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Monday, 9 December 2013

UK Championship Final + thoughts on the tournament

Neil Robertson last night joined the exclusive club who have won snookers triple crown,when he completed a stunning comeback to beat Mark Selby 10-7 and claim the 2013 UK Championship title.

This result had looked unlikely early on as it was Selby who was the quicker out of the blocks,winning the opening frame with a break of 130 and establishing a 5-1 lead with the Aussie seemingly unable to settle.
From here the last two frames of the session were going to be all important and it was Robertson who took them,to leave the arena a much relieved man only trailing now 5-3.

Into the evening and it was Selby who took the opener to go 6-3, but it was to be last frame for a while as Robertson upped a gear to take the next 5 in a row and establish an 8-6 advantage.Selby to his credit stopped the rot in the next to close to 8-7 and in a dramatic next really should have drawn level at 8-8 but he missed a crucial final black,leaving it in the jaws.Robertson tapped it home to go 9-7 up and duly won the next to secure the title.

This win secured that the Aussie would end the calendar year as the world's no.1 ranked player and such has been his consistency in ranking events in 2013,.Few could argue that he doesn't deserve that position.

For Selby he will be disappointed he couldn't defend his title.but he can look back with satisfaction of the way he defended his crown.Its probably fair to say he has yet to rediscover his best form of a couple of seasons back,but he has certainly shown enough in recent weeks to indicate it might not be far away.

So what of the tournament itself.Well as we all know this was the first time we have used the flat 128 draw for this tournament and those in favour of it will point to the fact that 14 of the top 16 seeds reached the last 16,so the best players still come through.but that for me is not the issue.

No for me the problem was the chaotic and confusing  nature of the first week of action,indeed this only started to feel like the UK Championship when we reached the two table set up last Wednesday.This may just be my old traditionalist tendencies coming out,but it is still something of a concern in what is the games second biggest prize.I contrast this with the World Championship where,thanks to the qualifiers now been broadcast on the internet,we can get gripped by that Crucible fever a week before the action even starts on the BBC.

Another problem I found last week was that thanks to the BBC,whatever its faults, this is one of the sports few terrestrial outings in the UK each year and for the first four days the casual snooker fan was"treated"to a series of either totally one sided matches between our top players and lower ranked opposition or even if it were a close match it been mainly down to a below par performance from the higher ranked player.Is this really taking advantage of one of the rare times our sport is actually in the shop window?

Anyway regardless of the complaints it appears that this format is here to stay.Lets just hope,that despite some of the bravado from Barry Hearn over the last week,that the powers that be do actually listen to the  genuine grievances some of the players have expressed..Lets also hope that,though probably inevitable, this change doesn't come to the World Championship for many more seasons.

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