Liang Wenbo Wins Maiden Title

Liang Wenbo captured his maiden individual professional title yesterday after beating compatriot Lu Haotian in the final of Asian Tour Event Three.

Liang was able to emerge from the first two close frames unscathed before dominating the contest to complete a resounding 4-0 whitewash triumph.

It marks the 26 year-old’s first pro trophy since winning the World Cup for China alongside Ding Junhui a couple of years ago.

The success also completes a recent turnaround in Liang’s fortunes.

For the last couple of seasons Liang has struggled for consistency on the circuit which has led to a dramatic fall from the limelight.

Before then, the Chinese no.2 had been widely considered as the likely competitor to challenge Ding’s Far East dominance.

Liang burst onto the stage as a boyish 21 year-old at the 2008 World Championship, where he went on a memorable run to the quarter-finals in Sheffield.

His affable antics both on and off the baize led to fans immediately taking a liking to him and he was quickly labeled as one of the characters that the sport supposedly lacked.

The reasoning obviously wasn’t true but what was accurate was that Liang was a character and an increased presence would be welcomed.

Initially, this happened, and in 2009 Liang reached his first major ranking event final at the Shanghai Masters before being outclassed by Ronnie O’Sullivan.

From here, though, there began a slippery slope.

Liang did briefly – very briefly – break into the top 16 in the world rankings in 2010 but after dropping down within a month his descent became a rapid one.

However, in recent weeks things have begun to turn around somewhat.

After reaching the semi-finals of AT2, Liang qualified for the upcoming International Championship, recorded a couple of good victories in India before collecting his silverware in Zhengzhou.

Prior to the final, Liang’s route had been a difficult one as he needed three deciders including a thrilling victory over Anthony McGill in the semi-final.

One may sometimes be justified in questioning Liang’s application, and therefore dedication, but should his temperament improve so too will his form because there is no doubting the considerable talent he possesses.

Speaking of talent, what about his opponent in the final, Lu Haotian?

At 15 years-old, Lu is already making major strides on the professional scene and it is a scary prospect as to what more might be to come from this teenage prodigy.

Lu beat countrymen Xiao Guodong and Zhang Anda, as well as former world champion Graeme Dott, as he fearlessly forced his way into the final, where he eventually ran out of steam.

But there is surely more to come from this youngster who is leading the third wave of Chinese emerging onto the snooker scene.

With the latest event in the People’s Republic commencing in a couple of days in Chengdu, AT3 has capped off a wonderful five weeks for snooker in Asia, and particularly China.

Ding and Xiao contested the first ever all-Chinese ranking event final in Shanghai before the former overcame India’s Aditya Mehta to claim back-to-back rankers at the Indian Open in New Dehli.

In between, Ju Reti became the first amateur to win a professional title at AT2 while now Liang and Lu have joined in the fun.

Will there be more Chinese or Asian success next week? With confidence at an all-time high, the surge may be set to continue. 

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