Features and Interviews

2015 Highs and Lows – Part Two

As 2015 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on what has been another enthralling year in snooker.

There have been many talking points over the course of the last 12 months both on and off the table.

Yesterday we took a look at the lows but today let’s end things on a brighter note with some of the most memorable moments from 2015.

The Highs

Stuart Bingham Becomes World Champion

Not many people predicted Stuart Bingham’s triumph in the World Championship but few could deny that he deserved it.

Stuart Bingham Celebration

Stuart Bingham after his win at the Crucible in May – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

At 38 years old, ‘Ballrun’ became the oldest world champion since Ray Reardon last captured the title in 1978.

The popular Englishman grew in confidence as the rounds progressed, knocking out a trio of former winners and another runner-up to etch his name on the famous trophy.

In the quarter-finals he stunned five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan before pipping Judd Trump to the post in a superb semi-final that went to a decider.

The final with Shaun Murphy equally had everything, from big breaks to runaways to comebacks, concluding with an eventual steely nerve from Bingham to prevail with an 18-15 scoreline.

Bingham’s genuine and emotional reaction to each victory endeared himself to millions of fans.

Even though he has struggled to live up to his billing so far this season, in his mind it wont really matter as nobody can ever take that Crucible triumph away from him.

Surprise Finalists

2015 was definitely a year of the underdog.

There was plenty of surprise ranking event finalists throughout the 12 months, starting with Ben Woollaston’s run to the final of the Welsh Open in February.

Gary Wilson, Martin Gould, David Gilbert and Liang Wenbo also made unexpectedly brilliant runs to finals – in Gould’s case concluding with a crushing deciding frame defeat to John Higgins in the Australian Open showdown.

But two new stars managed to collect their maiden pieces of pro silverware as Michael White won successive titles at the Indian Open and the Shoot-Out, before Kyren Wilson stunned Judd Trump in the final of the Shanghai Masters.

Both of these men will be expecting to feature at the business end of tournaments more regularly from now on but the overall performances from competitors down the rankings list proves the strength in depth within the game.

Even journeyman Rory McLeod managed to get in on the act with an unbelievable victory in the Ruhr Open European Tour event.

Ronnie’s Terrific Ton Tally

As far back as the Masters in January, Ronnie O’Sullivan wrote his name into the history books again by compiling his 776th competitive century break.

Ronnie O'Sullivan Masters 15

Ronnie will make his UK return at the next Masters in January – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

It broke the longstanding record held by Stephen Hendry and further outlined the Rocket’s credentials as the game’s most prolific break-builder of all time.

O’Sullivan didn’t enjoy a particularly good end of last season and has only just returned to feature in this campaign, so he has failed to add many more to his tally.

That said, if the 40 year-old does decide to continue playing for another handful of years then it is foreseeable that he could become the first player ever to reach 1000 tons.

Some people believe that record would never be beaten but the rate that both Neil Robertson and Judd Trump are knocking in the high breaks would threaten that idea.

Robertson’s Maximum Effort

Despite a surprise defeat in qualification for the German Masters last week, Neil Robertson enjoyed a spectacular end to 2015.

The Australian hadn’t won a major title for around a year and a half before the Champion of Champions in Coventry.

After emerging victorious in that, Robertson duly went to York for the UK Championship in fine fettle and his second triumph in the major rarely looked in doubt.

Even more impressive, though, was his composure in compiling a perfect 147 break in his final with Liang Wenbo.

Although now tied with Ding Junhui on 11 ranking event successes, both men are going in completely opposite directions with Robertson well on his way to eventually joining the conversation as to who is the best player of all time.

147 breaks have been made in notable finals before, one even amazingly in a deciding frame, but none in as high-profile an event as the UK Championship.

Even though he suffers the odd dip in form, Robertson continues to record impressive milestones throughout his career and, at just 33, there’s surely more to come in the future

Boileau Wins Irish Ranking Event

It took a little longer than many had expected but Josh Boileau finally bagged himself some glory in a senior ranking event on the Irish tour this year.

Boileau President's Cup

Josh Boileau at the IVY Rooms in December – photo courtesy of IVY Rooms Carlow.

After three runners-up spots dating back to 2012, the young Kildare cueist triumphed in the President’s Cup this month, beating Jason Devaney 4-2 in the final in Carlow.

Boileau has been long tipped as the next bright prospect from Ireland ever since a confident junior career brought him multiple titles and honours.

A former Under-19 and Under-21 national champion, Boileau gained more international renown for his runs to the final of both the European and World Under-21 Championships in 2014.

Since then he had suffered a dip in form but will be very confident after his maiden senior victory sent him top of the Irish rankings for this season.

Boileau is still only 20 years old and so has plenty of time to realise his potential.

However, he’ll surely be eager to emerge victorious in either the European Men’s or Under-21 Championships that take place in Poland in February, thus potentially earning a ticket onto the Main Tour.

It is there, as a professional, where Boileau’s potential will surely eventually be fulfilled.

 

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