All pictures by Sportsbeat / Roberto Payne
Anthony McGill won his second ranking title of the season by beating Xiao Guodong in the final of the Coral Shoot Out.
Glasgow’s 26-year-old McGill once again underlined his talent as he followed up his maiden victory at July’s Indian Open by capturing another piece of major silverware. The Scot is the only player other than Mark Selby to win more than one ranking title this season.
After taking a few years to establish himself having turned pro in 2010, McGill has come of age over the past eight months and made the transition from promising up-and-comer to multiple tournament winner.
McGill won seven matches at the Watford Colosseum during an event which was opened up to all 128 tour players and given ranking status for the first time. His £32,000 pay day makes him likely to be among the top 16 when the seeding cut off for the World Championship falls after the China Open, which would mean an automatic place at the Crucible in April.
He is officially ranked 20th in the world which means that in the seven-year history of the Shoot Out it has never been won a player inside the top 16.
China’s Xiao is the only player to have reached the final of the Shoot Out twice but was again denied the trophy, just as he was by Michael White two years ago.
An early foul from McGill gave world number 58 Xiao the first chance of the final, but he could only make 15. A safety exchange ended when Xiao left a red over a top corner pocket, and McGill stayed cool to make an excellent break of 67 which gave him the title.
“I’ve never won more than one match in this event before so I can’t work out how I have won it,” said McGill. “I had a bit of luck and played better the longer the event went on. By the end I felt really confident.
“You have to enjoy this type of event and have fun. If something goes wrong it’s not the end of the world. But it is a ranking event so in the back of my mind I knew it was a big deal.
“In the final I played a good positional shot on the last red to get on the black, and then the balls were all there so it was a matter of not collapsing. I was just hoping going into this season that I would win one tournament so two is brilliant.
“I have been practising really hard since Christmas. After the Scottish Open in December I was fed up with the game. I played nine tournaments in 11 weeks, which is fantastic, but when errors creep into your game there is no time to practise.
“I felt I needed two or three weeks on the practice table. Over Christmas I got my head down and worked hard because I knew February and March would be busy. Now it has paid off. Hopefully I’ll be in the top 16 for the Crucible now.
“The table played beautifully all week and the crowds supported the tournament really well.”
Earlier in the semi-finals, Xiao beat amateur Andy Hicks, who had reached the last four of a ranking event for the sixth time in his career and first time since 1996. McGill edged out Shaun Murphy on the colours after Murphy crucially missed the final green to a centre pocket when trailing by five points.