The measure of greatness in sport is quite simple: what have you won?

Ding Junhui, at 23, has won two UK Championship titles and now the game’s biggest invitation title, the Ladbrokes Mobile Masters.

It could all have been so different. His 6-2 first session lead over Marco Fu was reduced to 6-4 and looked certain to go 6-5 only for him to lay a brilliant snooker on the pink in the 11th frame.

Fu failed to make contact and Ding potted pink and black for 7-4 before swift breaks of 94, 83 and 85 completed his 10-4 victory.

After all the tears of his 2007 defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan, it was good to see Ding all smiles as he celebrated his victory.

Questions have been raised in the past as to his temperament but he seems to be maturing all the time, as a player and a person.

He’s been on the circuit seven years now and it’s easy to forget that he’s still a young man, and one who carries the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.

His English is improving but he remains shy, not always a bad way to be with the media.

“I lost my cue action for two frames but the snooker to make it 7-4 changed the match,” Ding said.

So can he now win the World Championship? He certainly has the talent. What remains to be seen is whether he can last the course for the full 17 days at the greatest snooker test there is.

“I need more experience for longer games and how to keep the same way of playing,” said Ding, whose Ladbrokes odds for Crucible success are now 8/1.

Ding is an important star in the game’s firmament. He led the Chinese revolution and if he won the world title it would further catapult him into the spotlight.

This may be an uncomfortable place for him to be but he will have to get used to it because on this week’s evidence, Ding has many years of high profile victories ahead of him.


David Caulfield said...

best player all week by a country mile. extremely happy for him, I have a lot of respect for the guy.

Anonymous said...

I would still have 5 or 6 players ahead of Ding in the World Championship pool of likely winners

More than anything because his Sheffield record is quite mediocre so far and there are better clinchers of close matches than he

Perfect technique he has but many will still question his endurance and mental ability in the long battles of the crucible cauldron.

Dings odds of 8/1 are way too short in my view but then we all say that about Ronnie being a so called ''favourite''.

The value lies elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Well done Ding. I for one really enjoyed the match.

Anonymous said...

after seeing his "effort" versus liang a few months ago i thought his attitude was getting worse.

seemed he turned a corner again just before this comp.

Anonymous said...

Well done to Ding. What you would expect from a twice UK winner and former Masters finalist.

Just another point. Did anyone see Marcu Fu change sponsors mid-match?

Johan said...

Really enjoyed the match and Ding proved he's top class - textbook technique and clinical breakbuilding - a big contender for the Worlds.
On a sidenote: first prize for JV this week for his dramatic commentary - best I ever heard for a long time !

Matt said...

Well done Ding, He played brillant he was good to see the first all-Asian Major Final. Marco Fu can be proud for himself he beat Mark Allen 6-4 one of the hot prospects and whitewashed Ebdon. Ding played well against Williams, Dott Cope of course he was in the frame of the mind. It was good to see that he has recovered when he was upset at the 2007 Masters Final. China will defintely has more players in the next few years I hope they do.

Anonymous said...

There were at least 3 frames that Fu though away. It should have been a lot closer.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see the point in starting the evening session at 8.15pm.

OK, this time it finished at a reasonable time, but don't the authorities learn from previous examples where the final has went on into the wee small hours.

They could have had a morning and afternoon final that would have suited Chinese time.

jamie brannon said...

Masters reflections:

1. For me, Ding Junhui was without doubt, the player of the tournament, his clinicality in the balls was as good as anything you could have seen. Not just the centuries, but how many times he managed to kill a frame in one visit was exemplary.

2. When he came on the scene, I thought that he was a potential all-time great and he is closing in on this status. Already, his tally of 'big 3' events is greater than that of players like Jimmy White, John Parrott, Peter Ebdon and Neil Robertson. Ding is the best player I have seen play, with the exception of Hendry, O'Sullivan and Higgins, even better than Mark Williams for me, whose achievements I think he will surpass.

3. Overall, we were being told that the upsets represented the standard going up, when the century count was lower than the normal and there was only one really top draw match- the semi-final between Fu and Allen. Strangely, no final frame deciders either and a few too many top stars exiting early led to a intriguing, but ultimately not a classic event. Though, no doubt, there will plenty retorting with because O'Sullivan went out early that joker Brannon doesn't appreciate any other snooker.

4. However, this landmark final for the game's global pretensions also gave us a glimpse of the future, which will feature even more Asian success that in turn will probably push the standard even higher as any sport with a wider spread of nationalities is going to be stronger, you would think.

5. The career of Marco Fu baffles me, to have only won two major events (counting Premier League) is a massive failing that disappoints me, as I really like the amiable Hong Kong cueman.
In the balls he can be a metronome, allied to a sound tactical game and a temperament that most players would be envious of. Centuries don't tell the whole tale, but they are a good indicator of standard. It is not coincidental that the four greatest players of the Crucible era are also the four most prolific century makers of all-time. However, Marco Fu looks out of place in the tenth place on this list when you compare his titles to those above him and to many below, too. Would be interested for people's view on why he has not achieved more, when the ingredients seem ripe for more frequent success.

