That's all folks
Thanks for your company this evening, we'll be back with you from 6.45pm tomorrow for the first of the semi-finals.
The last four
Champion of Champions
‘He just blitzed me’ - Higgins applauds Trump after Champion of Champions defeat
Here's your semi-final line-up for the next few evenings:
Friday 19th November - Judd Trump vs Kyren Wilson, 7.00pm
Saturday 20th November - John Higgins vs Yan Bingtao, 7.00pm
John Higgins is through to the semi-finals
There are some people that think Higgins doesn’t have it in him to win tournaments anymore – specifically, Higgins himself. In that emotional, deflated speech after losing the English Open final on a decider to Neil Robertson less than a fortnight ago, he wrote himself off as a trophy-winning force. Although people could see his logic, and appreciated how gutted he was, most of us felt it was a brutally harsh assessment. Even though he'd also lost a similar heartbreaker to Mark Allen in the Northern Ireland Open final earlier in the season, with Higgins class is permanent and form seems to be too. In boxing, there's a maxim that fighters are the first to know they're finished and the last to admit it. With Higgins, he's the last to admit that he's still got it and I think we'll be the first to know when he doesn't.
Ronnie O'Sullivan didn't do that much wrong tonight; he just had to play a ruthless John Higgins.
O'Sullivan 1-6 Higgins
It's 63 for Higgins, who misses the final red along the rail and leaves it in the jaws of the bottom left. O'Sullivan comes to the table to have a look, but needing two snookers to win and an opponent in this form, he concedes. Higgins is through, and has demolished O'Sullivan this evening.
O'Sullivan 1-5 Higgins (22-52)
Higgins picks off one red and frees another to reach 44, before the black takes him to yet another half-century. Bar a horrendous kick, this one looks over.
O'Sullivan 1-5 Higgins (22-23)
Higgins is clearly desirous of having this done quickly, and goes aggressively into the pack as early as possible. O'Sullivan's lead is toast, and with at least five reds in the open and pink and blue on, Higgins has an clear path to the last four.
O'Sullivan 1-5 Higgins (22-1)
O'Sullivan breaks, and from near the top cushion Higgins delicately floats in a long red to the bottom right. He's on the black, just, but it's a tough cut on the stretch; so tough in fact that he overcuts it and leaves it in the jaws. It's a chance for O'Sullivan and one he simply has to convert. There's no margin for error now, but he's made one; on 22 he misses a black to the bottom left, and there's a red on to the left middle for Higgins.
O'Sullivan 1-5 Higgins
Their recent English Open semi-final was a mini classic, with Higgins winning three in a row to nick it on a decider; every now and then between these two you get a hiding, and that's what's happening here. A 94 from Higgins puts him one away from a place in the semi-finals.
O'Sullivan 1-4 Higgins (8-69)
A black goes down, and with 59 left on O'Sullivan needs a snooker in this frame. There's a load more coming though, and he'll be on the brink of defeat shortly.
O'Sullivan 1-4 Higgins (8-39)
Higgins runs slightly out of position after trying to open the pack, but recovers it with a thin cut on a red to right middle that sends the white in and out of baulk to land on the blue. He has to try and retrieve it again after opening the pack with more gusto, and drops in a superb red across the table and into the left middle. That's a superb shot, and Higgins is on the blue. This is magnificent stuff from the Wizard.
O'Sullivan 1-4 Higgins (8-10)
Can O'Sullivan get back into this? This is the right way to go about it if so, as he drops a long red in deadweight to the bottom right to land on the black. It quickly goes wrong however, as a trip into the pack off the black leaves a short jab at a red to the left middle, and he's rolled it out off the knuckles. Higgins is in, can he punish O'Sullivan again here?
O'Sullivan 1-4 Higgins
This is ruthless from Higgins. The formality of frame ball is soon negotiated, the ton arrives, and for maximum flex Higgins dishes up to the pink before walking away and leaving the black; a superb 127 and he's in total charge tonight.
O'Sullivan 1-3 Higgins (0-64)
It's another half-ton for Higgins, and with six reds still wide in the open this one looks in the books. He hasn't registered a ton yet tonight, will he do so here?
O'Sullivan 1-3 Higgins (0-25)
We're back, and Higgins gets the first red down of the fifth frame but lands the white tight to the rail and plays safe rather than risk a tricky black. The safety draws eight in fouls as O'Sullivan fails to connect twice from a one cushion escape, and from the second he's left a red on to the yellow pocket. Higgins converts it, and he's quickly turning this into a frame-winning chance. He gets to 25 by stunning in a red, bashing the pack open and holding for the black; O'Sullivan is in bother here.
O'Sullivan 1-3 Higgins
It wasn't straightforward as the colours were all about the table, but to nick a line out of context from that song: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black. Higgins calmly plugs them all, and he leads by two at the interval.
I did say that it was unfathomable that this wouldn't be an excellent night of snooker. Yay for me and all that, but it's hardly a big shout with these two involved. We'll be back in 15.
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins (57-36)
Higgins gets a red down but no more, and we now have two left on the table. After a poor safety from Higgins there's a thin cut to the bottom right on for O'Sullivan; he smashes it in, freeing the other red as a result before landing on the green. He should put it away from here, but loses position badly off the final red and lays another snooker. It's been a real mixed bag of a frame, and a poor safety from O'Sullivan now has given Higgins a chance to dish the colours and pinch it!
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins (52-35)
For the second time in the frame Higgins inadvertently pots the pink from a safety; even worse, he's left a free ball from which O'Sullivan plays a brutal snooker. Higgins escapes without leaving anything, but is soon stuck in an even tougher one. This is great stuff, and Higgins escapes once more; this is the other facet of the abilities of these wonderful players.
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins (46-35)
A superb safety from O'Sullivan, leaving the white close to the black on the bottom cushion, forces Higgins into a pot on a red to left middle. He gambles everything, misses, but amazingly only leaves a tough long red to the bottom right. O'Sullivan can't get it down, and leaves Higgins a red over the yellow pocket as a result. It looks straightforward, albeit from distance, but Higgins not only misses it but goes in-off to boot. O'Sullivan has ball in hand, and starts picking off all the reds that went north in the safety exchange. He can only tack on 20 though before failing to split two of the final three awkward reds, and is forced to play safe.
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins (22-35)
A loose positional shot from Higgins is atoned for when he plugs a nice black on the stretch to land on a red to the bottom right. He loses position for good from there however, kissing another red to send the white into the pack, and it's end of break. Safety ensues, surring which Higgins accidentally dumps the pink into the left middle. For the first time tonight, we're going to be bogged down a while.
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins (16-0)
My days, this is a shot; O'Sullivan drains a red deadweight into the bottom left, before sending the white ambling round the back of the black to set up position perfectly. His second red is a stunner into the middle too, but he misses his third and he's served up a chance to Higgins. This is don't miss snooker, because the punishment is heavy when you do.
O'Sullivan 1-2 Higgins
These two are doing it again; nearly three frames done and my brew is still warm. A 101 from O'Sullivan gets him on the board in a match of the highest quality so far.
O'Sullivan 0-2 Higgins (72-0)
Ronnie's in the house now. The frame is banked, and he's got a good shot at turning this break into three figures.
O'Sullivan 0-2 Higgins (53-0)
In reaching 48 O'Sullivan runs through the pack, and can only go away from the black off the next red. Bah! It's a lovely split though, and he should have the frame in the bag shortly.
O'Sullivan 0-2 Higgins (32-0)
After a scrappy start to the third, O'Sullivan drains a long red and lands somewhat fortuitously on the black. He needs to get going, and duly does; it's four reds and four blacks so far, if you like getting excited early in frames.
O'Sullivan 0-2 Higgins
He's come to play tonight alright; we're denied the ton again, but a 92 from Higgins extends his lead in this match.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Higgins (6-55)
Maximum punishment is being dished here as Higgins makes another half-ton with a black to bottom left. He's on his next red, and only needs to pick off one of a cluster of three below the pink to make the frame a formality. This is an impressive start from the Wizard.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Higgins (6-16)
After a safety exchange to start frame two, Higgins throws the lot at a long red across the table and into the bottom left, and he's missed it. That's left O'Sullivan in, and after a couple of reds misses a shocker of a black off it's spot to hand the initiative straight back to Higgins. My oh my, that's some miss, and he could pay heavily for it. Higgins is into the pack quickly, which leaves him just about on a red to keep going, and this is a good chance.
O'Sullivan 0-1 Higgins
In the end we get 86 as Higgins misses the pink. No matter; he's one to the good.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Higgins (0-70)
There goes frame ball black, and with 67 left O'Sullivan needs a snooker. He won't be coming back though, as Higgins has split four of the final five reds that were clustered and we might kick the night off with a ton here.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Higgins (0-54)
A handy split on the reds after potting the black opens the door for Higgins to take this out in one hit. He's soon up to a half-century, and it looks a formality from here.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Higgins (0-22)
What a start! O'Sullivan breaks off, and Higgins bullets a long red into the bottom right. The crowd roar their approval; they sound so up for this. They're not going in clean at the start of this break from Higgins, but they're going in. It's 22 and counting so far.
Rob Walker's here
No one gets the boys on the baize like he gets the boys on the baize. After a prolonged introduction to amp up the crowd, he hands over to our MC Tahir Hajat. Here they come; Higgins first, followed by O'Sullivan. Best of 11 it is then to see who will face Yan Bingtao in the semi-finals.
Welcome back to live coverage of the 2021 Champion of Champions from Bolton. We’ve got the final match from Group 3 for you tonight, and you’ll probably be aware if these guys. It’s Ronnie O’Sullivan versus John Higgins; surely the greatest rivalry in the history of the game, between two bona fide greats.
It seems unfathomable that this will be anything other than an excellent evening of snooker. Get comfy, and let us be your guide through the latest chapter of the Rocket versus the Wizard.
Higgins 4-3 Ding
So we will return just before 7pm with that O'Sullivan and Higgins Group 3 final. Will be fascinating. Neither men at their best today, but both doing enough to complete their progress. The winner will meet Yan Bingtao in the semi-finals on Saturday night.
Higgins 4-3 Ding
Not vintage Higgins, but does enough to get the victory against the odds. Looked all at sea, but somehow gets the win. Which all good champions do.
Higgins 3-3 Ding (58-13)
Higgins slots the red he needs and it looks like he'll be facing Ronnie O'Sullivan this evening. Ding needs one snooker.
Higgins 3-3 Ding (53-13)
The Scotsman showing his quality and class to move to the cusp of a remarkable victory.
Higgins 3-3 Ding (19-13)
Both men have had chances in this frame, but another one for Higgins as Ding makes a mess of a pot on a red and leaves a red over a centre pocket. Can he win his third straight frame to secure a meeting with O'Sullivan tonight?
Higgins 3-3 Ding (19-0)
But he can't slot a pink to a middle bag. Was tough cueing off side cushion. Over to Ding, but black is out of commission.
Higgins 3-3 Ding (19-0)
Ding leaves a cut back red to a centre pocket from his break off shot. Higgins quickly moves to 18 and chance to put some clear daylight between himself and the Chinese player.
Higgins 2-3 Ding (66-63)
Did you expect anything else? From nowhere, Higgins is back to his brilliant best as a lovely clearance of 43 including the black is enough to stave off what seemed like an inevitable defeat. A deciding frame will sort out the winner.
Higgins 2-3 Ding (23-63)
Another chance for Higgins as Ding misses a match ball red. Can he take out these balls to force the decider?
Higgins 2-3 Ding (23-33)
A routine safety by the Scotsman goes horribly wrong and Ding is presented with a golden opportunity to finally kill frame and match. Nothing a certainty in current climate.
Higgins 2-3 Ding (13-16)
Both men making routine mistakes as Ding misses a red that barely seemed believable. Plenty of drama with the errors piling up.
Higgins 2-3 Ding (9-0)
Well, that is shocking. Higgins on nine and misses a routine black off the spot. Could easily have been 3-3, but Ding has chance to finally get this over the line.
Higgins 1-3 Ding (72-0)
Where there is life, there is hope..Higgins not playing well, but he is not going to give this one up. Ding had chance to launch a counter attack, but could not get job done. We head into another frame with Ding 3-2 ahead in the race to four. A 53 break from Higgins.
Higgins 1-3 Ding (43-0)
Higgins produces a stunning long blue to keep the break going. Looks he is unhappy with his day so far and has decided to start potting his way into the light. Just can't control the cue ball at key moments. Misses a brown as the break collapses on 43.
Higgins 1-3 Ding (0-0)
Higgins with all sorts of problems. Won the first frame, but has been posted missing in action so far this afternoon. Missing far too many easy balls. Ding on the cusp of securing a meeting with Ronnie O'Sullivan this evening.
Higgins 1-2 Ding (22-0)
Higgins in for a few points early in the fourth frame, but no quick kill. Nice safety shot poses Ding a few questions as he weighs up his options. Brilliant shot from the Chinese player to leave white on the top cushion.
Higgins 1-1 Ding (1-77)
A break of 53 from Ding for a 2-1 lead. Higgins not fully switched on so far this afternoon and the former UK champion looks nice and compact among the balls.
Higgins 1-1 Ding (1-63)
Ding slamming the chalk on the table during shots in this break, but he is making good progress. Higgins not in top gear and has given Ding the breathing space to find his way into this match.
Higgins 1-1 Ding (0-0)
Ding levels the match at 1-1. Sell-out crowd enjoying this action as much as the first game. Yet to catch fire.
Higgins 1-0 Ding (2-50)
Ding just scrapping for bits and pieces at moment. Leaves himself with a mid-range yellow which doesn't drop, but Higgins can't slot a green to a middle bag. Chance gone. Ding should cash in here to restore parity at 1-1.
Higgins 1-0 Ding (0-0)
Both men had a couple of chances in the opening frame before Higgins assumed control.
Higgins 0-0 Ding (66-9)
Quality contribution from Higgins. The four-times world champion is going to claim this first frame with a break of 66.
Higgins 0-0 Ding (21-0)
Edgy start to this match, but Higgins produces a few brilliant pots to get the break up and running.
Higgins 0-0 Ding (0-0)
Quick break for a cuppa. And we are back at it with John Higgins meeting Ding Junhui. Winner faces O'Sullivan tonight over the best-of-11 frames.
O'SULLIVAN 4-2 BINGHAM
Rocket Ronnie prevails with a 4-2 win. Into the Group 3 final tonight against John Higgins or Ding Junhui. Not a classic match, but O'Sullivan scrapped it out to grab the victory.
O'SULLIVAN 3-2 BINGHAM (50-16)
Well, that was awful from Bingham. Inexplicable error. Reached 16, but then missed a straight red. Looks like curtains here for the Ball Run.
O'SULLIVAN 3-2 BINGHAM (50-0)
All there for the taking, but O'Sullivan misses a red on 50. Didn't expect that error with frame at his mercy.
O'SULLIVAN 3-2 BINGHAM (37-0)
Brilliant long red from distance by O'Sullivan. Early days in break, but is a fine chance to win frame and match with black out in the open.
O'SULLIVAN 3-2 BINGHAM (0-0)
How good is this from O'Sullivan?
O'SULLIVAN 3-2 BINGHAM (0-0)
Bingham holes a long double on the yellow. Brilliant shot. A timely 63 break, his highest of the match, and the Ball Run remains interested in Bolton.
O'SULLIVAN 3-1 BINGHAM (9-52)
Some nice balls slotted by Bingham in this little knock. He is going to reduce the deficit to 3-2 behind. Much, much more composed from Bingham after a long red dropped.
O'SULLIVAN 3-1 BINGHAM (5-24)
Bingham not really making the most of these chances. Struggling for any fluency out there. Technically, the cue action seems to be off the mark too.
O'SULLIVAN 3-1 BINGHAM (0-0)
All going against Bingham out there so far. Will need to win the final three frames to stay alive in this contest. A 57 break from O'Sullivan is enough to win the fourth frame.
O'SULLIVAN 2-1 BINGHAM (38-0)
Brilliant opening red to the yellow pocket from O'Sullivan, but he breaks down on 38 when he looked set for another big break. Bingham nowhere near slotting a red to a middle pocket in response. The 2015 world champion struggling a bit. O'Sullivan back at the table.
O'SULLIVAN 2-1 BINGHAM (0-0)
What has Bingham got in response to this?
O'SULLIVAN 1-1 BINGHAM (95-0)
A brilliant 95 break from Rocket Ronnie. And that is 2-1 to the 37-times ranking event winner. Real super break that. More like it from the legend.
O'SULLIVAN 1-1 BINGHAM (42-0)
Rocket Ronnie first to the punch in this frame. Slams in a pink to a centre pocket as the break moves to 43. So far, so good. Seems to have got the pace of the table sorted. Should make a big contribution here.
O'SULLIVAN 1-1 BINGHAM (0-0)
Crowd enjoying this one. Proving to be a decent battle of wills. First to four frames reaches the final tonight.
O'SULLIVAN 1-0 BINGHAM (1-71)
O'Sullivan narrowly fails to sink a double on the red and that should be the last action of this frame. Bingham staggering over the line in the end, but job done. We are level at 1-1. Both men toiling for top form so far.
O'Sullivan 1-0 Bingham (0-58)
Bit of Ball Run for Bingham. Fortune with a long red, but has fairly made the most of it. Quickly up to 58, but he misses a straight red. Very odd that one. Was on brink of winning frame. Still a healthy lead.
O'Sullivan 1-0 Bingham (0-0)
O'Sullivan doing O'Sullivan things.
O'Sullivan 1-0 Bingham (0-0)
A closing 43 break from O'Sullivan. Like shelling peas in the end. He takes the first frame. Could have gone either way, but the six-times world champion has the early advantage. The crowd loved that.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Bingham (30-55)
A quick 42 from Bingham, but he misses the penultimate red to a centre pocket. That was an edgy one. O'Sullivan out of the traps like a greyhound. Needs up to the pink to move ahead.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Bingham (30-13)
He can only make 29 with a red along top cushion failing to drop. Bingham back among the balls with a golden chance.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Bingham (30-13)
Bingham can't cash in his chips at this visit and has presented O'Sullivan with an early reprieve. Prowling the table with as much intensity as a grand chess master.
O'Sullivan 0-0 Bingham (1-12)
We are off and running with this encounter. The crowd giving O'Sullivan a huge reception. And he rams home a brilliant opening red to the yellow pocket, but he misses the brown off its spot. Didn't expect that.
Ready for the Rocket?
Should be a classic battle this one between two icons of the game. And it is a sell-out arena at the University of Bolton Stadium to watch it. What more could you ask for on a miserable November afternoon? O'Sullivan is the greatest player of all time and 2015 world champion Bingham is a devastating potter in the mood. O'Sullivan going for a record fourth title. Settle down and enjoy the updates with us. We are LIVE.
Stay tuned to live comments from Desmond Kane at 12:45 GMT
'My love for snooker is stronger than ever' – O'Sullivan relishing chance to set new record
Ronnie O'Sullivan will begin his bid to claim a record fourth Champion of Champions title against Stuart Bingham on Thursday afternoon with his passion and panache for potting balls showing no signs of wilting.
For a figure who has seen and done it all in snooker since turning professional in 1992, Rocket Ronnie's love of the ancient old game sounds as strong as ever.
The six-times world champion admits he loved his battle with time-honoured foe John Higgins in the semi-finals of the English Open in Milton Keynes last week despite losing 6-5, but is hopeful he can maintain his form in Bolton as he bids to end his 15-month wait for a trophy.
O'Sullivan could face Higgins for a semi-final spot in Group 3 on Thursday night and is feeling in fine fettle only two months before he enters his 30th year as a professional still at the summit of the sport.
It is perhaps fitting that the snooker GOAT enjoys a spot of green baize grazing when he is far from the madding crowd.
"I had a great week last week and really enjoyed the match with John. I loved being in Milton Keynes, loved running and of course I loved playing," said O'Sullivan.
"I sometimes prefer the punditry side and sitting on the sofa watching snooker these days.
"Even when I'm not playing at a tournament, I'll get my tea and sit on the sofa to watch it with my friends.
I'll say to them: 'Listen, the snooker is on this week so we'll get our fitness stuff done, but at 1pm the snooker is on and at 7pm the evening session starts. I want to watch it.
"We'll do the gym and the running work in the morning, but I always love watching it. I love to see what the other guys are up to. It is great."
O'Sullivan won the first of three Champion of Champion titles when he defeated Bingham 10-8 in the 2013 final, two years before Bingham usurped O'Sullivan 13-9 in the last eight on his way to claiming the world title in Sheffield.
O'Sullivan defeated Judd Trump 10-7 a year later before outlasting Kyren Wilson 10-9 in the 2018 final.
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