History of the International Championship
The eighth running of snooker’s International Championship gets underway in Daqing on Sunday, with Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen looking to defend his title. Here is the history of an event which has rapidly ascended to become one of the biggest in the sport…
The tournament was first introduced to the World Snooker Tour calendar in 2012. It was immediately inserted as one of the premier events on the circuit and was allocated the same number of ranking points as the UK Championship.
The first three years were hosted by the city of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province. The inaugural tournament saw a heavyweight clash in the final with Judd Trump taking on Neil Robertson. It was Trump who prevailed in a 10-8 victory and became the first ever name on the trophy.
A year later two of the biggest names in the history of Asian snooker went toe to toe for the title, with China’s Ding Junhui facing Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. Ding made five centuries in an epic encounter, as he edged past Fu to emerge a 10-9 victor.
Ricky Walden secured the biggest payday of his career by claiming the trophy in 2014. He picked up the £125,000 top prize by defeating Mark Allen 10-7.
A year later the tournament was moved to the city of Daqing, the oil capital of China, which is located in the Heilongjiang province.
The first Daqing final pitted four-time World Champion John Higgins against David Gilbert. Scotland’s Higgins proved to be too strong for Gilbert and prevailed in a 10-5 victory.
Ding Junhui reached his second International Championship final in 2016. However, he was up against three-time Crucible king Mark Selby, who put on a sublime display to run out a 10-1 winner.
Selby again made the final in 2017. He was faced Mark Allen, who fell at the final hurdle for a second time as Selby came through with a 10-7 victory.
It was a case of third time lucky for Allen last year as he finally got his hands on the coveted trophy. The Pistol shot down Australia’s Neil Robertson to claim the £175,000 top prize with a 10-5 victory.
The winner this year will again earn £175,000. That means the International Championship has the fourth most lucrative ranking event top prize on the World Snooker Tour, behind the World Championship, UK Championship and China Open.
The elite nature of this year’s field can be illustrated by the impressive number of high ranked players who came through qualifying. Other than Ronnie O’Sullivan, who didn’t enter, world number 26 Lyu Haotian is the highest ranked player not to make it to Daqing.