While most eyes were fixed elsewhere, the second Asian Players Tour Championship got under way on Sunday and the mixed field has already been whittled down to the last 32 in Yixing, China.
The snooker community had barely any time to catch their breath following the classic Shanghai Masters final between John Higgins and Judd Trump before the rollercoaster of an epic 11-month campaign gathered pace again.
Neither of the two finalists from Sunday made the trip west for the satellite event, played under similar best-of-7 conditions as its sibling PTC series back in Europe.
The three new events, all held in the People’s Republic, offer Asian, and particularly Chinese, amateurs the opportunity to hone their talents against quality opposition under the intensity of pro snooker pressure.
It was therefore not a surprise to see the draw laced with new names and fresh faces hoping to grab their opportunity of one of the places available at either the PTC Grand Finals or the Main Tour itself next season.
The top four in an Order of Merit table subsequent to the conclusion of the third tournament who are not already guaranteed their spot on the circuit next year will be invited to join the professional ranks.
With a significant portion of the top pros opting to skip these events, for reasons of extensive travel, hotel expenses or whatever, the chance is there for the infiltration of young Chinese talent to continue.
That said, most of the marquee players that have either decided to stay on after Shanghai or have flown over especially have managed to progress unscathed to the third round.
Champion of the inaugural APTC event back in June, Stuart Bingham made light work of Wang Yuchen with a 4-0 victory while former world no.1 Mark Williams recorded a similar whitewash scoreline over Ju Reti.
Matthew Stevens, Ricky Walden, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Lee each advanced, as did Marcus Campbell, Marco Fu, Robert Milkins, Joe Perry and Jamie Jones.
The stand-out casualties occurred in the first round when Ryan Day and Mark King went down to Hu Hao and Niu Zhuang respectively – although Michael Holt suffered a similar fate to former pro Jin Long today as well, going down 4-2.
This series will go relatively unnoticed back this side of the world but its existence, along with the five full ranking events being staged in China this season, confirms the stranglehold the country is beginning to have over the future of the sport.
Get used to the early starts.
The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.
Categories: Snooker News