Name: Li Yan
DOB: 17th September 1992
Turned Pro: 2011
Highest Ranking: #65
Highest Break: 132 (2011/12 PTC3)
Career Highlights: 2011 UK Championship last 32, 2009 Shanghai Masters last 32, 2012 China Open last 48
Best known to snooker fans for his exploits as a wildcard during the ranking events staged over in China, Li Yan’s first such appearance came at the 2008 Shanghai Masters where he lost 5-1 to the experienced Anthony Hamilton.
His sole win at this stage came at the same event the following season as he edged out Gerard Greene in a decider before losing out to Ryan Day 5-3 at the last 32 stage. Since then he has lost to the likes of Andrew Higginson, Joe Delaney and Joe Perry during the wildcard round of subsequent events.
Despite these results, he was however able to come through Event Two of the 2010/11 Q School with victories against Gareth Coates, Tony Knowles, Vinnie Calabrese, Kyren Wilson and David Gray to secure a place on the main tour for the first time.
Making his début on the main tour in 2011/12, Li impressed from the outset with a win against Mark Williams in his season-opener at PTC1, with further victories against names such as John Higgins and Judd Trump to follow later in the season.
His best results from the PTC events would eventually be three last 16 runs, but it was his successful qualification for the UK Championship which would really catch the eye, victories against Stuart Carrington, Andy Hicks, Jack Lisowski and Fergal O’Brien earning him a last 32 tie with Shaun Murphy.
Li at the 2011 UK Championship qualifiers
Though he was to lose out 6-3 to Shaun in York, the 2005 world champion was suitably impressed by his performance to describe Li as the most-naturally gifted player that he had seen from China during his post-match press conference.
Li’s best performance during the second half of the season was to come at the China Open qualifiers when he was able to make it as far as the final qualifying round before losing out to Fergal O’Brien in a deciding frame.
Though his second round defeat to James Wattana at the World Championship qualifiers meant that he would finish the season ranked 68th, his performances during the PTC events were enough to see him comfortably retain his place on the main tour at the end of the season.
Following his impressive début season on the main tour, the first half of 2012/13 was to prove challenging for Li Yan, as he failed to make it beyond the third qualifying round of a full-ranking event, while his results in the PTC series were unremarkable, a couple of last 16 efforts representing his best efforts.