Judd Trump produced a dominant display to overcome Yan Bingtao and claim the 2020 Players Championship title on Sunday in Southport.
The world champion worked hard for the 10-4 scoreline, and the victory means that Trump equals the record for most ranking event trophies amassed in a single campaign.
The 30 year-old matches the tally of five that Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan accumulated in previous terms – adding to his earlier triumphs this season in the International Championship, World Open, Northern Ireland Open, and German Masters.
Trump has three events remaining to potentially break the record, a first of many that the world number one could potentially end up chasing down in his career.
After winning a tight opening frame on the black, the Englishman never really looked like relinquishing his lead.
Trump compiled a 122 century and a brace of 75 breaks as he established a 6-1 advantage over the young Chinese opponent.
Yan had never won more than a solitary frame in four previous battles with Trump, but to his credit constructed a tidy 95 to end the first session four frames adrift.
That seemed like merely a consolation but the 20 year-old returned strongly to open the second session, and the Riga Masters champion won a further two on the spin to reduce the deficit to only two.
However, Trump steadied himself with a trademark ton before additional contributions of 68 and 60 helped to seal the deal.
Many first-time world champions struggle the season after their maiden success in Sheffield, but Trump has looked a galvanised force for a long time now.
Indeed, in the last 18 months and particularly since capturing the Masters crown at the start of 2019, Trump has been in impeccable form.
Trump has won his last eight ranking event finals, and the £125,000 champion’s cheque that he receives for adding the 2020 Players Championship title to his collection extends his lead at the top of the world rankings.
With a career total of 16 ranking titles already, Trump is very open in his desire to dominate the sport for years to come.
The likes of Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan have enjoyed spells of good form in the last couple of years, but none of them have managed to produce the consistency levels of Trump.
The latter’s 81 centuries underlines his scoring pedigree – Robertson’s record of 103 in a season now considerably under threat – but it’s Trump’s improved tactical nous that has truly separated the “Ace” from the pack.
While the Bristol potter will have an eye on the upcoming Gibraltar Open and Tour Championship, where the European and Coral Series bonuses are respectively on the line, attention will soon turn to the World Championship next month.
The fabled “Crucible Curse” has guaranteed that no first-time champion has returned to the great venue to repeat the glory the season after, but Trump appears in better shape than most to bring a halt to the voodoo.
For Yan, it was a disappointing conclusion to his 2020 Players Championship efforts, but it was another excellent week for an emerging star that is rapidly improving in the game.
The former world amateur champion’s positioning in the top eight of the one-year rankings list, which guarantees his qualification for the prestigious Tour Championship in Llandudno, highlights the breakthrough term he’s enjoying.
Trump is the man everyone has to beat at present, though, and his chase for a record-breaking sixth ranking trophy of this term will be fascinating to watch.
💬 “I’ll just be giving it my all to try and break that record”
Five ranking titles to his name this season puts @judd147t in elite company, but just one more and he would be in a league of his own.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) March 1, 2020