That's us for tonight

Thanks for your company today, in what has been a scintillating and possibly game-changing afternoon for the great game of snooker. Tomorrow's final sees the prodigous Zhao take on another brilliant, rising young force in Luca Brecel; one of them will win the UK Championship and their first ever Triple Crown title. If they can replicate anything close to the form they've showed today, then my days we are in for some final.
Soak up what we've seen today, and don't miss this tomorrow. We'll be back from 12.45pm for every shot of the final.
UK Championship
'Winners don't really need it' - O'Sullivan on how to remedy financial imbalances in game
07/12/2021 AT 22:02

Zhao Xintong is through to the UK Championship final

Earlier today, Luca Brecel stunned a higher-ranked player in Kyren Wilson with a barrage of heavy scoring to reach tomorrow's final; tonight, Zhao Xintong has served up the same dish to Barry Hawkins. That was masterful from Zhao. On the biggest night of his career so far, breaks of 78, 100, 78, 78, 75 and 81 swept away the dangerous and established Hawkins in under two hours. There was very little Hawkins could do in the face of that, he was so comprehensively outplayed that he did well to put one frame up there. There's been a lot of talk about Zhao for years, and tonight we saw the substance. A devastating victory has set up a mouth-watering final tomorrow. 'He's the Federer of snooker,' says Ronnie O'Sullivan in the studio. Game recognise game.

Hawkins 1-6 Zhao

A total break of 81 secures frame and match for Zhao, and confirms the arrival of a thrilling talent to world snooker. That was outstanding.

Hawkins 1-5 Zhao (20-74)

Frame ball red is drilled in to the left middle, and the black follows. What composure; Zhao has been devastating tonight.

Hawkins 1-5 Zhao (20-50)

Zhao looks ice cold when he's in the balls, and brings up yet another half-century with a black to the bottom left. There are four reds in good positions of the five left, and this just looks a matter of time.

Hawkins 1-5 Zhao (20-14)

Hawkins drains a mid-range red at the start of the seventh frame, and he's on the pink. It's a chance, but after cutting a black thin into the bottom right soon after he loses position and has to send the white back to baulk. Zhao then misses an attempt at a thin contact safety allowing Hawkins to pot another red from mid-range, but again position isn't forthcoming. Safety follows, before Zhao gets in with a confident, deadweight red that lands him on the black. That goes too and he's opened the pack; this is a good chance.

Hawkins 1-5 Zhao

It's a 75 in total for Zhao, and he needs just one more to reach tomorrow's final.

Hawkins 1-4 Zhao (0-68)

Another red goes to bring up 61 in this effort, and Hawkins now needs snookers. The pink follows, to ensure he won't be bothering. This has been another classy break from Zhao.

Hawkins 1-4 Zhao (0-41)

It's a swift 40 for Zhao, deftly picking off reds and colours with a series of delicate stun and screw shots to maintain position. If he was bothered by missing that simple red in the fifth, it's certainly not bothering him now. The break keeps on trucking.

Hawkins 1-4 Zhao (0-14)

Zhao picks out a plant to the bottom left at the start of frame six, but can't get position on a baulk colour. He traps Hawkins behind the brown instead, and Hawkins escapes off one cushion but leaves a red on to the bottom left. There's a nice spread on here, albeit with the black currently out of commission.

Hawkins 1-4 Zhao

Zhao picks off the yellow, and later has a look at the green but jaws it out of its own pocket. In the same breath, he almost sends the blue into the bottom left. His next shot costs him the frame; a poor safety leaves the green over the right middle, and Hawkins clears up to the pink to put it to bed.
A glancing blow on the way down, or the start of a comeback? Either way, Hawkins is on the board.

Hawkins 0-4 Zhao (65-46)

Plot twist! Hawkins drains the final red into the green pocket, which looks like it will win the frame until the white drifts into the left middle! My word. Zhao needs the colours to tie, and lays a brutal snooker behind the pink. Hawkins tries to escape off one cushion using the spider, but misses the yellow twice to ship eight points. He connects on the third attempt, but he's left it on. What a slowly unfolding nightmare for Hawkins; in better news, black and pink are relatively safe, and Zhao fails to cut in the yellow with the rest.

