Yan Bingtao
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Yan Bingtao Triumphs in Riga Masters

Yan Bingtao has become only the third Chinese player to win a ranking event after emerging victorious in the Riga Masters on Sunday in Latvia.

The 19 year-old, who has for several years been heralded as the next big thing from the Asian nation, overcame Mark Joyce 5-2 in the final in Riga.

Yan took advantage of numerous factors that made this year’s edition of the Riga Masters a more winnable proposition for the lower ranked competitors.

The likes of world champion Judd Trump and world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan didn’t enter while defending champion Neil Robertson failed to arrive at the venue after flight cancellations resulted in a number of players being stranded at Luton Airport on Thursday evening.

There was a fiasco element to the start of the tournament but there were still plenty of cueists who felt like they could etch their names on the silverware.

One of the obvious immediate protagonists was Yan, who burst onto the scene in 2014 with victory in the World Amateur Championship before an unlikely success alongside fellow teenager Zhou Yuelong in the World Cup the following year.

Not long later, Yan embarked on a run to the final of the 2017 Northern Ireland Open and came within a whisker of becoming the youngest ever ranking event champion.

Eclipsing one of O’Sullivan’s earliest records would have immediately shot Yan into stardom status but he was narrowly denied by a resurgent Mark Williams, who later proceeded to capture a third world title in Sheffield.

This title decider was less dramatic as Yan asserted his control on proceedings early on after taking the first frame by a single point on the black.

Joyce, featuring in a maiden ranking event final after a superb 5-4 defeat of Kurt Maflin in the last four, shot a 103 century break in the third frame but couldn’t establish any sort of control on the contest.

Yan wasn’t troubled and this success could act as launchpad for a career that lights up the sport.

The youngster joins Chinese stalwarts Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo as the only other winners of ranking events and it’s already a wonder as to how many he could amass in the next couple of decades.

The £50,000 cheque will come in handy in terms of prize money and ranking points but the confidence built will count tenfold in terms of the impact this player could make in the future.

This Riga Masters began with controversy but the conclusion will have left fans wondering whether a new star of the sport has been born.


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