As is usual in China on the day before a big tournament, the players are made to feel very welcome, with an opening press conference and a “red carpet walk”. This time was no exception. One player for whom this day was even more special, is Ding Junhui who was celebrating his 31th birthday.
Happy Birthday Ding!
It’s worth remembering that on April 3, 2005, a very young Ding – he had just turned 18 – beat Stephen Hendry by 9-5, sending the ball rolling for what proved to be the massive snooker revolution in China. He had entered the tournament as a wildcard!
Today, the shy boy has grown up into a National Super Star and a hero for an entire generation of young Chinese talents!
There were plenty of images of the opening press conference and red carpet ceremony shared on weibo … enjoy!
I also found some images, taken yesterday by Windy Xu, showing the venue and some players practicing, amongst them Ross Muir, Ronnie’s opponent in the first round
But tomorrow the things start in earnest. Ronnie, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo will all be in action, as their last 128 matches were held to the main venue.
However, for Mark Selby and Ronnie, what will happen in Beijing will have no impact on their seeding at the Crucible in three weeks time. Mark Selby though had a pretty dire season by his standards and an early exit would do his confidence no good.
For other players though, this tournament is crucial, be it for a possible seeding at the Crucible – avoiding three qualifying matches – or for their survival on the main tour.
Master Anorak, Matt Huart explains it all in those two articles:
And it starts right away! Mark Allen is facing the very dangerous Noppon Saengkham tomorrow morning – still night here in Europe – and there is a lot at stake for him: should he lose, he’s heading to the World Qualifiers, should he win, he’s not 100% safe but definitely sends Ryan Day to the World Qualifiers.