As 2019 draws to a close, we can continue our reflection on what has been another enthralling year for snooker.
There have been many talking points over the course of the last twelve months both on and off the table.
On Thursday, we took a look at a few of the low points but today let’s celebrate some of the more memorable moments from 2019.
The last year for snooker of the decade will undoubtedly belong to one player – Judd Trump.
It’s difficult to pick just one tournament or a single performance because there were so many outstanding displays that he produced.
Trump’s maiden World Championship triumph is of course on top of the list of memories created.
The Englishman was in the form of his life and his play reached remarkable heights in an 18-9 final defeat of John Higgins, avenging his defeat to the Scot at the same stage eight years previously.
After years of underwhelming inconsistency, the 30 year-old sandwiched his success in Sheffield with a number of other high-profile glories.
Trump began 2019 with a first ever victory in the prestigious Masters and also won four other ranking titles throughout the year.
His victories at the Alexandra Palace and at the Crucible also meant that he became just the eleventh player to complete the career Triple Crown.
Amassing more than £1 million in overall prize money, Trump’s earnings easily helped him return to the top of the world rankings – a position he looks set to hold for quite some time.
A Thousand Hundreds
There was a lot of excitement at the start of the year for snooker fans as Ronnie O’Sullivan chased yet another milestone in the sport.
Way out in front in the all-time centuries list, the “Rocket” drew nearer and nearer to making a landmark 1,000th ton.
It was always a question of when, rather than if, but what many wondered was whether or not the significant moment would happen at a suitable opportunity.
Leave it to Ronnie then, who seemingly lives to create entertainment such as this, to make it as exciting as possible.
In the final of the Players Championship, live on ITV4, O’Sullivan constructed a wonderful 134 in the last frame of his 10-4 victory over Neil Robertson.
O’Sullivan even switched to his left hand in potting the ball that made the milestone fully official.
As outlined in yesterday’s piece, Ronnie’s talk has become a little dull, yet his walk remains as fixating as ever.
Champions of Champions Final
This year for snooker provided numerous title deciding clashes that left fans on the edges of their seats.
Perhaps the best of the bunch took place in Coventry as Neil Robertson and Judd Trump combined to create a memorable Champion of Champions showpiece.
The pair, who both look nailed on to join O’Sullivan in the thousand centuries club one day, traded eight contributions of at least a hundred between them in a barnstorming affair.
In a dramatic finish, Trump looked as though he was going to seal another piece of silverware after he fought back from a snookers required situation to lead the Australian 9-8.
A break of 69 in the next frame and the battle appeared to be over, but Robertson turned the tables to pinch the penultimate frame on a re-spotted black.
The former world champion fittingly completed the revival with a brilliant 137 to land the Champion of Champions crown for a second time.
Robertson later admitted that it was “the best match I’ve ever been involved in.”
It was another year of immense disappointment for Ding Junhui and his legion of fans throughout the world.
Ding’s fortunes on the table were as unpredictable as a game of blackjack, with the Chinese number one losing consistently to lower ranked players in events around the world.
Well, that was the case right up until the UK Championship came knocking on the schedule’s door in late November and into early December.
Ding’s form had been so poor that his place in the top 16 was under threat and his primary efforts in York were to safeguard his invitation to the Masters.
However, a last 16 defeat of Ronnie O’Sullivan lit the embers and paved the way for the 32 year-old’s overdue return to the big-time.
Ding began this decade by lifting the Masters trophy in 2011 – his third success in a Triple Crown tournament – and many thought that more titles at that level were inevitable.
Fast forward almost nine years and China’s number one still hadn’t been able to add to that tally.
Seemingly rejuvenated and buoyed by the confidence of ousting the reigning champion, Ding was a transformed figure and rarely looked threatened thereafter.
A player who belongs at snooker’s top table, it was appropriate to see him celebrate with exuberance, in a manner that he has rarely expressed in the past and a clear tip of the hat to the troubles he has undergone in recent seasons.
The triumph represented Ding’s completion of a hat-trick of UK crowns, ten years after he last tasted glory in the competition.
Like in 2009, Ding and his supporters will enter the new decade wondering if the elusive World Championship will ultimately be conquered or not.
It took four decades but Jimmy White finally experienced the joys of raising a trophy aloft at the Crucible Theatre in August.
Okay, it might not have been the coveted cup that he always dreamt of adding to his cabinet.
However, the 57 year-old was still able to put a few of those past demons to rest with his victory in the World Seniors Championship in Sheffield.
White, who still also competes on the Main Tour having first turned professional in 1980, edged Darren Morgan in a nervy affair.
Many moons ago, the former world number two was a mainstay at the business end of World Championships at the Crucible.
Six appearances in finals would end, as everyone already knows, in six painful losses.
White’s success on the World Seniors Tour might not make up for it but it still gives him and his loyal followers something to cheer for.
Sticking with the World Seniors, the tour continues to go from strength to strength with more events, high participation, and TV coverage all increasing its brand in 2019.
Jimmy enjoys it and, along with the World Seniors Championship, the “Whirlwind” also triumphed in two other over-40 events on the calendar in 2019.
The end-of-year review continues on Saturday, when we’ll be looking at 2019’s Player of the Year.