Cardiff boasts a huge student population of many tens of thousands, and a good percentage of those are from China. The arrival of Ding Junhui in the city was quickly picked up on by Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo, and widely trailed and promoted in advance. The result was a strong turnout of extra fans supporting the 28-year-old at the Motorpoint Arena.
Some of those that pitched up were devoted snooker fans, and had either attended or would have liked to have attended tournaments in their home country. But as so often before, the issue of ticket prices for events in China reared its head. These fans reckoned they would have had to pay £50 or more for certain matches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu or Daqing, and so by comparison the bargain £8 many paid in Cardiff represented excellent value. Some said it was cheaper to fork out a return train fare from Manchester and buy a ticket than it would have been to see Ding back home, where they rated him as one of the top five sportsmen.
Ding did his ambassadorial bit to make it a truly special occasion for his supporters, hanging around after matches to sign autographs and pose for pictures.