The first month of the year represents one of the least busy, yet still provides us with our first major champion every twelve months.
The Masters might have been the only significant event taking place in the opening few weeks of 2019 but it doesn’t come all that much bigger than the action at the Alexandra Palace.
Six groups in the Championship League also took place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry while Jimmy White earned victory in the Irish Seniors Masters in Goffs at the outset of the month.
The German Masters has just got under way too but it’s safe to say that the decision for the January snooker player of the month was one of the most straightforward for our panel of experts.
Michael Day – The Cue View
Vote: Judd Trump
“I’ll tip my hat towards new Masters champion Judd Trump this month.”
“I, like several people over the previous few months, questioned the direction that Trump’s career was heading in and the methods he was using.
“Briefly, I even rated fellow Englishmen Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski ahead of him in the snooker stock market.
“Admittedly that was foolish, although, despite our sport still boasting all-time greats within the top echelons, Trump’s wait for a second Triple Crown title seemed overdue and was becoming a talking point.
“Whether Trump had taken people’s criticisms on board or not, he appeared to apply a more measured and calculated approach throughout the week at the Alexandra Palace – a tactic that paid off.
“He wasn’t necessarily at his supreme best, or naughtiest, but you won’t go through many tougher gauntlets than Wilson, Selby, Robertson, and O’Sullivan on your way to a major.
“Perhaps he has found the balance that’s required on the big stage. I guess time will tell whether he can sustain it.”
Andrea Campagna – Eurosport Italia
Vote: Judd Trump
“First of all, I want to thank SnookerHQ for asking me to join this panel.”
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for someone coming from Italy, a country where snooker is still moving its first steps – I’m honoured.
“Oh, and thank you for having me in this month, when the decision is so easy!
“Indeed, winning the only major tournament would be more than enough to be the January snooker player of the month.
“But Judd Trump won The Masters and did it in outstanding fashion. Hats off to him.
“His second Triple Crown title may be Trump’s coming of age. We knew him for his ‘naughty snooker’ but now his game has also become very mature from a tactical standpoint.
“What he did to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final is what O’Sullivan usually does to others: domination.
“Speaking of O’Sullivan, he has lost only three matches this season: two by Trump; both in major finals.
“I think this says a lot about Trump’s place in today’s snooker. Right before turning 30 years old, he may finally have become what we were expecting him to be even earlier.”
Michael Annison – Cue Action Blog
Vote: Judd Trump
“Picking the January snooker player of the month is very much a one-horse race.”
“Judd Trump’s exceptional victory at the Masters has answered a lot of critics that had started to talk about how much he had or had not won in his career.
“The fact that he was playing Kyren Wilson in round one probably turned out to be a huge blessing.
“A lot of people had started to compare the two when, as Michael Holt rightly pointed out, there is simply no comparison in what they’ve actually achieved, and Trump would have been practicing hard to make sure he came out on top.
“It’s worth pointing out that despite the poor record Trump has against Wilson, he started January with two wins against him in the Championship League and the confidence boost of a victory in group three of that competition.
“As soon as he had dispatched of Wilson it was clear that he was one of the men to beat.
“He looked as sharp as he had done for a long time and the demons of 12 months previously in the Masters semi-final had been taken care of.
“To go on and beat the world number one Mark Selby in the quarters, three-time Masters finalist Neil Robertson in the last four, before dismantling Ronnie O’Sullivan with a great display of front-running that O’Sullivan himself has made his trademark over the years, is how you want to win a title of this stature.”
SnookerHQ’s January Snooker Player of the Month
Vote: Judd Trump
There isn’t really much to add to what has already been said as Judd Trump is the obvious candidate for January snooker player of the month.
It will be thoroughly intriguing to witness how his latest Triple Crown success can influence his consistency going forward.
Trump has the ability to be a dominant force but has never been able to properly replicate his clear talent for a sustained period.
The Masters success and the manner in which he dispatched a quartet of the game’s very best could be the injection of confidence he needs to finally fulfill his ambition.
Many thanks to all of those who contributed this month.