Pankaj Advani's decision to withdraw from the International Championship and play in the World Professional Billiards Championship paid dividends when he won the three ball world title in Leeds at the weekend.

It gave the wildcard, Zhou Yuelong, a walkover to play Ding Junhui later today.

Zhou is just 14. He is of course very much an outsider but is looking to join another 14 year-old, Lu Haotian, in the last 16.

Yesterday Zhao Xintong, 15, gave Matthew Stevens a real scare, taking on everything and getting quite a lot before Stevens finally beat him 6-5.

It stands to reason that China will produce another world class player in the mould of Ding - surely more than one - but it could be that it won't be any of the players currently on tour but one of these talented teenagers.

There are many junior tournaments in China and they are also getting their chance now against top players in these raking tournaments. Many may feel the wildcard round is unfair but this isn't the fault of the wildcards and they can't be blamed for making the most of their opportunities.

I remember Ding himself playing as a 14 year-old in the 2002 China Open in Shanghai, where he took two frames off Mark Selby.

Many talented teenagers have disappeared into the snooker ether over the years but there seems to be more a structure in China to keep them on track.

It's clear many of them have watched Judd Trump, who also plays later today, and want to emulate his all out attacking style.

You have to be really, really good to do this successfully but it's inconceivable that in a country the size of China with so many snooker clubs and so much TV exposure that someone won't emerge and become a major star.

On a general point about the tournament, the increase to best of 11s seems to have reminded everyone just what an important event this is.

It's been well supported and has already produced some good matches, with a couple of shocks for good measure.

Sport is at its best when there's something at stake. There is in Chengdu and that's why it promises to be such an interesting week.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking Cao Yupeng has potential. Admittedly Higgins was poor yesterday, but Cao was beating him in all the scrappy frames, something that half the top16 can't do. Plus this is the third venue he's reached in six months and third seed last16 he reached. He seems to like the big occasion and do well under pressure.

PS 'raking tournaments'?

Anonymous said...

Has it actually been well supported - or was the last minute move to a smaller venue actually due to the fact they had sold gish all tickets (the venue looks about the size of the audience seats from the Mrs Merton show)

Anonymous said...

Is Burnett ever going to take more than 3 frames off Maguire?

Anonymous said...

If the players get any younger, World Snooker will need to put 2 chairs out - one for the player & another for his mother, along with fizzy drinks instead of bottled water


p.s. the venue looks quite big on the wide view camera (as on Eurosport player between sessions)

Anonymous said...

Mark Allen to play Cao Yupeng in the next round - can't deny the special appeal of a grudge match.

Anonymous said...

11.59...have to agree.
For all we hear about the popularity of the game in China, it's great that there's sponsorship and prize money to a decent level but why SO many empty seats ?

Anonymous said...

ive been posting on this blog for nearly 2 years that mike calls a double a cross double....

recently others have jumped on the bandwagon and stated it too.

mike, learn the difference between a double and a cross double please. youre a joke of a commentator!

dave and alan mc were brilliant together

Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious? China, while having the second largest economy in the world, has an extremely high poverty rate, so most people can't afford the tickets. The TV audience is where it is at with 20–30 million households regularly watching the snooker (multiply that by 3 for the audience number, possibly chuck in granny and you get the picture). It doesn't matter if one man and his supper turns up to watch, it is the TV share that generates the income.

Anonymous said...

Dave, when you and the rest of the ES commentators are commentating on the snooker are you in an office watching it on HD transmission?

If so, perhaps thats why the commentators dont know the finish of the shot before we can see whats happening, as HD tends to be a few seconds behind.

Dave H said...

There's a slight sync problem between pictures and sound

Anonymous said...

There's a slight sync problem between pictures and sound

Same thing happens to me when I'm pissed too.

kildare cueman said...

When ROS pulled out, the match between White and Haotion should have become a first round match instead of a wildcard round. After all, White qualified for the round fairly.

It seems absurd to have to play wildcard rounds amid suspensions, withdrawals etc. You end up with players in the same seeding bracket having to play two matches more than others for the same points and money.

Graeme said...

If you're commentating on the same pictures as we are watching Dave, then you must also find it frustrating that the cameras are switching constantly to get the best view of the object ball's journey to the pocket. In the meantime, if there was a skilful canon or clever positional shot, it is completely missed.
Even more frustrating when a player such as Judd or Ronnie are at the table. They play and think so much faster than anyone else that the producer has no chance of keeping up. The result is simply a dizzying mess.
Will say it again...red button option for the single, full view shot of the whole table.

Anonymous said...

Interesting QF lineup: Murphy, Trump, Allen, Walden and Ebdon are all previous tournament winners in China, with Chinese interests represented by Lu and Fu, who presumably are seasoned campaigners in that part of the orld. There is only Robertson who doesn't really have have any form in China, although arguably from his perspective he has achieved more overseas than most other players. Tough to pick a winner, but whoever wins the Trump/Allen match will be the man to beat.

I will say this: I'm not a fan of how Ebdon plays, but is there anyone in the game with a better attitude? He's in his 40s now and probably should be prepping his commentating career, but he has grabbed the nettle with both hands, and despite being vociferously opposed to the Hearn takeover he's accepted the reality and made the most of his opportunities: he benefitted from the rolling ranks at the Masters last year, and put himself back in the winners block this year, and is doing real damage here; it's great to see, if not pretty to watch.

Anonymous said...

Agree that McManus and also Foulds are better than Mike "my apologies" Hallett as commentators.
Seems he might call one cross double too many for the angry crowd who could easily build up at the stage door in any destination in China in the near future.

Graeme said...

Very noticeable that the greater his opponent's talent and the faster they play, the more Ebdon procrastinates and the slower he plays. Absolutely no skill in that whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Mike Hallett seems to be developing the same resentful 'that's an auful shot, he should have been nowhere near the cushion' style as Willie Thorne. Next he'll be talking about a flat back pack.
Personally I dont think MH has ever got over throwing away that huge lead in he B and H Masters when Hendry came back to beat him in the final.
Clive Everton all the way !

Anonymous said...

If a second opinion is required as to Ebdon's influence on the game, ask a member of the audience watching his match....oh wait......

Anonymous said...

Can there really be NOBODY watching Ebdon's match in the arena ?
Camera operators and World Snooker staff (oh and the janitor) aside ?!