Zhao Xintong won his second ranking title yesterday evening in the Tempodrom. It’s only last month that he had won his first, the 2021 UK Championship.
Congratulations Zhao Xintong!
Zhao Destroys Yan In Berlin Final
Zhao Xintong won his second ranking title within the space of eight weeks, as he thrashed Yan Bingtao 9-0 in an all-Chinese final at the BildBet German Masters.
The whitewash victory sees Zhao become only the second player in snooker history to score a 9-0 win in a ranking event final. The other came when Neil Robertson defeated Zhou Yuelong by the same scoreline at the 2020 BetVictor European Masters.
Talented 24-year-old Zhao has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the very top of the sport this season. Only four years ago he was relegated from the circuit and forced to come through 2018 Q School to keep his professional career alive.
Earlier in the current campaign Zhao landed a maiden piece of Triple Crown silverware with victory at the UK Championship in York, where he defeated Belgium’s Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final.
Today’s win earns Zhao £80,000, the Brandon Parker Trophy and the second ranking event win of his career. With just three tournaments to go in the BetVictor European Series, Zhao now sits in fourth position. The player who accumulates the most money over the eight qualifying events lands a bumper £150,000 bonus.
Zhao’s considerable talent was clear when he turned professional in 2016, at the age of just 18. He earned his place on the World Snooker Tour by being runner-up to Pankaj Advani at the 2015 World Amateur Championship.
He has grown up playing with today’s 21-year-old opponent Yan, who also turned professional in 2016 at the age of 15. They moved to the United Kingdom to pursue their snooker careers and have both based themselves out of Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield.
The conclusive nature of today’s result will be tough to take for 2021 Masters champion Yan. However, we can surely expect to see further battles between these two Chinese cueists in the years to come.
This was only the second ranking final between two players from mainland China. The first was Ding Junhui’s defeat of Xiao Guodong in the 2013 Shanghai Masters final.
The opening session saw Zhao blitz to the verge of victory with an inspired display, in which he won all eight frames. He wasted no time in completing the rout this evening. The first, and decisive, frame came down to a battle on the final red. Zhao eventually deposited it and cleared to the pink to secure the title.
“It was a surprise for me tonight. I couldn’t believe the scoreline was so one-sided. Bingtao is a good player and we know each other so well. I didn’t believe I could win 9-0, but I did it,” said Zhao, who is now set to move into 8th position in the world rankings. “This is a nice venue and there are nice people here. Berlin is a good city and I really enjoyed it.
“When I was 4-0 up at the mid-session this afternoon, I went out and talked to Bingtao. I could see he was under pressure. I said to him you don’t need to do this, you can play like it is a show. We are very friendly and I wanted it to be a show for the fans.
“Tomorrow is Chinese New Year and tonight we will go back to the UK. This tournament is very different for us because of the Chinese New Year and tomorrow we will maybe have a few drinks.”
Yan said: “He played very well today. I was feeling a little bit of pressure and missed so many balls. I enjoyed playing here with a very good friend. Every time I come to Berlin I really enjoy being here and I want to thank everyone who came today. Congratulations to Zhao. He played very well and is a dangerous player. We are like brothers and I wish all the best to him.”
This is also a big win for Victoria whose academy is home for so many young Chinese talents. It’s not easy to live abroad, learn a new language, adapt to a different culture, to different food and to pursue a professional career when you are only a teenager, thousands of kilometers away from your family. It’s a very lonely place to be in. Someone like Lyu Haotian suffered badly and has, so far, never fulfilled his potential. Victoria’s academy is much more than a practice base. It’s a community, a place where support is available if needed, run by someone who has in-depth understand of both British and Chinese culture.
Today is indeed the start of the Year of the Tiger
Happy New Year Chinese Friends!
May the year of the Tiger bring you health, fulfilment and prosperity.
The conclusion of the German Masters means that the cut-off point for the 2022 Players Championship has been reached, and the draw is now known:
Cazoo Players Championship Draw
Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Judd Trump in the stand-out first round tie at the Cazoo Players Championship, which runs from February 7 to 13 at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.
This week’s BildBet German Masters was the final counting event in the race to qualify for the second event in the 2021/22 Cazoo Series. The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list now go through to Wolverhampton.
… The match schedule will be announced in due course.
Zhao Xintong is the runaway rankings leader and number one seed, so he will face 16th seed Barry Hawkins in the first round. O’Sullivan is third on the list so will face 14th-placed Trump in a blockbuster clash.
Cazoo Masters champion Neil Robertson will be up against Kyren Wilson, while defending champion John Higgins will meet new BetVictor Shoot Out king Hossein Vafaei.
The full draw is:
Zhao Xintong (1) v Barry Hawkins (16)
David Gilbert (8) v Yan Bingtao (9)
Mark Allen (5) v Ricky Walden (12)
Mark Williams (4) v Gary Wilson (13)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) v Judd Trump (14)
Neil Robertson (6) v Kyren Wilson (11)
John Higgins (7) v Hossein Vafaei (10)
Luca Brecel (2) v Jimmy Robertson (15)
The least I can say is that Ronnie hasn’t an easy draw: Judd Trump first, then possibly Neil Robertson followed by John Higgins … just to reach the final! In fact, with Mark Selby missing out, the four “top ranked” players involved in the tournament are in his quarter: Ronnie is 2, Judd 3, Neil 4 and Kyren 5. That’s as brutal as it gets.
