Mark Allen’s successful defence of the World Open title underlines his status as one of snooker’s foremost talents.
This exceptional Northern Irishman kept his head down this year after the controversies of his Haikou trip last season and, to dredge up an old cliché, let his snooker do the talking.
He wasn’t too happy with his form earlier in the tournament but his performance against John Higgins was absolutely superb.
That meant he went into today’s final full of confidence and he made the perfect start, building a 4-0 lead.
Try as he did, Stevens was unable to get close enough to supply enough pressure for Allen to come close to cracking.
Allen pockets £85,000 to go with the £75,000 he won last year. He may be getting to like Haikou.
Certainly he heads to the Crucible seven weeks from now as a live contender for the world title.
From what I saw of ITV4’s coverage it was mercifully gimmick free, concentrating primarily on the actual snooker.
The masterstroke was in engaging Clive Everton and Neal Foulds as commentators, both of whom have been marginalised by the BBC.
These two knowledgeable, articulate men behind the mic complimented each other well, also proving that commentary is less intrusive and more rounded when it’s a broadcaster/player pairing rather than two players indulging in relentless shot analysis.
The lead commentator provides context and observations based on information, leaving the player to do the bulk of the analysis. It has been the standard broadcasting model for decades in most sports.
The Everton/Foulds axis also shows what can be achieved when things are done for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones. World Snooker suggested Clive to ITV. He in turn suggested Neal. There was no agenda other than getting the best people.
A special mention must go to Foulds who spent so much time on screen either in the studio, commentating on the live match or dubbing the second match that I was half expecting him to crop up in the evening repeats of The Sweeney.
Contractually ITV4 can’t show any other existing tournament but there is nothing to stop them reviving, say, the British Open, which would give them live snooker in the evenings.
The main reason this may not happen is the production costs. From the World Open they were taking a feed from the host broadcaster. Any new event in the UK would have to be produced in house.
Even so, there is an outside chance it could happen. I understand the Premier League is unlikely to take place next season in its current form, spread over many weeks, so this would free up time in the calendar.
The tournament itself was badly attended but sponsors care less about that than the television ratings, which in China often top 80m.
There is a strange paradox at work here: in China they get blue chip sponsors but can’t fill the venues; in Germany they fill the venues but can’t get blue chip sponsors.
If you don’t understand why this is then don’t worry: neither do I. Snooker is very popular in both countries but there are underlying factors at work, primarily financial and cultural.
The snooker world has a week off now before the PTC Grand Finals head to Galway on March 12.