News

International Championship: Quarter-Final Preview

Eight players remain in the hunt for the £150,000 top prize that’s on offer for the International Championship this week in China.

Judd Trump International Championship (WS)

Trump has reached seven ranking event finals in 18 months, winning four titles. Photo credit: World Snooker

The quarter-finals take place on Thursday as the tournament reaches the business end of proceedings.

Daqing as a venue has been much-bemoaned over the last few days, mostly because of the lack of any significant atmosphere inside the arena with rows upon rows of empty seats providing a harsh backdrop for the action on the baize.

Yet, the International Championship remains one of the most lucrative on the calendar and, as such, the remaining jostles for the title will be highly competitive with so much at stake.

Three previous champions and a former runner-up are still involved, including world champion Mark Selby, who bids for a first ranking title since his third Crucible success way back at the start of May.

The world number one fought hard to overcome a tough obstacle in Mark Williams in the third round and his reward is a meeting with surprise package Robbie Williams – a match that Selby will be fully expected to win as he seeks to reach the last four of a ranking tournament for the first time this season.

Williams accepted a brace of centuries from his opponent Neil Robertson in the last 16 but it was the only frames he conceded as he routed the Australian by a 6-2 scoreline.

The result puts Robertson’s place in next week’s Champion of Champions in jeopardy and, even worse, ensures he remains outside the provisional top 16 in the current Race to the Masters standings.

England’s Williams will make only his second quarter-final appearance of his career and will need another eye-catching performance to oust a Selby who is beginning to show glimpses of a return to form.

Indeed, the task looks nigh-on impossible with Selby boasting a 100% winning record against the 30 year-old from their five prior encounters.

Also in the top half of the draw, Ali Carter and Martin Gould clash in another intriguing all-English affair.

Carter maintained his strong showing by following up his victory over Stephen Maguire in the second round with a 6-2 drubbing of Shaun Murphy on Wednesday.

Gould, meanwhile, held off a spirited fight back from Robert Milkins to prevail 6-4, igniting what has been a distinctly quiet opening to the campaign for the “Pinner Potter”.

Carter and Gould have met each other only once outside of the short format Championship League, a match which occurred earlier this year when the former got the better of their German Masters semi-final tie when Gould was acting as the reigning champion in Berlin.

Both players have an attractive style when in form, so hopefully that can live up to the expectation and become a good battle.

Arguably the tie of the round, though, sees 2012 winner Judd Trump come up against Mark Allen – a beaten finalist from three years ago.

While Selby has understandably received the most accolades for his performances over the last year, particularly in the major events, Trump deserves plenty of credit as well for sustaining a similar run of form over the same period of time.

The 28 year-old has been a regular fixture at the weekend’s play of ranking events since he won the European Masters just over twelve months ago and, a catastrophic World Championship collapse aside, has been undoubtedly one of the most consistent players throughout that spell.

In Allen, Trump comes up against a player who has struggled for any kind of consistency until recent times when there have been glimmers of a long overdue revival.

The pair has a very even head-to-head record, with Allen just about boasting the advantage from their other contests.

Trump, though, did manage to triumph in their last clash at the European Masters in October en route to defending his crown in Lommel.

The last quarter-final match has the 2015 winner up against the sole remaining home competitor in 17 year-old sensation Yan Bingtao.

Yan has watched on this season already as many of his Chinese countrymen have enjoyed the limelight by getting far in ranking events, and now it’s the turn of potentially the player who has the most pedigree of them all.

The 2015 World Cup winner has dispatched of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ricky Walden, and Jack Lisowski so he hasn’t reached this stage by receiving a fortunate draw.

Against Higgins, who has lost a paltry five frames so far across his opening four encounters, Yan will again have to produce the goods in order to proceed to what would be a debut semi-final.

Higgins and Yan have never crossed paths before so there’s not much to go on there, but the Scot will obviously be favourite despite the impressive credentials of the teenage pretender.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport.

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

Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.