Michael White is announcing himself as a big-time player after reaching the semi-finals of the first Asian Players Tour Championship event of the season in China.
The 20 year-old has been widely tipped as a star of the future and many believe that the beginning of a potentially illustrious career will get well and truly under way this year.
Following a treacherous first season on the Main Tour when he was only 16, Welshman White – no relation to people’s champion Jimmy – has increasingly shown signs of his immense ability over the course of the last two seasons.
And only a couple of weeks into the 2012/13 campaign, White has already qualified for the Wuxi Classic next week, which will be his maiden appearance at the venue stage of a ranking tournament, and is enjoying a magnificent run this week in Zhangjiagang.
After a pair of close victories over two of the many Chinese amateurs in the field, White made light work of top seed Mark Williams 4-1 and followed it up with a tight 4-3 triumph over Zhang Anda to reach the last four.
Tomorrow, he will face defending Australian Open champion Stuart Bingham for a place in the final after ‘Ballrun’ came through a tense decider of his own against local favourite Ding Junhui.
On the other side of the draw, Stephen Lee has appeared to have continued where he left off last season and is once again competing for the bigger prizes.
The Englishman’s route to the semi-final has included four triumphs over Chinese players – most notably a 4-2 defeat of Tian Pengfei in the quarter-finals – and he’ll have to dislodge another if he wants to get one step closer to glory with Chen Zhe his penultimate obstacle.
Chen, who enjoyed contrasting victories over Tom Ford and Ben Woollaston, is the sole remaining Chinese representative in the event but the national contingent performed relatively well overall in the first event of three in the new Asian PTC series.
The tournaments work similarly to what we are now used to on the PTC series in the UK and Europe with the top four in the final Asian Order of Merit standings earning qualification for the Grand Finals next March – twice, of course, staged in Ireland.
As well as that, each champion from the respective events will also be guaranteed their slot at the Grand Finals, which will boast 32 players this season instead of the previous 24.
In all, not many of the professionals travelled across to the other side of the world to compete in the event but, in truth, that was to be expected.
At any rate, their addition to the calendar is arguably not for the already well-established players at all, but to further the development of snooker in Asia and especially China.
Amateurs are often given wildcards into the events staged in China but this is frequently through a random selection whereas at least now the strong amateur presence in the enormous country has the opportunity to enter these three tournaments upon their will, and compete with some of the best the sport has to offer.