Ronnie O’Sullivan won the inaugural Champion of Champions after a hard-fought 10-8 victory over Stuart Bingham in Coventry on Sunday night.
Neither player played to their full potential, indeed it was a pretty scrappy affair throughout, but the world champion produced a late burst to add yet another trophy to his dazzling collection.
Nobody can question the merit of O’Sullivan’s win, though, and it is befitting that it his name being the first etched on the new trophy donning the name ‘Champion of Champions’.
When the ‘Rocket’ is at his best he is simply head and shoulders above everybody else in the game.
Even when he isn’t performing to the peak of his abilities, he can still emerge victorious through his battling qualities and wonderful will to win.
If Ronnie O’Sullivan’s career is defined as one thing upon its conclusion, it will be that he is a champion – and one of the best at that.
The 37 year-old certainly captured this title the hard way.
After a near-faultless 4-0 drubbing of Mark Davis in his opening encounter, O’Sulllivan came from 5-3 down to oust player of the season Ding Junhui in a thrilling decider 6-5.
In the semi-finals on Saturday he repeated the trick, this time withstanding a fightback from the world no.1 Neil Robertson to edge the Australian in another final frame finish.
In both of those matches, Ronnie displayed two of those well-known traits of his.
Against Ding, he battled from 50 points down to eventually prevail on the final pink, highlighting his will to win, while against Robbo, perhaps more typically, he completed the triumph with a cool century.
Yesterday’s final against fellow Essex native Bingham was also a close contest that almost went the full distance.
Both players struggled to gain any defining momentum and Bingham will perhaps feel that it is a match that got away from his grasp considering his opponent was nowhere near his best.
In fact, Bingham led 5-3 and 7-6 but, despite having chances in most frames, was unable to open up a considerable enough advantage to sufficiently dent O’Sullivan’s confidence.
Gifted more chances than he ought to have been given by his challenger, O’Sullivan took four of the last five frames to be crowned champion – his first major trophy since his fifth World Championship in May.
For Bingham, it will be bitter disappointment to what was otherwise a great week for the player known as ‘Ballrun’.
The 37 year-old recorded excellent wins over Rcky Walden, Judd Trump and Mark Selby and fell only one hurdle short of adding another invitational event to the Premier League he triumphed in last season – a competition that the CofC replaced on the calendar.
However, his presence in the final perhaps showcased just how consistent Bingham has been over the course of the last few years, something that O’Sullivan testified to in his post-match interview.
For O’Sullivan himself, it’s yet another title and winning it ensures that, for all of Ding’s efforts this season, he remains the main man to overcome.
One thing that O’Sullivan’s career has not been overly noted for is his short-term consistency.
It has not been all that common to see him win a couple of big tournaments back-to-back so maybe it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him fail in the upcoming UK Championship in York.
As for the Champion of Champions, its first staging will surely go down as a resounding success on all fronts.
The Ricoh Arena was a superb venue and refreshingly brought snooker to a different city, one that clearly embraced snooker throughout the week’s action.
The format was interesting with a new semi-finalist learned every day while ITV’s coverage was outstanding.
Most importantly, it was a tournament that rewarded success.
Only the best players in the world, event winners from the previous year or so, were invited to compete.
What’s professional sport if you don’t have a few occasions every campaign offering the best players in the world their chance to demonstrate their skills alone, on big stages, in front of sizable audiences?
And the best of the best is undeniably a certain Ronnie O’Sullivan.
thanks for covering this great event, David. Although the coverage by ITV was outstanding, I guess, it was a privilege of the British residents only. It was a shame Eurosport did not cover it.
Look forward to the start of the UK Championship.
Good point, Sergei!