The weekend in Leeds saw two more players through to the list of Grand Finalists in this seasons Snookerbacker Classic as Sean ‘The Storm’ O’Sullivan and last season’s champion Ant Parsons added their names to the already high quality list of finalists.
Sean had a special reason for wanting the win.
Saturday saw a win for Sean O’Sullivan and after he prevailed in the final against Brett Miller he dedicated his win to his best friend Billy O’Connor, who is currently fighting cancer with incredible bravery.
Sean started the day with an impressive 4-0 win over Chris Keogan while the two pre-tournament favourites to win the Classic in April, Sam Craigie and Paul Davison did battle on the main arena table. Sam came out a 4-2 winner in impressive style and many watching expected him to have a big say in the day’s events on the back of this.
It was also nice to see Jamie Barrett, an old friend of the Classic and finalist back in 2012 back competing, he’s had his own personal things going on and the man they call ‘The Bullet’ was relying on instinct having not been practising much at all, he was to eventually fall at the semi-final stage to the eventual winner, who it has to be said by then had had his fair share of Mrs SB’s Victoria Sponge cake, the cake once more proving to have the magical qualities it takes to make a winner.
Craigie was beaten in the second round by Jason Tart, who is emerging as a player to watch from this year’s tournament as is Brett Miller, who was powering his way through the field and was eventually to beat Tart in the semi-finals to set up a meeting with O’Sullivan.
Sean took command early in the final and having the extra motivation behind him, it always felt like he was destined to prevail. Brett had to console himself with being firmly established at the top of the Order of Merit List and he remains very much on course to be joining Sean at Grand Finals Day, regardless of what happens from here on in, with more than half the events now played.
Afterwards a delighted Sean turned to his motivation and told me ‘I said to you on Friday when we spoke that I’d like to stay in the tournament and win today for Billy, he’s taken a few knocks and he always gets back up again and is an inspiration to everyone around him. This win is for him and I can’t wait to get back to see him. I’m delighted to make the Grand Finals in my first year in the tournament, it’s a unique event and hopefully I can kick on in April and win it’.
You can view all Saturday’s results by clicking here.
The Champion Returns: A familiar face has his eyes on the prize again.
Sunday in Leeds saw an under-the-weather but as ever, fighting champion Ant Parsons get back to winning ways and set himself up to defend his crown at Gloucester next April.
Ant had been beaten in Preston by Jason Tart in his first heat back since triumphing last season but despite weathering a very heavy cold and clearly not at 100% he managed to save the best until last to see off Paul Davison in a decider on Sunday evening.
Davison and Craigie met again in Round 1 having been pitched together two days on the bounce and this time the tables were turned and it was the man they call Snowy (he did complain of cold hands during the day so maybe that’s why) who got his own back for the day before. I believe a hefty gamble has gone on Sam to win the Classic this year but as things stand he isn’t in any further qualifying events.
There were also first round wins for Marc Harman over Jason Tart, Chris Keogan over Alex Taubman, Sam Thistlewhite over Brett Miller and for Michael Whaley and Michael Rudd, reducing the number of Michael’s in that section of the draw from 3 to 2, much to the delight of an easily confused tournament director who complained of ‘too many Michaels too close together in the draw’ while Mrs SB talked to referee Rob Spencer about ironing and snooker players with receding hairlines, deep stuff.
As the day went on it was clear that Davison was going to play a big part and he only dropped one frame further on his way to the final. Ant however was not his usual self on the table and was clearly relying on his tactical rather than out and out attacking style to get him through, which it did eventually in a semi-final tussle against Sam Thistlewhite.
The final saw Parsons in much better form from 0-2 down and he started to produce snooker much like his old self and took the lead at 3-2 at a pace. It was then time for Paul Davison to produce a bit of class and a 125 clearance bagged the weekend’s £1 per point highest break prize courtesy of Apollobet, edging out Chris Keogan who had earlier knocked in 106.
The decider saw Paul in first but in failing to take full advantage, Ant then again started to motor and did enough to grab his Grand Finals place again as champion.
He said afterwards ‘I’m delighted to win today, I’ve not felt great all day but somehow I found something at the end there, I’m not sure how. Last season, Grand Finals Day was fantastic and a great memory for me and my wife Sarah. I would have hated to miss out this year and I’m really looking forward to going back and defending my title’.
You can view all Sunday’s results by clicking here
You can view the ongoing Order of Merit and Highest Break Board by clicking here. Brett Miller leads the Order of Merit, from which the top two will qualify to Grand Finals Day.
A big thanks to all at the Northern for their hospitality and to referees Alex Crum and Rob Spencer. We now take a break from the SB Classic for a bit but once we’re up and running again in February it’s a more or less straight run to the Grand Finals.
There are still a smattering of places left, click here for details.