The Old Green Baize editor Nigel Slater looks at the key points following the first ever English Open.
1. Wenbo has his moment!
HE’s had to wait more than 11 years for his dream moment – but when it came it was well worth it.
Liang Wenbo could not hide his delight when he sunk in the final pink which sealed his first major ranking title.
Those joyful scenes will live long in the memory of the 29-year-old and for me is one of the season’s highlights so far.
Wenbo has improved a lot over the years and first came to prominence when he reached the Shanghai Masters final in 2009 which he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan. More recently he made the UK Championship final last year but lost out to Neil Robertson.
Known as a dangerous player when in top form, Wenbo’s lively charismatics at the table have seen him become one of the most entertaining players to watch. But sometimes his epic nature have caused him trouble and, arguably, seen him fail to deliver his true potential.
It was interesting noting that Wenbo said that O’Sullivan had advised him to keep calm during the final and in doing so he beat an opponent very much on top of his game.
Breaking that ranking title duck will give Wenbo a new lease of life. It wouldn’t surprise me if more titles were to come his way.
2. Is Judd finding the consistency he’s craved
THOUGH Judd Trump will be disappointed not to have won the English Open he can take heart that he is in his best form in recent times.
A cracking talent who on his day can beat anyone – just ask Ronnie O’Sullivan. But the ability to be good consistently has been Judd’s achilles heel, I think it’s fair to say.
One major ranking title would come his way and then it would be a long wait until the next one would come.
Winning the European Masters and then coming so close in the English Open certainly shows that consistency is there. Top three in the world is probably right for a player of his class.
Achieving consistency is very hard in today’s game with so many top players and tournaments in the calendar but the past two weeks will certainly have been a delight to the Trump camp.
3. Young Zhao takes on the Rocket
HE MAYBE young but the first ever English Open is something wonderkid Zhao Xintong will never forget.
Why? Because the way he took on Ronnie O’Sullivan in the early rounds before succumbing to a 4-3 defeat earned him plaudits including his opponent himself.
The 19-year-old Chinese sensation showed incredible temperament taking on O’Sullivan with an exciting brand of attacking snooker and giving the five-times world champion a mighty contest.
Xintong took the lead early with a wonderful break of 130 in the opening frame and hit another stunning century break of 107 to level at 2-2.
He then took the lead with a run of 80 to be on the verge of his biggest win to date only for O’Sullivan to turn it around and win the decider.
Though he lost, the match underlined Zhou’s incredible talent. He’s definitely one to watch!
4. Alfie joins the 147 club
THE FIRST ever English Open will also be something that world number 65 Alfie Burden will never forget.
Burden became snooker’s latest to hit a maximum break in his first round match against Daniel Wells.
The perfect break was Alfie’s first and will go down as history as World Snooker’s 122nd official 147 in history. Steve Davis making the first in the mid 1980s.
5. Eurosport continues to impress as part of ground-breaking TV deal
RAVE reviews were once again sent Eurosport’s way for their impressive live coverage of the tournament throughout the whole week.
This is a channel which is really giving snooker fans fantastic insight into the game with live analysis and engrossing debate with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds and presenter Andy Goldstein.
Much was made earlier this year of World Snooker’s mega ten-year deal with the channel – it looks like it is all starting to blossom.
6. Thoughts on the first English Open
IT’S DIFFICULT to know what constitutes a successful tournament? Bums on seats, quality of play/players, good TV coverage, sponsorship deals etc – many will have different views.
But the new English Open seems to have gone done well in the game.
This ranking event is part of the Home Nations series joining the already established Welsh Open and the new Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open which take place in the coming weeks.
And what a lovely touch for the trophy to be named in honour of Steve Davis.
Crowd attendances during the opening rounds were disappointing. Even Ali Carter pointed out that out for the semi-finals in a tweet but you are bound to get teething problems in any new event.
I look forward to seeing its return next year.