Anonymous said...

Brannon) Much to discuss.

The main one being that you put Ding in your top four of alltime already.

Ding is very good and may become a genuine great but at this point he would be top 10 of alltime at best and his current B game isn't quite on the same level as afew other top players so still room for improvement there.

The only thing that Marco Fu lacks is a decent power game for deep screws and disturbing the pack more effectively.
Apart from that Marco has the allround ingredients to win more titles than he does.

Anonymous said...

Brannon - Jimmy has played in 6 World finals and won 10 ranking events, JP has won a world title and contested another final as well as winning 9 ranking events, Ebbo has won a world title and contested two other finals, while Robbo has also recently become only the 2nd genuine overseas player to win at the Crucible, and is currently challenging for World number 1.
As for mark Williams, at one point he held ALL FOUR BBC titles and was world number 1.

Achievement in the game's blue riband event will always be the main indicator of a players true talent and ability, so remind me - how many times has Ding reached the last 8 at Sheffield?

Anonymous said...

You're too easily pleased Jamie.

You seem to have based your proxy alltime list basically on players who score lots of centuries and who have been at their peak in the last 15 years since you started watching snooker.

Other criteria should include:

Amount of World Titles or Finals
Longevity in the sport
Allround game in many departments
Tally of Professional Titles
Getting the most of their ability
Becoming World No 1 a bonus too.

Ding was very impressive in winning the Masters but too often people get carried away by the latest form and lose a sense of perspective.

Especially you Jamie.

Anonymous said...

As Brannon is so arrogant on his version of alltime greats.

Here is a non biased and factual account of alltime BBC major or network titles.


Ding is on 3 BBC network titles and level with several others.

And Steve Davis AND Alex Higgins AND Jimmy White AND Cliff Thorburn all existed BEFORE Brannon starting watching his one visit snooker paradise.

Anonymous said...

I dare to put Selby,Ebdon and Robertson in my top 5000 players of alltime.

Just to annoy Blinkered Brannon in case he thinks those placings are way too high for them.

jamie brannon said...

Firstly, never said he was the fourth greatest of all-time, be nice if people actually read the article.

Just said that he was the best in terms of ability, totally different issue.

If you read it, I said Ding is not even an all-time great, but on his way there.

How can I judge a players talent that I never saw? I am not denigrating Cliff Thorburn and others before my time, but if I didn't see them play it is unfair for me to judge them in this regard. Although in terms of the greatest debate you can look at what they won.

I enjoy the tactical side of the game and don't see why one visit snooker is being frowned upon, it is one of the reasons why the game is even better entertainment than it has ever been and reflects the increased standard, which is too be celebrated rather than frowned upon.

Once again, if you read my comments I say the centuries don't tell the whole tale, but the list does correlate a lot with a list on who is the greatest.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching Marco Fu for a few years now. Fu's main problem is that he has always been regularly switching his cueing techniques all too frequently which has contributed to an inconsistent rhythm.

Secondly, his Jekyll and Hyde symptoms often kick in for no apparent reason - losing to nobodies in the earlier rounds while playing like a perennial top 8 player against a class opponent, especially the likes of Sullivan and Higgins.

Thirdly, this bloke is apparently not on good terms with Lady Luck - often potting the white ball while trying to escape or set up a snooker, and at crucial moments at that. Also, it has to be said, when the pressure is on in a game decided by only the remaining colour balls, he SOMEHOW conjures up a way to lose. You just have the feeling he wont prevail e.g. final frame against Murphy 2008 UK Championship.

To have reached only 2 major finals is an indication of a waste of talents - remember when he made his debut, he was talked about as a future world champion. Maybe he would win the Crucible 2011 for all that we know!

Anonymous said...

Some horrendous backtracking there from Mr Brannon. Ding is well on his way to being an all time great is he? Look at his record at The Crucible!! If Mark Williams won a third world title would he still not be on your all time list although he would be equal with your beloved Ronnie and John Higgins? Then again, he doesn't make that many centuries so he obviously can't be an all time great.
And, by the way, there is no such word as clinicality.

jamie brannon said...

If he qualifies then he is a genuine outsider for the title.

The point you make about his inconsistent technique is probably the best anwser to his lack of success.

I think he has been in more than two major finals, though. I can recall four.

Anonymous said...


by major finals, i mean the UK championship, Masters and the world title.

jamie brannon said...

True, sometimes I think they should be the only events termed majors, but you get other events called major, too.

It is not all about the World Championship, although his record will need to improve there considerably, but a victory this year would defintely propel him close.

Mark Williams is an all-time great, in my top ten, but just not in the same bracket as Higgins and O'Sullivan, which is actually down to the difference in titles between the trio.