Hawkins 0-4 Zhao (65-34)

A couple of quick frames to Hawkins could change the complexion of this match completely, and this looks like being one of them until he plays a horrible positional shot after potting a red to reach 65 and finishes directly above the black. There's still 51 on, and from Hawkins's safety Zhao deadweights in a red to the bottom right from distance. He picks off 14 before laying a snooker on the final red, and we've still got a live one.

Hawkins 0-4 Zhao (9-20)

We're back, and the tide is still going in one direction. Hawkins plays a very poor safety to baulk at the start of the fifth, and it leaves an easy red to right middle for Zhao. Another big break is looming, but Zhao then misses a shocker of a red to the bottom right! Crikey, that looked unmissable. Hawkins goes on the front foot, opening the reds quickly, and this is a great chance to counter.

Hawkins 0-4 Zhao

We've been going just over an hour, and a 78, 100, 78 and another 78 from Zhao have blown Hawkins off the table in this mini-session. Perspective is required of course as the match isn't over, but you'd need to be very cold in the soul not to be utterly thrilled by that. Those four frames from Zhao were a statement - in this match, this tournament and quite possibly his career. Stunning.
We'll have a 15-minute break now, and be back after the interval for the denouement.

Hawkins 0-3 Zhao (22-53)

It's another half-century for Zhao as yet another black disappears into the heart of its intended pocket. He's only a few balls away and it's all there for him.

Hawkins 0-3 Zhao (22-24)

What a talent we're watching here. Zhao shorts position on the black, but stuns it in and propels an adjacent red into the pack to bust it open. That leaves a red to left middle, and he's away again. Hawkins's narrow lead quickly disappears, and he's got a great chance now to sweep this mini-session. Every nudge and canon is working in his favour; this is simply awesome from the Cyclone.

Hawkins 0-3 Zhao (22-0)

Hawkins does get in at the start of the fourth, with an excellent long red to the bottom right and holding for the black. Again he loses position early, recovers it with a long red to the yellow pocket and then drops the blue in to leave a plant on two reds to the bottom right. It's offline so needs to be made, and Hawkins does; the black follows, but he then underhits a close quarters red to the bottom left and it doesn't reach. Oh my; how costly could that be?

Hawkins 0-3 Zhao

A blue to move to 68 leaves Hawkins needing a snooker. He won't get a look though, because Zhao keeps on potting balls with a languid serenity. A black after the second to last red rings in the century, before he goes in-off after thundering in the final red. Zhao is really enjoying himself here, and it's a pasting so far. Can the Hawk get his hand down and hit back before the interval?

Hawkins 0-2 Zhao (0-56)

Zhao finishes low on a red, which allows him to cut it in, tickle the pack open and land on the black. He's in a devastating rhythm here, and has banked another half-century. It's not quite the barrage Brecel hit Wilson with earlier, but it's not far off.

Hawkins 0-2 Zhao (0-26)

Zhao really is playing beautifully here. He's just dropped in a preposterous thin cut on a red to right middle at the start of the third, followed by the yellow, and he's now buzzing around the south of the table accumulating points at a rate.

Hawkins 0-2 Zhao

The break moves to 64 and Zhao is home and hosed in this one. He misses the second to last red soon after but another 78 has banked another frame; he's off to a flier here, and Hawkins hasn't got going at all so far.

Hawkins 0-1 Zhao (7-50)

A brilliant red with the rest keeps Zhao's break ticking over just when he threatened to lose position, and he's got it back under control. It's not easy because pink and black are welded together near the black spot, though in potting the black to move to 42 it's rehoused on the pink spot. These are hard yards, and my word it's an impressive break.

Hawkins 0-1 Zhao (7-13)

A good break-off from Zhao, snookering Hawkins completely behind the green, draws eight in fouls from missed attempts to escape. He's given Hawkins a chance now though after missing a long red to the bottom left; Hawkins can only make seven from it though, as he misses a long red to the green pocket and leaves it as a tap-in. Zhao gobbles it up, followed by a superb green to left middle and then a mid-range red, and he's in.

Hawkins 0-1 Zhao

How about that for a start? Zhao empties the table for a 78 to take the lead.

