Chinese stars have been dropping like flies at the World Open qualifiers and Liang Wenbo will try to do something about that on Monday.
The 31-year-old takes on 22-year-old Englishman James Cahill in Preston, having witnessed many of his compatriots fall by the wayside. Chen Zifan lost 5-0 to England’s Robert Milkins while Milkins’ compatriot David Lilley edged out Li Hang 5-4.
Andrew Higginson of England got the better of Luo Honghao 5-3 and China’s Fan Zhengyi was beaten 5-0 by Thailand’s Akani Songsermsawad. Yuan Sijun won the all-Chinese battle with Xu Si 5-4, but it has generally not been a happy hunting ground for the men from the Far East this year to date. David Gilbert takes on Niu Zhuang on Saturday afternoon and is priced at 1.30 to get the better of his opponent who is on offer at 3.30.
Another Chinaman Zhao Xintong squares off with former world champion Graeme Dott later on Saturday, with the 2006 Crucible hero priced as the 1.61 favourite to take care of the 20-year-old, world number 77.
Liang, a former World Championship quarter-finalist, did not enjoy the best of times in the 2017-18 season and, save for a last-eight appearance at the Romanian Masters, was never seen past the third round at any regular event. That is in stark contrast to the season before when he won the English Open and reached the last four at the World Grand Prix and the quarters of the Scottish Open and Six-red World Championship. He is clearly a better player than recent results suggest and will hope to get back on track at the Guild Hall.