Ding Junhui has again failed to win the World Snooker Championship, but to the eyes of the millions of snooker fans in China, he remains the best hope to become the country’s first world champion.
Junhui, ranked fourth in the world, is one of the most successful Chinese snooker players ever.
Ding, who is called the Star of the East, has won 12 ranking events in his 13-year career but is yet to win the prestigious World Snooker Championship.
He has come very close to lifting the world title in three occasions, including in the 2016 World Snooker Championship final, but he lost to Mark Selby.
Ding reached the semi-final of last season’s world championship, but there he faced and once again lost to Selby, who eventually won his third world title.
In an interview by Reuters, an official from Beijing’s World Snooker College says all Chinese players look up to Ding, and want him to lift snooker’s most coveted trophy.
“I’m confident that sooner or later Ding Junhui will take the world championship,” said Wei Chunlong, a vice president in the school.
“Once he wins, it will have a sensational impact on all of billiards, especially snooker,” added Wei. “There could be even more people to enter the sport.”
Ding might be the best hope, but there are currently other Chinese players who are making a name for themselves in the sport.
Left-handed Liang Wenbo is number 2 in China and number 11 in the world, is also expected to carry China in world snooker, along with 19-year-old Zhou Yuelong (ranked 32nd), Xiao Guodong, Yu Delu, Tian Pengfei and newly ranked 17-year-old, Yan Bingtao.