Part two of my PSB awards for 2010 (yes that is 2010, thanks to all those who pointed out my error the other day!), as I consider the best tournament, the best venue, the best final and more…
Tournament of the Year: World Championship
A lazy choice it may be but this year’s World Championship provided so many memorable moments that I did not need too long to consider this one.
Compared to the previous year which saw some fairly dull round one encounters, 2010 saw no fewer than three deciding frame finishes as Stephen Hendry, Martin Gould and Steve Davis all battled their way through to the last 16 in dramatic circumstances. There were also ominous displays from Graeme Dott and Mark Allen while Neil Robertson played probably the closest 10-5 match you will ever see against an in-form Fergal O’Brien.
The second round however was to be even better as Steve Davis upset the defending champion John Higgins before Neil Robertson came back from 11-5 down to defeat Martin Gould later that day. Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams also played out a cracker while Graeme Dott and Mark Allen also produced some good stuff to book a quarter-final clash against each other, eventually won by Dott in a deciding frame.
Other quarter-finals saw Mark Selby come back from behind to oust O’Sullivan while Ali Carter found a way to send 2005 champion Murphy packing, again in a deciding frame.
The final weekend saw a fabulous semi-final played out between Graeme Dott and Mark Selby before Neil Robertson eventually took the title the following Monday following a titantic struggle against Graeme with both players running on empty. While the quality was not the best in that final, it remained intriguing all the same and capped off another memorable 17 days.
Final of the Year: Higgins 10-9 Williams, UK Championship
Compared to 2009, a year which for me saw few exciting finals, 2010 was a little better as both the Masters and the UK Championship delivered a pair of classic matches which saw one player come back from behind to take a famous victory. I have gone for the recent triumph of John Higgins but ultimately a case could be made for either.
See my previous ‘Best Match’ post for more.
New Event of the Year: Players Tour Championship
The new event of the year has for me been the Players Tour Championship, the new series that has sparked much debate and has not been without its problems, but has unarguably increased the playing opportunities for professional players and contributed to a rise in standard.
Staged at the Academy in Sheffield, the six English based events of the series saw the events shared out between regular tournament winners (Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui), and some players less accustomed to taking titles (Barry Pinches, Tom Ford and Dominic Dale).
The EPTC events similarly saw the likes of Shaun Murphy, John Higgins and Judd Trump win as well as Michael Holt, Marcus Campbell and Stephen Lee.
There may be bigger events out there but with a combined total of 24,000 ranking points up for grabs before the players even get to the Grand Finals stage next year, those performing well in the series have certainly had their rewards. Hopefully it will not be long before more more matches are streamed as they were from the…
Venue of the year: Southwest Snooker Academy
While the Crucible will always be my favourite venue for snooker, for me a venue that deserves particular recognition this year is the new Southwest Snooker Academy in Gloucester which opened its doors in June before hosting the EPTC4 event in Gloucester later in the year.
Run by Paul Mount and the rest of the team at On-Q Promotions, the Academy has received rave reviews from the players who have visited the facility and having had the opportunity to do so myself I can see exactly why. With eight match tables plus a few practice tables and the star of the show, the main arena complete with seating and commentary booth, the Academy has everything required in order to stage an event of the highest standard.
What really impresses though is the attention to detail and that comes from the top. The photographs around the venue, the canteen in the players lounge which overlooks the main table. I look forward to going back there soon.
Read more here.
Off-table Controversy of the Year: John Higgins Sting
Another choice that did not require me to think too far, that infamous video of John Higgins and then manager Pat Mooney that broke on the eve of the World Championship final sparked not only the controversy of the year, but probably the biggest since I have been following the sports.
The ins and out have been debated to death and the decision of the tribunal made so I do not intend to go over old ground here.
On-table Controversy of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan’s World Open 147
Meanwhile on the table the biggest talking point was provided by Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Open when against Mark King he initially elected to not pot the final black when on for a 147 in an apparent protest against the lack of prize money on offer for the achievement. Having shook Mark’s hand and received a word in the ear from referee Jan Verhaas, O’Sullivan did of course pot the black but his conduct was criticised by some, notably Shaun Murphy in this interview with The Sun.
Referee of the Year: Brendan Moore
Whenever I see this category being discussed on other forums or blogs I always find myself without a real opinion as all of the referees at the top are very good indeed and generally tend to see their fair share of action in the latter stages of tournaments.
This year however having officiated both his first ranking event final at the Welsh Open followed by his first UK Championship final in Telford, Sheffield’s Brendan Moore is the clear choice for the award in 2010. Unarguably one of the leading referees in the game now, the next step for him is take charge of a semi-final at the Crucible Theatre before one day going on to officiate the final.