Ding Junhui’s capture of the International Championship was final proof of how he has matured into a formidable all round player, now strong in every department.
In a gripping final, he compiled five centuries but in the end had to come from 9-8 down to edge Marco Fu 10-9.
It seemed this final consisted of either big breaks – Fu himself made two centuries – or lengthy, tense, tactical duels.
Fu won most of the latter but Ding’s resolve never wavered. There was no slouching in his seat, no shouldering arms. He competed superbly. His concentration was excellent. He continued to go for his shots. He played two excellent final frames.
Ding is someone that other players, not always forthcoming with praise, purr over. They admire the sheer skill he possesses and his ability to produce his best with the pressure on.
Fu likened his break building performances as like ‘Stephen Hendry in his prime,’ which is as high a compliment as can be paid.
So it’s three ranking titles in a row for Ding. The run has to end some time because all runs do but he has shown qualities of late which point to continued success in the future.
Domination in snooker is not necessarily about how many titles you win but which ones. In the past, dominant players have been world champion and world no.1. Ding is neither. Yet. But he’s up to third in the rankings, his highest ever position, and if he can take this mindset to the Crucible will take some stopping next spring.
Ding claimed the first of his nine ranking titles at the age of just 18. He won three while still a teenager, a feat only previously achieved by John Higgins.
But in recent months Ding has been transformed from the boy prince to the current king of snooker.
If he carries on like this he will be the player to beat not just this season but in the years to come. At 26, he has age and time on his side.
We may well look back at this golden spell in 2013 as the start of the Ding dynasty.