Apr. 4, 2017
Joe Perry could not carry his impressive form from the 2016/17 snooker season into the Chinese Pool World Championships earlier this month.
The 42-year-old entered the competition alongside fellow snooker player Mark Williams. Both men were aiming to at least match the feat of Mark Selby’s effort in 2015, when he reached the final of the tournament, only to be beaten by compatriot Darren Appleton.
Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott and Ding Junhui have also ventured into the Championships in the past, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts at glory.
Unfortunately for Perry, he joined his fellow snooker players' ranks as he crashed out in the first round after suffering defeats at the hands of Yang Chin Sung and Chang Jun Lin.
The early exit in China continued a trend of losing in close matches for the 42-year-old this term.
That being said, Perry did manage to reach the Masters Final following a fine run of form in the competition, overcoming Stuart Bingham, Barry Hawkins and Ding to face off against defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan at Alexandra Palace.
The world number nine performed exceptionally in the early stages of the contest, racing into a 4-1 lead over O’Sullivan, with a number of impressive shots around the table. However, the reigning champion stormed back into the match, winning seven frames on the bounce.
Although Perry mounted a comeback with two fine breaks, ‘The Rocket’ held off his challenge to retain the crown. The 42-year-old will benefit from the experience of having reached the final and playing O’Sullivan under the bright lights, even though he ultimately failed to clinch the title.
As a result, Perry will be a strong contender to win the World Championship in April, despite being backed in the latest betting odds at 80/1 (+8000) to secure the crown.
He will be buoyed by the example of Bingham, who came out of relative obscurity in 2015 to go all the way and win the competition. Only the purists would have heard of Bingham before his surge to success, due to his low profile in the main events of the sport.
Bingham, entering the tournament as the 10th seed, beat Robbie Williams, along with former champions Dott and O’Sullivan, before playing out a thriller against Judd Trump in the semi-finals.
Bingham edged out his opponent in the final frame of the match, claiming a 17-16 victory; he was then able to overcome Shaun Murphy in the final to claim his place in snooker history.
Perry has the ability to match the achievement of Bingham this term, having reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2008, only to be beaten by Ali Carter. Carter has proven to be his nemesis on the big stage, recording another victory over the 42-year-old in the final of the World Open last year.
The world number eight does have his issues in the big games, but the event at the Crucible would be the perfect opportunity to make his breakthrough. His latest defeat in the Chinese Pool World Championship could provide just the spark that he needs to mount a charge for the ultimate prize in snooker