World Snooker Championship 2021 LIVE – Ronnie O'Sullivan roars back, Mark Williams ahead v Higgins
World Snooker Championship 2021 - The Rocket, Ronnie O'Sullivan has found himself in trouble in his tough second-round match against Anthony McGill, plus Mark Williams leads John Higgins. O'Sullivan is looking defend his title at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. You can watch every match of the World Snooker Championship live and ad-free on the Eurosport App and eurosport.co.uk.
'One of the best shots you will ever witness' from on-fire O’Sullivan
There will be no title defence for O'Sullivan, but what a lash he gave it tonight. You couldn't even really argue that he gave himself too much to do; he did it, in regaining the lead and moving within one of victory, but two sensational clearances undid his efforts. He will rue that red he missed in the final frame, but I'm sure at the same time recognise the moxie of McGill in picking up the pieces. It's another match that will slide neatly into that packed canon of Crucible classics.
There was another game on tonight too, and Kyren Wilson edged ahead of Barry Hawkins 9-7 in their match.
As for McGill, he'll now face the winner of Stuart Bingham and Jamie Jones in the quarters.
Anthony McGill beats Ronnie O'Sullivan in a thriller
Before tonight, Anthony McGill had never beaten Ronnie O'Sullivan in six attempts. Tonight he led 10-6, after winning 9 of 11 frames, only to watch on helpless as Ronnie rattled off five frames in a row. McGill pulled it back, O'Sullivan pulled away; an epic 136 and then a nerveless 85 in the decider dragged McGill over the line. After the crushing disappointment of losing in a decider in the semi-finals to Kyren Wilson last year, an experience that could have irrecoverably ruined many players, McGill has sealed a cathartic victory over the defending world champion.
What's becoming evident at the Crucible Theatre is that McGill has got game; buckets of courage, a nerveless temperament even on a bus tour of Shredsville and a game that holds up tight over the long haul. He's turned over Selby here, he's turned over Murphy here and now he's scored surely the most significant victory of his life. McGill is no longer just a tricky draw, he's right in the pack of contenders that could win this. What a night for him.
O'Sullivan 12-13 McGill
The brown goes, and it's a cry of delight from McGill! He empties the table for a brilliant 85 and after the heartbreak of last year, he's knocked out the defending champion - the greatest player of all time - to reach the quarter-finals!
O'Sullivan 12-12 McGill (42-58)
The reds are done, and McGill's on the colours; he needs the baulk set to leave O'Sullivan needing a snooker.
O'Sullivan 12-12 McGill (42-46)
McGill is tapping in to the same rhythm that conjured up his magnificent 136 in the previous frame. These are going in effortlessly, until he lands wrong side of the blue and leaves a similar, mid-range red across the table to the one O'Sullivan missed. McGill nails it though, followed by the pink; his next red nudges the final two reds into better positions, and he's on the pink. That goes too, and O'Sullivan's lead is gone. In these circumstances, this is simply awesome.
O'Sullivan 12-12 McGill (42-0)
There's enough open here for O'Sullivan to take this out, but the reds aren't spread far and wide so it needs considered cueing. A straight blue to the right middle takes him to 42, and leaves a difficult, mid-range red across the table and into the bottom right. He lines it up...and it's off target! Moreover, he's left a red over the right middle for McGill. What a chance this is; can McGill possibly compose himself here and convert it?
O'Sullivan 12-12 McGill (15-0)
Right then, let's take a deep breath and settle down to this. On that epic semi-final day last year, O'Sullivan nicked a decider and McGill lost one. 'You know what they say, just give me one chance,' says the great Joe Johnson in co-comms. Amen to that, and O'Sullivan gets his first, cutting a red into the left middle after a misjudged safety from McGill. Blue follows, and he's soon buzzing around the black spot. A handy nudge into the pack has developed a few reds, and there's points on here.
O'Sullivan 12-12 McGill
Despite being pinned to the wall, McGill totals a magnificent 136 to level it up. Get everyone in your house around the telly, quick smart.
O'Sullivan 12-11 McGill (0-73)
Frame ball black goes, and we're on our way to a decider. I ran out of superlatives for McGill last year; the guy makes granite seem like playdough in comparison.
O'Sullivan 12-11 McGill (0-50)
This is superb from McGill, because the pressure on him right now is off the map. He gets a glancing split on the pack that sends him up to baulk and requires a thin cut on the brown, but he's soon back in control and he's picked off a half-century. O'Sullivan had to show moxie tonight, but now McGill has responded; it would have been very easy to fold in the face of O'Sullivan's onslaught tonight.
