While there’s plenty of snooker to feast on at the moment with the ongoing UK Championship in York, there’s just time to reflect on the recent action with the November Snooker Player of the Month.
The penultimate month of the year saw two ranking events take place with the completion of the International Championship and the second leg of the Home Nations series in Belfast courtesy of the Northern Ireland Open.
Sandwiched in between those tournaments was the prestigious Champion of Champions invitational at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry while the World Women’s Tour and the inaugural amateur Challenge Tour provided silverware too.
Let’s see who our panel of experts plumped for on this occasion with the November Snooker Player of the Month.
David Hendon – Eurosport commentator, Snooker Scene Magazine and Podcast
Vote: Ronnie O’Sullivan
“I was pleased to see Judd Trump win a tournament. He’s an immense talent and will win many more.”
“But Ronnie O’Sullivan’s start to the season is extraordinary and, whatever he says, his will to win is higher now than ever.
“He also had what all great champions need now and again – a bit of luck.
“He had it against Kyren Wilson in the penultimate frame of the Champion of Champions final before making a grandstand finish and he had it again in the decider against Mark Selby in Belfast.
“He didn’t play his best in the final but still ran Trump to 9-7. He remains the benchmark, the man to beat.”
Michael Day – The Cue View
Vote: Ronnie O’Sullivan
“Perhaps predictable, but I have to go for Ronnie O’Sullivan.”
“The Rocket picks and chooses his events but, after a record-equalling 2017/18 season, he can be even more selective this campaign. When he does turn up, he makes it count.
“O’Sullivan pushed his luck, but he secured a third Champion of Champions title in just five attempts after a dramatic final win over Kyren Wilson and, despite not being a fan of flat 128-player draws, he reached the Northern Ireland Open final the following week.
“In Belfast, he overcame arch-rival Mark Selby in a pulsating semi-final. My match of the season so far, it pretty much had it all; including a cool clearance from the last red to black by the five-time world champion.
“I keep expecting a dip in results somewhere, but over the last 18 months Ronnie has reached ten finals, winning seven of them – it has probably been the most consistent spell of his career to date.
“Honourable mentions to Mark Allen, who claimed his first ranker for nearly two and a half years, and Trump, who silenced a few critics after a frustrating 2018.”
Nigel Slater – The Old Green Baize
Vote: Judd Trump
“My November Snooker Player of the Month goes to Judd Trump.”
“Snooker needs its most entertaining stars doing well and to see Trump win the Northern Ireland Open was a huge moment for him.
“Trump has had his critics but those comments come from the fact that he has the ability to be so, so good and to get that first trophy in a year was so important to him.
“When Judd Trump is playing well and winning, snooker is in a healthy place – but he must build on it and that is the challenge.
“Bar Ronnie O’Sullivan, nobody is dominating snooker these days and there’s a door open for a now confident again Judd Trump.”
SnookerHQ’s November Snooker Player of the Month
Vote: Judd Trump
This month was as difficult as there has been so far to choose from as the three main champions in Mark Allen, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Judd Trump could all rightly be given the nod.
Allen was magnificent in claiming a fourth ranking event crown in Daqing while O’Sullivan’s third triumph of the Champion of Champions outlined once again his dominance in events that boast only an elite field.
The “Rocket” subsequently looked like an immovable force as he powered through to the final of the Northern Ireland Open, pipping Mark Selby in what was undoubtedly the match of the season so far in a gripping last four fixture.
Yet, the 42 year-old ran into a motivated Trump in the final, who was pumped up to silence his critics and got the better of O’Sullivan 9-7 at the Waterfront Hall to land a ninth career ranking trophy.
There’s no escaping the fact that Trump suffers from inconsistency but when he’s on form there is hardly a player who can compete at his level on the Main Tour and the fact that he is frequently able to match O’Sullivan in the showpiece matches is a testament to his overall pedigree.
The next challenge for the 29 year-old is to acquire more success in the Triple Crown tournaments, so can he end December as a UK champion for the second time?
We don’t have to wait too long to find out.