Five years ago this April, Ding Junhui beat Stephen Hendry 9-5 to win the China Open in Beijing.
If Dennis Taylor v Steve Davis in 1985 was the high watermark of the UK snooker boom, so this match will be remembered as significant in the story of the sport in China.
Had Ding not won, who knows whether snooker would have enjoyed the success it has in the world’s most populated country?
Barry Hearn, now the WPBSA chairman, led forays to China in the early 1980s and the first ranking event was staged there in 1990 but it was nine years until the second.
After the 2002 China Open, none more were held there until 2005. That tournament was a one-year deal but Ding’s success has seen two ranking events, fully funded by the Chinese, added to the calendar.
This weekend, Ding plays Hendry again in a best-of-25 frames ‘East v West’ exhibition match to be screened live on Chinese television and online around the world.
Hendry has said in the lead up that he expects Ding to become world champion. I agree with him, although, of course, this doesn’t mean anything. There are plenty of talented players who have never won the Big One, despite predictions to the contrary.
Ding has already won two UK Championship titles but does he have the temperament to last 17 days at the Crucible?
To win the World Championship, a player needs vast reserves of mental stamina to cope with the unique pressures Sheffield produces.
For Ding, this is multiplied by the fact that there are many, many millions following his every shot back home.
But it’s noticeable that his fortunes have improved this season just as Liang Wenbo has broken through as a likely top 16 player.
Liang’s progress has maybe spurred Ding on and perhaps removed some of the pressures a lone flag bearer would feel.
He seems single minded in the same way Hendry was and his shyness masks an inner steel.
It seems possible that he can in future emulate some of Hendry’s achievements, although it’s unlikely he will overtake them.
Then again, it’s unlikely anyone else will either.