O'Sullivan 12-11 McGill (0-28)
It's another tense start in frame 24, and McGill gets the first real chance as O'Sullivan misses a long red to the bottom left and sticks one up over the left middle. McGill leaves a thin cut on the black early but deadweights it in with aplob, and he's ticking along nicely so far on 28.
O'Sullivan 12-11 McGill
It's done; O'Sullivan lays a snooker behind the brown and McGill turns it in. A simple equation from here, O'Sullivan needs one and McGill needs both.
O'Sullivan 11-11 McGill (72-27)
This could be costly for McGill. He catches a safety too thick, catching another red on his way back up the table and serving up an easy starter over the left middle for O'Sullivan. With the way the reds are set this could be the frame, and looks to be; frame ball red, the third to last, takes his break to 26 and the blue follows. He misses a simple red thereafter though; it's a lead of 53 with 43 on, but McGill will have a shy at this. Red-black goes down for McGill, and he'll now try and get a free ball.
O'Sullivan 11-11 McGill (41-19)
Crikey, this is on edge. O'Sullivan adds two reds and two blacks, but in going into the pack he catches his target red three-quarter ball rather than full, and he's on nish. He is seriously narked with that, but gets back in when McGill misses a long red to the bottom right. O'Sullivan clips a red into the right middle to land on the black, and he's off again. Once more though, he loses the cue ball; after potting a red left-handed he lands low on the black, and can't work the white in and out of baulk after potting it. there are still seven reds left out there.
O'Sullivan 11-11 McGill (1-19)
It's another break off into the back of the pack off the bottom cushion from O'Sullivan; what japes it'll be if he and Williams meet in the semi-finals. He gets in first with a long red, but then fouls as his waistcoat catches a red as he bridged to line up the green. How big could that be? McGill is in with an easy starter, and has plenty to go at here. On 19 though he undercuts a red behind the black and into the bottom left, leaving it in the jaws; can O'Sullivan hit back?
O’Sullivan 11-11 McGill
What a contribution from McGill, a crucial 87 after being shut out all evening. If he goes at all, it won't be quietly; it's all square.
O’Sullivan 11-10 McGill (8-73)
Ooh, this is nervy. McGill wobbles one red badly, and then a phone goes off just before he's about to take the next shot. Turn. them. off. He settles down though, and frame ball red takes him to 56. The black follows, and we're going to a best of three folks.
O’Sullivan 11-10 McGill (8-34)
McGill drains a lone red to get himself out of safety bother, and then forces a mistake from Ronnie who goes around the back of a red on a deadweight safety near the bottom right and leaving it on. This is a big chance for McGill, can he take it? It’s three reds and three blacks so far, a quick 60-70 here would do him the world of good
O'Sullivan 11-10 McGill (8-9)
McGill flukes a red when playing a safety, laying a snooker thereafter from which he picks up eight in misses. From the second miss, O'Sullivan leaves him a red along the bottom cushion and into the bottom right; it's a tough shot, and he can't convert it; O'Sullivan immediately pounces to plug a red into the left middle. There's a load on, but he overscrews the white so badly to try and get on the black that he's on nothing and his break ends on eight.
‘Inspirational snooker!’ – O’Sullivan shows off with swerve pot
O'Sullivan 11-10 McGill
He's back in front! McGill tries to tag a long brown into the green pocket. It's close, so close in fact that it stays in the jaws. O'Sullivan cleans it up, and then up to the pink, to take the lead. Since losing nine out of 11, O'Sullivan has now won five on the bounce.
O'Sullivan 10-10 McGill (57-35)
An excellent snooker behind the black in baulk from O'Sullivan forces a miss from McGill, and a look at one of the reds. O'Sullivan drops it in, but doesn't have an angle on a colour to land on the red he needs so puts the brown safe instead. In response, McGill later cuts the final red in, followed by the blue, and then picks off the yellow but misses a simple green to the bottom right! He'll be choked at that. O'Sullivan pots the green and McGill can now only tie with what's left.
On our other table, Wilson is now 9-4 ahead.
O'Sullivan 10-10 McGill (49-26)
O'Sullivan gets to 49 but can't shift one of the two difficult reds off the right rail, and is forced to play safe back to baulk. A long safety battle on the final two reds ensues, from which O'Sullivan misses an intended thin contact on one red and gives away four. It's tense, and this little battle could be pivotal.
O'Sullivan 10-10 McGill (28-22)
McGill gets a red-yellow, but just can't stitch anything together in this one. Another solitary red follows before he misses the black long into the green pocket. What took McGill four visits, O'Sullivan wipes out in one; he's on 28 and counting, with two awkward reds to negotiate in the remaining five.
O'Sullivan 10-10 McGill (0-18)
A big chance, in this frame and this match, for McGill in the 21st frame. O'Sullivan misses a difficult red across the table and into the bottom left, and he's left McGill an easy starter to the left middle. McGill can only make 11 though, as he misses the pack when trying to split them after potting the blue. He gets another bite though when O'Sullivan leaves him a thin snick on a red to the bottom right. That chance only yields seven, in a bitty opening to the frame.
From here, where?
What a three to five frames we've got coming up now. Momentum is a powerful weapon in any sport; in the hands of Ronnie O'Sullivan it's a nuclear warhead. If there's any player likely to shrug off the last four frames and matter-of-factly get on with things, it's McGill. Don't blink.
A quick update from the other table, Kyren Wilson took the first four of the night and leads Barry Hawkins 8-4.
O’Sullivan 10-10 McGill
O'Sullivan clears up to the brown, and we'll have a best of five for the match after the interval. See you in 15 minutes, don't miss this.
O’Sullivan 9-10 McGill (60-13)
O'Sullivan adds 15, but carelessly misses the last red; he's 46 ahead with 35 remaining, but McGill will play on. Not for long though, as O'Sullivan drains the final red to draw a line under this one.
O’Sullivan 9-10 McGill (44-13)
There's a long safety battle over the final six reds on the table, which are clustered in the bottom left corner with the black and pink obscuring the pocket. McGill eventually cracks and leaves O'Sullivan a red to the right middle, which goes and is followed by the black before he misses a difficult cut on a red to bottom right and leaves it over the pocket. McGill has a good chance to counter, but he can only make nine before leaving a thin cut on a black to the bottom right and missing it. The frame is now there for the taking for O'Sullivan.
O’Sullivan 9-10 McGill (36-4)
O'Sullivan makes 35, before losing the battle for position on the pink and playing safe back to baulk. It's a good safety, tight to the top cushion, but McGill pulls out a lovely long red go get out of trouble. Only the green follows though before he loses position and has to send th white back to the north of the table.
On the other table Kyren Wilson has taken the first three of the night and leads Barry Hawkins 7-4.
O’Sullivan 9-10 McGill (13-0)
Another stunning pot from O'Sullivan, red into the left middle at pace, opens the 20th frame. He's missed the brown off its spot though, and it's a reprieve for McGill, although he's not been left anything. McGill is struggling; his safety is off, and his long potting is well wide of the target right now. He leaves O'Sullivan a straight red into the bottom left from baulk, and in it goes. It's a chance, but it's a difficult table with the black on the bottom cushion and the black spot crowded.
O’Sullivan 9-10 McGill
A 73 break sorts it for O'Sullivan. At least three of the first four felt essential, he's got all three of the first three. This next one before the interval is huge.
O’Sullivan 8-10 McGill (58-12)
It's going to be another one for O'Sullivan; he tidies up the loose reds, and plugs in a tight cut on a red to the bottom right to seal the frame. He's piling more on now too, and this is why he's a six-time world champion. We've been going less than an hour and it's now anyone's match.
O’Sullivan 8-10 McGill (26-12)
O'Sullivan adds 25, but makes his first real mistake of the might as he catches the knuckle high on the right middle when trying to pot the pink and it misses. McGill fires back with a red and then a superb black into the bottom right after being welded to the left rail. It's gone wrong again though as a red along the bottom rail stays in the jaws of the bottom left, and it's a big chance for O'Sullivan now.
O’Sullivan 8-10 McGill (1-4)
O'Sullivan floats in another wonderful pot, this time tagging a red of the bottom corner of the pack and into the right middle, but he's not getting carried away; he turns down a difficult black with no visible reward and plays safe instead. Before tonight O'Sullivan had a big task on his hands, now it feels like McGill has one too; he has to disrupt O'Sullivan's flow and momentum here. McGill tries a long red to the green pocket, but it doesn't drop; O'Sullivan lands him in bother with an excellent safety in return. McGill's in now though, bridging over the pack to dump a red into the left middle and land on the green. This is his best chance of the night so far, but he misses a shocker of an off-straight red into the bottom left! That could be huge, as he's left O'Sullivan in.
