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Zhou Aiming For Second Taste Of World Cup Glory

Zhou Yuelong is hoping to get his hands on the Beverly World Cup for the second time, when he pairs up with Liang Wenbo to form the China B team next week.

Zhou phenomenally burst onto the global stage as a 17-year-old at the 2015 World Cup. On that occasion he was joined by a 15-year-old Yan Bingtao. The teenage duo upset the odds to become World team champions. Four years on and the gravity of their victory is still not lost on Zhou.

“It was a surprise even to us. We were so comfortable,” said world number 31 Zhou. “We won our group, then got past some strong teams like Australia and Wales to reach the final. To then beat a team like Scotland, who were represented by John Higgins and Stephen Maguire was fantastic. We were underdogs against pretty much every team we faced in the latter stages, but we had the momentum with us. It was a special victory.

“By winning that we also both qualified for the Champion of Champions. I managed to win my opening match against Stuart Bingham. That really helped me to become less nervous of playing on TV tables and competing in major events.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Liang Wenbo at the World Cup this time. We have already met and spoken about pairing up. He is a brilliant team player and someone I respect. This tournament is completely different to other events. I am not playing as Zhou Yuelong, but instead I’m representing China.”

Zhou enjoyed a strong finish to last season. He made the first 147 of his career at the Indian Open against Lyu Haotian, before reaching the Crucible stages of the World Championship for a second time. Zhou recorded an impressive win over 2018 Masters champion Mark Allen, but then bowed out against Ali Carter in the last 16.

Zhou said: “I had never even got close to a maximum break before that. I felt the pressure towards the end of the break. I just tried to concentrate on taking it each pot at a time. Memories of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh missing two final blacks on maximums slipped into my mind, but luckily I potted it.

“I’ve grown up a lot in recent times and my second trip to the Crucible wasn’t as intimidating. It was a shame to lose in the second round to Ali Carter, but after the event Ding invited my round to his house and we discussed the experience. That was very helpful.”