I have watched the last 11 World finals from start to finish, so I can only comment on those...
To be honest, most of them were a little underwhelming, either because of the mediocre standard of play or because they were decided way before the final session. I think the worst final in this period was 2008
, when Carter seemed defeated even before it started, which meant O'Sullivan wasn't pushed to play anywhere near his best either. The repeat of the "nightmare" final in 2012
was a little better, but it still wasn't much of a contest.
final was the first I saw in full, and it was a little too one-sided for my taste, but at least O'Sullivan played some good stuff. He went 5-0 down at the start, but then played the kind of snooker that saw him thrash Hamilton and Hendry in the previous two rounds and won 18 out of the next 21 frames. The 2009
final between Higgins and Murphy wasn't great either, but at least the standard of play was quite good. Higgins had Murphy in a lot of trouble with his safety, and he played a superb second session to pull away, and continued strongly in the third session to virtually secure the title.
The other finals did have some excitement, but I would say the 2010
final between Robertson and Dott wasn't among my favourites either. There were no fireworks in the first three sessions, and just as it was all set for a dramatic finish, neither player seemed to have anything left. They were both exhausted and played a series or really scrappy frames, and even at 18-13 it finished close to 2am my time, with the Crucible half empty. I can't imagine what the atmosphere would have been like if it went 18-17. I agree with Pink Ball about the 2006
final, the final session still remains one of my all-time favourite sessions of snooker. You could feel the tension rising as Ebdon was getting back into the match, and that 70-minute frame was probably the climax. Dott did well to hold up under pressure really, and that clearance he made to win his penultimate frame (I think) was superb. Having said that, the first three sessions of that final were really poor, in terms of standard as well as excitement, so I can't really say that final as a whole is among my favourites.
The other five finals were more enjoyable for me. The 2005
final saw a superb performance from Murphy, the kind of performance he hasn't repeated too often since. Stevens played quite well himself, so it was a good standard of play and it went right down to the penultimate possible frame. I would put the 2011
final in this category as well. For all the talk of Trump taking over O'Sullivan's mantle, I think this was the real clash of the old master and the young pretender. Trump played superbly to take control of the match early on, but a little bit of inexperience cost him on the final day, and Higgins showed why he was the best player in the world at that time. 2013
was a lovely final as well. It was probably the best Hawkins has ever played in a big match, but O'Sullivan had an answer for everything and won with quite a few frames to spare in the end. He later said that he felt almost untouchable in that match.
That just leaves the two finals Mark Selby was involved in. A lot of people say that the 2014
final was superb, and I did enjoy it, but I'm not sure I would put it ahead of some of the previously mentioned. I think what made this final great was the atmosphere that surrounded it right from the start. The fans were extremely divided, mostly because some fans of O'Sullivan tend to strongly dislike Selby, and the people who dislike O'Sullivan tend to like Selby because of his good record against him. The players are not the best of friends either, so it was a really tense affair. I think the standard of play was not the best, Selby in particular struggled to put any breaks together in the first three sessions, but despite the lack of fluency Selby hardly missed a ball throughout the final, and he took on a lot of really tricky ones along the black cushion. His safety was superb as well, as was the clearance he made in the last frame. Great final to watch at the time, but I'm not sure I would watch it again now that I know how it ends.
The final that gets my vote is 2007
, between Higgins and Selby. It was before Selby had won any major titles, so he was a bit of a mystery really, and there was a chance he could have become the third really surprising World champion in a row. Higgins had only won one World title at the time, so I kind of wanted him to win, but Selby just wouldn't go down without a fight. Once again Higgins played a really strong second session to lead 12-4 and virtually win the title on the first day, but he had a nightmare third session and lost all six frames. He was lucky the session was cut short actually, because all the momentum was with Selby and it could have easily gone 12-12. Selby tried his best in the evening, holding his own in the safety exchanges and playing quite slowly, but this time Higgins had an answer and really raised his game to win the last four frames of the match. It was exactly the kind of snooker I love the most, the only thing that could have made it even better was if it went all the way.
Hopefully the 2015 final is a good one.