The latest chapter in a series of articles looking back at each campaign from the Crucible era.
By the time the 1983/84 snooker season came around, the sport had a new dominant force in Steve Davis – taking over the mantle that was previously held by Ray Reardon in the 1970s.
With so many more professional events in this decade, though, it was a period of overwhelming power that no player had ever truly boasted in the past.
The trend generally continued this term, but of course it would be impossible for the world champion to have it all his own way entirely.
One noticeable addition to the calendar for the 1983/84 snooker season was a trip to Asia for the first time.
These days, of course, Thailand and especially China have become regular destinations on the circuit but in those days it was a case of breaking into new territory.
Tournaments in Australia and Canada had already been commonplace, but during this campaign several players seized the opportunity to sample new cultures in Thailand and Hong Kong.
In reality, the two events were glorified exhibitions that were contested under short formats, but it’s amazing how the game’s popularity developed in those regions – with clear evidence of Thai and Hong Kong competitors playing regularly on the tour today.
Doug Mountjoy edged Terry Griffiths in an all-Welsh final in Hong Kong, before Tony Meo beat doubles partner Davis to win the inaugural Thailand Masters.
Somewhat ironically, Terry’s son Wayne has become a leading coach nowadays in Hong Kong, a region that takes its amateur snooker and academy very seriously.
Both the Hong Kong and Thailand Masters were staged by Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, an early indication of the vision the successful promoter had in expanding the sport.
Matchroom Sport was established a year earlier as a management company and in a short space of time directed a significant number on the biggest stars.
Davis, as Hearn’s prodigy, was obviously the original member but others quickly followed – including Griffiths, Cliff Thorburn, and Jimmy White.
This quartet was among the core which dominated the headlines throughout the 1983/84 snooker season, except for one other prominent name – Alex Higgins.
Higgins’ erratic behaviour, both on and off the table, proved to be too much of a risk for Hearn and the Northern Irishman was never signed.
Despite gradually succumbing to the grips of alcoholism, the 1982 world champion still managed to regularly feature at the business end of many prestigious events.
The Guild Hall in Preston, for example, had become a happy stomping ground for the “Hurricane”.
In 1983, Higgins reached the UK Championship final for the third time in four years, and a 16-15 victory over Davis in the title-decider arguably represents the finest of his entire career.
Trailing 7-0, Higgins launched a remarkable fight back that concluded with him snatching success in the final frame.
A month later in London, there was the Masters at the Wembley Conference Centre, and the emerging “People’s Champion” Jimmy White delighted his local support in the capital city by overcoming Griffiths 9-5.
The 1984 Masters will perhaps be better remembered, though, for a slickly white-suited Kirk Stevens compiling the event’s first ever 147 break in an entertaining last four defeat to White.
While Davis came up empty-handed, the “Nugget” still headed to the 1984 World Championship as the heavy favourite.
Ranking event triumphs in the Jameson International Open and the Lada Classic reassured everyone that his dominance would be upheld.
The other ranking event that took place before Sheffield was the Professional Players Tournament, which was won by Tony Knowles.
At this point, Knowles had amazingly won half of the tournaments that had recently been upgraded to ranking event status, but his glory in Bristol would ultimately prove to be his last at that level.
Meanwhile, seemingly like clockwork Davis won the Tolly Cobbald Classic and the Irish Masters in the run-up to the Crucible.
The Englishman was bidding to become the first player to claim back-to-back titles since the blue-riband event moved to Sheffield in 1977.
There were few problems in reaching the final, where the world number one came up against an even younger talent in White.
It marked the first time in the modern era that both World Championship final contenders were under the age of 30.
White turned 22 on the day that he beat Thorburn to reach the semi-finals, and he subsequently edged another Canadian in Stevens in a titanic last four tussle that ended 16-14.
The “Whirlwind” was blown away in the first half of the final, however, losing six out of the opening seven frames and trailing 12-4 at the climax of the second session.
A monumental comeback on the last day had Davis fearing that he was going to squander another huge advantage – just as he had to Higgins before Christmas.
White twice reduced the arrears to just a single frame, but at 17-16 Davis held his nerve to move across the winning line.
It would take another six years for White to return for a second shot at the title, but Davis’ amazing run of finals at the Crucible was just getting started.