Yan Bingtao and Chris Wakelin will face each other in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
Yan Bingtao’s season so far
Even though Yan won the Masters last season, this campaign has arguably been better in terms of the 22 year-old’s consistency.
The Chinese number two has made five appearances in ranking event quarter-finals this term, including at the German Masters where he went on to reach the final.
That title decider won’t bring particularly happy memories after being slaughtered 9-0 by his friend and practice partner Zhao Xintong.
But in general it’s been a solid season for Yan, and he heads to the Crucible as many people’s dark horse to do well.
In both of the last two editions of the World Championship, Yan has won his first-round match before seeing his run end in the last 16.
Chris Wakelin’s season so far
Chris Wakelin came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the venue stages of the World Championship for the third time.
Provisionally at number 43 in the world, Wakelin could end the season with a career-high placing in the rankings.
It wasn’t an especially strong campaign prior to Sheffield, though, with few appearances beyond the last 64 of competitions throughout.
Wakelin’s best effort was at the single-frame Shoot Out, where he won three matches and reached the last 16.
The 30 year-old was denied in a decider against Judd Trump on his Crucible debut four years ago but was more comprehensively beaten by David Gilbert twelve months ago.
Yan and Wakelin have encountered each other on two previous occasions, with one victory each.
There are a lot of people picking Yan as the world champion this year, which is understandable considering he boasts the kind of all-round game that is well suited to the World Championship.
The competitor from China is also based in Sheffield, which must surely help as he’s familiar with all the surroundings.
If Yan emerges from his opening tie, as he’s expected to, he’ll face defending champion Mark Selby in the second round.
How he fares in that clash would be a more telling indication of how far he might go in 2022.
Prediction: Yan Bingtao 10-5 Chris Wakelin
Tuesday, April 19th – 10am and 7pm
Featured photo credit: WST