(by Steve Hopkins/Photo: Zhao Chunsheng)
China’s Marvelous 12 brings the top Chinese players together for an invitational where the first prize is an automatic invite to the World Championships. The first phase of the Marvellous 12 was the selection of the Final 6 which occurred two weeks ago. Six players were seeded based upon World Rankings and 2018 performance. The other participants were selected through that initial trial (called “The Final Six”). This large round-robin has just concluded in China, and many of the results are surprising.
Fan Zhendong, the world’s top player, was dominant. He had some tight matches, but finished 11-0 against one of the toughest draws in the world (and in an event that requires three matches be played per day). The second position was filled by Liang Jingkun who finished 8-3. Jingkun entered the event as the fourth seed, so finishing second was a good result for this up and coming player. Third place was also clearly decided – it went to Xue Fei with a 6-5 record. Fei is someone who has been just outside of the top tier of Chinese players but who has been in the World Top 50 as recently as 2017.
After these three, things got interesting. None of the other nine players had a winning record, and in fact, there was a seven-player tie for fourth in regard to game score with each finishing with 5-6 records. Of this group, Yu Ziyang (age 20) won the tie breakers and Fang Bo (a former Chinese Team player) finished next. The top five finishers, therefore, were Fan Zhendong, Liang Jingkun, Xue Fei, Yu Ziyang, and Fang Bo. With Ma Long hurt, and Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan both finishing outside of the top five in this event, those selecting the Chinese team for the world championships have their work cut out for them.
Final Standings of the Marvellous Twelve (men/women):
1. Fan Zhendong
1. Chen Meng
2. Liang Jingkun 2. Wang Manyu
3. Xue Fei 3. Ding Ning
4. Yu Ziyang 4. Wang Manyu
5. Fang Bo 5. Liu Shiwen
6. Xu Xin 6. Zhu Yuling
7. Zhou Kai 7. Wang Yidi
8. Yan An 8. Chen Xingtong
9. Lin Gaoyuan 9. Wu Yang
10. Xu Chenhao 10. Sun Mingyang
11. Wang Chuqin 11. He Zhuojia
12. Zhao Zihao 12. Gu Yuting