Stuart Bingham has beaten Shaun Murphy 9-8 in the semi final of the China Championship in epic snooker match
Rivalry and competitiveness is what sport is all about. It’s about wanting to win and doing what it takes to win, particularly on the big stage and in the presence of adoring fans. Today’s semi final between Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy had all of that and much more.
Snooker in the UK is bleeding; Bleeding so heavily that if not stemmed, it could disappear from existence. China’s love of snooker is growing exponentially so naturally the focus is moving towards the far east for World Snooker. The new Evergrande China Championship is China’s answer to the UK championship amidst of the dwindling UK market.
This event offers a staggering £200,000 prize for the winner, which is more than the winner will receive for the 2016 UK championship at the end of November. For players, a win at the China Championship is a huge boost for their overall earnings. With Mark Selby well clear of the pack in 1st position, no two players are more hungry for success than Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy.
Bingham and Murphy have history – lots of it in fact. Nothing springs to mind more than the 2015 World Championship final which saw Bingham steal the trophy from Murphy’s grasp. Although these two players carry a persona of mutual respect for each other, you can be rest assured that there is a deep underlying antagonistic feeling.
As a consequence, when these two players meet, there is generally an agenda that dates back to that fruitful night on May 4th, 2015. Since then most matches these two have played against each other have gone the full distance and today’s semi final in the China Championship was no different.
Most snooker fans will feel a sense of vulnerability at times from both players, as they lack that Selby or O’Sullivan killer instinct at times. The match today was always going to come down to which player showed weakness first and when they did, recovery would be difficult.
There was such big feeling of rivalry as the match began in the afternoon. Judging by facial expressions, both players turned up fixated on winning. The rivalry was not just felt, but seen too; Usually players would tap the table when a good shot is played in acknowledgment, or hold their hand up when they receive a bit of good fortune but that was hardly seen today.
The first session was a beautiful display of snooker from both players with high breaks seen in every frame including two centuries from Stuart Bingham. As expected, the players fought a very close battle and as a result, came out of the session level at 4-4.
In the second session it was all too apparent that Shaun Murphy’s safety play couldn’t match that of Stuart Bingham’s and consequently Bingham edged ahead to take a 8-6 lead. The tide turned slightly as it was Bingham’s turn to feel jittery as he missed a simple red, gifting the next two frames to Murphy to level up at 8-8 going into the deciding frame.
A deciding frame is always a exciting occurrence, not only for the players, but more so for the fans watching. Murphy had first blood but failed to capitalize on his chance. Bingham then got in and didn’t make the same mistake as Murphy. As a result Bingham went on to win 9-8 in one of the best matches of the season so far.
Stuart Bingham will now face John Higgins (read here) in the final which will undoubtedly be one of the best finals seen so far this season. One thing is for sure, it will be a close match.