Pie prize counts against Higgins
DING JUNHUI captured snooker’s UK Championship on Sunday with victory in the final over world champion John Higgins.
Higgins, having overcome Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi-final, was the strong pre-match favourite, but failed to play at the standards he had reached throughout the tournament.
And this can be attributed to one of the best pieces of sport’s marketing of the soon-to-be-over decade.
Prior to the semi-finals, the tournment’s new sponsor, Pukka Pies, announced that the victor would receive their body weight in pies.
The semi-finalists – Ding, Higgins, O’Sullivan and Stephen Maguire – all weighed in like boxers and stood to receive four pies per kilogram.
It was thus no surprise to see Maguire, who topped the scales at 89kg/356 pies, exit the competition first.
Maguire had most to gain from the new pie prize and succumbed to the inevitable pressure that came with it, losing to Ding 9-5.
Higgins and O’Sullivan both weighed in at 80kg/320 pies, surprising many observers, who noted that Higgins “looked fatter than that.”
O’Sullivan even cultivated a beard for the occasion, presumably in a bid to up his pie weight.
After Higgins sneaked past the Rocket 9-8, he faced up against Chinese 22-year-old Ding in the final.
Despite three world title wins, Higgins, as a Scot, had never played for such an illustrious prize in his career, as the 320 pies that were on the line in this final.
Such pressure clearly showed, as he was defeated 10-8.
Ding, meanwhile, played like a man, who comes from a country with no discernible pie culture.
Dumplings, yes, pies, no.
There were only 276 pies up for grabs for Ding, or as Stephen Lee, who exited, much to the sponsor’s delight, in round two of the competition, would call it “dinner”.
And without the pie-pressure that inhibited his opponent, Ding claimed his first ranking title in three seasons.
This was all because of the pies.