O’Sullivan 8-10 McGill
This is absolutely magical. The frame is sorted quickly, and only a slightly misjudged cut on the final red halts his break at 97. O'Sullivan is absolutely flying here, and he's halved McGill's lead in 30 minutes.
O’Sullivan 7-10 McGill (53-0)
It's another rapid half-ton for O'Sullivan as the brown takes him to 53, with five reds still in good positions and all the colours on. He's looking nailed on for another frame here.
Wherever you are and whoever you're with, take a minute to stand up and applaud this:
O’Sullivan 7-10 McGill (21-0)
O'Sullivan glides in the opening red of the 18th frame. The white slides past the baulk colours but O'Sullivan fashions a brilliant green to the left middle, deep-screwing off two cushions to land perfectly on a red to bottom right. He's up for this tonight, don't you worry about that, and he'll not be holding back.
O’Sullivan 7-10 McGill
BASE CAMP, as Peter Drury might be prone to cry. A break of 71 pegs a frame back for O'Sullivan; the red that started it might have closed the book on Shot of the Championship.
O’Sullivan 6-10 McGill (71-4)
A pink takes O'Sullivan to a half ton, and he's quickly closing in on the frame here. The frame ball red with the rest into the bottom right takes him to 63, and he's over the line.
O’Sullivan 6-10 McGill (32-4)
Both players miss a long red into the bottom right, and from his McGill leaves the white hanging on the lip of the yellow pocket, and I mean hanging; it’s like the end of The Italian Job. From there, O’Sullivan drain’s a preposterous cut on a red into the right middle! Oh my word, even for him that is stunning. Not only that, he’s on the black, and he’s off.
O'Sullivan 6-10 McGill (8-4)
It's a defensive break from O'Sullivan - I guess they'll call it The Williams - and after a safety exchange McGill coughs four after missing a thin contact on a red. O'Sullivan gets the first red down, but sends the white in-off in the same shot. He's in now though, with a lovely long red into the bottom right, and he's on the green. O'Sullivan pots it, but it's an astonishing fluke, jawing out of the yellow pocket and into the green one. He's not on a red though, and it's an error-strewn start.
Right then, here we go...
The boys are baized, and we're off. A maximum of nine frames tonight, and we'll have either the shock of the tournament so far or a comeback for the ages. Eyes down...
Ronnie was convincingly outplayed earlier today, losing the morning session 6-2 to leave himself very little margin for error this evening. You feel that he’s got to target winning the first mini-session 3-1 as a bare minimum requirement, or the odds on him retaining his title are slim indeed. In cheerier news for him, he does hold a perfect 6-0 record against McGill in all encounters.
He knows a player does O’Sullivan, and he was effusive in his praise for McGill after narrowly edging past him at the UK Championship all the way back in 2014. Now McGill has offered him a vista of the abyss, it’s up to O’Sullivan to pull away from it. The myth that O’Sullivan is flaky and will crumble under slight pressure was put to bed long ago, and he rattled off three must-win frames to nick his extraordinary semi-final with Mark Selby on his way to the title last year. You feel he’ll need to locate that same well tonight to reach the last eight.
An old school flow like Ant McGill
Oh, he’s been coming. On his crucible debut in 2015, McGill knocked out defending champion Mark Selby; a year later, he dumped out number three seed Shaun Murphy in the first round, and just last year we saw him go on that Homeric run to the semi-finals, only to lose in that heart-breaking, astonishing final frame decider with Kyren Wilson.
The word in the game has been out for a while; with such a narrow gap between his top and bottom levels McGill is near perfect for long haul snooker. On top of that, he’s got courage by the crate and a temperament to withstand whatever comes; where most of us after suffering that shattering semi-final defeat last year would still be in bed now and sobbing gently to sleep each night, McGill is back with gusto and laughing dismissively in the face of the odds against him.
Welcome to live coverage of the evening session of day seven of the World Snooker Championship. Tonight, Kyren Wilson takes on Barry Hawkins on one table, with that match locked at 4-4. Our featured match, however, features the reigning world champion on the brink; Anthony McGill leads Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6, and we could see the first big upset of the tournament tonight.
Mark Williams leads John Higgins 5-3
A tale of two mini-sessions, as Higgins bossed the first and Mark the second. With all four on the spin to finish it's The Welsh Potting Machine that has control, and they will resume tomorrow morning at 10.00am.
