And so the Betfred.com World Championship is over and snooker can look back with pride over a very entertaining 17 days.
We have a top drawer world champion in John Higgins, someone who commands universal respect from his fellow players.
It is interesting that the last two world crowns of the decade were won by players who came to the fore in the 1990s. It seems unlikely that Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan will still be competing for titles in ten years time but they have shown their class to keep the new generation at bay.
And there is a new breed of player coming through: Mark Allen, Jamie Cope, Judd Trump et al. They are fierce potters and talented break builders but they could do with Higgins’s superior tactical game, something they will undoubtedly learn in the years to come.
It’s been a great championship and it’s something of an irony that it started to get really interesting when O’Sullivan went out.
If you believe some of the newspaper pundits, the whole sport rests on O’Sullivan’s shoulders. I’m sure Ronnie will be relieved to know that it doesn’t.
What we saw in the second week was a slew of players emerging from his shadow to stake their places in the limelight.
Snooker suffers from an overly nostalgic tendency to look back at the 1980s and think that nothing will ever be the same again, or that it was all so rosy it could never be topped.
This is counter-productive and unfair on the current players.
Alex Higgins once entered the Crucible arena wearing a hat. He doffed it to rapturous applause. Imagine if Shaun Murphy had done the same this year: it would have been presented as proof that he is somehow arrogant or above his station.
Similarly, Bill Werbeniuk was a big guy who guzzled lager to prodigious amounts. He was feted for it. Today, Stephen Lee is roundly abused for occupying the same sort of frame.
Eddie Charlton was a grinder who got involved in many seemingly endless wars of attrition but is fondly remembered. Peter Ebdon is nowhere near as slow but criticised nonetheless.
And can anyone explain to me how Cliff Thorburn – to use an example – was more of a 'character' than Neil Robertson?
The past is another country. In the present, we have a bunch of players as fascinating as have ever occupied the upper echelons of the rankings.
The challenge now will be to build on the momentum created by the World Championship.
This won’t be easy as there will be only six ranking tournaments next season. This means huge gaps between televised events.
It’s a shame that snooker’s period in the spotlight tends to be limited to 17 days per year.
But what a 17 days it has been: drama, excitement and high quality snooker by the bucketload.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Crucible extravaganza.