12.5.09

THAT WAS THE SEASON THAT WAS

And so it is time to unveil the winners of my coveted awards, which have a rich history running back a whole two years.

This is a kind of six reds version of the Oscars. There is no ceremony or long speeches. Indeed, there are no actual awards.

However, the following can bask in the glow of a season that has brought success...


PLAYER OF THE SEASON – John Higgins
Higgins was the only player to win two ranking titles and, of course, one of them was the World Championship. He also earned more ranking points than anyone else despite not receiving any for the Bahrain Championship, having been forced out by a scheduling clash.

Nobody dominates snooker like the days of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry but Higgins’s consistency has been solid and he raised his game when it really mattered at the Crucible.


BREAKTHROUGH OF THE SEASON – Ricky Walden
Walden has long been regarded as a genuine talent but ultimately you have to prove yourself by actually doing it. And he did in some style by winning the Shanghai Masters.

He beat Neil Robertson, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan – proof that reputations don’t concern him.


MATCH OF THE SEASON – John Higgins 13, Mark Selby 12 (World Championship quarter-finals)
Selby constructed five centuries and still lost which was an indicator of how high the standard was for this Crucible classic.

He did little wrong but Higgins, already buoyed by a final frame escape in the previous round against Jamie Cope, produced a fine finish to win one of the best matches ever played at the home of snooker.


BREAK OF THE SEASON – Ronnie O’Sullivan
O’Sullivan’s 76 in the seventh frame of his Northern Ireland Trophy final against Dave Harold had to be seen to be believed.

With balls on cushions and awkwardly placed he artfully set about a clearance that was as sheer a demonstration as pure skill as witnessed all season.


SHOT OF THE SEASON – Mark Selby
Frame five of his Masters final against Ronnie O’Sullivan and Selby was faced with a choice: play safe on the brown or attempt a very difficult long pot, cushion first.

After giving it due consideration he powered it in and went on to take the frame. A pressure ball if ever there was one and perfectly executed.


ACHIEVEMENT OF THE SEASON – Judd Trump
For Trump to win the Championship League was a great achievement for the lowest ranked and youngest player in that competition.

He demonstrated his prodigious skill at Crondon Park and earned the right to do so again on a much bigger stage in next season’s Premier League.


FINAL OF THE SEASON – The Masters
The Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Selby battle at Wembley Arena was gripping stuff as big breaks shared centre stage with hard matchplay snooker.

O’Sullivan’s patience and ability to handle the pressure was key to his 10-8 victory, which he unsurprisingly regards as one of his greatest ever.


AMATEUR OF THE SEASON – Luca Brecel
Brecel is a bona fide boy wonder. At 14, he became the youngest ever winner of the European Under 19 Championship and defeated Jimmy White and Ken Doherty at the World Series grand finals in Portugal.

A great future beckons if he can handle the pressure of expectation that will inevitably be placed on his shoulders.


QUOTE OF THE SEASON – Ronnie O’Sullivan
“The people who are running snooker seem to be going backwards. Nothing seems to be happening and it just feels boring and the sport is dying” – rarely has a single quote from a snooker player sparked such a debate as O’Sullivan’s heartfelt rant about the state of the game during the Masters.

World Snooker immediately went on the defensive by denying it all but have since accepted O’Sullivan had a point and engaged Tim Darby – Barry Hearn’s former right hand man at the PDC darts – to look at ways of injecting life and enthusiasm into the sport.

24 comments:

Matt said...

Can't disagree with any of those choices. One thing I must admit though is that I don't think we have had a really classic final this year. Had a few close ones of course, 10-8's, 9-7's etc but none that I really loved.

Anonymous said...

The Masters final wasn't classic?

Anonymous said...

I can disagree, Judd Trump greatest achievement? With all due respect winning the Crondon Park event isn't exactly equal to say, Mark Allen's performance at Sheffield. I'm sorry Dave but I think you are falling into the over-hype trap with Judd. He beat Selby in the final but I'll be surprised if that affects Selby competing in the PL, I think Mark probably knew that aswell.

Matt said...

Personally I didn't think so, though it was probably the best of the season. Can see why others might think differently however.

Matt said...

I think with Judd it wasn't so much the fact that he won the tournament (which was an achievement in its own right), but the manner in which he did it. After that hammering by Davis he played some cracking stuff.

Dave H said...

