Snooker in China has long been popular but there’s no doubt that Ding Junhui’s remarkable capture of the 2005 China Open sparked a boom.
The fruits of this are being seen in the emergence of other talented Chinese players making their marks on the professional circuit.
This season we’ve seen Liu Song reach the Grand Prix quarter-finals and Liang Wenbo and Liu Chuang qualify for the Crucible.
Fast forward five or certainly ten years and the circuit could well be dominated by Chinese cueists.
Next week, the 2008 China Open, sponsored by Honghe Industrial, takes place at the Beijing University Students Gymnasium.
An opening ceremony will be held at the futuristic Water Cube, next to the city’s Olympic stadium.
Players will be given the red carpet treatment – literally – and can expect any number of requests for media interviews and autographs.
The Beijing event is, of course, one of two ranking events now staged in China, alongside the Shanghai Masters.
These are considerable feats of organisation with many, many people to keep happy. Fortunately, World Snooker have a first rate executive, Simon Leach, permanently based in China to oversee all this.
In years gone by, some players openly expressed hostility to travelling to China.
Hopefully by now they recognise how important the country is in the general scheme of things and certainly for the sport’s future.
China is a snooker-mad place. Let’s hope the game’s great and good put on a show for them next week.