Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ding on a different planet

Ding Junhui has proved he is an absolutely incredible talent - ready to win the World Championship.

The Chinese star put on a 99% pot success masterclass to fightback from 3-0 down to beat Neil Robertson 4-3 to win the PTC Grand Finals title in Galway.

He was on a different planet. He was superb.

Ding has had plenty of doubters but this week he played as good as you can. It was the stuff of dreams. He has showed off his great break-building prowess again and proved he has the bottle to finally deliver the world title.

The level of snooker he has sustained this week has been a level above. He's produced the kind of snooker of a player finding top gear at the perfect time of year for an all-out assault at a Crucible triumph.

He is 25 years old. He has matured. He looks like he's enjoying himself. These are dangerous signs for his rivals.

Ding is right up there as one of the best players to watch in top form. He has been a joy to watch in Ireland. Long may it continue.

Tonight's plaudits well and truly belong to the China wizard. You have to sit back and admire, but he hasn't been alone in impressing this week.

Kurt Maflin has been the real surprise package. He flew through to the semi-finals and played some brilliant snooker along the way.

The Norwegian is a super break-builder. When he's playing well he can make beating anyone look easy. He lacks real quality in the tactical department though. This is the only area of his game stopping him climbing up the ladder. With a more sound safety game he'd rocket up the rankings.

Ben Woollaston has also had an impressive week. Lots of people keep telling me that he is the real deal.

He is a solid all-round player and doesn't appear to have any obvious weaknesses, but in Galway he has shown us another big quality. He looks like he can easily make the step up to the TV stage. He makes the transition seamlessly. This will be important as he looks to further establish himself on the circuit.

Who else starred this week? Joe Swail set himself up well for a return to the big time next season. His win against Stephen Maguire shows he can still compete with the big boys and should give him a timely dose of confidence.This was a big result for a player who technically is still ranked as an amateur.

Jack Lisowski orchestrated the giantkilling of Mark Selby. This was a big win that consolidates his considerable stock in the game.

Young Jack has been threatening to break through in a big way for a long time now. Believe me, it will happen soon. He is a great talent. Results like this will help.

Then there's Xiao Guodong. He's another incredible scorer, but has gone a little quiet this season. His path to the quarter-finals is a timely reminder that he remains one to watch.

It's been a great week in Galway with great moments for so many players, but it hasn't always been hunky dory.

The scheduling of this event has been very poor. Trying to cram six matches into a day's play simply hasn't worked. Mark Allen and Swail began their contest at gone midnight.

This is absolutely absurd. Few fans can realistically stay up to watch a match starting at this hour and spectators could easily be pushed to remain at the venue. It can't help the players either. Although conditions are the same for both, it's an added headache for the players who are giving their absolute all in an important tournament.

It doesn't take a genius to work out these problems were inevitable with an ambitious amount of matches scheduled each day.

But it's easy to take chunks out of World Snooker and plenty do it all too often. I'm not normally one to be critical. The sport's governing body do many things very well. I'm happy to give credit where credit is due but on this occasion they've been caught right out.

World Snooker should have a rethink ahead of next year's event. Learning from the mistake is a must.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Gary - he's in my top 4 favourite's at Sheffield after his recent form, he played well in Wales too.

    Hurry up April 20th!