The Best of Snooker Gala - a fun evening with the lads

Sunday 22nd of May 2016, the Circus Arena from Bucharest, Romania: three big snooker names are about to entertain the Romanian audience and I feel privileged to be part of the crowd.

Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump promise to get the 1st edition of the Best of Snooker gala under way, in the place that has quickly become the house of snooker and Olivier Marteel is going to be the ref in charge. Things can't be better than this.

The 1st match feature the names of Judd Trump and Neil Robertson. This should be interesting since I have never seen any of the boys play live.

A few minutes pass and I realise these guys are here to entertain: they feel relaxed, they joke with the audience and amongst themselves and I see Robertson play a masse shot.

I mean, of course that Steve Davis is the best looking dude when playing this type of shot, but Robbo isn't far from looking gorgeous too. Too much information, right? Well, sorry about that.

So, first frame goes to Trump, but the second one goes to his Australian opponent despite Judd's break of 52.

The standard of play is not the highest, but Robertson manages to hit an 83 to go 2-1 up, before "The Ace in the Pack" draws level and then goes marching on with runs of 53, 34 and 85 to win 4-2.

Only 10 minutes pass and the second match of the evening kicks off with the same Judd Trump, this time facing the current world champion Mark Selby (who, may I add, gets a pretty warm reception from the crowd).

It's easy to see how Selby's earned his nickname, for he is a very funny guy. Still, the lads are about to play snooker, so the applauses stop and ... here we go again.

The opening frame gets won by Trump on the black who quickly adds another one (this time a more scrappy affair) and hits a perfect 96 to go 3-0 up. His Lounoutin shoes do wonders, I reckon! The line: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." springs to mind.

But Selby hits back with breaks of 57 and 69, only to see things being wrapped up with a 61 from Trump. Second match of the evening and he's won it by the same scoreline.

Last two to meet are Neil Robertson and Mark Selby and what do you know, the scoreline is going to be the same, 4-2.

First one in is Selby (thanks to a break of 75), but Robertson catches up pretty quickly with runs of 52 and 48 to which he adds the first century break of the evening (108) and carries on spoiling us with a 109 to go 3-1.

Selby answers with a 75, but it's a bit too late and Robertson closes safely with a top break of 46.

Bottom line: these three the funniest guys I have ever seen play snooker. The matches weren't  a display of tremendous snooker skills, although Trump had some pretty amazing shots from time to time, but it was a classical exhibition match: fun and games.

At the end of the night, each of the three players got a trophy and so did Olivier Marteel, who was a key figure in the lads' way of making the audience laugh.

The Best of Snooker gala promises to return with a second edition somewhere in October (according to the organizer), but there is still a lot of snooker to be played by then.

As for me, I can only say that it was tremendous fun to see these great cue-masters so relaxed and laid-back. It was good to see their "non-robotic" faces and I think it's good to see them like that from time to time.

I dare say it makes them more humane in our eyes and makes us treasure their performances & victories even more.

Now, who's up for some more snooker? ;-)

The Best of Snooker Gala - the story, the players, the passion

On 22nd of May a myriad of great names will delight the Romanian audience hungry for snooker, as Mark Selby, Judd Trump and Neil Roberson will cross their cues in the first ever Best of Snooker gala.

In recent years snooker has been gaining a lot of fans across the planet and Romania is no different from the rest in this regard, as the appetite for snooker has been going through the roof in these past months.

And so it really is no surprise to see the current world champion Mark Selby, the 2010 world champion Neil Robertson and the 2011 UK Championship champion, Judd Trump join forces in some pretty amazing exhibition matches that will take place at the Circus Arena from Bucharest, Romania on May 22nd.

The organizer of Best of Snooker gala has exclusively shared for SML blog how the idea of bringing such great snooker names, came to life:

"The idea of staging the Best of Snooker gala came out of passion for this sport and the desire of seeing the best players in action at the same time and not on the telly. Snooker is a beautiful sport which undoubtedly deserves to be followed LIVE and not in front of the TV screen."

"Once we decided to stage this event, choosing the players was relatively an easy job: we needed only the best, the ones that are in their prime at the moment, players that mesmerise the crowds."

"The first player that came to mind was Neil Robertson (the current world number five), then we decided to contact Mark Selby (the current world champion) who made such a great show this year at the Crucible and who promised us that will bring his best form to Bucharest."

"Having already two top snooker players all that was needed was "The Ace in the Pack" (aka. Judd Trump) to have the winning recipe."

The exhibition matches will kick off on Sunday 22nd of May at the Circus Arena from Bucharest from 7pm sharp.

The first match will feature the names of Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, closely followed by the match between Mark Selby and Judd Trump, only to save the best for last and see Neil Robertson taking on Mark Selby.

And because such a distinguish snooker gala needs a top referee, the organizers brought Belgium's best, Olivier Marteel to take charge, while the Romanian referee Bogdan Gamaleț will act as MC.

But the Best of Snooker gala is actually just the first event out of a series of various ones, the organizer assuring the Romanian fans that:

"We are honoured to bring three of the best snooker players in the world to Bucharest, but we won't stop here. The Best of Snooker gala is more than just an event for us, it's a revolution if you want to call it like that, an outstanding show."

"Thus we have plans for a series of exhibition matches that will take place in other parts of the world also."

That being said, it's easy to see why it's a must for each and every snooker fan to take part in this Best of Snooker "movement" which brings together "la crème de la crème".

Tickets are still available at: and

2016 World Championship - Mark Selby wins Crucible crown

Mark Selby beat Ding Junhui 18-14 to lift his second world title since, incidentally, defeated Ronnie O'Sullivan by the same scoreline back in 2014 in the same Crucible theatre from Sheffield.

Selby started the final in fine form ending the first session at 6-2 up, but lost momentum during the second one although he still managed to maintain his dominance, 10-7. You can read more about the first day of the World Championship final here.

The third session proved to be a bit of a turning-point despite the fact that "The Jester from Leicester" was still the man to beat.

The first two frames were won by Ding, whose break of 89 and tremendous 35 clearance to win on the black, were more than enough to assure (if needed) that this man is ready to conquer new grounds.

Mark responded with a solid 126, but Ding fought back with a great 103 to get just one behind his opponent, at 11-10.

15 minutes later the lads re-entered into the arena, a more composed Selby winning two frames in a row thanks to contributions of 52 and 68.

Ding managed to pull back a frame, although it wasn't easy after losing position at 52, but the last frame of the session was cashed by Mark who was now 14-11 in front.

The last session of the final begun with the same Mark Selby in amongst the balls, runs of 57 and 46 gifting him the first frame, while the second was dramatically won after a great 36 clearance, on the black.

"The Chinese Sensation" stood his ground and was able to hit two marvellous winning breaks of 73 and 70 to take the last two frames before the interval, to which he added a beautiful 103 (his 15th century break of the tournament) to go 16-14 behind.

Frame 31 was a genuine 51-minute thriller, the biggest break being a 20 points one, but in the end Selby managed to clinch it, thus being one away from victory.

The last frame of the match was easily won with a top break of 74, this also making the scoreboard to freeze at 18-14. Mark Selby was king of the Crucible for the second time.

Emotional and overexcited about his victory, Selby was the first one to admit that his performance was "bits and pieces" throughout the entire tournament and that he doesn't really know how he won it. However, he knows that when required, he delivered and that what made the difference in the end.

Selby received the trophy from the six-time world champion, Steve Davis (who retired during this year's World Championship) and was congratulated by an over the moon wife - Vikki & the sweetest thing ever - their daughter Sophia.

This concludes out 17-day snooker marathon my dear chums which has been a true delight to cover, as always.

Many of you won't agree with me, but since this is my blog I can say whatever I please, so here it goes: it was a special World Championship, even a weird one and I loved every minute of it!

We've seen many of the TOP 16 players making an early exit and the favourites to the title losing from the first or second rounds, but that's what captured my attention and that's what makes snooker so damn unpredictable and beautiful.

At the end of the day it's snooker and for the true snooker fans it isn't about who wins or loses, it's about the game itself, the drama, the fun, the out-of-this-world experience.

The chairman of World Snooker, Mr Barry Hearn just announced that after closing the 10-years deal with EuroSport, they also extended the broadcasting contract with the BBC for the Masters, UK Championship and the World Championship until 2019.

Still, probably the best news of them all is the fact that there is a signed deal that says the World Championship will stay in Sheffield for the coming 11 years (aka. until 2027), so there's a good chance I might just come and see snooker played at its best haha.

Jokes aside, this is indeed tremendous news and I am sure that I am not the only one to think that.

So, looking forward to the new season, ay?

2016 World Championship (the final) - Selby leads Ding after two sessions

Mark Selby is currently leading Ding Junhui 10-7 after playing two sessions of the 2016 Betfred World Championship final.

The cues-crossing has been a most peculiar one, as the first session Selby clearly stated his supremacy, ending it at 6-2 up, while the second one appeared to be a more balanced and tense snooker-affair.

It was with a 91 clearance that this year's World Championship final was starting, Selby being the one to break the ice, while the second frame quickly turned into an early classic drama, as "The Jester" was clinching it on the last black to go 2-0 up.

Top breaks of 76, 120, 70, 41 and 32 proved more than enough to assure Selby's dominance over the match, as he was now 6-0 in front.

Clearly nervous for playing in his first ever World Championship final, Ding missed a lot of balls and opportunities, but he did manage to close the first session by winning the remaining two frames with runs of 33, 35 and 41, in order to trail 6-2.

When the lads returned into the arena (just an hour later), Selby was yet again the first one in and extended his lead at 7-2 up.

But Master Yoda (aka. Terry Griffiths worked his magic during the break) and so Ding started to regain some form after hitting breaks of 76, 103 and 89 to win three frames in a row and enter into the mid-session interval 7-5 down.

The 13th frame bared Selby's signature, but Ding fought back with a beautiful 86 break to reduce the gap at just two points.

The following frame was the longest frame of the match (around 65 minutes) but Ding succeeded into winning it to go just one behind his opponent, 8-7.

Mark Selby anticipated his opponent's next move (which was clearly to make a complete comeback) and made the most of the last two frames, although in all honestly a lot of misses were recorded (from both parties), to end the second session 10-7 up.

The lads will return, hopefully fresh and ready for the kill, from 2pm (UK time).