Zhao Xintong has burst onto our screens recently. The most notable initiation into the big-time was playing on the TV table against snooker’s front man, Ronnie O’Sullivan at the English Open.
As most of us were expecting O’Sullivan to dish up a convincing win, Zhao Xintong almost beat the five time world champion, making two wonderful centuries in the process. It wasn’t to be for Zhao that day, but boy did he impress the snooker world.
At just 19 years old, he reminded a lot of people of the young Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan with his style of play. Clearly this young man is confident and hungry for winning, this is a start of a very promising career.
What some people don’t know about Zhao Xintong is that he has been on the scene since 2012. Even then he was impressing fellow professionals who knew just how good this kid is. Steve Davis once said about Zhao, ‘This boy was astonishingly good and better than anybody I have ever seen at that age and that includes Ronnie’ He is clearly a naturally gifted player and seems to like pleasing crowds.
The only reason why we haven’t seen more of Zhao Xintong is due to the quality of the older players. Many years ago the younger players dominated the top ranking’s in snooker such as Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan, but it’s totally different now. Today the top ranked players are predominantly in their 30/40’s which indicates maturity and experience plays a huge part in today’s game.
All of these players can pot balls and make the big breaks but a solid safety game is more important today than it ever has been before and this takes time to master. Because of this, very few young players are seen lifting silverware. Most of the trophies are lifted by players 30+. It is evident in Zhao Xintong game that he needs that bit more experience in the safety battles. Although this can be taught, experience playing in big matches is the most effective way to learn.
So what does the future hold for Zhao Xintong?
Well its looking very bright for players such as Zhao Xintong. Although he is ranked at 98 in the world right now, there is little doubt that he will go on to lift trophy’s. Chinese players are about getting close to dominating the game, with a huge influx of Chinese players and very few British players coming through.