That's us for the afternoon, we'll be back with you from 6.45pm for the conclusion of Ronnie O'Sullivan versus Anthony McGill.
Higgins 3-5 Williams
We're done now, as Williams uses all of the pocket to snick in the final red, the black follows and then some audacious pots on the colours up to the blue. It's Williams that has the edge after the first session.
Higgins 3-4 Williams (21-62)
A blue to left middle takes Williams to 44, followed by frame ball red from close range into the bottom left. He can't convert the black that would have put it beyond doubt though, leaving it in the jaws again, and he kids on that he's about to throw his cue away like a javelin. He's 41 ahead with 35 on as John returns.
Higgins 3-4 Williams (21-26)
And back the pendulum swings! Williams leaves a black in the jaws of the bottom right, but no red for Higgins to go at. A couple of shots later, Williams spots a plant to the bottom left; he gambles everything on it, risking knocking another red into the black and potting it as he does so, but it all works out and he's back in the balls.
Higgins 3-4 Williams (21-0)
Higgins has struggled since the break, but Williams has gifted him a chance here, leaving a simply, mid-range red to the bottom left as a starter. there's a few nervy ones early on - this feels like a big visit, not just in this session but in the context of the match - and he undercuts a difficult black to the bottom right to leave Williams in. Speaking of big visits, this would be such a steal if Williams can capitalise on a very inviting table.
Higgins 3-4 Williams
A 70 from Williams claims his third frame in a row, and he's in the lead.
Higgins 3-3 Williams (8-72)
He's back in his rhythm now; a 49 from Williams secures the frame, and the blue makes sure. There's plenty more coming too. All credit to him, he has been superb since the mid-session interval.
Higgins 3-3 Williams (8-28)
Williams gives up eight after failing to drop deadweight on a red on the bottom cushion twice, and is warned that the frame will go if he does so again as he can hit other reds freely. He plays a different red to avoid such an ignominious end, and a safety battle begins. Higgins carelessly leaves a plant to the right middle though, and Williams is in again.
On the other table, Robertson leads Lisowski 9-7 at the conclusion of their session.
Higgins 3-3 Williams (0-19)
A stunner of a long red into the green pocket gets Williams going in the seventh frame. He's got all the momentum right now, but it judders to a halt somewhat when he overstretches when potting a red with the rest and leaves the white welded to the blue. It's end of break on 19.
Higgins 3-3 Williams
These are frames on speed dial, as Williams puts together a 70 in no time to secure the frame. He's in such great touch this afternoon. Williams makes 91 in total before missing the yellow when moving on the colours, and he's level.
Higgins 3-2 Williams (17-22)
Higgins drains a long red across the table, but can only add a black and another red before losing position. Williams then tries to make a difficult plant, deadweight no less, when there was a far easier safety; it doesn't go close, but Higgins can only add red and black before losing position again. Williams then gets in with a long red of his own, and wipes out Higgins's early lead. When he gets in today, Williams looks lethal.
Higgins 3-2 Williams
That's the frame banked as the break hits 62, and he swiftly turns that into a ton with a black after the final red. This is carefree without straying into careless, and it's wonderful to watch. A total of 101 pegs a frame back for Williams.
Higgins 3-1 Williams (6-48)
A superb shot with the rest by Williams, with the red going into the green pocket while hugging the right rail, takes his break to 26 and counting. He's not in the mood to go home wondering this year. the break hits 40 and the remaining reds are nicely situated to sort this frame in one hit.
Higgins 3-1 Williams (6-8)
We're back, and an excellent safety from Williams draws eight from Higgins, who shorts two deadweight escapes. The second is so short that it leaves Williams a cut on a red to the bottom right, but he can't make it; Williams gambled everything on that, and he's left the world on for Higgins. It's a reprieve for Williams though as Higgins makes just six, cueing across a red and missing it bottom right to hand back the advantage.
Higgins 3-1 Williams
There goes frame ball red as the break hits 68, and Williams won't be coming back. Higgins is enjoying himself, and a 75 sorts the frame and a two frame lead.
On the other table, Lisowski and Robertson are locked at 6-6. It's the mid-sesh, so we'll be back with you in 15.
Higgins 2-1 Williams (54-0)
This is masterful from Higgins as the pack are split but close, so positional play needs to be very precise. A round the angles blue takes him to a half century, followed by a tricky red into the left middle. A lead at the mid-session interval looks nailed on now.
