Upon the conclusion of the Sports Personality of the Year awards, the focus of the sporting world may have been on those nominated, and most notably on those who ultimately emerged victorious. Considering these nominees attained their position via their accomplishments in sports other than snooker, it seemed the latter may have been placed in challenging circumstances to elevate its credentials, and in turn the support levels. Yet, it seems to have taken this challenge in its stride, utilising an intriguing tournament format, in which solely the most accomplished and highly ranked players in the world may compete, to highlight the strength in depth which the sport possesses. As such, it seemed O’Sullivan, as reigning champion, or world number one Mark Selby, may have been the favourites. Yet, Mark Allen ultimately emerged victorious, and with this his first major triumph since 2016, it may act as the catalyst for further accolades.
As the event is amongst the most prestigious on the circuit, it seems to have already attained wide levels of support, and with the players prioritising involving themselves in the fixtures, its status seems re-emphasised. This also seems supported by the vast crowds consistently watching at the venue, and with the event easily accessible on the internet, alongside broadcasted on the BBC, one of the most recognisable channels in England, a prominent priority may be to ensure focus may be attained. This may naturally be important in enhancing the credibility and support of snooker, as with a majority of the sporting world resuming after their rest periods, opportunities may arise for fans to become engrossed in different events. As such, placing the competition at this point in the calendar may be an intelligent decision by organisers, underpinning their overarching goals.
With eligibility for the competition occurring solely as a result of the world rankings, it seems the most prestigious and accomplished competitors may contest versus one another, producing intriguing encounters. This seemed reiterated by the performance of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who as often regarded as the most proficient player in history, may have been the favourite. Yet, him reaching the quarterfinal seemed to provide opportunities for others to achieve and advance their careers to a similar level to the Englishman. Mark Allen seemed to relish this opportunity, utilising O’Sullivan’s superior ranking to his advantage, and ultimately concluding the tie as the victor.
With victory versus O’Sullivan, Allen may have been placed in challenging circumstances, with pressure to continue his momentum. Yet, he may have further proven his credentials, and in elevating his world ranking, he may have signalled his quest for a meteoric rise to the pinnacle. With Selby presently vastly in front as world number one, an influx of challengers may be important in increasing the strength in depth of snooker. Yet, his victory may be more poignant in motivating other players to similarly succeed, and for the sport to bypass boundaries as a result. In becoming the first Northern Irishman to win the trophy since Dennis Taylor in 1987, he might be showcasing how snooker provides opportunities for people from all backgrounds to achieve, with this potentially uniting the globe during an important period politically.
Whilst the tournament possessed a multitude of former major winners, all of whom seemed to possess the capabilities to expand their trophy cabinets further, two players who were seeking their maiden triumph in the competition contested the final itself. With multiple sports entering a transition phase due to their talisman entering the latter stages of their careers, the necessity for an influx of proficient athletes may be intensifying. As such, both Allen and Wilson’s success may pay dividends for both their careers and the sport in general. Therefore, whilst the former may claim the plaudits for his victory, it may have more importantly showcased the reasoning about why snooker warrants further support; with the crowd at the arena continuing to cheer and vocalise their enthusiasm towards Kyren Wilson, who seemed to need motivation, it may have proven how all may be accepted, and all may achieve.
Why might Allen’s victory suggest snooker might have another talisman alongside O’Sullivan and Selby?