's won it back in 2014 and he has his eyes on the prize again - that's Mark Selby for you. The Leicester player started his semi-final snooker dispute in charge of the situation, ending the first session at 5-3 up, but soon enough it became clear that this wasn't going to be a piece of cake.

As the second session started, Selby was in with a great chance to extend his lead, but missed a red down on 52, this allowing Fu to clinch the frame on the black and go one behind his opponent.

Runs of 55 and 47 were pushing Selby at 7-4 up, but Fu answered with tremendous breaks of 135 and 114 to pull back three frames in a row and draw level at seven apiece.

Frame 15 came and with it the "tip incident" which basically meant Fu's cue-tip fell off the floor when he was chalking up his cue. It took about 15 minutes to resolve the problem, all thanks to ref Paul Collier, but that didn't stop "The Fu Force" as the Hong Kong cue-man came back to hit a break of 81 points and go 8-7 ahead.

The last frame of the session was grabbed by Selby and so the lads remained stuck at 8-8.

Not much changed during the next session, other than the standard of the match, which dropped a few notches.

The start was a bit scrappy, but Selby still managed to use a top break of 125 to add two consecutive frames, to which his opponent replied with a 108 to level the scoreline yet again, this time at 10-10.

The lads shared the remaining four frames, the first and last being won by Selby (special mention: the last one was also a record-breaker as it lasted for 76 minutes and 11 seconds - Brandon Moore you are a hero!) while the ones in between were conquered by Marco with runs of 71 and 77.

The evening started and with it the last session, this time a high-quality one in which the lads didn't stay too far away from each-other, always being separated by one frame; with Selby in the driver seat.

And so, after breaks of 63 and 101 from Selby and breaks of 98, 100 and 73 from Fu the scoreboard was showing a balanced 15-15 scoreline.

Things changed when Selby took the lead after winning a scrappy 31st frame and put his opponent in all sorts of trouble after laying some pretty awesome snookers in the following one (which incidentally was going to be the last).

And so the mission was completed, Mark Selby landing in the final after closing the deal at 17-15.

So, my dear chums we have a Ding Junhui v Mark Selby final on our hands for the next two days.

What could be more thrilling, right? The players are definitely looking forward to it and I dare say you are too ;-)

Ding will be experiencing his first ever World Championship final, so he will be definitely bringing all his skills and desire to win, while Selby will coming along with the experience of winning the world title and coping with the tension of playing in the most important matches of them all.

It can't get any better than this!

2016 World Championship - Ding, first man in final

Ding Junhui has just become the first finalist of this year's Betfred World Championship after beating Alan McManus 17-11 in a high quality match which featured no less than 7 century breaks cued by the Chinese player.

"The Chinese Sensation" dropped out of the TOP 16 just at the beginning of the 2016 China Open, this meaning that he had to qualify for the World Championship and win three matches.

Ding admitted that this has made him more relaxed and allowed him to really enjoy his Crucible experience, a place that he himself said wasn't very fond of.

Right from the start of semi-final against Scotland's McManus, Ding proved to be the strongest player leading his opponent 6-2 after the first session and taking the frame of the second one with a tremendous 138 break.

McManus, who had to wait for no less than 23 years to get to the latest stages of the World Championship, pulled back a frame when the first occasion arose, but Ding was sure to enter into the mid-session interval at 9-3 up thanks to runs of 90 and 97.

Still, by the end of the second session Alan was making his way back into the match with just a top break of 125 to win four consecutive frames and trail 9-7.

The third session found the same McManus in the "potting position" as he was now just one behind his opponent, but when Ding hit in breaks of 80 and 47 and almost made a maximum break (which  sadly enough stopped at 113) things didn't look so great for the Scottish player.

Two breaks (59 & 81) were helping him pull back two frame in a row, but Ding took the two remaining ones to go 14-10 up.

The last session started with the same Ding Junhui in charge (he was now 15-10 up), but continued with a 48-minute frame which was actually a genuine display of stamina and wonderful snooker.

The frame ended on the last two colours and it took McManus (who btw has cued like a dream throughout the entire tournament) no less than 15 minutes to pot it in order to get one more frame under his belt.

In the end though, the better player and the strongest of them both prevailed, Ding winning the snooker-crossing with breaks of 123 (thus setting a new record at the Crucible - as this was his 7th century break of the match) and 41 to a final 17-11 scoreline.

So, the first Chinese player to reach a World Championship final and ... he is a qualifier! Who will team up with him for the Grand Final? Will it be Mark Selby, or will it be Marco Fu?

Barry Hearn press conference: 10-year deal with EuroSport

As promised on 20th of April, during Barry Hearn's first press conference, today is the day for the big announcement which, as the title says it is 10-year deal for broadcasting World Snooker events on EuroSport.

The World Snooker chairmen, Mr Barry Hearn made the announcement public, a few minutes ago, in a press conference held at the Crucible theatre from Sheffield, stating that "if this is not the biggest ever announcement of World Snooker, is definitely ONE of the biggest ones".

Hearn continued: "We are delighted to announce a 10-year deal with EuroSport for all major snooker events controlled by World Snooker coupled with a new 10-year deal with EuroSport on the Home Nations series that begins in October this year."

