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2014 Retrospective

Postby Andre147

So this is it folks, the end of a great Snooker year, it had a bit of everything really, and that’s what we Snooker fans all want. As I promised in another thread, I’ll make a 2014 retrospective a bit similar to what Matt from PSB did a few years ago, naming for instance Player of Year, Break of the Year, Young Player of the Year, etc. I’ll leave the best until last, as this year in particular for any Ronnie fan out there was probably one of his best ever.

Young Player of the Year: Oliver Lines
Oliver, as we all know, is the son of fellow professional Peter Lines, and, having won a place on the main tour for this season and the next via winning the 2014 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championships, beating Josh Boileau 6-1 in the Final, the title of young player of the year I think couldn’t be more appropriate for everything Oliver has done this season. Notably of course, he beat then WN1 and current World Champ Mark Selby 6-4 in the qualifying rounds for the IC, all the more special given the fact he was 0-4 down at one point in the match. After that amazing win, he then reached the Final of the 2nd Asian Tour Event, beating the likes of Mike Dunn, Ryan Day and jimmy Robertson, before being beaten 4-0 in the Final by Bingham, but nevertheless for a 19 year old in his first season as a pro this has been a truly wonderful one so far and it can only get better. I’ll also give some honorable mentions to Michael Wasley, who after amazing wins qualifying for the first time for the Crucible managed to beat Ding there 10-9, an amazing victory especially after the season Ding had there. Two other honorable mentions go to Kyren Wilson, who also did very well to qualify for the Crucible beating the likes of Dott en route and also pushing Robbo all the way at the UK Champs, and the other mention goes to James Cahill, who in his 2nd season as a pro and only 18 years old (turns 19 on 27th this month) beat Higgins 4-2 in a PTC and then beat Ding 6-5 at the UK Champs. Almost forgot, Joel Walker also deserves to be mentioned here, pushing Ding all the way in the Welsh Open Quarter-Final and also almost beating Bingham at the recent UK Champs.

Comeback of the Year: Barry Hawkins v Nigel Bond, UK Championship
A feat never been done before in a Best of 11 match, the previous best that I can remember was, for instance, Selby coming back from 5-1 down at the Masters to beat Bingham, Nigel Bond cameback from 5-0 down to beat Hawkins 6-5. The thing is, Bond, apart from a century when being 5-3 down, didn’t play well to make the comeback possible, it was just that Hawkins started blobbing all over the place and his head was gone for one reason or another. Bond then grew on confidence because he knew Hawkins couldn’t make more than 10 or 20 points in every visit to the table, but in the end Bond did a 007 feat and held himself together very well to win the decider. Other honorable mentions go to John Higgins, who after being blitzed off the table by Trump at the World Open and be 4-0 down, didn’t let his guard down and battled like only a true champ can do, hitting break after break much like Judd had done to win it 5-4. The other honorable mention obviously goes to Selby, who after being 10-5 down against Ronnie at the World Champs Final playing very poor up until then, did what he does best against Ronnie, put him always in big trouble and never giving an inch, not taking any unnecessary risks and playing the percentages, which is a workable tactic that has enabled him to comeback against Ronnie many times in his career.

Qualifying Win of the Year: Michael Wasley v Robert Milkins World Champs
Had to search a little bit to try and find one possible best qualifying win this year, and I definitely think this one has to be considered the best, especially because Wasley had also previously beaten Sydney Wilson 10-9, Mcleod 10-6 and Mark Joyce 10-6 also, before facing Milkins in the Final qualifying round. I know at least every year at least one player manages to win 4 qualifying rounds to qualify for the Crucible, but few could have predicted this outcome, especially in the manner in which he did it, beating Milkins 10-9 on the Final black, a result which later would have proven even more satisfying after Wasley’s win against Ding at the Crucible. Other honorable mentions go to Robbie Williams at the same tournament who also had to come through 4 qualifying rounds, eventually beating Fergal o’Brien 10-9 also on the final black, and Kyren Wilson’s win over Dotty in this tournament again.

