This was an interesting match, to say the least. Mostly because it probably didn’t go in a way that people would have thought a match like this should have played out. Nevertheless, Snooker and its players continue to surprise all with a quarter-final match which perhaps saw an unexpected result for most.
The opening frame of O’Sullivan vs Wilson was scrappy, but ultimately favoured in Wilson’s way. An impressive opening red from Wilson showed a tease of the performance that could be expected from The Warrior but unfortunately a few misses from both players led to a safety exchange where O’Sullivan pushed a red into open play, allowing Wilson to take frame 1.
Wilson took advantage of O’Sullivan’s loose safety play and cleared frame 2 with 131. Although, a near miss from Wilson in frame 3 gave O’Sullivan the opportunity to get his first frame on the board. This was a break O’Sullivan should have cleared up but missed a relatively easy pink. Luckily for him, it didn’t affect the outcome of the frame.
Frames 4-6 were all Wilson. No centuries, but Wilson did well enough with 2 breaks over 50 in these frames. O’Sullivan had chances in all frames to win himself but his loose safety and his unexpected long potting performance hadn’t seemed to be out of his system just yet. That makes it 5-1 to Wilson; requiring one more frame and the momentum is with him.
Something must have clicked. O’Sullivan took frame 7 with a break of 107. But for most, the turning point was in frame 8 where Wilson made a break of 36, then went 49 points up. O’Sullivan took advantage of a free ball however, later he fluked one of the reds into the bottom left corner which helped him convert the frame.
This was seen as O’Sullivan’s saving grace because if that red didn’t go in then Wilson would have seen the match off. Some also said that the fluke was fair since Wilson fluked a snooker escape behind the pink a few shots before O’Sullivan where he didn’t hit the intended ball – this was further indicated by Wilson holding his hand up in apology.
Then O’Sullivan must have found second gear. Despite Wilson being in first, he cleared the next frame with 124. This led to frame 10 consisting of a terrific opening red by O’Sullivan. He broke down on a break of 69 and Wilson almost clawed his way back into the frame. However, nerves must have started to get the better of Wilson at this point as he was not able to convert the frame to secure victory. The match was now level.
In the decider, there were a couple of missed opportunities by both players but a wonderful split into the pack by O’Sullivan led to a break of 60 by The Rocket. Similarly to last frame, O’Sullivan should have continued to close out the match but surprisingly potted the black and the cue ball followed the colour into the pocket. This gave Wilson one last opportunity to win the frame and match but due to a missed black, the match was then closed out by O’Sullivan.
What I liked about this match was the mirroring effect that was playing out during the course of the game. Initially, it was all Wilson; capitalising off of O’Sullivan’s weaker long potting and safety shots. Later on in the match, it was O’Sullivan doing just that to Wilson.
Both players had plenty of opportunities in almost every frame to secure victory and both will look back on this match as games they should have performed better in. O’Sullivan should have done better in frame 4 to get snookers and in frame 5 when it went to the final black. Conversely, Wilson should have done better killing off the match, even after O’Sullivan’s fluke in frame 8. All in all, what a spectacle for the viewers in the Shanghai Masters audience.