Snooker World Championship 2019: A Vintage Year

Craig Edwards

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 8:53 AM UTC

Wednesday, May. 8, 2019 8:53 AM UTC

Former snooker professional Craig Edwards reviews this year’s Betfred World Snooker Championship
<div><div>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Here's the moment &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@judd147t&lt;/a&gt; secured his maiden &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@Betfred&lt;/a&gt; World Championship title 🏆&lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#ilovesnooker&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 6, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</div><div> </div><p>What an amazing seventeen days of snooker we had at this year’s World Championships. One hundred centuries breaking the previous record of eighty-seven shows the high level throughout that ended with a crescendo of eleven in the highest quality final on record. In this article I will discuss and try and analyse what happened after Ronnie O'Sullivan shock first round exit to amateur James Cahill. I believe it started a domino effect amongst the main protagonists as one by one they fell by the wayside bringing a whole new dimension to this great championship probably only seen once before in the modern day forty-two year history at the Crucible Theatre.</p><h2> </h2><h2><strong>First Round (round 32)</strong></h2><p>The opening day came and went with the Defending champion Mark Williams beating Martin Gould in a high-quality opening round match. His next match would be against David Gilbert who despite being ill with cold eased past a tough qualifier Joe Perry. Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins came through their opening round encounters without any resistance setting up what would be the highest quality round of 16 match.</p><p>Snookers in form man Neil Robertson opened his bid for the title with a 9-0 first session against the Cypriot Michael Georgeiu and would play another former world champion Shaun Murphy who himself lead 9-0 in the opening round against Chinese prodigy Lou Honghao. John Higgins having looked out of form all season produced a much-improved display against old adversary Mark Davis and would be rewarded with a second-round meeting with another former world champion Stuart Bingham who nearly lost an 8-1 lead, eventually beating Graeme Dott 10-9.</p><p>Three-time former world champion Mark Selby came back from a 1-5 deficit to beat Zhao Xintong. His reward would be a round of 16-encounter against fifteen-year professional Gary Wilson who won the Crucible Theatre’s longest frame ever in the deciding frame victory over Luca Brecel. Ali Carter probably the best qualifier easily pushed aside the talented left hander Jack Lisowski while another talented left hander Mark Allen lost his opening match against the young Chinese player Zhou Yuelong.</p><p>Ronnie O'Sullivan’s shock defeat to amateur James Cahill rocked the tournament in a way players and fans alike have never seen before. “The Rockets” poor World Championship return goes on and with every year that passes Stephen Hendry's record of seven looks that bit further away. It came as a shock to see Ronnie O'Sullivan fail this season having seen how committed he had been to the process of winning reminding us that Ronnie has always been at his most vulnerable at the Crucible Theatre. He lost his composure early in the match and never regained it however, James Cahill attitude and game were first class under the spotlight. His reward was a round of 16 tie against Stephen Maguire who trailed Tian Pengfei 7-9 while needing a snooker only to win 10-9.</p><p>Ronnie O'Sullivan losing undoubtedly put pressure on his great rival who himself squeezed past the talented Thai Thepchayia un-Nooh 10-9 with the tournament high break of 142. He would meet the Chinese Superstar Ding Junhui in the round of 16.</p><div> </div><div>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Here's the moment &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@JamesCahill147&lt;/a&gt; secured the biggest win of his career! 🙌&lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#ilovesnooker&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@Betfred&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;April 23, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</div><h2> </h2><h2><strong>Second Round (round 16)</strong></h2><p>In past season's most shocks at the World Championships have been confined to the opening round but not this year as David Gilbert put away the Defending champion Mark Williams with ease giving us a glimpse of what was to come from the Tamworth player. In the Quarter finals he would play Kyren Wilson who fell 1-6 behind to an inspired Barry Hawkins who made four centuries in the process. Kyren produced a phenomenal comeback considering making five centuries of his own in a match of the highest quality.</p><p>The other high-quality match in this round was between two former world champions Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy with the Australian managing to pull away in the final session. His quarter final would be against a rejuvenated John Higgins who drew inspiration from a return to the place where he created his reputation raising his level of play to what we expect from the Scot beating Stuart Bingham 13-11.</p><p>The shocks continued with former taxi driver Gary Wilson once again showing his brand of strong matchplay to outstay Mark Selby impressively. His opponent in the quarter finals Ali Carter recovered from a 7-9 deficit to beat the talented Chinese player Zhou Yuelong would set an equally tough exam.</p><p>On paper the pick of the ties in the round of 16, Judd Trump v Ding Junhui was a rather lack lustre affair but at least Judd Trump’s new found determination got him through. His quarter final opponent would be Stephen Maguire who once again needed a deciding frame to beat amateur James Cahill 13-12.</p><h2><strong>Quarter Finals</strong></h2><p>David Gilbert continued his good form disposing of Kyren Wilson easily once again with the help of a brilliant middle session breaking his opponents challenge. His semi final opponent would be John Higgins who produced a mighty middle session himself clawing back a 5-7 deficit, turning it into a 10-7 advantage against Neil Robertson. From an average start to the match John Higgins reminded everyone why he is considered the sports hardest match player breaking the Australian resolve like no one had been able to do all season.