Cuesports: Hong Kong's Ng On Yee wants to reclaim world snooker championship

From left: Asian No. 1 and 2015 world champion Ng On Yee, 11-time world champion Reanne Evans, and Singaporean No. 1 Charlene Chai at the Eden World Women's Snooker Championship pre-reception party at Flight Bar & Lounge at Marina Bay Sands yesterday
From left: Asian No. 1 and 2015 world champion Ng On Yee, 11-time world champion Reanne Evans, and Singaporean No. 1 Charlene Chai at the Eden World Women's Snooker Championship pre-reception party at Flight Bar & Lounge at Marina Bay Sands yesterday. It is the first time the event is held entirely outside Britain.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

HK player aims for 2nd snooker world crown, 11-time holder Evans wary of unfamiliar rivals

Having the World Women's Snooker Championship in her backyard of Asia has provided the continent's top female player, Ng On Yee of Hong Kong, all the motivation she needs to reclaim the title.

The 26-year-old, ranked second in the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker rankings, became the first Asian winner in 2015 and is gunning for her second championship when the week-long tournament begins today in Singapore.

It is the first time the entire competition, which began in 1976, will be played outside Britain. India twice hosted the tournament from the quarter-finals onwards in the 1990s.

Ng told The Straits Times yesterday: "It's an interesting and exciting competition this time because it's rare to see many new and young faces from Asia. I'm sure all of us are going into it with enthusiasm because we want to do well here, especially since the event is held in Asia for the first time."

She joins a star-studded field of 32 players, including seven of the world's top eight, who will feature at the Lagoon Billiard Room in Safra Toa Payoh.

Entry is free for spectators, with the final on Sunday. The event, with a total prize purse of £15,000 (S$25,779), awards the champion £5,000 in prize money.

A majority of the participants are from Asia, with 24 of them from five places - Singapore, India, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea.

At last year's edition held in Leeds, there were just six Asian players from three teams - Hong Kong, India and South Korea.

Standing in Ng's way will be world No. 1 and 11-time world champion Reanne Evans of England. In 2015, Ng defeated Evans in the semi-finals and ended her 10-year reign as the world champion. Evans got her revenge when she beat Ng in last year's final.

Yet the 31-year-old Evans, whose highest break is 140, is aware of slipping up against opponents whom she had never faced before.

She said: "I know people expect me to win every time, but not me. Honestly, this time, I don't know what to expect because I don't know many of the players.

"It kind of levels the playing field a bit and it just proves that there are more young ladies catching up."

Leading the local charge is Charlene Chai, 36, who is targeting to reach the quarter-finals.

But first, she has to deal with a tough draw, after being drawn in the same group as Ng, India's Chitra Magimairaj, 43, who won the seniors competition at last year's World Championships, and Ireland's Ronda Sheldreck.

The top two players from each of the eight groups after the round- robin stage will advance to the knockout rounds, which start on Thursday.

Chai has competed in cue sports at every edition of the SEA Games since 2005, winning one bronze and one silver from pool events.

But to prepare for this event, she had to focus on snooker instead of nine-ball pool.

She said: "Snooker has always been my first love. I'm going to go all out for this because it's a world-class snooker event at home."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2017, with the headline 'Ng eyes title in Asian backyard'. Print Edition | Subscribe