So Stuart Bingham has taken his place in snooker’s ranking event winners’ circle...who else might join him as a first time champion this season?
The usual nine of ten players will in all likelihood dominate but the difference now to a few years ago is that more players are sharp because they are playing all the time.
The confidence that a good PTC run can bring feeds into the big events and there will be a number of players looking at Bingham’s win at the weekend and thinking, ‘I could do that’
Ironically, the name at the top of this list is Bingham’s chief critic at the Australian Open, Mark Allen.
He has taken a lot of stick for his comments but remains a fine talent who has reached the quarter-finals of the last two ranking tournaments despite hardly practising.
Maybe sometimes he needs to tighten up a little but he certainly has the attacking game that pays dividends in this ultra-competitive era for snooker.
Jamie Cope has long been regarded as a talent who hasn’t quite stepped up to the next level, but it emerged recently that he has in fact been suffering from an hereditary condition that caused him to shake on the shot, for which he has now received treatment.
Hopefully this will help him make some progress now, although I think sometimes Jamie’s head drops a little too early in matches when things are going wrong and this is perhaps another issue he needs to address.
Bingham is 35 and his victory will give heart to the likes of Mark King and Joe Perry, two players who have been on the fringes of winning big titles without quite doing it.
Martin Gould is one of the most improved players on the circuit in recent times, but it remains to be seen if his open game can yield silverware.
What of the young stars? Could, say, Jack Lisowski or Anthony McGill conceivably come through the pack in the way, for instance, Paul Hunter did at the 1998 Welsh Open?
These are all questions. I don’t know the answers, but I’d be interested in your thoughts.