China A and China B both began their 2019 World Cup campaigns strongly with resounding victories on home soil in Wuxi on Monday.
All four players that make up the two teams understand what it takes to win this invitational tournament.
Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo triumphed in 2011 and last time out in 2017, either side of a breakthrough triumph for then teenagers Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong in 2015.
If China is to prevail again in this World Cup, it will have to be with a new pairing, though, after the world rankings determined a change in the coupling.
On this occasion, Ding teams up with Yan to represent China A and they got off to a solid opening with a dominant 4-1 victory over Germany that included breaks of 104, 83, 73, and 51.
Their performance was to the delight of the home crowd with Ding’s legion of supporters coming out in force to support their hero, who hails from very near the city.
It leaves China A top of Group A, in front of Austria and Norway who earned respective 3-2 triumphs over Poland and Thailand.
China B’s 5-0 thrashing of Australia – competing without star Neil Robertson – sends Liang and Zhou to the peak of Group D ahead of Wales and Switzerland.
Wales, one of the fancied teams in the snooker betting with Mark Williams and Ryan Day in action, thumped India 4-1 and Switzerland edged Malta by the odd frame.
In Group C, Mark Allen’s Northern Ireland hit the front with a 4-1 defeat of Saudi Arabia while Iran and England are close behind with three points after day one wins.
Group D saw all three scorelines end 4-1 in favour of Scotland – featuring 2015 runners-up John Higgins and Stephen Maguire – Belgium, and Israel.
The Scots, who last won the World Cup in 1996, are the marginal favourites in the snooker betting odds for glory this year.
The round-robin phase sees all nations compete against each other once over the best of five frames – with two singles, a doubles encounter, and two reverse singles matches required.
Each frame won provides each country with a point in the group, with the top two countries after the league stages advancing to the quarter-finals.