With the Haining Open coming up next week, it’s a chance to reflect on some memorable moments at Asian Tour events over the past three years.
The 2015 Haining Open runs from October 19 to 23, in Haining City in the Zhejiang Province of southern China. Click here for the match schedule. And here’s a look back at the top five Asian Tour moments since the first event was staged in 2012….
5. Joe Perry wins the 2013 Yixing Open
Before he won this title, Perry would certainly have been in the mix in any conversation about the best players never to have won a title carrying ranking points. He had won the Championship League, reached the semi-finals at the Crucible and enjoyed a spell in the top 16, but never before won a televised event. So victory in Yixing, secured with a superb 4-1 win over Mark Selby in the final, was a vital breakthrough for the Gentleman. “It’s been a great experience for me and it’ll be a place I always remember fondly,” said Perry. The confidence gleaned from this triumph helped him go on to win another Asian Tour event in 2015 and then his first full ranking title at the Players Championship.
Flower Power: Ding and Holt
4. Ding Junhui wins the 2014 Yixing Open
Yixing is a relatively small city (population a mere 1.25 million) close to Wuxi in China’s Jiangsu Province. It is known for three things: its bamboo forest, the teapots made from its renowned clay, and being the home city of Ding, the country’s leading snooker player and one of China’s most famous sportsmen. So it was appropriate that he claimed the title in front of his local fans in 2014, beating Michael Holt 4-2 in the final. “I played consistently well in the tournament and kept determined through to the end,” said Ding. It remains his only title since his prolific 2013/14 season.
3. Ryan Day makes a 147
There has only been one maximum break in Asian Tour events, and that came from the cue of Welshman Day as he compiled the magic number at the 2014 Haining Open, during a match against Cao Yupeng. Day, who also made a 139 during the match, said: “I was thinking about the 147 from the start of the break. It was just about trying not to be nervous. It’s a great feeling.” He felt even better when the WPBSA announced a new rolling prize for 147s at Asian Tour events, backdated to ensure he received £1,000.
2. Stuart Bingham wins fourth AT title
Bingham has unquestionably been the most successful player in Asian Tour events, and his victory at the 2014 Haining Open was his fourth title. Perry is the only other player to win more than one. Bingham has always been known for his relentless love of snooker and commitment to playing in tournaments across the globe, and perhaps the winning habit he developed on the Asian Tour helped him go on to become World Champion. This event was also notable for the run of Oliver Lines to the final, before losing 4-0 to Bingham. Within a few months of turning pro, Lines achieved something his dad Peter is yet to do by reaching a professional final. He was voted Rookie of the Year at the end of the season.
1. Ju Reti wins the 2013 Zhangjiagang Open
Never in snooker history had an amateur won a tournament carrying ranking points, until Ju did just that, beating six Chinese player to reach the final then seeing off Michael Holt 4-1. Ju’s back-story made the tale all the more remarkable. He is a member of the Uyghur ethnic group from China’s Xinjiang region, he grew up on a farm and never went to school, but practised every day on a snooker table in his village. “I do not smoke and do not drink either,” he said. “I kept practising and thinking about my snooker.” His victory earned him a place at the Players Championship in Preston, where he lost to Judd Trump.