Higgins 2-1 Williams (18-0)
In the fourth Williams has a yahoo at a long red into the yellow pocket, misses, and leaves it in for Higgins. This situation needs a bit of work to craft it into a chance, but Higgins does so, splitting the pack off the green and then prodding in a delicate red at close quarters with the rest. Slowly but surely, this is opening up.
Higgins 2-1 Williams
Higgins mops up a 90 to regain the lead.
Higgins 1-1 Williams (63-34)
A superb plant, made from two offset reds, takes Higgins to a half-century. The black follows, as does the final red and then the blue, and Williams now needs snookers.
Higgins 1-1 Williams (14-34)
Oof, this could be an early momentum swing; on 34 Williams catches the near jaw when trying to pot a red and run through off the pack, and he's left it on for Higgins. A good split on the remaining pack off the blue by Higgins takes him to 14, and he's suddenly favourite for the frame.
Higgins 1-1 Williams (0-17)
Larks all round here - Higgins drops off one cushion and into the back of the pack from his break, and Williams throws up a hand in mock disgust. LOL, as they say! When the laughter stops Williams eventually gets a red down, but not a wafer thin cut on the black thereafter. He's back in now though with a long red into the bottom left, and with the black soon dispatched and back on its spot this is a good chance.
Higgins 1-1 Williams
...and it does! He's barely lining them up before potting them, Williams is playing so quick right now. Just like that, he's put up a ton; a 102 wins the frame as he launches the black off the table with a wild thrash to finish.
Higgins 1-0 Williams (13-59)
Williams is motoring again, and a black takes him to a lightning quick half-ton. Frame ball looks sure to follow...
Higgins 1-0 Williams (13-5)
It's that break, and it goes wrong; Williams leaves the corner red on to the left middle, and Higgins drops it in followed by the black but no more. He's in again now though with another red into the same bag, and he's on the green. Just as it's looking good though, a nightmare; Higgins drives in the blue and goes into the pack, but sends a red straight into the bottom left.
On the other table, Lisowski has pegged it back to 5-5 against Robertson.
Higgins 1-0 Williams
Higgins picks off the yellow to leave Williams needing a snooker. A few shots later the green goes too; Williams sinks the brown, meaning he needs two five point snookers on the blue to tie. He has a couple of goes but gives it up, and Higgins hits the front.
Higgins 0-0 Williams (64-37)
It's a half-century for Higgins, who has taken these nicely. There are two reds remaining on the table, and Higgins will need them both to put the frame safe. The final one is on the left rail, and Higgins can't drop in behind it. A safety follows, so Williams is still in it - and certainly is now, as he's boomed the final red long into the yellow pocket. He can't convert the blue though, long into the bottom right, and he's served the frame up for Higgins now.
Higgins 0-0 Williams (15-36)
On 36 Williams leaves himself an awkward cut on a red to the bottom left. Rather than utilise the rest he jabs at it with the cue directly beneath his body, and he's missed it. John musters a quick six in response, but at a second bite he's nicely on the black which he gently rolls into the bottom right. This is a good chance to steal a frame that looked initially as if Williams would run away with it.
Higgins 0-0 Williams (0-24)
There's no hanging about here. Higgins breaks, from which Williams deadweights a red into the bottom right to land on the black. From there he's into the pack, and then picks out a long red into the green pocket to stay at the south of the table. He has torpedoed out of the blocks here.
Here we go...
Boys baized, let's get to it.
Between these two Class of 92 alumni the count is seven world titles, 16 Triple Crown victories and 54 ranking event titles. Should be good, this.
The Welsh Potting Machine ™
Does he care what you think about his break off shot? No sir! And even Ronnie’s at it now. Williams is back at his feisty, brilliant best, and took out the dangerous Sam Craigie 10-4 in the first round. This season he has won the short form WST Pro Series, and reached the semi-finals of the Welsh Open in February. This is the first major ranking event meeting between the two since Williams’s astonishing triumph at the 2018 World Championship, where he beat Higgins 18-16 in the final.
John made hard work of getting this far, struggling to overcome Tian Pengfei 10-7 and less than chuffed with his own performance. He did win six on the spin to take the match though, and lest we forget he utterly levelled the field to claim the Players Championship a few weeks ago. Those kinds of performances against Tian are the aberrations and hey, he still won it.
You’re not dozing in the park? Excellent. Welcome to the afternoon session of day seven of the 2021 World Snooker Championship. There are two superb battles on the baize this afternoon for us. Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski resume their second round match, with Robertson leading 5-3. We’ll keep you up to speed on that, but our feature matinee is two guys you’ve probably heard a bit about; it’s John Higgins versus Mark Williams coming up.
See you at 14:15 BST
That’s it for the first session of the day as Wilson levels at 4-4 with Hawkins. Join us again at 14:15 BST for the afternoon’s action. We’ll be focusing on a battle of the former champions as four-time winner John Higgins meets three-time winner, Mark Williams. On the other table, 2010 champion and No.3 seed Neil Robertson resumes his clash with world number 14, Jack Lisowski leading 5-3.
No surprise that a session featuring O’Sullivan saw his match finish much earlier than the other one in the theatre. Last year’s finalist, Kyren Wilson is currently locked in a real tussle with the 2013 runner-up, Barry Hawkins, but levels at 3-3 with a majestic 107 clearance.
O’SULLIVAN 6-10 MCGILL
That was a must-win frame in the context of this match. O’Sullivan concludes the session with a solid 69. He’s still got it all to do and McGill is the heavy favourite to progress now, but if anyone can turn around such a deficit with some mesmerising snooker it’s The Rocket. One thing’s for sure, you’d be a fool to miss the finale of this match later on this evening.
O’SULLIVAN 5-10 MCGILL
Defensive break-off? Check. Red left in the open? Not this time. O’Sullivan finally gets it right but it’s still McGill showing the greater consistency in what must surely be one of the greatest sessions of his life to-date. The Scot slots away two audacious long reds and a couple of fine cuts just to try and build a significant break. He’s unfortunate trying to spread the pack but earns his advantage the hard way with some composed cue-action. Another delightful cut on the pink to the centre right stands out in a hard-fought break of 56. Ronnie opts against playing for a couple of snookers and McGill guarantees his lead heading into the final evening session is going to be very a significant one.
O’SULLIVAN 5-9 MCGILL
McGill takes full advantage of his opponent’s rotten luck to restore his four-frame cushion with another century clearance (105). A magnificent recovery pot on the blue to the middle right helps him get back on track with the frame still up for grabs and he doesn’t look back from there.
O’SULLIVAN 5-8 MCGILL (27-0)
O’Sullivan threatens immediately with some crisp potting but his luck is all out when he screws back off sinking the black to the bottom left and gets an unfortunate ricochet bursting into the pack of reds. The cue ball strays right up towards the baulk end and stops on top of the green. It's far too awkward to continue a break of 27 and no doubt very welcome from McGill’s perspective.
O’SULLIVAN 5-8 MCGILL
McGill tickles a long red into the bottom right but there’s no colour on for him to make the most of such a fine pot. O’Sullivan retorts with a magical long red of his own and it lays the foundation for him to finally enjoy a decent spell at the table. It looks all over when he cannons into the yellow when trying to come off two cushions after sinking the blue. However, a stunning long red frees the pink and gets him right back on position. That is far more like it from the reigning champion and he finally gets back on the board with a scintillating break of 92.
O’SULLIVAN 4-8 MCGILL (0-1)
The players return from the interval. O’Sullivan goes with the controversial break-off once again – and leaves another red on! McGill slips it into the centre right but then catches too much of the far jaw of the bottom left pocket to surprisingly allow the black to rattle free. Let off for The Rocket.
O’SULLIVAN 4-8 MCGILL
Seventh heaven for Anthony! A wonderful shot to break up the pack of reds comes up trumps. He faces a test when within sight of frame ball but steers a long pink to the yellow corner to retrieve position and clock up another superb break of 89. It’s time for the mid-session interval and there’s plenty for the Rocket to ponder. That 4-1 lead seems like a LONG time ago now.
O’SULLIVAN 4-7 MCGILL (7-0)
That sums up O’Sullivan’s morning. He just can’t build much of a rhythm. He’s first to strike but on his third shot there’s too much pace on the cue ball as it races into the blue. He misses the cut to the right pocket and hands McGill another opportunity to lead from the front.
O’SULLIVAN 4-7 MCGILL
Ronnie goes with the Williams-style break once more. Does he genuinely see tactical advantage in using it or is he just throwing support behind the Welshman after suggestions of a ban on the shot? Either way, it does little to help him swing the pendulum of momentum his way on this occasion as once again McGill steals the spotlight. The world number 16 spreads the reds with a thumping pot to the bottom right with the rest and then sinks the blue to the centre right to come off two cushions and carve out a more routine position to build a frame-winning century clearance (126). That’s six frames in a row for the Scot. O’Sullivan needs to start finding solutions - and quick!
'Look at this!' - O'Sullivan follows Williams with controversial break-off
O’SULLIVAN 4-6 MCGILL
A break of 47 ends when a tricky red down the right cushion wriggles free of the bottom right pocket. It matters little as frame ball had passed and O’Sullivan sees no point in playing for snookers. The reigning champion needs to stop the rot here. He’s just not got going and McGill is looking more and more assured.
Ronnie O'Sullivan of England reacts behind Anthony McGill of Scotland during the Betfred World Snooker Championship Round Two match between Anthony McGill of Scotland and Ronnie O'Sullivan of England at Crucible Theatre
Image credit: Getty Images
O’SULLIVAN 4-5 MCGILL (26-30)
It’s not quite happening for The Rocket. He bullets a brilliant red down the left flank to the bottom corner but can’t build any momentum as he sees a red along the rear cushion rattle the jaws of the pocket and stay out. There’s a big chance for McGill to stretch his lead now.
O’SULLIVAN 4-5 MCGILL (18-30)
It almost feels like a scrappy frame but there has been some excellent shot-making. McGill looks to assert his authority with a couple of splendid long reds at either end of the table but he soon runs out of position and the break concludes prematurely at 29.
O’SULLIVAN 4-5 MCGILL (18-1)
Ronnie’s reaction to that disappointing first frame of the morning? To order a mug of warm water. It seems to spark life into his hands as he steps to the table and hammers home a sumptuous long red to the bottom right pocket. Maybe he needs to hold the mug a bit longer though as he misses a red to the yellow pocket by some way to allow McGill back in after the Scot had earlier snookered himself when the cue ball unfortunately nestled into the pack off a fine long pot.
O’SULLIVAN 4-5 MCGILL
Will Ronnie regret that cheeky break? Probably not. He had some misfortune with the in-off and from there McGill took centre stage. A break of 71 means he’s all-but certain of taking the frame. O’Sullivan opts to come back despite needing snookers and can only manage a solitary red. McGill cleans up to notch a fourth straight frame.
O’SULLIVAN 4-4 MCGILL (0-12)
The Rocket provides an early surprise with the Mark Williams-style break. He chuckles to himself as he swigs some water, but actually leaves a red on for McGill to try and make some early inroads. It halts at eight but then O’Sullivan ends up seeing the white drop in the left centre pocket after missing a long red. Not a great start for the six-time champion!
Here we go!
The players have arrived at their respective tables and Day 7 is about to get underway. The focus is firmly on this finely-poised clash between O'Sullivan and McGill, but there's also the start of the second round match between Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins on the other side of the partition.
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A statto's dream
The class of '92
Check out our must-read exclusive with The Rocket. Here's a snippet of what he had to say about himself, John Higgins and Mark Williams: "It’s amazing to still be competing. I just think we played in an era in the 1980s when snooker was so popular. You had no mobile phones back then so you had to focus and concentrate. You were surrounded by really fantastic players. I just don't think you will see that level of player coming through again."
Reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has a tough match on his hands in the second round of the World Championship as he is locked at 4-4 with Anthony McGill after a fascinating opening session at the Crucible - but he still delivered plenty of magic on Thursday.
"I think players respond to the conditions and there were some lovely touches from O'Sullivan," Foulds said in the Eurosport studio.
"Just the way that he caresses the balls around the table and the way he moves them with no effort, with great knowledge of where they are all going to end up.
"He started very well here, you know. To go up with a century to go into the lead [in the third frame], and then the next frame was even better.
When the long pots go into the mix with everything else that is already there, he becomes this formidable player. No wonder he has won it six times.
"That was delightful, and he looked unstoppable. But in the end he was slowed in his tracks, there is no getting away from it."
'He's started very well' - Reaction to O'Sullivan v McGill from Foulds, White
How it stands: O'Sullivan 4-4 McGill
All square. O’Sullivan misses a yellow and allows McGill back in to knock it into the pocket. He glances up and sees Ronnie give him the nod. He concedes the frame and we are tied at 4-4. The in-off from O’Sullivan when leading 4-1 and with a 5-1 lead on the horizon, could well prey on the six-time champion’s mind overnight. It’s a fine recovery from McGill, especially after the way the Rocket started this encounter.
'Fascinating session' - McGill draws level with O'Sullivan