Five Players To Watch in the 2018/19 Season

Yan Bingtao and Oliver Lines Leave Fans Shell-Shocked

Fan favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui both exited the International Championship in the last 64 on Monday in Daqing.

Yan Bingtao International Championship (WS)
Yan kept Ronnie quiet with five breaks above 50. Photo credit: World Snooker

The pair each fell to emerging young talents in the game, albeit under vastly different circumstances.

While O’Sullivan didn’t have much to offer in response to a scintillating performance from 17 year-old Yan Bingtao, Chinese legend Ding succumbed to a tame 6-4 defeat against Leeds’ Oliver Lines.

Yan, though, was the main talking point on the second day of action in what is regarded by many, despite the fact that crowd attendances have been mediocre at best, as the biggest ranking event in China.

The former World Cup winner pummelled O’Sullivan, recently a winner after his success in the English Open, and demonstrated the kind of skills that so many commentators have spoken so highly of in the last couple of years.

What makes Yan stand out in comparison to most of the other competitors of his age is his overall standard and a temperament way beyond his short years in the game.

It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the 2014 world amateur champion challenge for the £150,000 winner’s cheque come the weekend’s proceedings, which would continue what has already been a fine first half of the campaign for the Chinese contingent.

The country’s number two Liang Wenbo held off a spirited effort from Lee Walker to prevail in a decider in front of his home supporters while the much-improved Li Hang, a semi-finalist in the China Championship, hammered David Gilbert 6-1.

Xiao Guodong also advanced to join Zhang Yong in the last 32, the latter having booked his place in the second round following Sunday’s opening exchanges.

Meanwhile, several of the other top seeds survived tough tests as the longer best of eleven format continued to throw up topsy-turvy battles.

World champion Mark Selby was still not at his best but strung together the last three frames to see off Cao Yupeng 6-4 while Mark Williams held off another Chinese cueist in Yu Delu by the same scoreline.

Shaun Murphy was pushed even further by a member of the same nation, fighting back from 3-1 down at the interval to pip Mei Xiwen 6-5.

With Mark Allen getting in on the action too with a 6-4 defeat of Zhao Xintong, it’s clear that the prospect of more frequent European-Chinese clashes is becoming a considerably faster reality.

Although these fixtures occurred in the early stages, it’s likely that we’ll be watching many more transcontinental matches in the years to come, particularly at the business end of competitions.

2015 champion John Higgins was one of the few players to have a comfortable time of it as he thrashed Niu Chuang 6-1.

Elsewhere, Jimmy Robertson compiled a tournament-high 141 in seeing off Robin Hull in a thriller 6-5, while Jack Lisowski recorded another morale-boosting triumph this season after ousting Barry Hawkins.

There have been some signs this term that Lisowski is beginning to find a little bit more consistency, which would definitely make him a top 32 player but could probably see him even challenge for a higher place among the elite – such is his talent and scoring prowess.

Finally, Indian Open runner-up Anthony McGill suffered a second defeat of the season to Mark Joyce in a Chinese tournament while Mark King thumped Rory McLeod 6-1.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)

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