Chinese ace Luo Honghao is looking forward to returning to Crawley for next week’s 19.com English Open, having reached the quarter-finals last year.
Luo, 19, enjoyed a promising debut season on the pro tour in 2018/19, highlighted by his fine run in Sussex as well as a first appearance at the Crucible.
At K2 Crawley he beat four players including Anthony McGill and Neil Robertson, then pushed Ronnie O’Sullivan hard in the quarter-finals. Luo led the Rocket 3-2 but eventually lost 5-3.
“My dream as a young child came true, to play against O’Sullivan at a venue,” said Luo. “There were so many spectators watching me play. It’s an unforgettable memory and I wish to experience more of the same.
“Ronnie is a nice person. We added each other on WeChat and talked a lot. I sent him clips of myself playing piano. What I need to learn from him is his perseverance and determination. He used to run 10km a day and practise for ten hours without touching his phone. You have to say ‘no’ to socialising and dedicate yourself to the game – I don’t think many players can really do that.”
Luo went on to qualify for the final stages of the World Championship in April. His Crucible experience was one to forget as he lost 10-0 to Shaun Murphy – becoming only the second player to be whitewashed at the Sheffield venue – though there were mitigating circumstances.
“After the qualifiers finished, Lu Ning treated everyone a big sea food dinner and I had a lot,” Luo explained. “I wasn’t aware that I was allergic to some of the food, so I got a high fever that night. I wasn’t able to pot a ball the next day.
“I was hoping that Shaun Murphy wouldn’t be at his best so I could have some chances, but he made a lot of breaks. To lose 10-0 was a disaster but I can’t say I could have done better. You can’t give up because of one heavy defeat. Even players like Mark Selby have lost bad matches and they are so much better than me.”
Luo has made a strong start to his second pro season, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the Kasperksy Riga Maters, and is determined to improve the areas he perceives as his weaknesses.
“I don’t think there are problems with my technique, the issue is about psychology,” said the world number 69. “I often don’t start matches well. I find the first match in a tournament the most difficult one. And if I win the first frame in a match, I settle down immediately.
“By competing with the top players you learn fast, your technique and strategy will improve. I’d like to think my scoring is as good as most players but I need a stronger tactical game. The champions have a better mindset going into matches because they have experienced everything and there’s not much to prove, so they might be able to enjoy it a bit more. The results don’t bother me too much but I want to perform to my ability.”
An accomplished pianist, Luo is nicknamed The Virtuoso. “I love snooker and I love music too,” he added. “I once considered playing music professionally. If I could enjoy a successful snooker career, winning lots of titles, I might as well juggle it with a bit of music.”
Luo plays Sam Craigie in the first round of the 19.com English Open in Crawley. The event runs from October 14-20 and features kings of the baize including O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy. Tickets are still available and start at just £10 – for details click here.