Ronnie O’Sullivan believes Chinese players will soon dominate snooker in a similar fashion to what transpires in table tennis.
The Rocket, who takes on China’s Fan Zhengyi in the European Masters final on Sunday, thinks the transition is already in full flow.
O’Sullivan was speaking after his 6-2 semi-final victory over close friend Liang Wenbo at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Saturday.
Liang and Ding Junhui were among the trailblazers for Chinese snooker 15 years ago, but there is now a huge presence from the vast nation on the circuit.
While that pair represented the only title winners for a long time on the professional scene, many competitors from the current wave are beginning to change that trend.
Indeed, Fan represents the fourth different Chinese player under the age of 24 to feature in a final since the beginning of 2020.
Zhou Yuelong lost two finals that year, but contemporaries Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong respectively triumphed in the Masters and the UK Championship during 2021.
Another young hotshot, 19 year-old Si Jiahui, also impressed this week en route to glory in the WSF Amateur Championship.
And world number two O’Sullivan insists that within another decade, the circuit could be dominated by young performers from Asia.
“They were the first coming over,” referencing Ding and Liang when speaking to the World Snooker Tour.
“Obviously Ding and then Wenbo was closely followed behind. They do really good for grassroots snooker.”
“In China, they have brilliant academies out there and then they have academies in the UK, so they’re really geared up to take over and dominant the game.
“I think it’ll happen – it’s happening now – but I think in ten years it’ll be like table tennis, every snooker player will probably be from Asia.
“I can’t see any good Western talent coming through on the level that you do with China.
“I have a great love for China, I’ve a great love for Chinese culture and people, they are so nice to me when I go out there.
“I do my best to support their players as well, because they are just lovely boys. You just want to pass on a bit of your knowledge and experience to them.
“I’m a snooker fan at the end of the day, and I like to see them do well.”
Featured photo credit: WST