Break of the Year: Mark Selby World Champs Final
For this category and the next, I’ll go along the lines that Dave Hendon has expressed in his Inside Snooker website. Having comeback remarkably from 10-5 down, all the frames but one in the 3rd session were on by Selby. Having never previously been World Champ, suddenly he found himself 17-14 up with a winning match chance. There can’t be any more pressure on a Snooker player than this, especially having never won this title before, but like he usually does under this kind of pressure and especially against Ronnie, he managed to hold himself together very well and make a match winning 35 break that earned him his first Crucible Crown.

Shot of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan Welsh Open Final
Like I said in the category above, it is the same as Dave Hendon’s choice, and what other shot could have been here really… one of the best ever shots ever made in Snooker in my opinion, given the pressure for a 147, especially in a Final such as this against a great opponent in Ding, Ronnie played that last red to get perfect position on the black with his opposite hand, with deep-screw, lots of left-hand side on the cue ball to gain the perfect angle to be able to play nicely for the yellow after potting the black. Like Hendon said, it was an “audacious, show-stealing and embracing the pressure rather than shrinking from it”.

Disappointment of the Year: John Higgins
Higgins, despite being 39 and at an age when decline will inevitably start to happen for most players, is for me one of the biggest disappointments of the year having not won a single title in it. Despite his first round Crucible loss at the hands of fellow compatriot Alan McManus, Higgins in his post-match interview said he could take positives ahead of next season (this one) and that he was relishing it. Fact is, since then, yet again he has done virtually nothing, losing against players you would never expect him to. I’m not saying he should be the player he once was because that is just impossible at the moment, but really I expected a lot more from John this new season, I did expect his good old form to be back at some stage but his main problem, as evident at this recent UK Champs, is that he can’t maintain a high standard match after match these days. I’m not saying I’m overly disappointed because Higgins is definitely not one of my favourite players, but really looking at the bigger picture he should still reach far latter rounds than what he has to at the moment. He can be a bit like Ebdon and win a ranker every now and then, but at the moment I just can’t see that happening, even MJW has managed to play better in these recent tournaments. I’ll never discount Higgins, but he won’t win a World Champs ever again in my view.

Off-table and On-table Controversy of the Year: UK Championship
I won’t spend much time here as clearly this has already been discussed to death this recent times since the UK Champs started and you can read an absolutely excellent article about this written by Matt on PSB here. Just to say that this definitely marked the biggest controversy of the year by far, which range from the playing conditions, namely the Sports Hall described by Dotty as “the toilet”, to the atmosphere and indeed the tables the players played at, notably Ronnie, who is never one to criticize any of this, it indeed prompted him to say some heavy critics about the whole setup. In the 2nd biggest tournament of the calendar, maybe 3rd given the IC is now a longer format but has far fewer history, problems like this should simply not happen. It was nevertheless a good tournament with high quality snooker all the way, capped by a 147 from Ronnie and a truly remarkable final between him and Judd.

Tweet/comment of the Year: Paul Collier
From an endless list I could have chosen here, there was a particular tweet/comment made this year that caught my attention, namely because after the genius and brilliant display Ronnie put up against Ricky Walden at the Quarter-Finals of the Masters. After finding himself 38 points behind in the opening frame, what was to follow was a simple masterclass from Ronnie, stealing that frame with a 79 clearance and winning the next 5 frames without Walden potting a single ball, smashing the previous record of unanswered points by Ding on 496 with a new one of an incredible 556 unanswered points, which then prompted the referee of the match, Paul Collier, to make this comment on Twitter: “I never comment on a match I was involved with as I think it’s unprofessional – but just this once, wow ……!”

Commentator of the Year: Alan McManus
Having enjoyed so many good wins as a pro in recent times, namely against Higgins, Trump and Ronnie, and climbing significantly in the world rankings again, veteran Scot Alan McManus is not only a good player but an excellent commentator as well. We may have only heard his commentator skills this year at the CoC, but that was more than enough to earn him this title. A good commentator is the one who only speaks when truly necessary and above all recognizes how difficult the game, and McManus ticks all the boxes I think, he has something in him that makes it compelling for any Snooker fan to hear him commentate on a match. Other comms also tick these boxes, such as Stephen Hendry, Neal Foulds and the brilliant Clive Everton, but nevertheless McManus wins this “title” for me this year.

