Ahead of the upcoming World Championship, let’s have a look at how the top 16 seeds have been getting on during the interrupted 2019/20 campaign.
The record books will prove that there has never been a single term quite like Judd Trump’s season.
Many will argue that there are more tournaments to play in compared to the past, but the fact of the matter is that the Englishman is the first competitor in the sport’s history to capture six ranking titles in a single campaign.
Trump’s remarkable period began – or continued, as it were – almost a full twelve months ago with question marks over how he would handle life as the new world champion.
The 30 year-old answered them in emphatic fashion with victory on his very first outing following that maiden success in Sheffield.
In August last year, Trump won the International Championship and soon after added the World and Northern Ireland Opens.
The only minor blip during a spell in which he seemed to constantly be contesting finals was his 10-9 reverse to Neil Robertson in a remarkable Champion of Champions title decider.
Disappointing efforts at the UK Championship, when he was bidding to hold all three Triple Crown titles at the same time, and his defence of the prestigious Masters led to calls that he was finally suffering from fatigue.
But Trump was quickly back to his best, exacting revenge on Robertson in the final of the German Masters shortly after the New Year.
Triumphs in the last two tournaments before the enforced lockdown gave him his fifth and sixth crowns of an unforgettable year on the circuit.
Trump’s lead at the top of the world rankings is enormous, and his record of having won his last nine ranking event finals is an outstanding achievement.
Few players have been able to dominate at this kind of level for such a long time, particularly in recent years when there has been an increase in playing opportunities.
Trump, though, has appeared to take it all in his stride, and that first world title has lifted the burden of expectation that he had shouldered for the entirety of his career up until 2019.
Indeed, as snooker’s poster boy, the Bristol potter seems to be in his element and thrives on being the favourite.
Not since Ronnie O’Sullivan won his first World Championship in 2001 have people been so excited about the possibility of the Crucible Curse being lifted.
That is, of course, the fact that no first-time champion has ever returned the following year to repeat the success in Sheffield.
Trump’s chances have been boosted by a top half of the draw that appears on paper to be slightly easier than the bottom segment.
The likes of O’Sullivan, Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, and Ding Junhui are among the star-studded names who will all be avoided until the final.
Difficult opposition remains, for example Stephen Maguire who Trump lost to in last month’s Tour Championship.
But if he can replicate the kind of form that has brought him so much glory in the last two years, Trump will be such a hard prospect to overcome.
Featured photo credit: WST