When 23 year old Judd Trump became the worlds no.1 ranked snooker player by lifting the International Championship last month he was completing a rise to the top that many presumed had been written in the stars since he was cleaning up in the junior ranks over a decade ago.The only surprise for some was that it had seemed to take so long.
The first time I heard of Judd was when at the age of just 13 he defeated Mike Hallett to lift the Pontins Open.For this if memory serves he earned a picture on the front cover of Snooker Scene magazine accompanied by an article outlining his remarkable achievements at junior level which included a national under 15 title when he was aged just 10.
What followed of course were the inevitable comparisons with that other child genius Ronnie O Sullivan,These were only further enhanced when Judd took the record previously held by Ronnie's by becoming the youngest player to complete a 147 in competition at the age of 14.It seemed only a matter of time before like "The Rocket" he would be tearing up the pro tour.
So what happened?Well at the start not a lot.Judd struggled to repeat the dominant performances he had produced at junior level and for the first few years he didn't really make much of an impact at the business end of tournaments at all.There were of course exceptions that pointed to his talent.He made made his Crucible debut aged 17 and won the Championship league in 2008 but with so few tournaments at the time hejust wasn't getting the experience that comes with playing regularly .The talent was still there he just needed to find the best way to harness it.
His breakthrough would come in the 2011China Open when as a qualifier he his first ranking title defeating former world champions Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon on the way to beating Mark Selby 10-8 in a memorable final."My career starts now" he would say in the poat match interview and how right he was.The following week he would defeat defending champion Neil Robertson in the first round in the Crucible and for the next 17 days light up the World Championships with some spectacular shot making only eventually going down to John Higgins in the final.The touchpaper had been lit.
He would start the next season with a new found confidence to compete at the very top that would have only be enhanced further with a superb 4-3 victory over Ronnie at a PTC final in Antwerp.From there he went to York and duly won the games second biggest prize the UK Championship in another classic final with Mark Allen.By now he was riding the crest of a wave and went to The Masters as one of the favourites.but this time it was Robertson turn for revenge.
I think it is widely accepted and I have often written about it before that Neil Robertson did a number on Judd in that semi final.After this match a number of strange things happened. Firstly it seemed to affect Judd more then it perhaps should have as he would go on to lose a number of matches from commanding positions before the season was over. Secondly we seemed to be getting a Trump backlash from some in the game.complaining about what they perceived to be an above average run of the ball and a arrogance among him and his supporters.For me both these accusations seemed to have little basis in fact and maybe spoke of a little jealousy for the attention he was getting.Whatever the reasons though it seemed Judd once again came into this season with questions to answer.
This he has done not only winning the International Championship but also capturing the EPTC in Bulgaria as well as finishing runner up to the resurgent John Higgins in the Shanghai Masters and a PTC in Gloucester.Next week he will be the favourite to retain his UK Championship title in York.
So what does the future hold for the young man from Bristol? It is a widely held view that we will never see the days of one player dominating the game the way Davis and Hendry did especially with there been so many events nowadays but the question is what is domination in the modern games? As far as I would be concerned modern dominance would consist of winning the majors The World Championship, The Uk The Master's and the new International Championship and competing well in a few of the other ranking events.Who can say that by next May we wont be talking about Judd in those terms. The other point is if Judd can reach the consistent level of those greats of the last 25 yrs (Davis Hendry,Higgins,O Sullivan and Williams) I really don't see where his competition is going to come from.He seems to have found a way to mix his natural attacking instincts with a solid safety game and this makes his very hard to stop.We really could be entering another golden era.
This will no doubt be a topic for discussion among all snooker fans as time goes by but for now lets be happy we have someone like Judd Trump in the game.Long may he continue to entertain us with his remarkable skills on the green baize.