Snooker Website of the Year: CueTracker
I don’t think there’s any other Snooker website more deserving of this than the brilliant effort done by Ron Florax at his CueTracker website. This has grown immensely over the past year or so, with a database that now extends to “91,512 matches from 994 tournaments featuring 3,601 players from 85 countries. Results cover 676,992 frames with 19,903 centuries and 84 years.” It tells the whole story really, whether we want to check a head to head between two players, or a tournament stat that happened donkey doo years ago, it’s all there, and above all, it’s all very accurate database, with very few errors to notice. A must for every Snooker fan out there even if he or she doesn’t care much about stats, etc, it’s definitely worth having a close look.

Tournament of the Year: World Championship
This could not have been awarded to any other tournament, it’s 17 days of the marathon of the mind as Clive Everton once put it, we had some excellent matches this year, shock results, especially the Michael Wasley win against Ding, one sided matches, and also absolute cracking ones like the Joe Perry v Ronnie 2nd round match, the incredible semi-final between Selby and Robbo and of course the Final itself.

Final of the Year: Champion of Champions, Ronnie O’Sullivan v Judd Trump
Of course I could have also easily chosen the World Champs Final or the UK Champs Final for instance, but this one clearly wins this category for me because it was such high quality all the way through from both players that you don’t see everyday in Snooker, especially in a Big final such as this. It had 6 century breaks, 4 from Ronnie and 2 from Trump, and more than ten half-centuries between the two players. In the opening session, Ronnie made an incredible 3 total clearances of 130+ breaks, which I don’t think Ronnie could play any better. Then after moving 8-3 up, Judd went all out attack and completely froze Ronnie out, amassing 362 points without reply that included 2 back to back tons to close it to 8-7… but then, when the pressure was well and truly on, Ronnie like the great Champ he is found something again and managed to close out the match winning it 10-7 with yet another ton. The quality was great all the way, unlike the UK Final for instance when Judd only really started to play well from 9-4 and Ronnie apart from a brilliant ton didn’t play awesomely well to have had that lead. The CoC Final was different as the quality was present all the way, so for me it wins this category.

The Best Match: Mark Selby v Neil Robertson, World Champs Semi-Final
Again a difficult one to choose, but I decided to choose this as the Best Match of 2014 as it had absolutely everything in it, and above all was played in a multi-session Snooker on the biggest stage of all, the Crucible Theatre. It was indeed four sessions of excellent match-play Snooker, that included break-building, long potting, safety, tactics, nerve-wracking moments, the occasional blob, it had everything really, could very easily have been the Final itself. The Final session in particular the players traded blow for blow and it was a very high standard one. I definitely enjoyed every minute of that cracking match between two great players of the game.

Player of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Saved the best category for last as I promised at the beginning, Ronnie certainly is the Best Player of the Year by a country mile given his superb consistency in the tournaments he played and won. He managed to win two of the Sport’s Triple Crown events, beating Selby 10-4 in the Final of the Masters and then that amazing Final with Trump beating him 10-9 having once led 9-4. He also won the Welsh Open and CoC titles, as well as reaching the World Champs Final, only to lose it to Selby. En route, he also had time to make 2 147s in those tournaments he won, in particular the one against Ding, and also managed to set a new world record for most unanswered points in a match with an incredible 556 in a genius display against Walden at the Masters. This title is awarded over consistency over a whole year, not just one single tournament. Selby for instance did win the biggest title of them all, but he won nothing else this year so that clearly indicates he’s far from the Best Player of it. If the contrary was the case, then Ronnie would have been the Best Player of 2013 right? Of course it’s wrong, in 2013 the Best Player was most probably Ding who won 4 titles if I’m not mistaken. But back to this current year, the other player with more than 1 big title is Ding, having won the German Masters and China Open Titles. He appears to have run out of steam now and had a very disappointing Worlds campaign, not to mention he hasn’t won anything significant this season. Ronnie was by far the most consistent player of this year, and even not playing in all the tournaments, now when he does play he gives it his best shot and if he loses it’s all down to merit to his opponent and Ronnie not being good enough on the day. Obviously as a Ronnie fan, I could not have been more happy with how this brilliant year turned out for him, possibly one of his best ever, a shame he couldn’t win the Worlds, but if someone had told me at the beginning of the year Ronnie would win his 5th Masters title, along with the Welsh Open, successfully defend his CoC title, make 2 147s en route, and still win his 5th Uk Title that he hadn’t won since 2007, plus reaching the Final of the Worlds, I would have taken it without blinking twice. Only a fool Ronnie fan would not be happy with how this year turned out for him, it really has been a remarkable one and even more remarkable is the fact at age 39 he’s still able to play his best Snooker under the biggest pressure and win such big titles as this. The haters who love to devaluate his achievments obviously hate this but don’t worry because Ronnie won’t give you the pleasure of not winning Big Titles just yet, those are indeed the very same who wrote him off in 2011 saying he was absolutely finished… and what did Ronnie do… he shut them up and played arguably his best and most consistent Snooker of date. It’s not that Ronnie is playing much better than what he did 10 years ago, it’s just that since the arrival of Steve Peters Ronnie knows how to control his emotions so much better and doesn’t give in that easily as he often did in the past, and nowadays this wonderful combination makes him such a dangerous opponent for all the players.

Big retrospective this, but I definitely felt the need to do it given Ronnie’s remarkable year and obviously not only because of that but because I think this was indeed a great Year for every Snooker fan out there. Feel free to give your opinions on the categories if you want, obviously you don’t need to write an essay like I just did here <laugh> but this is Christmas time and it gave me inspiration to just write this, even more so because I think I’m still in a bit of an awe after that wonderful UK Final win for Ronnie. :D

Snooker break for now, I’d like to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas time and a wonderful New Year, and let it be as great if not better than this one.

:happy: :santa: :tree: :D :tree: :party: :pres: :pres:

Re: 2014 Retrospective

Postby Cannonball

The one truth in here is Ronnie is player of the year. Last year, Ding was player of the year IMO, though many would have said Ronnie. It's still arguable if Ding is player of the year this year, as he has risen to the top of the rankings and that doesn't happen if you haven't been consistent over a long period of time.

However, the Rocket would swap those tournament victories for his 6th World title, but ironically, would have accepted the titles and a loss in the World final if offered it before hand!

Luckily, he's playing consistently, more so than in many years, and still has the talent, eyesight, fitness and hunger to do well over the next five years. To achieve these things aged 39 is quite some feat, making him the greatest player of all time. Higgins and MJW put Hendry out to pasture :bugs: But where is Higgins now? Nowhere. These guys flopped and the Rocket marches on. Most important of all, Ronnie still practices 4+ hrs a day. His desire to win is undimmed. He loves the game, he truly does.

The haters tried to tourist him off, saying he hated the game and he would retire, etc, etc. It didn't happen. They lost, Ronnie won. And every year he stays around, is another year I laugh at their ineptitude and lack of snooker knowledge and snooker acumen. It will end one day, but I reckon the Rocket has until he's 45, if he can maintain body and mind.

And we should again thank Dr. Steve Peters, without whom, none of this would be possible. If Ronnie can keep it up, he could break Hendry's rankers title record. He's hitting 4 tournaments a year, so that could be a 20 tournament blitz over the next 5 years.
Last edited by Cannonball on 24 Dec 2014, edited 1 time in total.

Re: 2014 Retrospective

Postby Cannonball

Quote of the Year:

Ronnie on modern players at his acceptance speech, Champion of Champions victory:

"This is a tough school, but that's snooker nowadays, if you had a four-frame lead 20 years ago it might have taken someone two hours to come back, but now you barely have time to boil an egg and they're back level."

The Snooker year summed up in just one word: