Chris Wakelin Reacts To His BetVictor Shootout Winning Century! 💯

Shanghai Masters Flashback

Next week’s Bank of Communications OTO Shanghai Masters is the eighth consecutive staging of the world ranking event in one of China’s most famous cities. Here’s a year by year history of the tournament…

Capitalising on the explosion of interest in snooker which was ignited by Ding Junhui’s victory at the 2005 China Open in Beijing, the inaugural Shanghai Masters was staged at the East Asia Group Grand Stage in 2007. Dominic Dale lit up the event with some fine performances on the table, not to mention his peroxide blonde haircut and lurid pink shirt. Victories over Ken Doherty, Adrian Gunnell, Dave Harold and Mark Selby put Dale into the final against his close friend Ryan Day. The first session was dominated by Day, seeking his maiden ranking title, as he went 6-3 up with two century breaks. But Dale started the evening session with a glorious 143 and never looked back, winning another six frames in a row for a 10-6 success. “I’m here 10 years after winning my first title and it means so much to me. I’m still competing with the best players. I can’t wait for 2017 now,” said Dale at his post-match press conference, before singing ‘My Way’ to a roomful of bemused and delighted Chinese journalists.

In an incident-packed start to the tournament, Graeme Dott was forced to withdraw after breaking his wrist during a ‘friendly’ football kick-about with other players, probably ending his dreams of playing in goal for Rangers. Jamie Cope got a bye to the last 16 where he made a stunning 147, but lost the match to Mark Williams. Meanwhile, Ricky Walden surged through the draw by knocking out a few all-time greats and current stars, beating Stephen Hendry, Neil Robertson, Steve Davis and Mark Selby. That set up a final against Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was targeting a third consecutive ranking title having won the World Championship and Northern Ireland Trophy. But it was Walden who got the better of a gripping contest, sealing a 10-8 victory with a break of 105. “I am thrilled to bits to win my first tournament and I hope I can go on and achieve more now,” said the Chester cueman.

Four years after Ding made his major breakthough, Liang Wenbo came close to winning his first title, and established himself as China’s second best player. He conceded just four frames in beating Peter Ebdon, Ali Carter and Ricky Walden, then edged out Shaun Murphy 6-5 in the match of the tournament at the semi-final stage. On the other side of the draw, O’Sullivan serenely saw off Graeme Dott, Marco Fu, Ding and John Higgins. And the Rocket always led the final, eventually winning the last three frames for a 10-5 scoreline. “I was only able to play flamboyant snooker in two or three frames. The rest of it was steady, hard, match snooker and I needed patience,” said O’Sullivan. “You think you’ve got Liang in trouble and then he pots a difficult ball – he pots so many.”

O’Sullivan pulled out of the tournament for personal reasons, handing his first round opponent Jamie Burnett a bye to the last 16. Scotland’s Burnett went on to beat Andrew Higginson, Mark Davis and Jamie Cope to reach his first ranking final. Ali Carter knocked out Dave Harold, Stuart Bingham, Matthew Stevens and Mark Selby then got the better of a tense final, winning 10-7 to land the second ranking title of his career. “I just want to win as many titles as I can,” said the Captain. “If you keep getting to the business end of tournaments then you will have chances to win them and that’s what I’ve done. It wasn’t the best match, but those are the ones where winning is what matters.”

The event was sponsored by the Bank of Communications for the first time and produced a classic final between the top two players in the world rankings: Mark Selby and Mark Williams. Welshman Williams came from 7-5 down to lead 9-7, but the key moment came in the 17th frame when Selby was judged by referee Eirian Williams to have hit a red when escaping from a snooker, rather than fouling the pink. Selby eventually won the frame and the next two for a dramatic 10-9 success. Mark Williams was upset by his namesake’s decision and suggested: “We should get Stevie Wonder to referee next time.” However, a WPBSA enquiry concluded that Eirian had made the right call, and Mark apologised, admitting his comments were made in the heat of the moment. Selby, meanwhile, was thrilled to win his second ranking title and become world number one for the first time. “It’s a great feeling, all I wanted to do was to get to the top of the sport. But I have to keep up the hard work because others will want to get ahead of me,” he said.

Once again the event produced an extraordinary final as John Higgins and Judd Trump went head to head, in a repeat of the previous year’s epic World Championship final. Trump fired in two centuries and four more breaks over 50 in taking a 6-1 lead, Higgins’s only response coming in the sixth frame when he compiled a stunning 147, the sixth maximum of his career. Higgins trailed 7-2 going into the evening session but won six frames in a row. Trump recovered to 9-9 and led 36-0 in the deciding frame, but a trademark clearance of 61 from Higgins gave him the title. It remains his only ranking crown since his 2011 world triumph. “In the first session he steam-rollered me, but I still felt confident that if I came back tonight and played my best I would have a small chance,” said Higgins. “To beat Judd when he was playing that well must be one of my best wins ever.”

In a historic moment for snooker, two Chinese players met in the final of a ranking event for the first time, underlining the growing strength of Chinese players at the top level. Xiao Guodong, one of the most improved players on the circuit in recent years, reached his first final by knocking out the likes of Stephen Maguire, Mark Davis and Michael Holt, while local hero Ding Junhui got past the likes of Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins. A break of 126 helped Ding build a 6-3 lead, and he nursed his advantage through the evening session to complete a 10-6 victory. It was his first ranking title on Chinese soil since that momentous 2005 China Open, and it turned out to be the first success of an astonishing 2013/14 campaign for Ding as he went on to win three ranking crowns in a row and five in all over the season. “I had to let my emotions go after winning the tournament,” he said. “This showed how much I wanted this title, I wanted it more than anybody. Now I can concentrate more on my snooker and this win means a lot to my career.”