In latest years, EuroSport has proved a true asset and a genuine promoter of snooker, covering the European Tour series along with the major ranking events which were nationally broadcast in the UK.

Taking into account the new structure of the coming season and the fact that we have new tournaments across Europe (NA even one in Romania - I know, I am bias) this is indeed tremendous news.

And if we are to sum up everything with the fact that EuroSport has been constantly improving its broadcasting and bringing in snooker players like Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White or Neil Robertson (just to name a few) to commentate & give their insights on the televised snooker events, this is definitely a great idea that will have a positive impact on making snooker widely known and appreciated.

This is, as Hearn described it, a "wedding day bliss".

The entire press conference can we followed here.

2016 World Championship (Day 12) - The road to semis

It's been one hell of a journey for the 32 players that started on 16th of April their quest for a place in the latest stages of the 2016 World Championship, but only four of them prevailed: Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Marco Fu and Alan McManus.

Not your usual line-up for this kind of competition, but who says it has to be predictable? The quarter-finals matches have been a tremendous display of skills and stamina and we wouldn't want it any other way, would we?

The first one to get pass the QFs line was Ding Junhui, who obtained a 13-3 victory over Mark Williams, whose last-minute cue-tip change influenced his performance in the match. More on this here.

Mark Selby got his chance to relive the awesomeness of reaching the latest stages of the World Championship after he beat Kyren Wilson 13-8.

Selby led 6-2 and 10-6 and started the last session by taking the first two frames with breaks of 92 and 78 before his opponent put up resistance and took the following two with a beautiful 143 clearance.

Still, it was a long way back, so the 2014 world champion closed the deal with a 64 break to book his semis place.

NOTE for the Romanian fans : Mark Selby will be coming to Romania on 22nd of May along with Judd Trump and Neil Robertson as part of the Best of Snooker series. More info on this after the World Championship, so stay tuned.

Alan McManus was the next to reach the semis stage, after a wonderful 13-11 victory over fellow countryman and four-time world champion John Higgins.

Although McManus was led 5-3 and 9-7 and Higgins hit two solid breaks of 53 and 69 at the beginning of the last session, "Mr Angles" didn't give in and continued his superb display of snooker skills.

Two breaks of 44 and 88 were helping him pull back two consecutive frames in order to reduce his deficit at just two points 11-9, while a strategically built set of breaks like 71, 52 and 128 were taking him one step away from the finish-line. Which he crossed minutes later with a top break of 60.

In the press conference after the match, Higgins said: “I’m gutted obviously. The Crucible brings intense pressure, I cracked and Alan didn’t. I’ve nothing but admiration for him, he probably played his best stuff at the end. I missed a couple of shocking balls, that’s what this place can do to you."

McManus, who had to wait for no less than 23 years to reach the semi-finals of the World Championship added: "I never thought my best days were completely gone, I’m still pretty dedicated to the game and I love playing in big arenas. Some players play awesome with no eyes on them, I prefer eyes and scrutiny, and this is a special place."

"At one stage this morning the wall went up and I went and stood against the other table. It was like a church out there, the place was jam packed and I felt dead happy. No one knows when these days might come again, I enjoy these bricks and this building."

Yesterday ended ... actually it ended today (depending on your time-zone :-P) with the clash between Marco Fu and the man who sent "The Rocket" home, Barry Hawkins.

Fu proved extremely determined to reach the semis right from the beginning of the match, his lead of 7-1 proving deadly for his opponent. Especially when, at the start of the second session he extended it at 9-1.

Still, Hawkins managed to pull back two consecutive frames with a top break of 86 before the Hong Kong cue-man could add one more to his collection thanks to a century break of 136 points.

The remaining two frames of the session entered Hawkins's pocket and so, the scoreline began to look more balanced as the Englishman was trailing now 10-6.

The evening session concluded with Hawkins revival, breaks of 50, 75 and 85 helping him win three frames on a row! Was this a comeback?

Fu didn't think so and answered with runs of 50 and 93 to move one away from a place in the next round, 12-9.

A genuine thriller - that's how frame 20 could be described, Barry taking it on the black to prolong the suspense and adding a break of 80 to keep the hope alive.

This time though, Marco proved ruthless and a break of 74 was closing the deal at 13-11. The player from Hong Kong was booking his place in the semi-final where he'll meet Mark Selby.

After the match, Hawkins stated: "After Marco missed chances to win the match, I thought if I could get going I fancied winning. The first session cost me, it was too much of a mountain to climb after that."

Fu added: "At 12-9 I was one or two shots away from winning the match, but I just couldn’t pot the last ball. Some of the shots I played were horrendous. I wasn’t only missing, I was choosing the wrong shots because the pressure makes you think silly."

"When I look back at the video I’m sure I’ll be disgusted, I almost threw it away."

So this is it: while a battle ends, another one begins and this one is even tougher, because it's for a place in the Grand Final.

Nothing more to add here, other than CUE THE ACTION!

Day 13 of World Championship match schedule (aka. the semi-finals):

Alan McManus v Ding Junhui

Marco Fu v Mark Selby

Photos credit: World Snooker