Mark Allen put an end to Yan Bingtao’s great run by beating him soundly today. The score was 9-2, probably not what many expected.
Mark Allen has reached his seventh ranking final after defeating Chinese 17-year-old Yan Bingtao 9-2 at the Oppo International Championship in Daqing.
A win in the final would see Allen rack up his fourth career ranking title. It would also more than make up for the fact that the money for his victory at the 2015 Players Championship drops off his ranking at the end of the season. Another benefit of victory would see him earn the last spot in next week’s Champion of Champions. He’ll face off with defending Champion Mark Selby in tomorrow’s the showpiece tie
Yan’s potential on the big stage was brought to the public’s attention when he won the 2015 World Cup in China’s B team alongside fellow youngster Zhou Yuelong. This week he showed the extent of that potential, scoring stunning wins over Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins. However, defeat today ends this week’s bid to become the youngest ever winner of a ranking event title.
This afternoon Allen took a stranglehold on the game charging to a 4-0 lead at the first interval. When they returned Yan showed good character to pull back within reach at 4-2 thanks to breaks of 98 and 105
However, Allen crucially claimed the last two frames of the afternoon to lead 6-2. Across the session the Pistol fired in runs of 70, 55, 64, 105 and 102. The Antrim potter wasted little time charging past the line this evening with breaks of 50, 90 and 72 to book his final with Selby.
“In a best of 17 match there are usually one or two mistakes, but there weren’t many today,” said the world number nine. “It was a good display, but I knew I had to do that. Yan Bingtao has proved already how good he is. I couldn’t let him get off to a good start.”
“Mark Selby is an unbelievable player, but he is just a player. If I play my game it doesn’t matter what he does. He can play as well as he wants, but it is up to me to control my emotions and play my game. I believe that if I play my best then I will win.
“It’s going to be two players going ding dong the whole way through and may the best man win.”
Following the tie Yan admitted that although it was a difficult defeat, he was delighted with his week’s showing in Daqing.
Yan said:” I wasn’t that nervous but I did make a lot of mistakes and left him chances. He has been cueing well and looked pretty confident, I didn’t stop him at all.
“I’m pleased with my run this week. I had a look at the draw and booked my flight on 31th. So I’m pleased to be in the tournament up until today, and I’ve made a little break through. I think I’ve improved. I played against so many great opponents on TV table and managed to perform decently, so I picked a lot of confidence.”
There is no denying how well Mark Allen played: eight breaks over 50, including two centuries tell the story. However, I can’t help wondering if having a day off, with time to reflect on his run, and take in the media hype it was generating didn’t do Yan a disservice. The expectations put on his very shoulders were huge. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 17.
Regarding tomorrow’s match these stats make for a very interesting reading: if league matches are excluded, Selby and Allen have met 8 times, with Allen winning 5 times for 3 to Selby. And there is more: 7 out of 8 of these matches have gone to a deciding frame, with Allen winning 4 and Selby 3. Also Allen has won their last three encounters. Allen has not always spoken highly of China and the events there, nevertheless, he’s performing well there: this is his 7th final, and his 5th in China….