Zhou, Yan Win World Cup For China B

Zhou Yuelong

Congratulations to Chinese youngsters Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao, who have defeated the Scottish pairing of John Higgins and Stephen Maguire to win the 2015 World Cup in Wuxi, China.

The young pair each earn a share of the £130,000 top prize, as well as places in this season’s Champion of Champions event in Coventry, but perhaps more importantly the experience of not only playing in, but winning a professional tournament.

The day started for them with a semi-final victory against Wales, Zhou Yuelong defeating Mark Williams in the deciding frame to win 4-3 and join Scotland in the final, who had earlier beaten India by the same scoreline.

From the off however, the final never looked like being that close as Yan Bingtao opened with a century, the home team soon racing into a 3-0 lead. Though Scotland were able to pull one back, the match was to be over in the next frame as China sealed a 4-1 victory to win the title.

The result marks a title defence of sorts for China, who of course won the previous staging of this event back in 2011 when they fielded just one team of Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo in Thailand. The talent of both players was already widely known within the game, both having won the IBSF World Championship in recent years, while Zhou last season earned more prize money than any other rookie player and is well placed to break into the top 64 during the next 12 months.

Perhaps now though the young pair, who remember are still only 17 and 15 years old, will achieve even greater recognition from the media at large and be able to use the success as a springboard to further success in the future. Certainly the additional exposure that both will now earn on terrestrial television in the UK at the Champion of Champions event can only help also.

For Scotland, disappointing to lose the final but a lucrative start to the season for both Higgins and Maguire nonetheless as they each take home around £32,500, while both Wales and India who reached the semi-finals can also be pleased with their efforts.

Yan Bingtao

What of the event overall? Has the return of the World Cup been a success?

From my perspective, it is very difficult for me to have an opinion on the event itself either way as I saw very little of it, but judging by some of the tweets that I have read, those who were there and those who watched it did find it enjoyable.

Perhaps my problem with the event wasn’t so much the format itself, although the group stages were probably longer than they needed to be, but the way that the event was presented back in the UK.

In terms of the television coverage, clearly the timezone issue is something that is unavoidable and I have sympathy with Eurosport, who have shown a lot of tennis throughout the week during the daytime, which I imagine (though this is only a guess), would bring in more viewers than the snooker.

What I found to be disappointing however was the way that when unable to watch matches, it was pretty much impossible to find out which players had played in and won which frames during matches. While the event is about countries taking on other countries, with snooker being otherwise an individual sport, it is for me important to know which players are involved in matches.

Perhaps there was a good reason for that information being unavailable, I am not sure, but it was akin to reading football scores, without knowing which players had scored and for me this did take something away from the event.

Still, on a more positive note, the experience will have been valuable for some of the amateurs and lower ranked professionals involved, for example Neil Robertson talking earlier in the tournament about how much Vinnie Calabrese will take from the week.

I thought that the highlight of the tournament too was clearly the final day of the group stages on Friday, which was genuinely interesting as the various permutations unfolded, with Australia sneaking through by a frame and England heading out on fightback. If somehow the groups were able to finish sooner, allowing for a longer knock-out phase, this would bring that excitement forward to earlier in the week, maybe allowing for some longer matches later on.

The event returns in 2017, while more immediately we have the Australian Goldfields Open to look forward to, getting underway a week on Monday in Bendigo.