Ding Junhui insists claiming the biggest trophy for China would lift national gloom surrounding the match-fixing scandal hanging over this year’s World Championship.
Ten Chinese players have been suspended and charged over a range of match-fixing related offences with the independent hearing taking place this month during the Crucible extravaganza.
Those players include superstars Yan Bingtao, a former Masters champion charged with fixing matches, and former UK champion Zhao Xintong charged with being concerned in fixing matches. And even with possible mitigation of intimidation for the younger players, anyone found guilty of the more serious charges can expect long bans from the sport.
Talisman Ding is chasing a first world title at the Crucible, and there will be several young Chinese debutants in today’s draw this year including Wu Yize, Fan Zhengyi and Si Jiahui.
Ding, 35, said: “Winning a tournament, not even just the world championship, any tournament, would be good for Chinese players and Chinese fans.
“And the worlds are the biggest one. Winning the world championship would be very pleasing, the fans would be very happy.
“I still believe I can win the world title. I just need two weeks to keep the same form up, the best chance to win it is doing that. It is tough.
“Not many players can win the world championship. To win a world championship you become very respected. I will try my best.”
The independent hearing starting on April 24 will be chaired by Ian Mill KC.
He held the same role in the John Higgins hearing in 2010 that saw all match-fixing charges against the Scot dropped, but the four-time world champion was banned for six months for failing to report an illegal approach.
Former world champion Neil Robertson, a big contender for a second title this year in Sheffield, said: “It is a strange time to hold it [the hearing].
“I guess World Snooker want it as soon as possible and the players want to delay it or appeal it for as long as possible.
“It is a shame to hold it then, it is going to be a massive story on the eve of the World Championships. It is not ideal.
“World Snooker have never hidden from it or anything, and it is a positive thing that they have acted and are going to clamp down really hard if anyone is found guilty. But it is a shame.
“Some of them are younger players coming through. We are all really confused, and just don’t get it. But we will have to see the outcome.”
Geordie Gary Wilson is one of those benefiting from the absence of big stars and top-16 players Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong – as it handed him a seeding at the Crucible.
He said: “It is swings and roundabouts, I suppose. It has happened to me before in the past, and other players – it can go the other way.
“It certainly won’t take anything away for me being there in the top 16. Deep down, me being me, I would say I am not really legitimately in. But in my own head, I don’t care about that. If I’m in, I’m in.
“I have been like anyone else in the sport about all the players charged – a bit shocked. It is disappointing for the sport in general, but you have to get on with your own thing as well.”
But Scotland’s Anthony McGill, who has made it through qualifying to secure a ninth Crucible appearance in a row, insists the scandal will not take the shine off the blue-riband event.
He said: “Of course it’s business as usual. It’s the Crucible. The authorities have done great so far, they have recognised something and are dealing with it.
“Everybody knows that the snooker taking place at the Crucible will be good to watch. It’s the World Championship, it has been going on for 50 years or something at the Crucible.
“There have probably been a lot of things that happened in the past and snooker has survived. It is just a process they are going through. It’s the best game in the world.”
Yan Bingtao - charged with fixing matches and betting on snooker
Zhao Xintong - charged with being concerned in fixing matches and betting on snooker
Liang Wenbo - charged with being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches, seeking to obstruct the investigation and failing to cooperate with the WPBSA investigation
Li Hang - charged with being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches
Lu Ning - charged with fixing a match and being concerned in fixing matches and approaching a player to fix a match, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches
Zhang Jiankang - charged with fixing a match, failing to report approaches for him to fix matches and betting on snooker matches.
Chen Zifan - charged with fixing matches
Chang Bingyu and Zhao Jianbo have each been charged with fixing a match
Bai Langning has been charged with being concerned in fixing a match