Day 2 at the 2022 Champion of Champions

It really was a “tale of the unexpected” yesterday in Bolton, as Fan Zhengyi emerged the winner of Group 3.

Here is the report by WST:

Fan Beats Day To Reach Semis

Fan Zhengyi reached the semi-finals of the 2022 Cazoo Champion of Champions by beating Ryan Day 6-5 in the Group 3 final at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton live on ITV4 in the UK and on broadcasters worldwide.

Fan’s debut at the tournament couldn’t have gone much better. The youngster overcame Cazoo Masters winner Neil Robertson 4-3 to start the day’s action.

Day returned to the tournament after claiming his biggest title win to date at the British Open last month and the Welshman continued his imperious form with a gutsy display that saw him dispatch European Masters champion Kyren Wilson 4-3 in the afternoon.

The group final began at some pace with the mid-session interval reached in just under an hour as both Day and Fan moved through the gears. Fan made 135 in the opener, but Day replied with 87 in the second then eased into a 3-1 lead. Fan came back out firing after the interval with 130 and 52 to pull level at 3-3.

Fan was fearless when clinching the European Masters crown earlier this year, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. And the Chinese ace edged ahead tonight with a run of 68 for 4-3. The next two were shared, then Day’s break of 93 made it 5-5. Runs of 36 and 30 helped Fan take the last frame and he returns on Saturday against the winner of Group 2 consisting of O’Sullivan, Zhao Xintong, Robert Milkins, and Mink Nutcharut.

In fact, every match was won by the “underdog” as Philip Studd would put it.

After the first match, Neil Robertson insisted that he had no complaints. He was beaten by the better man on the day and he praised his young opponent.

Fan also impressed the commentators. Phil Yates in particular almost became “lyrical”! Someone should tell him that Fan’s poor tally in centuries is the result of Fan’s refusal to make them. Until recently he deliberately avoided centuries… Phil obviously has no clue about that.

What is definitely clear is that Fan thrives on the big stages. Some players freeze, he’s inspired! And he handles deciders well.

Ryan Day has always got the ability and talent to be a top player. His temperament let him down at times. It wasn’t the case yesterday.

One thought on “Day 2 at the 2022 Champion of Champions

  1. In Ryan Day’s defence, he did have to play 18 frames with only a 45-minute gap. But it’s true that he has often struggled to press hom an advantage in matches.

    The commentators are vaguely aware of Fan’s refusal to make centuries in his first 3 years on tour, but in fact it was all explained in an interview with Liu Song over a year ago, before his breakthrough. He also indicated the psychological problems he’s had as a young player in the UK, unable to do his talent justice in matches. It is no surprise he had a hangover after his tournament win. He also lost some very close matches. This summer he took an extended holiday: visiting his family in Harbin, waterskiing in Hainan and playing in the City Teams event in Xi’an (winning with Ding Junhui and Mei Xiwen). So his season started later than most players, with that terrible loss to Mick Judge in Furth. The ITV pundits didn’t know those important details, and the solution is simple: they have to talk to him, like they do to the other players. Eurosport have made some progress with Rachel Casey being prepared to interview Zhou Yuelong in Belfast, but ITV haven’t yet taken the plunge. Instead, they showed pictures of Fan in the practice room, on his own, texting his parents.

    I always find it amusing when the pre-canned narrative doesn’t play out. Yesterday they interviewed Neil Robertson before his match, after his match, and in a feature with Joe Perry. The pre-match predictions were all 100% for Neil Robertson. We have an image of him striding round the table knocking in centuries, but he doesn’t always do that, and he too hasn’t played much competitive snooker so far this season. In the last couple of years he’s lost matches against the likes of Jak Jones, Pang Junxu, John Astley, Lei Peifan,… He is of course a wonderful player, perhaps the best, but it really isn’t possible for anyone to live up to such expectations in today’s game.

    But Fan’s magnificent performance was in Ken Doherty’s words ‘a breath of fresh air’. Any sport needs the drama of a young player bravely fighting to overturn the established elite. Let’s hope he can perform decently in the semi-final against Ronnie or maybe Zhao, two familiar opponents.

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