This is turning into one of the strangest World Championships ever.

The formbook has not so much been thrown out of the window as Fed-Ex’d to Pluto. Big names have tumbled and some old stagers have come to life.

Mark Selby was the latest top player to be beaten yesterday, 13-10 by Barry Hawkins.

Selby was bad beyond belief. Hawkins didn’t play particularly well either but credit to him for getting the job done.

The consensus seems to be that Selby was burnt out by playing so much snooker.

I’m naturally suspicious of consensuses. They are designed to prohibit any contrary view, regardless of its merit.

Judd Trump, who played terrific stuff last night to defeat Marco Fu 13-7, was of the opinion that players like Selby and Neil Robertson had paid the price for playing too many tournaments.

But the players lower down who are doing well have if anything played even more snooker and are match fit as a result.

Anyway, coming into the World Championship Trump had played 92 matches this season and Selby 91.

That said, a long campaign of snooker will sap mental reserves. In tennis and golf, top players tend to pick and choose events, concentrating on the majors. There’s nothing to stop snooker players doing the same. The new prize money ranking list will make this easier – if they win a big event they can dodge a couple of smaller ones.

Lower down the rankings players will have to enter pretty much everything to protect their positions.

But the increase in snooker has certainly helped the likes of Mark Davis (40), Mark King (39), Robert Milkins (37), Stuart Bingham (36) and Barry Hawkins (34).

It’s stretching things a tad to dub them snooker’s version of Dad’s Army but they are now all playing the best snooker of their careers – well into their careers.

Davis, Milkins and Hawkins all belong to OnQ Promotions, whose director of coaching is Terry Griffiths, the 1979 world champion and a Yoda figure within the game due to his mentoring skills.

All three have thanked Griffiths for his help. I think he has made two big differences in their games.

One is just giving them confidence and support. The other is in shot selection. If you look and Milkins and Hawkins, their safety is excellent. They don’t go for rash balls and they don’t lose discipline.

As for Trump, I was struck by how well he spoke afterwards. He knows he can win the thing, he also knows it’s up to him rather than fretting about who he plays and how they play.

At 23, tiredness is less likely to affect him. He’s seen many of his rivals fall by the wayside but the path isn’t completely clear yet: Ronnie O’Sullivan, fresher than anyone, is leading 5-3 overnight against Ali Carter.


Anonymous said...

Murphy will beat trump in my opinion he has a better game and has a plan B. trump is getting on my nerves everyone makes him out to be this playboy model but really he's just a lanky spotty outspoken boy.

Anonymous said...

As well as Terry Griffiths you also have to give due credit to Paul Mount who has produced an excellent facility and a stable base for these players to thrive.

The Blog said...

I'd love Trump to win the tournament. Terry Griffith was commentating during the final session of his match against Marco Fu and summed up why Judd is a great advert for the modern game:

His speed,

His attacking play,

His flair.

If Ronnie O'Sullivan wins this year's WC, fair enough, he will have proven he's the best of the current generation but someone like Judd Trump is a breath of fresh air. The sport needs a younger player to win (although it would be a dream come true if Jimmy White made a comeback and got to one more final). But that's rather unlikely!

As for more women in snooker, it was a bit disheartening to hear about the nine times woman's champion struggling to beat any of the lower ranked male players. Clearly there is a huge talent gap between women and men snooker players and it's unlikely this gap will ever shorten.

Women are better at 'women things 'like er... well... er.... and er... stuff like er.. :P

PM said...

Tennis and golf don't have their big tournaments at the end of the season, either. The Aussie Open aside, all of the grand slams and majors take place between mid-April and early September. But Neil, Maguire and Selby should all have put up a better show. The first two should never be behind against a journeyman qualifier after nearly twenty frames.

Anonymous said...

i hope trump does not win a fantastic player but over rated he is not a ronnie o sullivan, alex higgins, or jimmy white just yet. Ding is a better player and a more consistant break builder in my eyes..but if trump wins fair play to him..i cant believe the shocks in this tournament but wouldnt it be great to see a hard worker like bingham, davis or hawkins win it..players refered to as journeymen a few yrs ago who never gave up..but whoever wins is a worthy winner as snooker is the toughest sport in the world..

kildare cueman said...

Dont think it was burnout with Selby. Think he suffered from pressure plus the fact that Hawkins has a good record against him.

Every time a seed falls, it adds pressure to the other seeds in that section. Instead of playing for a place in the second round, they're now playing for a place in the quarter or possibly the semi.

Could be the time to have a few bob on an outsider.

Anonymous said...

Since there is no shortage of former players, commentators, summerisers, presenters, call them what you will, why not sit one of them beside the director to educate and prevent them constantly switching cameras.
I totally agree with the comments about Judd. More often than not, once the frame is won, he will usually play some exhibition shots. To get the full effect, we have to see the full table and NOT switch to the floor camera shot of the pocket the producer reckons the object ball will be potted.
It's not difficult.

Anonymous said...

Trump has no chance against ronnie in a potential semi final. Ronnie is such a good front runner and judd can't pot his way out of trouble all the time.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie is great for the game. Can you imagined a world championship without him? Snooker needs great characters like Ronnie.

Anonymous said...

Great that the Paul Hunter Foundation is doing such great work.
I met him in Glasgow after he lost to White in the Players Championship in '04
He was a true gentlemen, stayed for a while in the player's lounge and was genuinely pleased for Jimmy.
He was a class act and very much missed.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie is still finding his feet.
A few more mistakes than usual but he will get stronger as the tournament goes on.
Title no 5 is his for the taking.

Anonymous said...

