Ding Leading Asian Charge in Snooker

A Chinese snooker star’s trailblazing work over the past 15 years looks set to be the catalyst for a radical shift in the balance of power within the sport.

Ding Junhui famously burst onto the scene as a teenager back in 2005 when he recorded a stunning victory over Stephen Hendry in the final of the China Open.

The game was watched by 110 million people on Chinese sports channel CCTV-5 and sparked a massive craze for the game across Asia.

Ding has continued to lead by example since then, winning 14 major titles during the course of his career including the UK Championship on three occasions.

His efforts have clearly had a major impact around the world, with insightful research by Betway highlighting the globalization of snooker in recent times.

The sport has historically been dominated by British and Irish players, with overseas players winning the World Championship on just three occasions.

Although snooker crossed into the mainstream in the 1970s, that didn’t translate into the sport becoming a truly global phenomenon.

Canada’s Cliff Thorburn broke the glass ceiling with his 18-16 victory over Alex Higgins to claim the world title in 1980, but it took another 30 years for snooker to produce another overseas winner.

Australian star Neil Robertson was the man to snap the streak by beating Graeme Dott in the 2010, but things have reverted to type with 10 British winners since then.

However, the latest world rankings point towards snooker being in the midst of change, with seven of the current top 32 players born in Asia.

Numerous other Asian players have also broken onto the tour in recent times, further showcasing the impact that Ding has had on the game there.

The 2019 UK Championship was a great example of the changes snooker is undergoing, with a trio of players from Asia reaching the quarter-finals.

Ding was inevitably one of the three, with Liang Wenbo and Yan Bingtao also progressing to the last eight of the prestigious competition.

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Wenbo and Bingtao were both beaten by Ding, before he went on to claim his third UK title with an impressive 10-6 victory over Stephen Maguire.

Bingtao has been tipped as a star of the future, with Judd Trump recently predicting that he will win the World Championship during his career.

The 20-year-old has already won his first ranking event and is currently ranked amongst the world’s top 16 players.

With more tournaments being played in Asia and additional players joining the tour, the British and Irish dominance of snooker may well be coming to an end.

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