As we enter the semi finals stage today, we are treated with two unexpected matches, each of them featuring a proven top player and a young Chinese player.
Indeed it’s Judd Trump v Cao Yupeng and Stuart Bingham v Zhou Yuelong.
How did we get there?
Judd beat Mark Allen in the QF, in a high quality match, that saw Mark coming back from 3-0 down to force a decider. Judd looks very determined to defend his title; it would be the first time that he defends successfully and a succesful defence is a rarity anyway.
Cao Yupeng beat Mark Williams by 4-2, and I don’t think that many saw this coming, especially after Mark had sent Neil Robertson home in the previous round. Cao hasn’t done much in recent years and it’s easy to forget that he reached the last 16 at the Crucible in 2012, in his first year as a pro. He’s only 26. It will be interesting to see what happens from here.
Stuart Bingham played very well to beat Mark Selby by 4-2, and that didn’t surprise me. Except for his match against Zhao Xintong, where he made 4 centuries in 4 frames he won, Mark had been on the “escape act” all tournament: he had to come through a decider in every other match in Lommel. Stuart is a much harder opponent than Mark Joyce, Lyu Haotian or Jack Lisowski. He’s a tournament winner and a former World Champion, he wasn’t going to allow another escape.
Finally, Zhou Yuelong inflicted a right spanking to Anthony McGill. He beat him 4-0, in no time, with 138 and 136 to finish. Zhou is only 19 and he’s a product of the efforts China puts into the development of their young snooker talents. There have been 5 players who reach their first SF this season, 4 of them are young Chinese.
So, who’s gonna win today?