We all talk about Jimmy White losing six world finals, Matthew Stevens stealing defeat from the jaws of victory time and time again, Stephen Lee only winning a handful of tournaments with arguably the finest cueing stance ever seen. We also ponder whether three world titles is enough for two of the game's best ever players, John Higgins & Ronnie O'Sullivan.
So, for a change, let's discuss someone who has gone above and beyond what anyone expected.
Graeme Dott's breakbuilding isn't the best. To say the least. He rarely makes century breaks, in fact, in both years that he made it to the World final he scored a combined total of....2 centuries. His potting isn't remarkably good, he doesn't have great cue power. His safety is strong but by no means the strongest.
And yet, he has carved out a very good career. He has made it to six ranking event finals, including two World finals. He won the 2007 China Open. He very nearly made it to the top of the World Rankings for 2007/08, eventually having to settle for an excellent second. And of course, he went all the way at the Crucible in 2006. Something far more talented player like White and Stevens never did.
It's easy to forget that even prior to his World Championship success in 2006, Dott had done quite well for himself. In 1999 he made it the final of the Scottish Open, but unfortunately was humiliated by Stephen Hendry. After that however, he made it to the 2001 British Open final, and put up a fine effort before losing 9-6 to John Higgins. This was Higgins' third ranking title in a row, so there was no shame in this loss.
In 2004 he amazingly made it to the World Final, defeating Higgins and Matthew Stevens to name but a few on his way to the biggest two days on the snooker calender. He lead Ronnie O'Sullivan 5-0, and a shock result looked on the cards, but unfortunately for Dott their was no stopping Ronnie from there on, losing 18-8. In 2005, he came agonisingly close to his maiden ranking title, losing 9-7 to Stephen Hendry in the final of the 2005 Malta Cup. Again, Dott had to come up against a majorly in-form player.
When he defeated John Parrott 10-3 in the first round of the 2006 World Championship, I got a strange feeling that Dott could do very, very well for himself. After a 13-9 win over Nigel Bond in a dire second round match, he had to hold off an inspired comeback from Neil Robertson to make the semi-finals, where he faced off against the player who seemed destined to take the crown.
Dott fell behind 5-3, but put in a spirited second session display to level the clash. Ronnie was very poor during the third session, but on many occasions we've seen Ronnie win playing badly. Dott made no mistake. He took all eight frames, before closing out a major upset.
He was also very much the underdog for the final against Peter Ebdon. But he dominated the first three sessions, moving into a seemingly unassailabe 15-7 lead. But Ebdon began to gain momentum, and a rattled Dott saw his lead chewed down to 16-14. Ebdon looked certain to make it 16-15 when he led 61-0 in the 31st frame. Now, I hate to say it, but if Stevens or White were in Dott's position, playing one of the toughest competitors in snooker, they would almost certainly have crumbled. Dott however, for all his limitations in the break-building department, pulled out a superb 69 clearance, and took the title in the 32nd frame. Graeme Dott: World Snooker Champion.
Dott was excellent during the 2006/07 season, making the UK semi-finals before winning the China Open and going top of the provisional World Rankings. His world-title defence was a failure however, losing 10-7 to Ian McCulloch after a dire performance. The fact he only lost 10-7 playing so badly showed just how tough a player Dott is.
McCulloch made some very snide remarks about Dott afterwards, that were not only entirely unwarranted, but totally untrue. To say Dott was 'easy to beat', was a complete lie, and a strange comment coming from a relatively average player.
Dott had plenty probles off the table after that, and came into the 2008 World Championship in awful form. He played well though, only losing 10-7 to eventual semi-finalist Joe Perry in a high quality clash. In 2009, Dott showed all of his trademark qualities to defeat Barry Hawkins 10-8, and pushed Mark Selby to 13-9. It was another admirable show from Dott, and this marvellously spirited player wa back to doing what he did best. Battling for everything.
Dott isn't a great player, never has been, never will be. But he's fought for everything, won titles, claimed major scalps. Lets be glad we have had an overachiever in a game of underachievers.
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- Joined: 02 October 2009
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- Snooker Idol: Ronnie OSullivan
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