Hawkins 0-0 Zhao (18-70)

A quick 31 from Zhao leaves Hawkins needing a snooker with two reds left, and the black to follow makes certain of the frame. He looks very relaxed out there, and completely unfazed by the one table situation or the occasion.

Hawkins 0-0 Zhao (18-32)

Zhao races to 32, but loses position slightly causing him to miss a cut on a red to the bottom right with the rest. He's left it there, and in planting another red onto it Hawkins pots both and he's on the black. Almost immediately though he loses position on the black and misses a long pink by a huge margin to the green pocket. He'd gambled everything on position there, and it's another chance for Zhao to tidy this one up.

Hawkins 0-0 Zhao (8-1)

It's best of 11 for the right to face Luca Brecel, and it's a poor start for Zhao; with his first shot after Hawkins breaks off, he accidentally plants the black into the bottom left. From his second shot, he leaves Hawkins a plant to the bottom left, and in it goes. Hawkins can't convert the black thereafter though, and Zhao is in.

Let's go...

Anyway, less praisin', more baizin'. Our MC Rob Walker brings the players into the arena, and it's time.

The Cyclone

Zhao Xintong is the new school; a quick, attacking player with a fearless attitude, he's already taken out John Higgins and Jack Lisowski in York this week. He's an exciting talent, and breaking new ground here. Never before has Xintong been this deep in a major tournament, yet here he stands on the brink of the final. ‘I think he’s amazing, I think he’s our Federer,' said no less a figure than Ronnie O'Sullivan this week. 'I’ve never seen a more talented snooker player.’ High praise, and also high pressure; the question now is whether Xintong can turn talent into trophies. He's 24 and has yet to reach a ranking event final, but it's surely in the post.

The Hawk

This is a big night for Barry, now the highest ranked player left in the tournament. He's won three ranking events in his long career but in his two visits to Triple Crown finals - the Worlds in 2013 and the Masters in 2016 - he was put away by Ronnie O'Sullivan. This weekend represents a huge chance for him to land a big one at last.

Welcome back

Earlier today, Lucal Brecel produced the performance of his lifetime to reach the UK Championship final. Tonight, we'll find out who'll be facing him. Barry Hawkins and Zhao Xintong will be on the baize to sort that out shortly.


Thanks for your company this afternoon

We hope you enjoyed that little feast. Join us again at 6.45pm for the second semi-final between Barry Hawkins and Zhao Xintong.

Luca Brecel is through to the UK Championship final

Angles McManus has just called that the best performance in a best of 11 that he's ever seen. Kyren Wilson won't know what's hit him there; that was not just the kitchen sink thrown at him, but every functioning unit and appliance in the house. Just to recap, in that match Brecel made breaks of 130, 105, 59, 102, 97, 80 and 112, and it's hardly as if Wilson didn't turn up as he bagged four frames of his own. That was devastating, you cannot earn a place in a Triple Crown final any more than that. He was the first player from mainland Europe ever to win a ranking event, and tomorrow will be the first to appear in a Triple Crown final. A landmark moment, secured by a performance for the ages.

Wilson 4-6 Brecel

Oh, he's having fun now! A sensational cross-double on the final red, followed by the pink, banks his fourth century of this stunning display. He wallops home another double on the green and clears up to the brown for a 112 to secure an utterly stunning victory. Chapeau, Luca Brecel!

Wilson 4-5 Brecel (0-74)

He's still struggling to lasso perfect position, but Brecel plugs frame ball red and then adds the black for insurance. He looks up, exhales deeply, and soaks in the applause. What a sensational performance!

Wilson 4-5 Brecel (0-55)

It might look like a practice table, but it's anything but with a place in the UK Championship final on the line. Brecel is clearly feeling it as a few positional shots land awkwardly and need good recovery pots, but he makes them and banks his seventh half-century of the day. He's really taking his time on each shot, but well he should.

Wilson 4-5 Brecel (0-16)

Frame ten in a match you don't really want to end gets going. It's up-table safety to start, during which Wilson is lucky not to leave anything when taking on a red long to the green pocket and jawing it out. A tense exchange of tap and nudge safety shots on reds in baulk follows until Wilson gets a look at a thin cut to the bottom left. It's a big shot, and it rattles out; he's left Brecel in the middle of the table with reds on everywhere. What a chance for frame and match this is, and Brecel sets about it.

Wilson 4-5 Brecel

An 83 from Wilson prolongs the argument.

Wilson 3-5 Brecel (75-1)

Those three reds have gone, with the black for insurance; Wilson is still well in this semi-final.

Wilson 3-5 Brecel (53-1)

This is an admirable show of moxie from Wilson, who methodically chisels a half-century out of a tricky table and now has a chance to secure this frame in one hit. There are four reds tied up but three in the open, and they'll be enough.

Wilson 3-5 Brecel (16-1)

He's a one-man highlights reel today; Brecel launches a stunning long red into the bottom left as a shot to nothing, before tucking Wilson right in behind the brown. A safety exchange follows, before Brecel misses a long red to the bottom right. In response, Wilson converts a mid-range red to the bottom left to get away in this one. He's been frozen out in the last two frames, can he manage a sizeable visit here?

Wilson 3-5 Brecel

Ooh, a mistake! The frame is long gone when Brecel underhits a pink to the green pocket. It pulls up short, ending his break on a mere 80.
If he can win one more frame, he'll be in the UK Championship final.

Wilson 3-4 Brecel (65-0)

There goes frame ball red, and with the other four in the wide open there could be another ton on for him here. This is computer game stuff from Brecel, and it's quite simply superb.

Wilson 3-4 Brecel (51-0)

It's like he can't miss today; Brecel splits the pack when potting one red, and then cuts in a difficult blue to go in and out of baulk and land on his next red. This is simply awesome stuff, he's making it look as easy as flicking peas into buckets. It's another half-century and he's zoning in on being two up with three to play. Wilson, as he will be aware more than most, is in serious bother here.

Wilson 3-4 Brecel (20-0)

Both players miss attempts at reds at the start of frame eight but Wilson's, with the rest to the bottom right, is more costly. Brecel launches a red into the green pocket in response, and he's off and running. The confidence coursing through his veins right now is obvious, he has been superb today. For the moment, all Wilson can do is watch and hope he misses.

Wilson 3-4 Brecel

Frame ball red takes Brecel to 68, with no sign of stopping anytime soon. He's shifted one of the two tied up reds into play, but his break curtails on 97 when he loses position after potting the black. Bah!
No matter though, for he's in the lead again. This is some barrage of scoring that he's throwing at Wilson.

Wilson 3-3 Brecel (0-52)

Brecel reaches 44 with a black into the bottom left, which sees the white bounce off the bottom cushion and split the pack. The cue ball sticks to a red, but Brecel employs the spider to bridge over it and drop in his next red. A black follows, and it's another half-century; can he possibly double this over and bag his fourth of the afternoon? Maybe, but he needs to bank the frame first.

Wilson 3-3 Brecel (0-29)

We're down to a best of five for a place in the final. Wilson goes all out on a red to bottom right at the start of the seventh, but it jaws out violently and lands over the yellow pocket. Brecel cuts it in, followed by the blue, and he's got another good chance for a heavy visit. He quickly clears room for the black to go to both bottom corners, and he's flying again.

Wilson 3-3 Brecel

The magnificence continues; Brecel clears up to the pink for a 102 to level this match up again.

Wilson 3-2 Brecel (1-62)

A black to right middle is frame ball, and Brecel calmly drops it in. He's got the four remaining reds in the open too, and could make his third ton of the day here.

Wilson 3-2 Brecel (1-46)

Brecel gives himself a chance to win the frame after splitting the reds off one cushion after potting the blue. His break soon goes to 40 with a yellow to it's own pocket, and he lands right on a red to bottom right that will get him on the black.

Wilson 3-2 Brecel (1-21)

An error from Brecel at the start of frame six, going for a red to right middle at pace but rolling it out off the knuckles, hands a chance to Wilson. He's got an easy starter, but loses position off it straight away and compounds things by going in-off when playing back to baulk off the pink. Brecel has ball in hand in the D and a lot to go at.

Wilson 3-2 Brecel

Brecel escapes the snooker, but leaves frame ball red on the bottom right. It's tight, but Wilson drops it in followed by the green. He's just about on the final red too, which he calmly drops into the bottom right. The black follows, and we're done in this one. Wilson leads for the first time.

Wilson 2-2 Brecel (55-21)

An attempts cross-double by Brecel misses, and leaves the red over the bottom right. Wilson kabooms it in from 12 feet away to land on the black, and he's got a chance to seal the frame here. A quick 16 increases his lead, and one of the two remaining reds would be frame ball but he can't land comfortably on either. Instead he lays a snooker, and Brecel is under it here.

Wilson 2-2 Brecel (39-21)

Brecel drains a long red, but after potting the yellow he can't shift any of the five remaining reds, all of which are out of commission. A safety exchange follows, during which Brecel picks off one of the reds, before safety resumes. This is a big frame, and both players know it.

Wilson 2-2 Brecel (39-17)

On 20 Wilson slightly overruns position on his intended next red, but recovers it with a deadweight cut to the bottom left to hold for the blue. It's an increasingly tricky table though and on 39 he finally loses position, landing touching ball on a red and with no option but to play back to baulk.

Wilson 2-2 Brecel (0-17)

We're back, and Brecel immediately picks up seven as Wilson shorts an attempted two-cushion escape from a snooker. A bout of safety is broken when Brecel then leaves a red on to the green pocket, but Wilson undercuts it badly and leaves it on as a tap-in. This is a decent chance, but a brutal miscue on 10 brings things juddering to a halt. He's left Wilson in to boot.

Wilson 2-2 Brecel

I'd auction my soul on Ebay to make a 59, but it's no good when the level is this high; a gutsy break of 69 from Wilson, completed despite never being in perfect position for any of the final five colours, levels up this absolute stunner of a match.
It's time for the interval - I suggest you stick with this when the players return in 15 minutes.

Wilson 1-2 Brecel (49-59)

The reds go, but from the blue off the final one Wilson leaves himself a tricky mid-range yellow to it's own pocket. He's thumped it in - just - and he's on the green. If he can pot up to and including the pink, he'll steal it.

Wilson 1-2 Brecel (29-59)

There's a chance for Wilson to counter now, as he makes a three ball plant to land the cue ball on the pink. The remaining reds are close but separated, so it'll need precise positional play to dish up and nick the frame here. Wilson's picked off 29 so far, and there are three reds remaining.

Wilson 1-2 Brecel (0-59)

A black takes Brecel to another half-century, and he's on the final loose red. He pots it to the bottom left with the rest, and finishes low on the black. It's the perfect angle to tickle the pack open, which he does but doesn't land on anything. Brecel plays it safe - boo! - but it's the most sensible option with a 59 point lead.

Wilson 1-2 Brecel (0-31)

This could be a moment, particularly given how mistakes are being punished so far; Brecel catches a two cushion, thin contact, up table escape far too thick, but Wilson can't convert a red from mid-range thereafter. It's a chance for Brecel, who drains a mid-range red of his own and he's on the black. It's another good chance, and Brecel has drained 31 and counting from it so far.

Wilson 1-2 Brecel

This is just brilliant from Brecel, who pots frame ball red and brings the final one off the right rail to leave another ton on. It duly arrives; a superb 105 makes it three centuries in a row in this match!

Wilson 1-1 Brecel (25-50)

A deft split on the reds by Brecel when potting the pink takes him to a half-century, and will surely win the frame. Please petition your local MP immediately to bin off the interval and keep these two playing, because this flow is quite something.

Wilson 1-1 Brecel (25-27)

This is a thrilling break so far from Brecel, inclusive of a tough red along the rail on one red and a slashing thin cut on another that finds fortuitous position on the brown. He's got it under control now though, and takes the lead in the frame.

Wilson 1-1 Brecel (25-0)

Wilson booms in a red at the start of the third, with such a thud it should be accompanied by a 'KABLAM!' speech bubble from the sixties TV series of Batman. He gambled everything on position, and although he's not on the black as intended he thin cuts a blue into the left middle, and he's away again. A big moment here on 25 though, as he's missed a red to the bottom right when trying to free the black and he's left it on.

Wilson 1-1 Brecel

Two brilliant blues from Wilson, the former clipping the final red off the upper right rail, open the door to a century. This is magnificent stuff, and Wilson empties the table for a 121 that levels the match.

Wilson 0-1 Brecel (68-14)

This is a good riposte from Wilson, as his break reaches 68 and puts the frame beyond Brecel. We may have another ton here, and what a standard this is from the get go.

Wilson 0-1 Brecel (37-14)

Wilson reaches 32 by cutting a red into the bottom right, which wobbles furiously in the jaws before dropping. 'Oooh!' they cry in the Barbican Centre. As a result Wilson's very high on the blue, but just about controls the white as it glides into the pack and the split is good enough to force a frame-winning chance.

Wilson 0-1 Brecel (0-14)

A bout of safety opens the second frame, before Wilson throws the tank at a red to bottom left and misses by a long way. That's left a red on to the yellow pocket for Brecel, and it's an inviting table if he can get in position around the black spot. He can, as it turns out, and he's off to the races again. On 14 though he misses a routine red to the bottom left, and it's on for Wilson. This could be an important early swing.

Wilson 0-1 Brecel

He's only gone and totalled it! A superb 130 from Brecel seals the first frame. Statement.

Wilson 0-0 Brecel (0-71)

Brecel reaches 59 by cutting in a red, glancing the pack and leaving all remaining reds on. The frame looks a formality, and a ton does too. Brecel moves to 71 with the pink, and he'll be in the lead shortly.

Wilson 0-0 Brecel (0-50)

It's a rapid half-century for Brecel as he drops the blue into the left middle and lands perfect on his next red. He won't have to gamble on going into the reds here to secure the frame, because there's plenty in the open for him; this is an impressive start.

Wilson 0-0 Brecel (0-22)

The first chance falls to Brecel, as Wilson misses a deadweight long red to the bottom left. Brecel then picks it off, rolled along the rail and into the bottom right, and he's on the black and quickly away.

Here we go...

Our MC Rob Walker has baized the aforementioned boys, and we're off. It's best of 11 for a place in tomorrow's final.

The Bullet

Standing in his way is the gifted Luca Brecel, who was the first player from mainland Europe to win a ranking event when he snagged the 2017 China Championship in Guangzhou. Although his head-to-head record with Wilson is in arrears, he did win their meeting in the last four of the German Masters in 2016. Can he pull off another semi-final victory today?

The Warrior

After pinching his quarter-final against Ronnie in a decider yesterday, Wilson automatically became favourite for the UK Championship. That’s pressure, but he seems to both invite it and revel in it; few players in the game have Kyren’s dead-eyed shark devotion to reaching the apex of the game. He’s won four ranking events in his career so far but fallen short in the finals of the Worlds and the Masters. What a chance he’s got here in York; it’s time to convert, and he knows it.

Good afternoon!

It’s semi-final day at the UK Championship in York, and what a window of opportunity this is for the four players remaining. Neither Kyren Wilson, Luca Brecel, Barry Hawkins or Zhao Xintong have ever won a Triple Crown event; between them, they have eight ranking event wins in their whole careers. Each player is now within touching distance of their greatest ever moment in snooker.
For the right to contest the final on Sunday, they’re paired off into two absorbing semi-finals today. Later on this evening we’ll have Hawkins-Xintong, but first up it’s Kyren and Luca.


Wilson - I've got from hunter to hunted

Kyren Wilson feels his win over Ronnie O’Sullivan has changed the dynamic of the UK Championship, with him now the man to beat
“I know the situation now,” Wilson told Eurosport.
I have gone from the hunter to being the hunted, maybe. I’ve got to take that and try to deal with that. And to enjoy it at the same time.
“I want these titles, I want to have my name in the accolades when I retire. So you have to be able to handle these pressure moments.
"It would mean everything to win the title. The only thing missing from my CV are the big titles. As long as I leave everything out there, try and compete to the highest level, that’s all I can ask for.
“If I win, I win. If I don’t, so be it. I have plenty of time on my side and I will come back.”

Saturday's action

Luca Brecel v Kyren Wilson
Barry Hawkins v Zhao Xintong
- -
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