In a battle of the snooker powerhouses, China once again showed their quality on the global stage as they remained the only nation to win the World Cup in the 21st century.
China A complete first comeback of the day after recovering from 2-0 behind against brave Thailand
The locals at Wuxi City were praying for a China vs China final with Liang Wenbo and Ding Junhui entertaining Thailand in one semi-final and defending champions Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong hosting England in the other final four game.
With Thailand seen as a surprise package, 2011 champions Liang and Ding were expected to cruise through. Yet the two top sixteen players were edged out in both of the opening frames as Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham held their nerve with consecutive frames won by margins of less than ten points.
The underdog pairing ranked 41st and 63rd in the World continued to show their presence but could not formulate high enough breaks to halt the building Chinese momentum. Eventually, Liang and Ding found their range to win four consecutive frames despite Thailand scoring over 40 in three of those.
England continue unbeaten streak to defeat the defending champions
Meanwhile, England's Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins played out a thriller against China B. No less than seven half-century breaks were formulated in as many frames with the quality of the playing quartet epitomised by a 60-66 third frame that put England 2-1 ahead.
Yet Bingtao and Yuelong took control of the table as England potted just one ball in the next two frames. However, they responded in equally as impressive fashion to comfortably win the final two frames and squeeze onto the main stage.
Missed blue by Hawkins hand China a route to victory
Unsurprisingly the final was a much less expansive contest. Despite making 68 in the second frame, China quickly fell 3-1 behind and England were in touching distance of their first World Cup crown for 28 years.
Yet Ding, in particular, is well known on the snooker scene for his ability to keep fighting. Supported by the technically astute game of Liang, the pair notched a frame back with a match-high break of 69.
However, frame six will be one that will haunt Hawkins for a period of time. Whilst Ding is noted for his ability to stay in a contest, Hawkins has built an unwanted reputation of succumbing to nerves at the final hurdle. With the balls evenly spread, the World number six missed a straightforward blue at 37-0 to allow China to draw level.
That was the beginning of the end for the previously unbeaten pairing as China strolled the final-frame decider and England were unable to thwart a strong comeback as they did in the quarter-finals against Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, China ensured a hat-trick of World Cup wins since Scotland last won the trophy for a European nation back in 1996.