As Yan Bingtao turned the youngest Masters champion in 26 years, commentator John Virgo informed BBC Two viewers: “A star is born.”
Yan turned solely the second Asian participant ever to win one in every of snooker’s Triple Crown occasions as he beat John Higgins to win the Masters.
His 10-8 victory over Higgins – after being 5-3 and 7-5 down – noticed him turn into the event’s youngest champion since Ronnie O’Sullivan gained the title as a 19-year-old in 1995.
However how did Yan emerge? And why is he now seen in China as being in the identical bracket as tennis nice Li Na and former NBA star Yao Ming?
BBC Sport seems on the 20-year-old’s rise to prominence and why comparisons are additionally being made with six-time world champion Steve Davis.
‘Yan at all times appeared as if he had that bit additional’
Yan’s emergence has lengthy been within the making. He was one of many first gamers to attend the World Skilled Billiards and Snooker Affiliation’s (WPBSA) academy in Beijing when it opened in 2013.
And his potential was on present when profitable the 2015 World Cup for China alongside Zhou Yuelong, with a victory over Scotland’s Higgins and Stephen Maguire within the ultimate.
“After we opened our Chinese language academy, Yan was one of many first college students in there and it’s nice to see the place all his onerous work has acquired him immediately,” stated WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson.
“Yan at all times appeared like he was the one with that little bit additional to offer. I’ve seen so few gamers go frame-for-frame with John Higgins through the years. His efficiency within the ultimate was unbelievable.”
Ding Junhui, 33, is the one different participant from China to take pleasure in success within the Triple Crown occasions, profitable the UK Championship on three events and the Masters as soon as.
Even with 19 Chinese language gamers on this planet’s high 100, previous to Sunday, solely Liang Wenbo had emulated Ding in reaching a Triple Crown ultimate.
“The Chinese language market is round 30% of the entire world snooker tour as of late, so it’s a significant slice – and to have this expertise coming by is of monumental worth for us,” Ferguson added.
“Yan has at all times had what it takes and he is acquired the endurance and skill to stay in there for the lengthy haul.”
‘He reminds them of Davis’
Yan’s dedication to show himself noticed him transfer away from his homeland at 16 to take up a spot at Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield.
At that stage, he spoke no English and admitted that his arrival within the UK initially left him “completely misplaced and confused” – however his agent Victoria Shi – who runs the Sheffield academy – says his focus, resolve and composure have at all times been evident.
“Everybody says he reminds them of Steve Davis as a result of he’s so calm and so decided regardless that he’s solely 20,” Shi informed BBC Radio 5 Stay.
“He was at all times chasing John Higgins however he at all times got here again. He is essentially the most hard-working participant at my academy. He confirmed how sturdy his mindset is, how a lot he needs to win, that is the distinction. I’ve by no means seen a child like him.
“He’s essentially the most profitable Chinese language sportsman in the meanwhile. Li Na gained the Australian Open and French Open and Yao Ming performed NBA basketball, however everybody longed for a superb younger sportsman to convey hope at this troublesome time.
“Everybody watched it on the web. He’s the perfect sportsperson in China and at that age it is particular.”
What the greats assume
4-time winner Higgins and Davis talked up Yan’s credentials as a possible world champion within the aftermath of Sunday’s match.
And John Parrott, who gained on the Crucible in 1991 added: “I knew Yan was good however not this good.
“I’ve seen him play a number of instances. He is actually impressed me along with his angle and temperament. He seems very comfy within the warmth of battle.
“He does not give off many unhealthy vibes, he simply retains going about his enterprise. His temperament for someone of 20 and so little expertise of a Triple Crown occasion is excellent.”
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