Final Four in Zhangjiagang

The second Asian Tour event of the season has been taking place this week with four players battling out for the spoils today in Zhangjiagang.

Two professionals and a pair of amateurs make up the semi-finalists – three of them Chinese, hoping to collect some silverware on home soil.

The fourth of the quartet is England’s Michael Holt, who has displayed plenty of form in the last couple of weeks.

The 35 year-old reached the last four of a ranking event for the first time in his career a week ago in Shanghai and has followed it up with a similar run in this Players Tour Championship event.

Granted, the quality of the field has been nothing compared to that of the Shanghai Masters, with the majority an array of young Chinese amateurs, but even still Holt will be pleased with his performances.

The ‘Hitman’ is gunning for a third title in the PTC series following triumphs in 2010 and 2011 so he has already proven his pedigree for the shorter best of seven format.

Holt’s opponent in the penultimate round is Liang Wenbo, the only remaining professional in the draw.

Having been on the Main Tour for almost ten years now, Liang is still awaiting his maiden significant individual title – though he did capture the World Cup with compatriot Ding Junhui in 2011.

The 26 year-old was a threat in big tournaments for a short period between 2008 and 2009 but has suffered from dramatic inconsistency since then despite his evident ability.

Liang is a likable character who frequently endears himself to audiences with his erratic behaviour both on and off the baize so a resurgence in his form would be welcome.

Also, the fact that he last week witnessed the first all-Chinese ranking event final between Ding and Xiao Guodong will perhaps have spurred him on to work harder at returning to the higher echelons of the sport.

In the other semi-final, two amateurs go head-to-head in Ju Reti and Lu Chenwei.

Truth be told, not much is known yet about either of these two potentials but they can obviously play, as can most of the wannabe Chinese stars making a stab at joining the big-time.

If the three Asian Tour events are good for one thing alone it is that it gives the massive number of Chinese youngsters an opportunity to compete competitively for significant gain against each other and the handful of pros who decide to compete.

But the tournaments shouldn’t be sniffed at in any way shape or form because the champion earns a ticket to the lucrative PTC Grand Finals in March while a separate Asian Tour Order of Merit will determine how four players, not already qualified, will join the professional circuit next season.

All to play for then today with a trophy and a nice 10K winner’s cheque up for grabs as well.

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