Continuing the annual review on SnookerHQ, it’s time to reflect on the snooker Player of the Year for 2022.
It’s been another interesting twelve-month period in snooker, and the title for Player of the Year isn’t straightforward.
Let’s take a look at the contenders.
The most obvious pick is for Ronnie O’Sullivan, who spent the majority of 2022 ranked as the world number one.
The Rocket was in terrific form as he powered his way through the Crucible field to land a record-equalling seventh World Championship crown.
O’Sullivan is now the undisputed greatest of all time in the eyes of most, and the emotion he displayed upon beating Judd Trump in the final gave fans a rare glimpse into how much the game genuinely means to him.
Unfortunately, those moments of sincerity are countered with frequent disparaging comments of the sport and some of its players.
O’Sullivan’s apparent lack of respect for some of the smaller tournaments, in which he produces plenty of halfhearted performances, also sometimes leads one to wonder why he bothers entering.
But the recently turned 47 year-old – who was a finalist in the European Masters – continues to express his enviable talent when the tournaments are of a more prestigious nature.
At the Hong Kong Masters, which boasted a venue of 9,000 people, and the Champion of Champions, O’Sullivan captured his other two lucrative titles of the year in trademark style.
Neil Robertson was unquestionably the best player in the world for a period at the start of 2022.
The Melbourne man won his second Masters title with a 10-4 defeat of Barry Hawkins at the Alexandra Palace.
- CLICK HERE: Neil Robertson captures second Masters title
A month later, Robertson repeated the trick against the same opponent to emerge triumphantly at the Players Championship.
Saving his best for last perhaps, Robertson won the last six frames to stun John Higgins in a deciding frame of the Tour Championship title decider.
But the 40 year-old couldn’t sustain this fantastic form, and another disappointing early exit at the Crucible Theatre followed.
This season has subsequently been up and down for the world number three, with plenty of semi-final appearances and several stunning individual performances but no more silverware to show for his efforts other than the World Mixed Doubles crown alongside Mink Nutcharut.
While the first quarter of 2022 was dominated by Robertson, Mark Allen was the unquestionable star of the last three months.
The Northern Irishman produced the snooker of the week en route to a place in the final of the British Open at the start of October but ultimately disappointed in an unexpected reverse against Ryan Day.
However, the Pistol bounced back in immediate fashion by successfully defending his Northern Ireland Open title on home soil in Belfast.
- CLICK HERE: Mark Allen claims maiden UK Championship title
In November, Allen carried the form of his career forward to the Barbican Centre in York, where he captured his second Triple Crown title with a 10-7 defeat of Ding Junhui to win the UK Championship.
Back up to number five in the world, Allen’s sudden surge actually makes him well placed to challenge for the world number one position by the end of this term.
If Robertson had won a ranking tournament or one of the bigger invitationals in the second half of the year, he’d probably get the nod here.
The 23-time ranking event winner was almost unplayable between January and March, but he couldn’t replicate that level on a consistent basis later in the year.
Allen similarly dominated for a short spell, producing arguably the best snooker of his entire career in October and November.
But it’s hard to look past O’Sullivan.
Even though he threw in a lot of mediocre snooker during the last twelve months, his displays in the three events he won were delightful.
That his World Championship triumph represented a record-equalling seventh, finally fulfilling his destiny of matching the feats of Stephen Hendry on snooker’s greatest stage, is also worthy of some additional credit.
It was a close call, but Ronnie O’Sullivan is the 2022 Player of the Year in snooker.
Featured photo credit: WST