after the Gibraltar Open
Features, Main News, News, Ranking, Tournaments

Three Things Learned After the Gibraltar Open

After each big tournament this season we’ll be reflecting on the latest action, so let’s take a look at a few things learned after the Gibraltar Open.

Trump’s a Record Breaker

This is perhaps obvious, but the sheer scale of Judd Trump’s current achievements ought to be highlighted as frequently as possible.

The world number one’s latest title, secured following a dramatic 4-3 defeat of Kyren Wilson in the Gibraltar Open final, represented his sixth ranking success of a stellar season in the sport.

That figure eclipses the previous record of five that was first set by Stephen Hendry way back during the 1990/91 campaign and was since matched by Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It’s an esteemed group of stars to surpass, and Trump has done so in magnificent fashion despite carrying with him the pressures of being a first-time world champion.

Barring a minor blip either side of Christmas, which unfortunately for him coincided with two of snooker’s majors, the 30 year-old has been a consistent force at the business end of events.

Indeed, Trump has won almost half of the ranking events he’s participated in this season and has extended his undefeated streak in finals to nine overall.

With 97 century breaks this season, Trump is also on the cusp of becoming only the second player to reach the century of centuries milestone.

The record of 103 that is held by Neil Robertson is firmly within his sights, albeit whether he’ll get the opportunity to complete the feat, with continued doubts hovering over the rest of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, remains to be seen.

Either way, Trump has underlined his position as the world’s best player at present with another million-pound campaign.

No Fans Don’t Equate to Bad Matches

After the Gibraltar Open got under way, a decision was made on Saturday to prevent fans from attending the action.

An initial limit of 100 people was ultimately deemed too risky by the local government, so the final couple of days concluded behind closed doors.

Professional sport is nothing without its fans, and that left many querying whether the tournament would be watchable or not on TV.

Of course, this isn’t the first snooker event to be played under these conditions, with the Championship League also without spectators and several tournaments in China too – albeit that’s usually not by choice.

As it turned out, there was plenty of excitement towards the business end in Gibraltar.

The final itself was a huge affair for both contenders as Trump aimed for the aforementioned record as well as a £150,000 bonus for topping the inaugural European Series, and Wilson sought to join the upcoming Tour Championship party with a late rally.

A showdown that ebbed one way and then the other, with four tons between them, had all the components of a mini classic even if there was no atmosphere to go along with it.

There’s every chance that, if the World Snooker Championship goes ahead as planned next month in Sheffield, a similar setting might be required, which will bring a whole new meaning to the annual phrase of a “quiet hush descending on the Crucible Theatre.”

Snooker Relies on Many People

Snooker, and all sports, needs more than just the players to keep the operation working to perfection.

With so many travel woes across the European continent and the introduction of the ban on large groups, some of the early stages of the Gibraltar Open became a bit chaotic.

A shortage of referees meant that, in somewhat farcical scenes, the players on some of the outside tables had to officiate their own matches themselves.

It was about as far away from being professional as a professional sport can get, and it threw up several dilemmas – including what appeared to be a lengthy discussion between Liang Wenbo and James Cahill about the adoption of the miss rule.

These are unprecedented times, though, and the organisers can be forgiven for a gaffe that in the grander scheme of things is rather minor.

What it did serve to underline was the importance of these referees, tournament directors, officials, and volunteers, who between them undertake a lot of important work behind the scenes at all our favourite events.

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Yes, and to link two of your points, the World Championship is not just the Crucible. There are 8 days of qualifiers scheduled at the Sheffield Institute of Sport between 8-15 April (I have a hotel booked for 8 nights, non-refundable!). This involves 128 players and 12 tables, plus all the extra personnel that you mentioned, held in a venue which has other activites running concurrently. It is very likely that emergency government legislation will outlaw such a ‘gathering’.

    So to uphold the snooker tradition of holding an event at the Crucible in April? If it involves only the top-16, then in my view it wouldn’t be a proper ‘World Championship’ (let alone the ranking points issue…). The broadcasters and most casual fans might like it, as most are only interested in a handful of top players and are probably only vaguely aware that qualifiers even happen (there are never any BBC reporters or pundits, and other broadcasters arrive for the final 2 days only). At any rate it would have to be held without spectators.

    Far more realistic would be to postpone the World Championship until later in the year, which would probably mean the Crucible would be unavailable, busting a dearly-held tradition. But at least that would provide real evidence as to how viable a snooker World Championship away from the Crucible would be – a debate that has gone on for many years.

  2. Carl Hungness

    Postponement considerations aside, I can tell you from experience TV coverage, although considered excellent is lacking for the new and uninformed viewer. First, the lens of the camera foreshortens the table so it appears to be nine feet long. It is too rare a circumstance the side view of the table is featured. The new fan is not able to appreciate the length of the shot and here in the USA likens it to a slightly longer pool table. Many of our fabulous announcers assume a pre-educated fan and don’t go to lengths to explain what is transpiring. Since we may only to see televised matches for some period of time due to the virus, now may be an opportune time to convince the camera operators to show the length of the table more often and for the announcers to become educators. It’s very easy to say, “Knowledgeable fans will of course know that a Free Ball is coming up here, but for our new fans, let me give you an explanation of what a Free Ball is” And so on and so forth. To be fair, we see the same thing with USA sports such as baseball whereby the announcers take for granted all viewers know what is happening, thereby confusing the new fan.

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