The World Championship is always eagerly anticipated, always a great treat for snooker fans, but some are inevitably better than others.
The 2012 championship wasn’t the best ever as some have claimed but had many moments of drama on and off the table.
Stephen Hendry supplied the first on the opening afternoon with his third Crucible maximum. He drubbed John Higgins in the second round, was drubbed himself in the quarter-finals and promptly retired.
This was a dignified decision by a great champion. The ovation he received before last night’s final session was heartfelt.
Less dignified was Mark Allen, whose first round exit was followed by another rant at the Chinese.
More interesting, if less newsworthy, was the fact that Allen joined a list of tournament winners from this season in falling at the first fence.
Ding Junhui was another, as was Stephen Lee. Mark Selby also lost although was severely hampered with an injury.
There were new faces too. Luca Brecel provided signs of potential. Cao Yupeng reached the second round.
Jamie Jones was one of the real stars. I admired his attitude as much as his game (and of course his quiff).
Jones produced a gutsy display to reach the quarter-finals, mixing some mature tactical play with fearless potting. He is one to watch.
Players who had failed to pull up many trees during the season found form. Ryan Day reached the quarter-finals; Matthew Stevens was a semi-finalist.
Ali Carter did himself proud. He won the match of the tournament to beat Judd Trump 13-12 from 12-9 down. In that match and all others he displayed a steely determination.
How different his emotions must have been compared to a few months ago when, beset by ill health, he said he would retire.
There was no disgrace in losing to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. O’Sullivan was disciplined throughout the 17 days. His focus never wavered.
I think it did him a favour drawing Peter Ebdon in the first round. It meant that he came to Sheffield mentally prepared for a tough time.
His very first frame went to a re-spotted black. It seemed he held the upper hand right from the moment he potted it.
O’Sullivan had a very difficult route to the title: three world champions followed by two runners-up.
I think he would have beaten anyone in the game playing the way he did. Perhaps the last few days were not as exciting as in previous years because there was a sense of the inevitable that O’Sullivan would win, but that’s hardly his fault.
So the Crucible reverts to its day job as a theatrical venue and the snooker season ends.
I hope all those who have worked so hard to make it all happen enjoy whatever breaks they are afforded before it all starts again. Q School is coming and the Wuxi Classic qualifiers are less than a month away.
Until then, let us bask in the memories of another World Championship and another great feat in the remarkable life and career of Ronnie O’Sullivan.