Features and Interviews

Cue the Recovery

Let the snooker hangover commence.

Mark Selby World Champion (WS)

Selby has earned almost one million pounds in a highly lucrative season. Photo credit: World Snooker

After 27 days, which dates back to the start of the World Championship qualifiers at Ponds Forge in early April, the festivities in Sheffield have drawn to a close.

The final Monday when the champion is crowned is always an unusual day as it conjures up a range of conflicting emotions for the hardened snooker fan.

On the one hand there is the relief that it is all over – that the 17-day “Marathon of the Mind”, with snooker from practically dawn until dusk each day, is complete for another year and you can return to a life of relative normality.

Conversely, waking up on the first Tuesday morning after the event’s climax, driven immediately by instinct to accessing the snooker news, order of play, or TV schedule, only to suddenly realise there’s nothing left to look forward to, brings with it a familiar sense of emptiness.

It really is finished.

Some years of course the hangovers are experienced worse than others, depending normally on the general standard and level of excitement generated from the championship itself.

In truth, this hangover might be cured a little quicker than most after a tournament which was enjoyable, but failed to really capture the imagination.

The 2017 edition will be fondly remembered as the 40th anniversary at the Crucible Theatre, and the celebration on the eve of the opening Saturday was a joyous bringing together of all the living past champions – bar a lazy and disappointed Mark Williams who failed to qualify for only the second time since 1997.

This year’s event also produced a worthy winner, with Mark Selby successfully defending his title to add a third global crown to his growing list of accolades.

Perhaps this World Championship will be the one in which people pinpoint the moment when Selby truly began entering the conversation of becoming a member of the pantheon of all-time snooker greats.

The world number one is so far out in front of the chasing pack in the two-year rolling ranking system that, if you took all of his winnings from the 2015/16 campaign off now, he’d still be in top spot by some margin.

At 33, the “Jester” is bang smack in the middle of his prime and could continue to dominate for several years to come if he maintains his seemingly unbreakable will to win.

Selby is currently the 4/1 favourite to defend another major, the UK Championship in York later this year, and sites like Bonus Codes will help keep punters up to date with all the latest free bet offers.

Regardless of what the future might yet hold, the Englishman’s third World Championship triumph will be remembered for some time having staged a remarkable comeback in the final from six frames down.

However, the event as a whole was not quite as memorable.

Except for a few notable ties – most of which involving Ding Junhui – this was a largely forgettable fortnight of action that didn’t provide the magnitude of drama that we come to expect, maybe unfairly, from the sport’s blue riband extravaganza.

Indeed, in terms of thrilling action on the baize Ding was possibly the player of the tournament, featuring in one of only two ties which went the distance before epic encounters with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals and Selby in the last four.

Ding’s confident victory over the “Rocket” had many tipping the Chinese star to finally break his World Championship duck and bring back the trophy to his homeland for the first time.

Selby, though, denied the 30 year-old just as he did twelve months ago in the final showdown, and how familiar a sight might that become over the coming years?

Ding still has plenty of time but, as has been demonstrated by others in the past, one can only suffer from heartache so many times in a career.

Despite the promise of many that the centuries count would be comprehensively broken, the number in fact fell well short of the mark.

There were obviously some standout moments, though.

Marco Fu staged an unbelievable comeback from 7-1 down to Luca Brecel in the first round to deny the Belgian in the only other match that went the distance.

Ronnie O’Sullivan produced an effortless 146 break while Mark Selby’s 143 featured a succession of shots which almost defied belief.

O’Sullivan’s war of words with the authorities added controversial spice to his last 16 clash with Shaun Murphy, who was outspoken in his defence of the latter.

Scotland’s John Higgins proved once more with his run to the final why it’s foolish to ever write him off, while question marks remain over Judd Trump’s credentials on the biggest stage of them all.

In addition, the qualifiers at Ponds Forge continue to provide the perfect prologue of hope and despair, with World Championship berths and Main Tour survival each on the line for many.

Jimmy White and Ken Doherty were two of the early victims, thus losing their tour cards, but World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn responded as expected with a pair of wildcard offers to keep the fan favourites playing professionally for another couple of years at least.

The duo, and all the other players, knows that the journey to the Crucible will continue for another decade after a ceremonial signing of a new contract to keep the World Championship at the theatre until 2027.

It may be done with for this year but it won’t be long until we’re pining for it all to start over again in just over eleven months time.

Hair of the dog, you say?

Well, there’s always Q School – It starts next week in Preston. Bottom’s up.

4 replies »

  1. Dear David,

    many thanks for your great job you have been doing throughout the year.
    It has been my greatest pleasure to read your articles and to stay up to date with all snooker news.
    I wish you to have a good rest from snooker so that you start missing it again.
    I shall be waiting eagerly for your new articles.

    As for the 2017 edition of the World Championship I did not personally liked it very much.
    I hoped it would be more entertaining and more dramatic, the quality of performance from top players would be at its highest.

    I can only name one person who prepared in a very good way, from my point of view, and this is John Higgins. It’s a great pity that he lacked stamina in the final match. He had a good start but it is not always possible to perform well during all 17 days.

    Mark Selby is without doubt the person to admire, although not everyone can admire the style of snooker he plays. My 6-year old daughter watched some 4-5 matches with different players but her single favourite has always been Mark Selby. He is a true champion and he proved it once again with his performance at this tournament. I wish he worked harder to prove it. At some moment in the final I had a feeling that he was loosing frames on purpose only to win in a brilliant style at the end. Little was brilliant in the final from my amateur’s point of view. I will remember the final for the three consecutive shots from John Higgins when the white ball was in the middle pocket after the kiss with the brown ball. That was amazing. And in another shot he did not leave anything to Mark and eventually won that frame. The other thing this final is associated with me is the huge mistake from the referee / marker. I can fully understand that the referee did not see the white ball touch the black one and that is why he made a right decision at first. But having watched the reply it was very silly to make a wrong decision. BBC and Eurosport should have given us a true reply of this episode in a 3d environment and in a very slow motion, like they did dozens of time during the match but not at this moment. For me the reasons are clear – there was a mistake and no-one wanted the whole world to see it.

    I agree that best performance at this tournament was shown by Ding Junghui. He played great matches against Liang Wenbo, Ronnie and Mark. It was very interesting to watch his games. I hope he continues to play this way in the next season. Much credit has been given to Judd after his final, but we see that he did not manage to live up these great expectations.

    I hope the new snooker year would be more interesting and we shall be enjoying more matches of the highest quality and the coverage of these matches by you David.

    Like

    • I want to offer congratulations to David Caulfield for providing this site. His dedication to the sport shows the most necessary ingredient, passion. As a newly minted snooker fan the decision to televise, through Facebook the Crucible matches this year were fabulous. I was even able to (almost) watch the finals on YouTube with varying degrees of success. My only constructive criticism lies with the camera work. The larger percentile of shots broadcast feature a head on view of the striker delivering the cue. Numerous side views would show the viewer the most important aspect of the game, the player’s actual stroke, not visible from the front.Cameras switch from the side view to the front the instant the cue is delivered. I’d like the commentators to introduce themselves to us more than once per match as well as they take for granted we know who they are by voice, and their actual names may have been given prior to the match, so while voices become familiar the new viewer cannot put a name to the voice. Nevertheless, I’d rate the broadcasts at 100% satisfying.

      Like

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