23.12.08

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Unless something extraordinary happens, this will be my last post of the year as I immerse myself in the Christmas spirit, several bottles of which are waiting close by.

Once again, the titles were shared around during a year in which snooker remained as open as it has ever been.

Mark Selby demonstrated a steely nerve to reach the Wembley Masters final courtesy of three deciding frame finishes and then made four centuries to see off Stephen Lee 10-3 and become the first debutant in 19 years to land the game’s top invitation event.

Selby showed us the other side of his game by scrapping back from 8-5 down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan and win the Welsh Open, his first ranking title.

Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy fought out the year’s best final at the China Open in Beijing, which Maguire edged 10-9 after a duel full of quality.

Murphy’s 10-9 defeat of Marco Fu in the UK Championship was not of the same standard but still gripping.

John Higgins was not at the top of his game but still won the Grand Prix.

Ricky Walden beat five players with 88 ranking titles between them to win the Shanghai Masters as a qualifier.

Neil Robertson won the Bahrain Championship from a depleted field which nevertheless did not detract from the quality of his performance.

O’Sullivan won the one that really mattered and in some style. His 17-6 defeat of Stephen Hendry in the World Championship semi-finals was arguably the best single performance of the year.

He went on to win the Northern Ireland Trophy and was runner-up in two other finals but his lead at the top of the rankings has been eroded to the extent that it is not as inconceivable as it once seemed that he could be caught, although this is still unlikely as only Maguire can reasonably catch him.

As ever, O’Sullivan also starred in a few controversial moments – most notably at a press conference in Beijing – but he remains the game’s dominant figure.

Several established names showed signs of decline. Ken Doherty dropped out of the top 16 and looks unlikely to return.

Mark Williams will probably get back but Peter Ebdon is in danger of relegation.

Hendry proved what a great player he is by reaching the Crucible semi-finals without playing at his very best.

However, the seven times world champion faces a fight to stave off a slide down the rankings.

Davis is still enjoying himself and although he dropped out of the top 16, at 51 he remains a fierce and much respected competitor.

Ding Junhui failed to rediscover his best form as his fellow Chinese Liang Wenbo came to prominence with his entertaining, attacking style.

Judd Trump finally made a breakthrough but the dearth in younger talent remains.

The World Series and Championship League were welcome independent promotions which gave the players more opportunities (and money) and snooker fans more action to watch.

Ali Carter certainly benefited from the latter and I make his maximum at the Crucible my break of the year because it was a major turning point in his career.

Joe Perry and Ryan Day both impressed but, like Carter, they are yet to win a ranking title.

The WPBSA began the year with sponsors for each the four BBC tournaments. They end it without 888.com and Saga Insurance and with no official news as to whether Royal London Watches and Maplin are to renew their deals.

The global economic position does not bode well when it comes to getting replacement sponsors in 2009.

The worst thing that happened this year was the whispers surrounding matches which attracted unusual betting patterns, in particular Liang Wenbo v Peter Ebdon at the Northern Ireland Trophy and Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett in the UK Championship.

The governing body did little to reassure the world that snooker’s house is in order by announcing an investigation into one match but not the other.

There were the usual rows, controversies, great matches, wonderful breaks and a variety of winners in a sport that is increasingly difficult to predict.

We also had grumbles and complaints, flashpoints and differences of opinion.

But what keeps us all coming back is the game itself, which remains as fascinating as it has ever been.

I hope I have, in some small way, contributed to your enjoyment of it during 2008 and would like to thank all those of you who have read this blog and left comments.

Merry Christmas to everyone in the snooker world and I’ll see you in 2009.

27 comments:

Monique said...

Merry Christmas Dave and everyone. Happy snookery 2009. And roll on the Masters !

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Dave and I look forward to more of the same in 2009.

Matt@PSB said...

Nice review Dave, this blog is definitely a great place to come for the snooker news that matters and I'm sure that everyone else reading it will feel the same.

Hope you haven't jinxed things though, the last time you said that you were having a holiday and wouldn't be posting for a while, WSA lost its sponsors the next day and you were straight back on here!

Jonathan said...

Thanks for the great blog David, sometimes its the only thing that keeps me going through endless hours of tedium at work.

Happy Christmas and good luck in 2009

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Dave and a happy new year with lots of exciting Snooker News!

Anonymous said...

Dave, Merry Christmas to you too and thank you for all the nice articles you wrote on this blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the closest thing will get to investigative journalism in Snooker.

And thanks to all the replies throughout the year. That's what really matters - you reply to people's suggestions and comments on the game.

Merry Christmas, thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
Thanks for making this blog the 'must read first' whenever I switch on my computer. I hope world snooker continues to read what appears here and moves in the right direction of common sense.
Hope you have a well earned break and I look forward to 2009s postings.
Merry Christmas
John H

Brownie said...

Thanks for a very interesting blog this year Dave. A very happy Christmas to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Happy Christmas Dave

From Semih

Anonymous said...

Have a good one Dave you deserve it.

RichP said...

Yes thanks Dave, I may disagree with some of the things you say but this is always one of the first blogs that I read when i log on. Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog david, happy christmas and i look forward to reading you next year

Anonymous said...

Happy Holidays everyone and Dave, thank you! I'm looking forward to new interesting newsposts in 2009!

Nottingham Snooker News said...

Merry Christmas Dave. Don't forget those podcasts in the new year...

Anna said...

Happy holidays, Dave!
Thank you for your wonderful blog. Looking forward for new interesting posts in 2009.

Dana said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Dave and thanks for your blog. There are plenty of interesting info and sometimes I cannot agree, but I like reading it and like discussing (sometimes, when no-names don't wish me heavy illness). Hope the world crisis won't affect the snooker even more in bad way.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
also many thanks from germany for this great blog and all the work you do. Stay on and give us more information than the WSA does (not so difficult). :)
Enjoy your holiday and have a good start into the new year.
Jürgen

Sammy said...

Thanks Dave for everything and giving me and many others all the snooker news.

What would we do without you?

Maija said...

Thank you for an excellent blog and a year full of information, stories and anecdotes that we would quite possibly never get to hear without you.

I wish you a lovely Christmas and I'm already looking forward to more blogs next year!

Anonymous said...

Merry christmas Dave and thanks for a great blog

jamie said...

Ronnie's performance at the crucible was definitely the best of the year, it was up there for the best ever. The titles have been shared, but generally won by Selby, Ronnie (Player of year), Murphy, Maguire and Higgins. I would be quite suprised if one of these five is not lifting the World trophy come may. Generally it has been a great year, with a high quality UK Championship and Worlds. Keep up the blog its the best for snooker news.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

A very Merry Christmas from all at THe World Series of Snooker, your objective comments and open journalism is refreshing to say the least.

Pat
WSS

Anna said...

Thanks for the blog Dave and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Very often I can say your blog made my days.

Marcus Stead said...

Merry Christmas, Dave and many thanks for your excellent blog over the last year, from all of us at supremesnooker.com

said...

thanks for such a great blog! Merry christmas, and enjoy the bottles of spirit! looking forward to more posts next year.

Baby said...

Thanks Dave

Love the blog

Happy 09!