NEW SEASON: BACK ON TOP
It attracted huge numbers of spectators who displayed a deep knowledge of - and healthy respect for - snooker.
And the title was won by a player returning to the peak of his powers. Mark Williams proved in Berlin and elsewhere last season that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
So much so, in fact, that the Welsh left-hander has returned to no.1 in the world after a gap of seven years.
Williams had dropped to 47th, but only in the provisional rankings. His lowest official ranking was 22nd.
Even this was too low for one of the finest talents the game has ever seen. At 36, he considers himself an “old man” in snooker terms but it’s clear he still has plenty left in the tank.
He could have won the World Championship too but went out in the semi-finals to John Higgins.
There were two reasons for this. The first was obviously how well Higgins played but in the third session the pressure got to Williams, due surely to the fact it had been eight years since he had last played in the one table set up at the Crucible.
Mark will never be everyone’s cup of tea (who is, for that matter?). I know some in the game feel he could be more professional off table but I have to say I have always found him to be nothing other than a perfect gent, and always true to who he is.
He doesn’t like doing interviews and loathes stuffy formality but look at how sporting he was to Higgins after the heckler incident in their world semi-final.
That says more about him than any number of press conferences or what he’s chosen to wear.
Because the truth is Mark has never really changed. Yes, snooker has given him a good lifestyle but he’s basically the same cheeky lad he was when he turned professional.
He doesn’t act the star because he doesn’t see himself as a star. To Williams, he’s just a bloke who plays snooker. It’s a job, a way of earning money.
Losing doesn’t leave him in the pits of despair. He turns up, gives it his best, hopes to have some fun and, win or lose, goes home in pretty much the same mood.
I’m sure there are many people reading this who would love to find that level of everyday contentment.
And Williams has a game that, when it’s working, is as good as anyone’s. A fantastic long potter, he is also a master at scrapping out those horrible frames so many other players don’t like being involved in.
The good news for Williams is that there will be more tournaments than ever before outside the UK this season. He has always been a good traveller, again because he has the right attitude about playing overseas.
As a boy growing up in a waning mining community in South Wales he could never have imagined he would one day be travelling to places like Bangkok, Beijing and Berlin to play snooker and be handsomely remunerated for it.
So Williams is back on top of the rankings, back in the winning groove and back where he belongs, as one of snooker’s authentic greats.
His will surely add to his trophy collection in the year to come.