Stuart Bingham and Lyu Haotian will face each other in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
Stuart Bingham’s season so far
Former world champion Stuart Bingham has had an unspectacular season, generally failing to threaten for any silverware.
Aside from reaching the final of the invitational edition of the Championship League, Ballrun hasn’t feature prominently at the business end of tournaments.
The 45 year-old reached the semi-final of the World Grand Prix where he was beaten by eventual champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
A quarter-final run at the recent Gibraltar Open is the only other time he progressed beyond the early rounds.
Conquering the Crucible in 2015 will always rank proudly on Bingham’s snooker CV, and he came pretty close to repeating the feat again last year.
He was narrowly denied a return to the final by Mark Selby in a dramatic last-four clash in Sheffield.
Lyu Haotian’s season so far
Lyu Haotian qualified for the last 32 of the World Snooker Championship for the third time in his career with wins over Xu Si, Lu Ning, and Dominic Dale.
In what had been a dismal campaign for the most part up until that point, the 24 year-old is coming into some form at just the right time.
Lyu showed signs of improvement in the Gibraltar Open where he reached the last 16, and he followed that up nicely with a strong showing in the Sheffield qualifiers.
On his Crucible debut in 2018, Lyu upset Marco Fu before running Barry Hawkins close in the second round, so he has some good experience to build from.
Bingham and Lyu have never faced each other in a competitive match, leaving no indication on that front as to how the outcome might materialise.
Lyu has certainly generated some renewed confidence in the last few weeks and will be nicely warmed up after the preliminary competition.
Out of all the top 16 players he could have drawn, he must be quietly content with Bingham, who hasn’t really been in great form of late.
But even so, the Chinese competitor perhaps wasn’t properly tested in qualifying and Bingham will definitely represent a significant step up in class.
The latter boasts a great deal of Crucible experience and will be hoping to build some momentum of his own ahead of another crack at a deep run.
Prediction: Stuart Bingham 10-6 Lyu Haotian
Monday, April 18th – 7pm
Tuesday, April 19th – 2:30pm
Featured photo credit: WST