Fan Zhengyi becomes latest Victoria’s Snooker Academy success story as Si Jiahui wins tour spot

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An internationally renowned snooker academy in Sheffield is plotting world domination after two more top talents emerged from its rich production line.

Victoria’s Snooker Academy on Scotland Street, located on the outskirts of the city centre, is best known for producing 2021 Masters champion Yan Bingtao as well as Zhao Xintong, who won the UK Championship in December.

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The Sheffield snooker academy behind Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao’s success

Now, their fellow Chinese national, Fan Zhengyi, is the latest player based at the academy opened by Victoria Shi in 2016 to enjoy international success.

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Fan Zhengyi in action at the Betway UK Championship at The York Barbican in 2018. Photo: Tim Goode/PA WireFan Zhengyi in action at the Betway UK Championship at The York Barbican in 2018. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire
Fan Zhengyi in action at the Betway UK Championship at The York Barbican in 2018. Photo: Tim Goode/PA Wire

The 21-year-old world number 80 claimed his first ranking title on Sunday with a stunning 10-9 victory over the legendary Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the BetVictor European Masters.

Zhengyi held his nerve against his ‘idol’ to edge out the six-time world champion with a confident break of 92 in a final-frame decider in Milton Keynes.

“He’s a fantastic player, brilliant,” said O’Sullivan on Eurosport. “He was the better player all day. I tried to hang on and make a game of it – which I did in the end – but he deserved his victory.

“It’s great for snooker and it was a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to play a future world champion.”

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Speaking through an interpreter, Zhengyi said: “Playing against Ronnie in the final already made my dream come true because Ronnie is every Chinese player’s idol.

“Me, Xintong, Bingtao, because Ronnie is always so generous to the Chinese players and help them all the time.”

Zhengyi’s win in his first ranking final earned him £80,000 in prize money.

He also moved up to number 31 in the world rankings.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Si Jiahui earned himself a two-year place on the World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2022/23 season after winning the 2022 World Snooker Federation (WSF) Championship at the Ding Junhui Snooker Academy – another elite training base for snooker players from all over the world - in Sheffield.

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Like Zhengyi, Jiahui is based at Victoria’s Snooker Academy.

He came out on top in a field of more than 270 players from 42 different countries.

Jiahui previously competed on the professional circuit from 2019 to 2021 and beat former world champion Shaun Murphy in the first round of the UK Championship last year.

An Instagram post from the academy on Monday morning read: "Setting up a successful snooker academy is not easy. It is not just throwing as many tables as you can in a large space. It is about creating a positive, friendly atmosphere.

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"It is about supporting the talented players on and off the table. It is about encouraging them to believe in themselves and that anything is possible.

“Our ambition is in thirty years time people talk about ‘The class of Victoria Snooker academy’ the way they talk about the ‘class of 1992’ now.

"The future is very bright for Victoria’s Snooker Academy in Sheffield.”

Sixteen-year-old Jake Crofts from Deepcar just missed out on a professional tour spot earlier this month after losing in the final of the WSF Junior Championship.

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