I think both Selby and Robertson both have legitimate claims to burn out, Selby especially. They enter most stuff and go the distance in most things, whereas a journeyman pro playing well will probably still only win 2/3 games in most tournaments. Selby has gone that extra mile this season too, winning the second and third most prestigious events, and it takes it out of you. As the school chess champion in two consecutive years, take it from me! The solution is simple: jack in the PTCs if you are a top 8 player. If you are a Selby or Robertson you don't need them.

Anonymous said...

Snooker is dying in my opinion, all the players bar osullivan & trump are the same, no entertainers anymore, its all so serious, no personnalities, no flare, why would you pay to watch any of them in tournaments or exhibitions, how we miss the contrasting styles of reardon, kirk stevens, knowles, davis, thorburn, griffiths, white, hendry & of course the one & only alex higgins. without such personnalities in the game it really aint worth watching, no wonder barry hearn wants to change the game & bring more players to fore, even if they arent so good maybe they've more character than this lot.

Anonymous said...

1.20 - Trump would have a very good chance against Ronnie should they meet in the semis in my opinion. He already has a few big wins over him and judging by his scoring versus Trump, he has big a chance as any player left. Personally I don't think Ronnie will win - he doesn't look hungry enough, more, he's just happy to be playing again. If Carter doesn't get him. Bingham, Trump or Ding in the final will.

Anonymous said...

Shame on Selby for putting on such a cowardly performance.

Whenever Selby comes up against a player who he knows is technically better than him, he intentionlly makes each frame into a tactical scrappy bore, where all the balls end up on the side of the table etc ...... I think he is worst than Ebdon, at least Ebdon played some attacking Snooker..... The way Selby plays is pure cheap and cowardly...... I can't see him ever deserving to win the World Championship.

Anonymous said...

General standard of play is awful this year.
Century breaks way down.
Must be to do with these Star tables.
Many irregular bounces off the cushions and balls rolling off.
Realise BCE and Riley are out the game but there must be better quality tables than these 'made in China' efforts.

NewsfoxSport said...

It's definitely not burn out - Ding just produced a 7-1 session win in extreme pressure versus King. As has been said, Trump's played more matches than Selby.

Of course it may be tiredness due to what players are doing outside of the tour. But 12 ranking events and a couple of invite tourneys? Tennis players play in more tournaments and they have all the physical stuff to contend with.

I agree that the issue is pressure. Additionally, Higgins has been poor for months and Mark Allen regularly loses early as he has no B game.

Selby says he's going to play less matches. It really would make me laugh if players end up going back to the 6/7 tournaments a season that they complained about so much.



Hi David, A great morning session, in my view.

Bingham .V. Davis - session one - A slow start. 2-2, at the mid-session interval. A 106 break from Bingham. 3-2, to him. 3-3. 4-3, to bingham. 4-4, going into tonight's second session.

Walden .V. Milkins. Walden, had the better start, going 3-1 up, at the mid-session interval.Walden led, 5-2. Milkins won the next, with a century break. 5-3, to Walden, going into tonight's second session.

A great afternoon session, in my view. Carter .V.O'sullivan - session two - O'Sullivan won frame 9, to lead, 5-3. Carter, won the next two, 6-5. O'Sullivan, led, 7-5, at the mid-session interval. Carter got it to 7-7. O'Sullivan, won the next two, to lead, 9-7, going into tomorrow night's final Session.

Ding .V. KING - session two - Ding, won the first four frames, to level, with great play. 6-6, at the mid-session interval. He won the next, to lead, for the first time. 7-6. kING LEVELLED. 7-7. Ding, won the next two, to lead, 9-7, going into tomorrow's final session.

A great evening session, in my view. Bingham .V. Davis - session two, not quality, but pressure. Davis led, 8-7, from 7-5 down. Bingham levelled. 8-8, over-night, going into tommorrow's final session.

Walden .V. Milkins - session two - Walden, took the first four frames, of this session, to lead, 9-3, at the mid-session interval. Mlins,won the next three frames. 9-6, to Walden. Walden, won the next, to lead, 10-6, over-night, going into tomorrow's final session.

I can not wait for more, tomorrow.


Hi David great session, 12 pints 10 double vodkas.

I can not wait for more, yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Selby, after playing a more open game this season which paid dividends, made a monumental mistake at the Crucible by reverting to his old ways.

Anonymous said...


Brilliant, In my view !

Anonymous said...

In reply to anonymous at 7.11:

Oh, how I miss the full-of-flare entertainers like Griffiths, Davis and Thorburn, three players who could bore any hardened snooker fan to sleep. Hendry was hardly a sparkling personality, nor Knowles or Reardon, although I do agree Stevens and Higgins were fantastic characters. But were there any more characters in the 'golden age' of snooker than there are now?

kimball said...

For sure there are only one Poomjaeng
set in God's workshop.
Brilliant entertainer, should do a double with Rob Walker or roadshow
with Steve Davis.
Stop moaning, the game is worldclass
except for pictureproduction where
BBC seem to train a new crew.

The Blog said...

I think Trump is, by far, the most exciting player to watch in snooker. I don't even find Ronnie that exciting anymore. Perhaps it's due to all the negative stuff he's said over the years... "I'm quitting, no I'm not blah blah blah." I find him a bit dull to watch and a wee bit ungrateful. For sheer enjoyment and crazy pots (and misses, lol) I think Trump is light years ahead of all the other players. This is why I hope he wins. Having said that, if another player shows more consistency and skill then fair enough, good luck to them winning the tournament. :)

quijibo81 said...

"Lower down the rankings players will have to enter pretty much everything to protect their positions." - But with most tournaments going to a flat draw in the future, what's the point?

Anonymous said...

2.42 Ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

The point was the players had different styles & strengths, ok some werent the quickest but most today are hardly like lightening are they & they're all the same, as a once huge snooker fan i'm bored to tears watching this lot, come back virgo, all's forgiven.