Recently, the Snooker Player’s Championship occurred, and with the tournament contested between the top 16 players, it seemed a smorgasbord of the most accomplished players were contesting for the trophy. With reigning champion Mark Allen ineligible, there might be a guaranteed new champion, and it seemed the front-runner may have been Mark Selby; the winner of 10 ranking tournaments boasted the necessary credentials, yet with previous winners Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy also qualifying for the tournament, it seemed multiple players were aiming to emerge victorious. Ultimately though, it was Judd Trump who claimed the trophy, with the victory enabling him to elevate himself to number two in the rankings, perhaps acting as the catalyst in his quest to be regarded as the most proficient player on the tour.
In the opening round, Mark Selby seemed to showcase the reasoning as to why he is the holder of the World Championship, the leading snooker tournament both in terms of prestige and prize money, via a victory versus Ryan Day. The majority of the top eight replicated Selby’s achievements, yet Neil Robertson and Anthony Hamilton recording victories, versus the third and fourth seeds respectively, seemed to highlight the high calibre of players on show. In the quarter-finals, eventual finalist Marco Fu began to play at his peak, with victories over top seed Selby and Ding Junhui guaranteeing him a place in the final. His opponent was Judd Trump, and the Englishman seemed to be similarly equipped to conclude the tournament victorious, as victories versus O’Sullivan and Carter, the former often referred to by plaudits as the greatest in history, may have productively impacted him.
As such, the final was contested between Trump and Fu, and, whilst Fu may have been deemed the underdog predominantly due to his opponent’s superior ranking, Fu’s victory in the Scottish Open may have placed him in good stead prior to the fixture. It was indeed the Hong Kong national who began the match at a higher standard, winning three consecutive frames to lead 5-2 in the opening session, with scores of 82, 83 and 87 enabling him to lead at the interval. Yet, Trump seemed to be motivated by his opponent’s early form, and winning six consecutive frames instigated his eventual 10-8 victory. Whilst Trump may be superiorly impacted by his victory in a tournament filled with players of a high calibre, Fu may also take solace in the fact he reached the final, his 8th overall.
In attaining the trophy, Trump narrowed the gap between Selby and himself in the contest for the number one ranking; with Selby amassing £350,000 more than his rival, it seems as though he may maintain his status until the season’s conclusion, yet this may act as motivation for Trump to reach the pinnacle. Presently, he has amassed 7 rankings titles, and reached a further 8 finals, highlighting his consistency and, with these finals scattered across six years, he also seems to have proved his longevity at the top level. Perhaps more pivotally may be his position in the all-time rankings; he is positioned within the top 15 for ranking titles, and is amongst the 23 players to have achieved multiple maximum breaks. These achievements may enable Trump to establish his legacy, and considering he is 27 years old, he seems to have multiple years ahead of him in which he may hone his credentials.
Whilst the season soon concludes, the tournament multiple players may be keeping their eye on is still to commence: the World Championship, and Trump may naturally be considered among the favourites at the Crucible due to his aforementioned win in Llandudno. Yet, whilst the Sheffield competition may gain the plaudits due to its notoriety, it may be more important to focus on the significance of the Player’s Championship as, considering it was established in 2011, it seems snooker is attempting to create innovative tournaments in order to revolutionise the sport. These events, along with the possession of players with ever-expanding credentials, may suggest the sport is aiming to become more accessible to the masses, and enable a young batch of players to strive to achieve on the circuit.
How may Trump’s accomplishments act as motivation for other players to enhance their repertoires?