Liang Wenbo used the pain of losing in last year’s final of the Betway UK Championship to finally join snooker’s elite.
Twelve months ago, Wenbo lost to Neil Robertson 10-5 in the UK final at the Barbican at York, having edged out Leeds potter David Grace in the semi-final.
But he is back in North Yorkshire next month, as the UK Championship starts on November 22, and arrives as the newly-crowned Coral English Open champion.
The 29-year-old beat Judd Trump 9-6 in Manchester last Sunday to become only the fourth Asian player to win a ranking title after James Wattana, Sheffield-based Ding Junhui and Marco Fu.
And he revealed it was a pep talk from snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan – the pair train together in Essex – which helped him clinch his maiden world ranking title and climb to No 12 in the world. Five-time world champion O’Sullivan urged Wenbo to use his experience of defeat in York last year to fend off the challenge of Trump.
The Chinese potter was 7-4 up, only for Bristolian Trump to claw his back to 7-6, and it needed a superb 62 clearance for Wenbo – who has now qualified for next month’s Champion of Champions tournament in Coventry – to prevent the match being all-square. He then held his nerve to clinch victory and bank a £70,000 winner’s cheque.
“Judd put me under pressure but to go 8-6 ahead gave me more confidence,” said Wenbo.
“I have to say thank you to Ronnie because I practise with him every day. I have learned a lot from him over the past two years and he’s my best friend.
“He told me to look back at my UK Championship final last year and see what I could learn from it. I knew I needed to be more calm and controlled this time.Snooker is a very difficult game but if you don’t enjoy it you don’t play well. I’m going to forget about this victory now and move on to the next one. I always learn from every experience.”
Victory in Manchester means Wenbo is now the only player left in contention for the £1m bonus on offer for winning all four Home Nations events this season.
The Betway UK Championship runs from November 22 to December 4 at the York Barbican. Tickets start at £7. Call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets