Well thats all folks,a season that started way back in China last June comes to an end with a memorable final last night in Sheffield and the crowning of a new world champion So as the dust settles on another Crucible marathon and Stuart Bingham rides off into the sunset with the sports most coveted title,just what have we learned over the last 17 days?
Well there is only one place to start and that is with our new champion.Stuart Bingham is hardly a new name to snooker fans,but I'm sure most people like myself only ever looked on him as being a solid pro,capable of producing the odd big result against one of the top players,but not someone who would ever win one of the "big Three". Boy did he prove us wrong here.Not only did he produce some superb snooker, to win this title,he managed to produce it when under the most severe of pressure.There is no greater measure of a true champion than that.
Staying with the final Shaun Murphy showed us again in defeat just what a gentleman he is and you got the feeling his words of praise were not just meaningless soundbites,but genuinely heartfelt.No doubt he will be devastated to lose the final,but he can look back on a championship where he produced perhaps his best snooker at the Crucible since he lifted the title in 2005 and following on from a great season,this leaves him well placed to challenge for the games big prizes again next season.
Judd Trump can also look back on a season where he started to get his career heading the right way again,but will no doubt feel he may have left this title behind him,such was his standard in the early rounds.I got the distinct impression,especially in the first session again Bingham in the semi finals,Judd was suffering a little from the "expecting to be playing Ronnies"and may have underestimated his opponent.(Something we were all guilty of with Bingham). Of course everyone expects that one day Trump will be a world champion and while I share that view,nothing is guaranteed.If he can build on his efforts this season though,it is more likely that day will come than not.
From talk of a potential future champion to some great champions of the past and perhaps the signs we are nearing the end for the "class of '92". It has seemed for a couple of seasons that the chances of John Higgins or Mark Williams adding to their world title tallies were slim,but maybe now the that is also the case for the most decorated of that trio,Ronnie O'Sullivan. Ronnie just didn't seem to ever settle into this tournament and as he has been since the Welsh Open,he was strangely irritable. In my preview blog for this tournament I said that I felt if Ronnie had claimed his sixth title last year against Selby,that I had no doubt he'd be winning a seventh here.The fact is he didn't and there is now a strong possibility that he may not have it to challenge for the title here again.
As they say time or tide though wait for no man and there will always be players coming along to take their place.The question is where are they?
We constantly hear of all these great young players coming through,but the evidence just isn't there to support it.Bingham at 38 winning his first world title is seven years older than Davis & Hendry were when they won their last and it comes on the back of a season where seven of the nine players who won ranking titles were 31 or older.People will point to the likes of Michael White,Luca Brecel & Anthony McGilll who shocked Selby here as well as others,but a time comes where potential must be translated into results. I do really feel though that if the right player were to come through now,there is an opening to dominate this game for a decade.
Finally to a topic that had Twitter up in arms,particularly from the one table set up on and that was the pockets which seemed at times bucketlike. Ok that is a slight exaggeration,but there is no doubt that compared to other years they were certainly a little more forgiving.Barry Hearn responded to complaints on Twitter by saying they were templated as usual,but there are ways around this such as undercutting that can make them marginally more accepting of the ball.At this level the slightest easing of the difficulty makes a massive difference,as we saw here with the century break record being smashed.
As a one off this wouldn't be something worth worrying about,but the fear would be that if it continued into other events,in the mistaken belief that all snooker fans want to see is wham bam one chance frames then it would awful for the game. After all for all the big breaks in the final the most compelling frame lasted 64 minutes.
So thats it then,I don't think when we look back on this fortnight we will remember it as one of the great championship,but in Stuart Bingham we got a winner who show showed all the all the traits we like in our champions,skill, humility, determination & calm under pressure.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has read this blog over the season and I hope it proved informative, I will be using the next couple of months to try and spruce things up a bit around here and I hope to come back with a bigger and brighter website for the new season.Till then,take care & enjoy your summer.
The Green Baize