The Masters 2021 – Yan Bingtao is your Champion!

Yan Bingtao beat John Higgins by 10-8 to win the 2021 Masters.

Congratulations Yan Bingtao!


Yan Bingtao once again came from behind to win, not just the match but the whole tournament! At 20, he became the youngest player to win the Masters since Ronnie in 1995 – that’s 26 years ago – and the only Asian player other than Ding Junhui to win a triple crown event.  Unless I’m mistaken, he’s only the fifth player to win the tournament on their debut. To my knowledge, only Cliff Thorburn, Stephen Hendry, Paul Hunter and Mark Selby had done it before. A star is born! 

Here are the reports by WST

Afternoon session

Higgins Leads Yan In Final

John Higgins holds a 5-3 advantage over debutant Yan Bingtao after the first session of the Betfred Masters final.

Scotland’s 45-year-old Higgins is bidding to become the oldest ever winner of the Masters with victory tonight. The four-time World Champion would surpass Stuart Bingham, who set the record last year at the age of 43.

Chinese 20-year-old Yan would be the youngest winner since Ronnie O’Sullivan lifted the title at the age of 19 back in 1995.

The pair will return to play out the remainder of the best of 19 encounter at 7pm, with the winner taking home £250,000 and the Paul Hunter Trophy.

It was the less experienced Yan who took an early lead this afternoon, composing runs of 66 and 33 to go 1-0 up. However, two-time Masters winner Higgins responded by taking the second to restore parity.

Both players had chances in a scrappy third, but Yan eventually edged it on the black to regain his lead at 2-1. Crucially Higgins made it 2-2 at the mid-session after a break of 63

When play resumed, Higgins gained the lead for the first time with a contribution of 98 and the Glaswegian then added a third frame on the bounce to make it 4-2.

Yan fired in a break of 97 to pull within a frame, before a tense final frame of the session. It came down to the green, where a safety error from Yan allowed Higgins to secure the frame and end the session 5-3 in front.

Evening session

Yan Secures Thrilling Masters Victory

Chinese 20-year-old Yan Bingtao came from behind to secure a sensational Betfred Masters victory, beating four-time World Champion John Higgins 10-8 in the final.

Debutant Yan becomes the youngest winner of the Masters since Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed the title at the age of 19 in 1995. He’s only the second Asian player, after compatriot Ding Junhui, to lift Triple Crown silverware.

The prodigious talent has shown considerable mental toughness this week. Yan defeated Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham, all by 6-5 scorelines, to clinch his place in the final.

World number 11 Yan rose to prominence as a 15-year-old, by winning the 2015 World Cup for China alongside Zhou Yuelong, beating a Scotland team of Higgins and Maguire in the final. He won his maiden ranking title at the 2019 Riga Masters and has since earned his place in the top 16 to appear at the Masters for the first time.

In lifting the Paul Hunter Trophy and claiming the £250,000 top prize, Yan has secured the biggest payday of his fledgling career. Higgins will have to settle for the £100,000 runner-up prize, he also pockets £15,000 for the high break of 145, which he made in his quarter-final win over Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Higgins’ ten-year wait for a first Triple Crown title since the 2011 World Championship goes on. The Scot last won the Masters in 2006, when he defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 in an epic final.

Higgins secured a 5-3 advantage from this afternoon’s opening session and he looked set to take the opener tonight. However, he missed a red at 67-0 up, with just 67 left on the table. Yan stepped up and produced a phenomenal clearance of 67 to force a re-spot, which he won to make it 5-4.

Higgins also led in the tenth frame, after establishing a 31-0 advantage. A missed yellow allowed Yan in again and he cleared with 76 to draw level at 5-5.

It was roles reversed in the following frame. Yan led 51-0 before Higgins composed a run of 74 to stop the rot. Higgins then made a break of 116, the first century of the match, to lead 7-5 at the mid-session.

When they returned, Yan edged a dramatic 13th frame. It went all the way down to the black, with Higgins narrowly missing a double to the baulk corner. Yan deposited it and clawed within a frame at 7-6. He then fired in a superb run of 103 to draw level once more.

Yan took to the front by clearing from blue to the black to take a tense 15th frame and go 8-7 ahead. However, Higgins refused to wilt and crafted a gutsy break of 63 to make it 8-8.

Higgins had the first opportunity in the 17th frame, but it was Yan who pounced with a contribution of 70, to move one from glory at 9-8. He then made a break of 64 in the following frame to leave Higgins needing snookers to keep his chances alive. After an extended period of safety, Yan got himself over the line for the momentous victory.

“After watching John’s quarter-final game against Ronnie, he looked like he was in his peak. I felt very tired in the last moments tonight,” said Chinese number two Yan. “My heart was beating out on the last red, I was so close to the winning line and he kept fighting. That was the moment that I felt the most pressure.

