Early Season Firsts
Just three events into the 2016/17 season and already we have seen a number of ‘firsts’ on the World Snooker Tour from players up, down and even from some not part of the world ranking list. Today we take a look at some of those achievements…
Most obvious for inclusion in this list is of course Scotland’s Anthony McGill, who made his big breakthrough recently by winning his first ranking event title at the Indian Open. In fact, having previously reached the quarter-final stages of four tournaments, his last eight win against Stephen Maguire in Hyderabad was a landmark in itself, before he went all the way to take the trophy.
For Michael Holt, although he was not able to get the better of Neil Robertson in Riga, his final run did represent his deepest run at a ranking event since first turning professional 20 years ago. Another man vanquished by Robertson in the same event was veteran Welsh amateur Darren Morgan and while his semi-final run was not quite a first, it was his best since way back at the 1999 Thailand Masters.
Another amateur to surprise already this season was David Lilley, who having entered the Indian Open as a top-up player was able to defeat the likes of Mark Williams and Robert Milkins on his way to a maiden ranking event quarter-final. Others to have reached the last eight stage for the first time this summer are The Nap’s John Astley and promising Thai talent Akani Songsermsawad.
Turning to the earlier rounds and there have been further players to have already achieved personal milestones this season, most recently 28-year-old Welshman Daniel Wells who last week reached the last 16 of a full-ranking event for the first time before losing a tight match 5-4 to eventual champion Ali Carter. Another to do the same was 16-year-old Yan Bingtao, who defeated Fraser Patrick and Martin Gould in Riga before running into Anthony McGill.
A mention too for Welsh youngster Duane Jones who reached the last 32 for the first time at the Indian Open, while Sam Craigie and Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong did likewise at the World Open.
In respect of the world rankings, several players have also reached new career-high rankings, including of course many of those mentioned above. Anthony McGill moved close to a top 16 place with his victory in India, climbing to 17th before Ali Carter’s win in Yushan last week saw him drop a place. Kyren Wilson, who McGill of course defeated in the final in India, is up to a new high of 14th, while Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Jimmy Robertson maintain career-high positions of 33 and 34, just outside of the top 32.
Further down the list, Oliver Lines is up to as high as 60th position for the first time, while the likes of Martin O’Donnell and Daniel Wells are knocking on the door of the top 64, both having reached new career-high rankings early this season.
Finally, a mention for Bulgaria’s Desislava Bozhilova who took charge of her first full-ranking event final at the Riga Masters, while we have of course seen ranking events staged in the cities of Hyderabad and Yushan for the first time.
Have I missed out any notable firsts so far this season? Let me know @prosnookerblog on Twitter.