Yan Bingtao came through an enthralling battle between two of snooker’s brightest prospects, as he defeated Welsh teenager Jackson Page 10-7 to progress at Betfred World Championship Qualifying in Sheffield.
The 18-year-old from China is slightly further along his career path than Page, having already picked up silverware when he lifted the World Cup alongside Zhou Yuelong for China. He has also appeared in a ranking final at the Northern Ireland Open, where he narrowly lost 9-8 to Mark Williams, and has spent two seasons as a professional.
16-year-old Page has predominantly showcased his considerable talent at his home tournament, the Welsh Open. The teenage sensation, who practises with Mark Williams, has won three matches over the last two years at the Cardiff event. He is also a former World Under-18 champion and the reigning European Under-18 champion.
The young Welsh star showed his battling qualities today. He trailed Yan 6-1, but hit back to restore parity at 6-6. From there the extra experience garnered by Yan came to the fore. He eventually progressed in the 17th frame on the final pink and will face compatriot Tian Pengfei in the next round.
1997 World Champion Ken Doherty kept his hopes of reaching the Crucible alive with a hard fought 10-8 win over compatriot Josh Boileau.
Doherty was never behind in the tie and had led 5-1 at one stage. However, 22-year-old Boileau stuck to the task and fought his way back into the match, eventually pulling within one at 9-8.
Boileau had led the 19th frame 50-0, but a fine counter-clearance of 71 from the Darling of Dublin helped him to get over the line.
Afterwards the 48-year-old Doherty admitted that if he were to qualify for the Crucible, it may be the finale to his storied career.
“It would be nice walking out into the arena as a player rather than a pundit,” said Doherty, who works as an analyst and commentator for BBC Sport. “When I am coming near to retirement, I think one last time playing at the Crucible would probably be my final swansong. Whether it is this year or next year, I don’t know. I am still in the tournament, I’m still battling away and I love the competition.”
Doherty’s opponent in the second round will be Gerard Greene. The world number 90 produced a superb late night win over Mark King, coming through in a deciding frame 10-9.
Adam Stefanow recorded shock 10-8 win over world number 39 Gary Wilson and is a step closer to becoming Poland’s first Crucible participant.
Stefanow took the decision to hang up his cue a couple of months ago. He has now moved back to Poland from Sheffield. He had based himself in the Steel City for his snooker career, which he carried out in conjunction with a part-time restaurant job.
Stefanow gained his place for this week thanks to a run to the final of the recent WSF Championship and as things stand, this will be his last tournament.
“I think a bit of pressure came off for me. I just wanted to improve so quickly and now I have started to enjoy the game,” said the 24-year-old. “At the moment this is my last professional event. I didn’t enter Q School.
“I think it would be absolutely mental in Poland if I could qualify. I have a big support in my country. I am over the moon to win that match.
“I just can’t believe it. I remember three years back when I arrived in Sheffield, I went to watch at the Crucible. I said to myself that if I could play there it would be amazing. I am two matches away which is a lot, but this is what I am aiming for.”
Alfie Burden kept his hopes of tour survival alive with a 10-6 defeat of Jamie Curtis-Barrett. That victory leaves him in position to regain his card via the one-year list. Defeat for Curtis-Barrett means he will lose his tour card.
Two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens saw off Australia’s Ryan Thomerson 10-5. While Chinese youngster Yuan Sijun defeated Fergal O’Brien 10-5.