I'm not hyping Judd, I just thought it was a great achievement for him to win the event given the quality of the field.

Anonymous said...

i agree on most points.

the break of the season is pretty much the only one i strongly disagree with, even though it was a very good break youve picked.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave - yes agree with most of that. Contrary to the last poster, I think O'Sullivan's break against Harold was technically the best for many a year. Fair enough there wasn't the absolute pressure of a Crucible match or a Masters final on the the line, but when he came to the table I thought he'd be lucky to make sixteen. His positional play and development were extraordinary.

Off topic. Dave I'm glad to see you've removed that post from Mr Hey You. He talks absolute gibberish and his site is libellous. If it is who I think it is (yes, you Danny M) they'd better be careful or a high court writ will be heading their way.

John

Anonymous said...

The best final was the Bahrain Championship one... by far

Jonathan said...

If this is the end of the season, it's time to say thanks to David for maintaining such a great blog. I don't always agree with what you say Dave but it is always well thought through and makes a welcome change from the anodyne stuff you read in the papers about snooker. Enjoy your summer holiday - the NI trophy will be here before you know it.

Jonathan

Matt said...

Quite right Jonathan.

Every time Dave says that he is going to go on a holiday, something dramatic happens the next day (see the 888.com withdrawal), so maybe he won't bother announcing it next time.

By the way Anon 2:35pm, what would you say was the best break out of interest?

Killercola said...

Agree, especially with 1. It was a very good season for John. Congrats :)

mathsisfun said...

I may be biased. But my best match of the season has to be:

UK Qualifiers First Round (last 96 I think)
David Grace 8 - 9 Jimmy White

Jimmy won the last three frames, with a nailbiting 81 break in the last.

Anonymous said...

@ Matt

Hendrys crucible 147

Technically it wasnt as difficult as the one mentioned by Dave, but in terms of pressure, knowing that very few 147s are made live on tv, or at the crucible [even though they are more 'common' nowadays], then for me, with every ball the pressure mounts, and considering his age and what hes been through recently WRT form i think this was the best break of the season.

last year i thought the 2 crucible 147s were the best of that season (just in case anyone thinks i am just a Hendry fan picking that break "blindly")

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Higgins - Selby match at the crucible this year was really a classic, but for me the match of the season was the quarterfinal of the Masters when Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire made 5 centuries in a row

Anonymous said...

I agree with match of the season, final of the season and shot of the season

jamie said...

My awards

Player: John Higgins, although if he had not won World's then I would have said Ronnie who is still number 1, and the only player who won three titles including the Masters with a new cue.

Breakthrough: Ricky Walden, the only qualifier to win a ranking event.

Match: Maguire v Robertson qf at Masters, five consectuive centuries, only the 2nd time ever.

Break: Biased but Ding's 147 at UK Championship, I was there.

Tournament: Masters, just as high standard as the World's but with a better finish.

Performance: The Rocket winning the Masters with a brand new cue, he dismantled Maguire with ease.

Amateur: Luca Brecel

Final: Masters, plenty of great snooker, and for me a bit of needle. I liked it when Ronnie initially refused Selby a re-rack in frame eighteen. It was as if he was saying this is my manor son.

Quote: Stephen Lee saying he was going to play hide and seek with his cue over the summer.

Anonymous said...

all together now...Ronnie Ronnie Ronnie!

Anonymous said...

John = John Parrott? Who is Danny M?

This fine art nonsense has taken a new twist. Our very own soap opera played out in a comments section of a blog!

Dave H - you're a journalist, what is this all about?

Chris said...

I can't disagree with any of your selections there David. On worldsnooker.com you are able to vote for who you think is the player of the season, it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Anonymous said...

if it was a "fair vote" and every single person voted for exactly what is being asked then Higgins would win by a good bit, but unfortunately these things dont tend to be answered truthfully, instead people vote for their favourite, or at least a huge chunk do.

Anonymous said...

i thot fu vs murphy uk final was a classic as well. odd thing was both players play sloppy snooker but somehow made it more riveting all the same.

Anonymous said...

Yes, a lot of people were being apologetic about the UK final (eg commentators, pundits and even the players to some extent) but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm guessing it had something to do with paranoia about the games popularity but it was totally unneccessary.

Anonymous said...

+1 for Selbys shot on the brown. One of the best I have ever seen. To play it cushion first to make an angle to come up for the blue was just epic.