China Open 2018 – Day 1 in Beijing

A lot happened today at the China Open in Beijing today as 22 matches were played.

There were three matches involving “wildcards”, of which two were won by the amateur over the professional. One of those winning amateurs is this boy:

LuoHongHao

Luo Honghao, 18 years old. He’s already certain to be a pro next season as he is the winner of the Mixed Gender World Federation Championship held  two weeks ago in Malta. Luo played another match today and defeated Stuart Carrington in the last 128 round, quite comfortably, by 6-2.

There were seven “held-over” last 128 matches. Four of those matches involved top players: Mark Selby, the defending Champion, World Champion and World n°1, Ronnie, World n°2, Ding Junhui, China’s n°1 and Liang Wenbo, China’s n°2. All four won their matches. Ding and Liang won quite easily judging by the frames scores. Ding was facing Michael Georgiou, potentially a banana skin for the local hero, but Ding, who scored five breaks over 60, had too much scoring power for the man of Cyprus.

You can read about Ronnie’s win here

Mark Selby was made to work very hard by Wang Yuchen. He eventually won by 6-4, but up to 4-4, Wang was matching him in every department. Mark wasn’t playing fantastic, but he wasn’t playing badly either. It was in many ways a strange match.

In the three other held-over matches, there were wins for Peter Ebdon, Andrew Higginson and Luo Honghao.

The remaining twelves matches on the day were last 64 matches, some of them potentially with a big impact on the Crucible seeding.

Mark Allen played Noppon Saengkham in the very first session and, in fact, outplayed him. He won by 6-1, with three centuries and three other breaks over 50! Here is what he had to say afterwards (source Worldsnooker)

“I’m not usually one to follow the rankings closely, but it’s hard to avoid it when we’re coming up to Sheffield and people are in my ear saying what I need to do. It’s still possible I will have to qualify, but I am in a far better position now after winning that match. I’m here to win the tournament and that’s all I can concentrate on.

“Today was as good as I have scored since the Masters. Noppon is a very good player so it’s nice to get a win under my belt, especially as it was tough to come here knowing I had to win.”

Allen’s victory means that Ryan Day will now definitely need to play three matches to qualify for the Crucible. Allen himself though, is not entirely safe just yet even if he is provisionally back in the top 16.

Stuart Bingham is another one who needed a win to consolidate his top 16 spot and got it: he beat Matthew Stevens by 6-5, from 5-3 down.

However two other currently top 16 members, Luca Brecel and Ali Carter lost in the last 64 round and are in danger to need to qualify for the Crucible, depending on others results. Follow Matt’s “race to the Crucible” blog to stay updated with the latests development of this important sub-plot. I watched most of the Luca Brecel v Cao Yupeng match and the least I can say is that Luca had countless opportunities. Cao looked quite vulnerable under pressure, and needed many chances, but they kept coming. Luca looked so strong early in the season, and motivated, but not today, and not for quite some time actually. Yes, he suffered some injuries, and had issues with his cue but, still, it’s hard to understand.

Elsewhere there were easy wins for Ricky Walden, Mark Williams, Jack Lisowski and Joe Perry.

Tomorrow both Mark Selby and Ronnie will face players who caused them problems earlier in the season: Ronnie is due to play Elliot Slessor, who beat him in Belfast, and Mark Selby will face Scott Donaldson who beat him at the UK Championship in York.

Also, Marco Fu, who isn’t playing in Beijing, confirmed that he will play at the Crucible despite ongoing eye issues.

Marco Fu announcement