</p><p>Gary Wilson dispatched Ali Carter in identical fashion to his victory over Mark Selby outstaying him in solid fashion. In the semi final he would meet Judd Trump who smashed Stephen Maguire up with a trademark opening session blitz.</p><h2><strong>Semi Finals</strong></h2><p>Never in forty-two years of this great championship have we had two outsiders a 300/1 (301.00) shot Gary Wilson and a 150/1 (151.00) shot David Gilbert reach this stage. Both players have been professionals for at least fifteen years and at one point or other they each had dropped off tour. Gary Wilson earned his living in Newcastle as a taxi driver while David Gilbert a farmer during these periods. Phenomenally both have re-established themselves on Tour but with no previous form at the Crucible Theatre they were barely expected to win a match. Their level of play was so high and sustained it became perfect for the World Snooker Championship marathon exam of ability and temperament. There was no fluke in their results in fact they had been producing consistently the highest level of all semi-finalists. No one considered John Higgins 22/1 (23.00) would have his usual favourite’s chance this year due to an abysmal season so the only favourite left in was Judd Trump. For the first time in the World Snooker Championship the results went in the favourites direction when Judd Trump proved too strong against the brilliant qualifier from Teeside Gary Wilson. The other semi final was closer as David Gilbert surrendered a five-frame lead to lose 16-15 to John Higgins in a classic last session that proved emotional for both competitors. John Higgins struggled badly during the middle two sessions but somehow raised himself up in mercurial fashion for the final day assault.</p><div> </div><div>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Two visits. Three adrift of Gilbert.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;John Higgins is back to 5-8 &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#ilovesnooker&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@Betfred&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 3, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</div><p> </p><h2><strong>Final </strong></h2><p>A superlative opening day of the final with both players producing three century breaks and from a 4-5 deficit Judd Trump won eight frames in succession in “A Perfect Storm” of a second session to end the day 12-5 in front. Some of potting he produced reminded myself and others of the great Alex Higgins. The third session of the match kept to the high standard set in the opening day with both players just missing 147 maximum breaks. The highest standard final we have ever seen at the Crucible Theatre to wrap this Championship with both players playing their A games and Judd Trump as the new World Champion.</p><div>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;The exclusive first interview with Judd Trump &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@judd147t&lt;/a&gt; as he proudly parades the trophy after claiming a maiden first Betfred World Snooker Title. &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#ilovesnooker&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Betfred (@Betfred) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 6, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</div><p> </p><h2><strong>Domino Effect</strong></h2><p>In 1982 Steve Davis and Terry Griffiths came to the Crucible Theatre as the favourites with significantly better seasons than their counterparts however, Steve Davis lost 1-10 to Tony Knowles and Terry Griffiths lost straight after to Willie Thorne. What followed was something of a retro championship when Alex Higgins beat Ray Reardon in the final.</p><p>This year we have had certain similarities which were set in progress when with Ronnie O'Sullivan shock exit to the amateur James Cahill. This undoubtedly hindered the mindset of his two major rivals Judd Trump and Neil Robertson. Neil Robertson came to Sheffield in a perfect run of form, but the minute John Higgins served him up pressure his game never recovered. Straight after Ronnie O'Sullivan losing Judd Trump nearly lost to Thepchayia un-Nooh and again versus Ding Junhui he looked at odds with himself.</p><p>In the Quarter finals three of the four underdogs won which apart from 2005 is unheard of at the World Championship. It is understandable how players minds were altered by Ronnie O'Sullivan losing. It became an advantage to be the underdog as David Gilbert and Gary Wilson proved freewheeling while their more illustrious opponents pretensions to winning the title crumbled one by one.</p><h2><strong>Similarities to 1982 “The Year of the Hurricane”</strong></h2><p>In my mind there were similarities between this year and 1982 when the “Peoples Champion” Alex Higgins won his second World Snooker Championship from the “Domino Effect” at the start of the event as Ronnie O'Sullivan defeat to amateur James Cahill mirrored Steve Davis losing 1-10 to Tony Knowles. Then we had the emotional semi-final between David Gilbert and John Higgins that ended in similar fashion to the Alex Higgins, Jimmy White one. The third major likeness was Judd Trump's spellbinding second session against John Higgins when Judd Trump took snooker to a new level in a way that was reminiscent of Alex Higgins at his best.</p><div>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;The first player in snooker history to win £1m in a season 👊 &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#ilovesnooker&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@Betfred&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 6, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</div><p> </p><h2><strong>What have we learnt for future years?</strong></h2><p>Punting wise the tournament was tough because all known trends and current form became worthless. Spectator wise I personally loved it and appreciated the high skill from the professionals while marvelling at the way Gary Wilson and David Gilbert jumped to new career levels. It is possible that the World Snooker Championship has started to favour experience rather than current form. Mark Selby has had plenty of recent success with a solid all-round game and John Higgins Crucible experience despite poor season form has proved crucial on several occasions. Maybe players like Gary Wilson and David Gilbert who served their apprenticeship over many years have an advantage over the flare and younger players in the longer format. Time will tell but in recent years experience has become a bigger factor and we could even sight the eight-year apprenticeship the World Champion Judd Trump served between finals as further evidence.</p></div>
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