A mentally strong game is a compulsory requirement for any player. The ability to put a ghastly error to the back of your mind, or play on in spite. The ability to close out the biggest match of your life. It's what snooker is all about... but who does it best?
A nine-times World Championship finalist, Hendry has had a great return from those finals: no less than a record seven Crucible wins. Having watched Hendry's performances from his glory days, you can see why many people rate him as the greatest ever.
There's that niggling feeling that he's just not going to miss. When White missed that famous black in 1994, you had to know Hendry was not going to commit a similar error. It just wasn't in his make up. Likewise, he showed remarkable mental stamina to take an 8-14 deficit and turn it into a near flawless ten winning frames. When all men doubted him, and said he was slowly declining, what did he do in 1999? He overcame a fine array of players, and took the title. What a way to answer the critics.
And when someone wants to send you back to your sad life in Scotland? There's one way of answering, and it's a lot better than mouthing off.
Tenacity personified, Ebdon is one of the best players ever seen in the mental stakes. Okay, in recent years his performances have taken a tumble, but anyone lucky enough to have watched Ebdon's great mental stamina will tell you how tough he is to drag off the table.
Think back to 2002, and that semi-final against Matthew Stevens. 14-16 down, Stevens was one ball away from making the final. He missed. Ebdon proceeded to clear the table. It wasn't Higgins 82 or anything, but it was a great clearance under massive pressure. And he won that game.
Two days later, 17-16 up against Stephen Hendry, he missed a simple shot when just four shots from the title. As Hendry cleared the table in relief, most men would have folded. A seven times World Champion, in a deciding frame of the biggest game of all, having never done it yourself. What did Ebdon do? He took that decider, and the 2002 World Championship.
The 2005 Quarter-final with Ronnie will always leave fans of the Rocket in dismay, and disrespect towards Ebdon. But to play at that pace, grinding your opponent down, and coming from 8-2 down? That took serious mental stamina, and I see it as a masterpiece of grit and determination.
Never considered the msot naturally blessed of snooker player, Dott has tasted much success. The diminutive Scot make up for his stature with a towering mental game. Three World Finals, including a win in 2006? No fluke. He also won the China Open final in 2007, and reached number two in the world. Not bad.
Dott has overcome depression, and how great it is to hear such good news today amidst all the recent controversy. But it's typical of the guy really. Think back to 2006. 15-7 goes to 16-14. Ebdon takes a 59 point lead, and the pressure is at it's greatest. Dott clears the table, and eventually takes the title. Superb.
Let's put recent events aside and disect this great player's fantastic game. Who would you rate as the best player in a deciding frame situation? For me, this guy wins every time.
How many times have we seen him taking matches in the sudden death situation? Think back to 2009, when he beat Jamie Cope and Mark Selby (after two deciding frame re-racks). What a force in the mental stakes.
As for the UK Championship game with Ronnie? From 8-2 to 8-8? How many people would have just thrown in the towel there and then? Many, I would think. Not Higgins.
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