It’s time for the annual highs and lows review on SnookerHQ, and there are many talking points over the course of 2022 in snooker to recall.
On Monday, we took a look at a few of the best bits from the 2022 calendar year, but today let’s focus on some of the low talking points that have engulfed snooker during that period.
Suspended Chinese players
This developing scandal is so bad that it looks likely to be a low point in the entire history of the sport.
As things stand at the end of December, eight Chinese players have been suspended amid an ongoing match-fixing investigation.
Liang Wenbo was the first to be banned in October but five more followed at the start of this month – Lu Ning, Li Hang, Bai Langning, Chang Bingyu, and amateur Zhao Jianbo.
Speculation grew upon Chang’s remarkable accusation that Liang had threatened him to lose his British Open tie with Jamie Jones this season.
In a now deleted post on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, the 20 year-old also accused his older countryman of forcing him to stay quiet once the investigation began.
The fiasco got dramatically worse on day one of the English Open when, shortly before his opening fixture, former Masters champion Yan Bingtao was added to the list of reputed rebels.
Chen Zifan was the latest player suspended last week, but there are fears that more could follow as this entirely embarrassing episode for the sport continues.
Liang Wenbo domestic assault
Not only is Liang embroiled in the above match-fixing affair, the former English Open snooker champion had already generated the wrong kind of headlines earlier in 2022.
On the eve of the World Snooker Championship qualifiers in April, it was revealed that the 35 year-old had been criminally convicted for a serious domestic assault incident.
Liang was caught on CCTV repeatedly kicking and punching a woman in Sheffield city centre, for which he was handed a 12-month community order and a £1,380 fine.
Surprised and angered by the way they had learned of the incident, Liang was immediately suspended by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
But the former world number 11 was given just a four-month ban for bringing the sport into disrepute, a length many felt to be insufficient given the severity of the offense.
Liang returned for just three matches in the 2022/23 season before being suspended again for the alleged match-fixing.
This year, more steps were taken in the sport’s return to normality following COVID, with venues full again and trips to Germany and Turkey among those on the schedule.
However, with China remaining a destination that’s off limits, there continues to be rather significant gaps on the calendar.
Between the World Championship ending in early May and the British Open at the end of September, the circuit was extremely stop-start.
Snooker bosses tried to mask this problem with another ridiculously long version of the Championship League that took a month to complete.
Preliminary qualifying rounds for ranking events were also dragged out to make it seem as though the campaign was fuller.
New initiatives like the Hong Kong Masters and the World Mixed Doubles were only open to a select few competitors.
It all resulted in a long spell – almost six months for some – where players only had the opportunity to compete in a few events.
As professionals, this lack of earning potential is proving to be a major issue for a lot of the lower-ranked players, and even though a welcome £20,000 money incentive was introduced by the governing body, more could be done to guarantee an increased number of actual playing opportunities.
Robert Milkins was featured in yesterday’s article on the high points of the year for his triumph in the Gibraltar Open.
The Milkman’s maiden ranking title at the age of 46 was unexpected enough, but it was even more surprising considering what happened just before.
A couple of weeks prior to his success on the Rock, Milkins’ career hit an all-time low following an inebriated incident at the inaugural Turkish Masters.
Celebrating his birthday, Milkins got drunk and ended up crashing the opening ceremony, where he reportedly embroiled himself in an argument with WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson.
- CLICK HERE: Robert Milkins – ‘I’ve gone to some counselling’
If that wasn’t enough, the former world number 12 also fell in the restroom and was taken to a nearby hospital where he had his stomach pumped.
Expressing remorse for his actions, Milkins was handed fines worth £7,000 in total but somehow managed to avoid a suspension.
On Wednesday, the end-of-year review will continue with a look at the 2022 Player of the Year.
Featured photo credit: WST