This is the first of a series of posts, in the build-up of the 2019 WSS ROKiT World Championship, starting at the Crucible on August 15.
The opening match of the competition, played at 10 am on August 15, 2019 will see Tony Knowles do battle with Chen Gang.
Tony Knowles came to fame when he beat Steve Davis by 10-1 in the first round of the 1982 World Championship at the Crucible. Steve Davis was the defending champion, and the pre-tournament favourite for the title. Tony Knowles was an un-heralded outsider. That he beat Steve was a huge surprise, that he beat him by 10-1 was a seismic shock. He went on to reach the quarter-finals in the tournament. In the next two seasons he managed to win two ranking tournaments.
If you speak to Tony nowadays, he will probbably tell you how himself and his contemporaries traveled Europe and the world promoting snooker everywhere. Those memories are dear to him. And he’s right. How many remember that snooker was popular outside the UK/Ireland at the time? Yes, it was. Eurosport started covering snooker as early as the late 1980 th and lots clubs opened in western mainland Europe.
Chen Gang is a bit of an unknown quantity, to us Europeans at least. He’s 42 and from Anhui, a Chinese Province, west of Shanghai. He runs a club there, and is a respected coach. He also regularly competes, with success, in China national competitions. Chen Gang was considered to be the best player in Anhui – “Anhui first cue” – until recently, when Niu Zhuang, a 25 years old former professional raised the bar. Chen Gang was runner-up in the Chinese Qualifying Event and was afterwards chosen to be CBSA nominee for the 2019 WSS ROKiT World Championship.
Match mini preview
I would have liked to find some footage of Chen Gang in action in order to know a bit more about his game … but I failed. Therefore I have no idea about the type of player he is. However he’s relatively young, 42, and, more importantly, he is an active player who still competes regularly, as opposed to Tony Knowles who is retired and will probably lack any form of match sharpness. Therefore I make him favourite to win this match, despite the possibly intimidating surroundings and the China-UK time difference.
Prediction: Chen Gang to win.