11 thoughts on “2022 German Masters – Zhao Xintong is the Champion”
Well, I said that ‘anything can happen’, but I didn’t expect a 9-0 win for Zhao Xintong! But actually, it was a titanic achievement for Yan Bingtao even to reach the final – he really didn’t play well all week and had to grind out results. Yesterday was just too much. The situation was similar to Neil Robertson’s 9-0 against Zhou Yuelong, who had finished playing his semi-final at 1am in Dornbirn.
So Zhao backs up his first title 56 days later (I think that’s a record). The German MC rather patronisingly suggested to Zhao that he could win the World Championship in 2-3 years. Why not this year? OK, I agree it’s unlikely but that’s not the point. Also, watching the final on Eurosport, I notice Phil Studd thinks the venue is called ‘Templedrom’, which is actually a disgrace from a specialist broadcaster. I didn’t meet any of the commentators in Berlin and I assume they were all remote.
The fans were then treated to an exhibition by Simon Lichtenberg and Kyren Wilson, who just happened to be on hand. A post-tournament blog by organiser Frank B. Halfar suggested it would improve the tournament if there were German players (like Lichtenberg and Lukas Kleckers) in the Tempodrom draw. Yes it would, and WST have to answer for that. I’m sure the fans missed Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins as well. Unless of course they travelled to Cannock for the first two rounds of their tournament.
The 46-page German Masters programme contained an interesting article about prize money distribution and interviews with Steve Dawson, Chris Henry, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Dave Gilbert, Barry Pinches and quotes from Mark Selby, Anthony Hamilton, Mark King, Tom Ford and Jimmy Robertson. Surprisingly nothing from Luca Brecel nor any of the 8 Chinese players who qualified. Maybe next year they will think differently.
Zhao Xintong is incredibly charismatic, in the way he plays, and in his persona. He really is an ideal advocate for a diverse global game. I’m just still amazed how quickly he’s been transformed – in November he could barely win a match. He didn’t qualify for the upcoming European Masters, having lost to Aaron Hill. Yan Bingtao can actually reflect on a good week – he made the final. But the match does present him with a challenge. He may have to make some changes. However at 21 years’ old he should be able to come back stronger from this.
It has really been “feast or famine” this season for Zhao. Apart from his 2 titles, his third best result was a 2nd round loss. In all other events he lost in the 1st round or in qualifying…
Templedrom is actually an improvement from previous years. Templedrum… nuffing said …
The problem to get the German players. or anyone else the sponsors would want, to the Tempodrom is that it’s two rounds of qualifications. Just two held-over players means 4 held-over matches, means an additional session… When I was there, there was still a lot of work done in the arena on the first day morning. The Tempodrom is an expensive venue from what I heard…
They had only 4 tables this year. It’s previously been 5, and many years ago 7. They might be able to increase capacity. But really what I meant is that the organisers should invite the 32 players they want. That’s the future for growth of continental events.
I was at the Tempodrom from 2011 to 2015 included. The initial setup was the main table, 5 satellite tables and one table in the round area where they were serving food this year. The five satellite tables were closer to the spectators and closer to each other. The players complained about the distractions that brought. Maybe more importantly, they complained about the lighting, and rightly so. The lamps are suspended to the structure that’s above the arena proper. That structure is narrower than the arena itself. Therefore the lights were not centered on the side tables, the lighting was not at all “uniform” with some areas on the table much darker than others, and there were shadows. At first World Snooker denied the issue, but the pictures I had been taking during play were showing it clearly and the players used them to push their point.
The table in the round area rarely had visitors, it was gloomy in there, and not well isolated from noises coming from the main entrance hall.
Then 4 satellite tables was an improvement, but still too close to each others and the pectators. The lighting issue was also still … an issue.
You’re right – 56 days is a splendid achievement. But I don’t think it’s a record! So far as I know, the record is held by Steve Davis: who won his first major professional title, the UK Championship, on 29 November 1980, and followed that up by winning the Wilsons Classic 3 days later – on 2 December.
You can debate whether the Classic was then a major tournament, but it did feature all the other leading players of the day – Alex Higgins, Terry Griffiths, Ray Reardon, and Cliff Thorburn.
Another strong contender is John Virgo, who won the UK Championship on 1 December 1979, and followed that up with the Bombay International on 19 December – a gap of 18 days. The Bombay International was a tough tournament (as always, Virgo shone in a league format), but didn’t feature Griffiths, Higgins, or Reardon. It did, however, have Thorburn, as well as several other top players, including Dennis Taylor, who was formidable at the time.
If we’re talking ranking tournaments, then Doug Mountjoy won the 1988 UK Championship on 27 November (far from his first major title, but his first *ranking* title), and the 1989 Classic on 15 January – a gap of 49 days, just beating Zhao.
But yes, Zhao is a fabulous player, and I look forward to him shining for years to come.
Ronnie’s draw is definitely unfortunate. He’ll most likely lose in the first round.
That being said, perhaps he has recently found a “cue action”, as he made two 147s in his recent exhibitions…
We shall see. Judd Trump has been far from his best recently and Neil is unwell with covid…
It’s true about Judd, but he seems to play better against Ronnie than he does anyone else…
It’s a terrible draw, but right now I say I don’t care about where and how far Ronnie gets, just don’t lose to Trump. Later I will of course say the same about Higgins, but we certainly not there yet
He had a really great draw in the WGP, so these things come and go. It’s all based on the 1-year money list, so there will always be a skewed and distorted draw.
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