Liang Wenbo beat Judd Trump by 9-6 to win the English Open 2016 in Manchester yesterday evening. The two produced a very high quality final. You can easily find the match on youtube if you wish to watch it. Here is the last frame, with Liang exhuberant celebration!
It was Liang first ranking title, and he was obviously overwhelmed with joy. As it transpired, over the last two years, Ronnie had been helping him … with the mental side of his game, which many will find rather ironic. The two are very close friends, often have lunch together and practice together. Liang was prone to lose his calm when it came to the latter stages of important matches but there was no sign of this during the semi final and the final the past week-end. It also transpired that both players were playing with new cues. This win earns Liang a spot in the Champion of Champions where he is due to play Mark Selby.
Judd Trump also deserves huge credit for what he did over the last three weeks. He won 14 matches in a row, won the European Open in Bucharest eight days ago, traveled back to the Manchester and immediately was at the table again and went on to reach the final. That asks for serious stamina and dedication.
Overall the tournament was excellent but a bit unusual. Probably because of the relentless schedule, a lot of the “big names” went out early: Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, Marco Fu and Anthony Mc Gill lost as early as the last 64. The last 32 round saw even more unexpected “casualties”: Ronnie, Ding, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson, Ali Carter and Kyren Wilson all went out. John Higgins survived until the QF but played terrible. I can only see one reason for this: tiredness. Stuart Bingham on the other hand who had failed to qualify for the European Masters, reached the SF here, as did Barry Hawkins who went out early in Romania.
The final week-end though delivered three excellent matches; the second semi-final between Liang Wenbo and Stuart Bingham in particular was very high standard and went to a decider. Again you can easily find it on youtube.
The final week-end also saw Ronnie returning to the studio as a pundit for Eurosport.
Andy Goldstein, Jimmy White, Neal Foulds and Ronnie are doing an excellent job out there: they are providing intelligent and respectful analysis whilst being extremely entertaining at the same time. Here are a few snippets … enjoy!
Previews of the semi finals: