A very dark day for our sport …

The day before yesterday WPBSA/WST had announced that five players, all Chinese, all practising at Ding’s academy had been suspended as allegations of “misconduct” were investigated. The wording of the announcement strongly suggested that the whole affair was somehow linked to the Liang Wenbo investigation and that it was about match fixing.

Yesterday, one of the suspended players, Chang Bingyu decided to speak out and posted some details on weibo. His posts have since been deleted but not before some of it was captured, translated and shared on twitter.

This is far worse than everything we imagined. Liang’s family is extremely wealthy. They likely have “connections” with powerful people, the very rich usually do. I believe Chang when he says he was scared and he’s been extremely courageous to speak out although doing it may actually interfere with the investigation. If this is proven to be true, there is only one possible outcome for Liang: a life ban.

From what I understood, he could also face a trial in China, but he’s not currently in China and if he doesn’t return, he might well escape that.

I wrote above that this is worse than we expected, however, in a way, it’s reassuring to know that match fixing is not always done for personal profit and greed. In this case the culprit acted out of fear. This is something I suspected for a long time, but I never thought that the “blackmailer” could be a player themself. I was more thinking about outsiders linked to the betting ecosystem.

But it is only reassuring “in a way” because it’s actually scary and very worrying to discover that a player, a former ranking event winner, inside the game was actively constraining other players to fix matches by threatening them.

I actually watched that match Chang lost in the British Open qualifiers and I could see that Chang wasn’t himself and looked very unhappy but I never imagined that something so bad was happening. I was just supposing that Chang had a bad day in office, maybe had a migraine or something. It happens to all of us.

10 thoughts on “A very dark day for our sport …

  1. I don’t see how a player can agree to lose a match 4-1, unless the opponent is also in on the fix. You can certainly guarantee that you will lose 4 frames, but you can’t guarantee that you will win 1…

    • Indeed Mark, there is no guarantee, but Chang is probably good enough for him to win at least a frame in such a match most of the time and Jones is good enough to win any best of 7 match with any score without it looking suspicious. So if the story is true, it was a reasonably safe gamble from Liang to ask for that score that was always going to look less suspicious than a 4-0.

      • Yes, I suppose that a player can agree to TRY to win exactly 1 frame, and then if he fails to do so, he wouldn’t get in trouble as long as it looked like he was genuinely trying.

        Looking back on Liang’s recent career, I think of him as a player who tended to choke under pressure, and to miss important shots at critical junctures. Now I’m inclined to wonder if he was missing at least some of those shots on purpose, such as the match ball black against Ronnie in the 2017 Masters…

      • My perception is a bit different: I think he’s someone who tends to get overexcited at times and therefore loses his focus. But then, it’s just my perception nothing I can be certain of.

  2. Didn’t Ronnie once claim that Liang was one of the nicest people u could met and that he was very humble?
    This all reads like a U-Turn in character from him.

    • Indeed. I met Liang years ago and he came across as a nice bloke. He was managed by the Grove at the time and often cooked for everyone. He’s a very good cook. When got married he invited all the Chinese players. It’s quite baffling. Either he managed very well to hide his true character or something over the years has changed him for the worse.

      • My view was that something happened to him a few years ago. I was almost of the opinion he needed psychiatric help, his behaviour was so unstable. I don’t know if the WPBSA are able to issue a ‘life ban’, but they can make it practically impossible for him to return, as they did for Stephen Lee. What still astounds me is that Yu Delu has switched to Chinese Pool, with some success. It’s unimaginable how he was allowed to compete, but I assume there are loopholes in their code of conduct.

        Incidentally, it was probably unwise for Chang Bingyu to make that tweet, but understandable. Your translation is not completely accurate, and he did say some other things as well. But it’s now for the investigation to sort things out. Hopefully they will act quickly: to have this rumbling along doesn’t help snooker. As 4 of the 5 have confessed that should speed things up a little.

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