“I just told myself to keep working and not give up. I controlled the cue ball. I just slowly finished the last three or four balls after potting the red.

“My mum and dad were watching on TV. They probably didn’t sleep tonight. They have always told me to never give up and to enjoy my life.”

Higgins said: “It is incredible for someone so young. He just goes about his business. He is like a one off, the way he patrols about the table and you can’t fluster him at all. It is a great achievement winning the Masters at 20 years old. The sky is the limit for him.”

This was endearing with Ronnie in the studio…

And here is Ronnie assessing Yan’s victory as reported by Phil Haigh

Ronnie O’Sullivan compares Yan Bingtao to snooker legends after Masters win

Yan Bingtao claimed the Masters title on Sunday night (Picture: Eurosport)

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes Yan Bingtao’s Masters title is reminiscent of when snooker legends like Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Mark Williams first claimed a major trophy, because you knew there would be many more to come.

The 20-year-old beat Higgins 10-8 in Sunday’s final at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, producing a superb, battling performance to down the 45-year-old two-time former champion.

Yan was on his Masters debut this year and produced an incredible run of results, beating Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham before seeing off Higgins in the finale.

The Rocket was suitably impressed by the young Chinese star and is in no doubt that Yan will be adding plenty more trophies and big cheques to his collection after trousering £250,000 this weekend.

‘Bingtao winning this tournament, the way he’s come through is fantastic,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

‘Not just to see a new winner but someone that you think he’s going to go on and win a lot more.

‘It’s like when Hendry come along, them type of players, John Higgins, Mark Williams, you thought, “this could go on for a while.”

‘To do it young and in the manner he does, it’s been a fantastic tournament and he’s done it the hard way, he’s had the hardest draw you could possibly get.’

Immediately talk has turned to whether Yan can become the first Chinese player to win the World Championship title, with flag bearer Ding Junhui, so far, unable to do so in his glittering career.

There is still plenty of time for Ding at just 33-year-old, but O’Sullivan now gives Yan a better chance of beating his countryman to the biggest prize in the sport and expects him to triumph in Sheffield at least once.

‘I think he’s got more chance of doing it because he’s got a lot more time on his side,’ Ronnie said of Yan surpassing Ding. ‘I think it’s a good time to be coming into snooker.

‘It’s hard to say because there might be another three or four come out the woodwork in one or two years and we might be saying the same about them.

‘But at the moment he is the most mature, we’ve seen him do it under extreme pressure and you need to be able to perform under pressure to win the Crucible.

‘I just think he’s going to get stronger and stronger and it will bring other players through as well.

‘I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t win at least one or two world titles.’

Gracious in defeat, Higgins also predicted that Yan would claim the sport’s biggest prize, in fact he said it is guaranteed.

‘Definite world champion, without a shadow of a doubt,’ said the Scot. ‘China’s very lucky to have Yan as a player.’

This win is obviously very important for Yan’s career, but it could prove equally important for the future of snooker in China. What Yan has done last night will inspire all the young Chinese players, it has shown them that it is possible, that THEY can do it too.

It will also boost China’s interest in snooker, which is particularly important at this time as tournaments in China have been canceled for the near future, and the travel restrictions have made it even harder for the young Chinese players, those who current live as expats in the UK away from their families, as well as those whose future and careers are in jeopardy as they are stranded in China. China has invested a lot in the sport in recent years, injected a lot of money in it too. Keeping the Chinese fans on board is crucial for the future of the sport. Ding now being on the WPBSA board and Yan’s successes are massive in that respect.




2 thoughts on “The Masters 2021 – Yan Bingtao is your Champion!

  1. It was a wonderful match. Very dramatic and tense, like the UK final. Although there was no deciding frame, it provided a story that we have lacked in snooker for too long: the ‘old master’ against the ‘young pretender’. It’s a narrative that’s vital for sport as well as life.

    John Higgins had plenty of chances to win the match comfortably, but kept missing crucial shots. Yan took advantage with some incredible steals, and I thought he even outplayed Higgins in the safety. Of course, Yan also made mistakes, but they didn’t prey on his mind as they undoubtably did on Higgins’.

    I agree with your comments about the boost it gives to Chinese snooker, and World snooker, at a time when everything is UK-based. It may also be an incentive and a roadmap for the other Chinese players, not least Ding Junhui, who may actually find this result takes the pressure off him.

    The future for Yan? Well, it’s unreasonable to expect a string of tournament victories, a World Championship, No.1 ranking all to happen in the next 12 months! It will probably take a bit of time for everything to sink in and produce results consistently. But he has time: he’s 20 and the average age of the other 15 competitors was nearly 40. What he has done is to answer his doubters and critics emphatically.

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