Judd Trump, by beating Peter Ebdon 9-1 in the semi-finals of the International Championship in Chengdu today, has become snooker’s new world no.1, only the tenth player to hold this position since the world rankings were introduced in 1976.
He is in good company, joining Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby.
The ranking system has changed various times in the last 36 years. The latest incarnation before the present one was a two year list which strictly became official at the end of each season. The current system sees the list change after each event.
Even so, this is a great achievement of which 23 year-old Trump should be rightly proud. I think most players would prefer being world champion to world no.1 because it is the pinnacle of the sport and a very public triumph. However, you don’t have to choose. You can be both.
How long will Trump remain at the top? The current system keeps everyone on their toes and he is less than 1,000 points ahead of Selby at the moment, although that margin will increase if he beats Shaun Murphy or Neil Robertson in Sunday’s final.
Trump has had a magnificent couple of years. His great run began when he won the 2011 China Open and immediately reached the world final. Last season he added the UK Championship to his roll of honour.
He had been a breath of fresh air for the game, with his audacious shot-making and all out attacking style.
It doesn’t always pay dividends of course, but that is all part of the excitement. One of the things I really like about Trump is that he understands televised sport is also supposed to be entertainment, and like Jimmy White before him he will play exhibition shots to entertain the crowd when the frame is well won.
He was probably the first player to realise that Twitter was a way of building a profile.
Of course, if you dredge the swamp of nitwittery for long enough you will hear all manner of derogatory comments, along the lines that Trump is actually just lucky, not as good as people say and wins because he whacks the balls so hard.
Blah, blah, blah. Successful people attract jealousy from unsuccessful people. Trump can take it as a compliment that there has been sniping. There will be more: as world no.1 he is there to be shot at.
It was ever thus. Steve Davis is now universally lauded as a legend but 30 years ago large sections of the crowd couldn’t wait for him to lose. Many people find excellence difficult to relate to.
We take our greats for granted. Trump will join the greats if he becomes world champion.
He has the confidence and the game to do this. For the moment, he is out in front, a Bristol boy made good, on top of the world.