Liang Wenbo has made a stunning maximum break in his bid to secure a place at this year’s World Championship.
The Chinese star recorded a 147 in his opening World Championship qualifier against Rod Lawler to put him on the verge of victory leading 9-1.
Remarkably, it is Wenbo’s second maximum break of the season after he got his first of his career during the English Open back in October last year.
Wenbo’s maximum comes just one day after World Snooker announced it would vastly increase the prize money for a 147 during both the qualifiers and the World Championship itself.
Last week’s China Open saw maximums in successive days from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stuart Bingham meaning the rolling prize money had dropped from a potential £40,000 to £5,000.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn had earlier hinted the prize money for the World Championship – snooker’s biggest event – would go up despite the China Open maximums when he tweeted snooker website Snooker HQ a week ago.
Now it has been decided that the prize money for the qualifiers will go up to £10,000 and up to £40,000 at the Crucible.
Hearn said: “It was fantastic to see two maximum breaks from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stuart Bingham at least week’s China Open, earning them each £21,000, but of course that dropped the bonus available in the rolling pot to £5,000.
“The Betfred World Championship is our Blue Riband event so we feel it deserves an extra reward for a 147. A maximum break is such a magical moment – we haven’t seen one at the Crucible since 2012 so we wish all the players the best of luck trying to make one this year.”
This means Wenbo is now in line to win the maximum prize of £10,000 for the qualifying stages of the World Championship should no other player make a 147 in the remaining matches.
Also in action tonight is six-times World Championship finalist Jimmy White who has a slender 5-4 lead against Sam Craigie in the opening round match.
Two former World Championship semi-finalists are also going head to head with Ricky Walden facing Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail.
Snooker Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou and Scottish Open finalist Cao Yupeng also start their bid to secure a place at the Crucible.