As another year ends, it’s time to look back at 2014 here at PSB in traditional fashion (except last year when I didn’t have time…), with the Pro Snooker Awards, as I consider categories such as player of the year, surprise of the year and much more.
Click below for part one…
- To view the 2008 awards, please click here and here.
- To view the 2009 awards, please click here and here.
- To view the 2010 awards, please click here and here.
- To view the 2011 awards, please click here and here.
- To view the 2012 awards, please click here and here.
Player of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan
He might be the obvious choice, but having taken two of snooker’s three majors at the Masters and UK Championship, as well as also having won the Welsh Open and Champion of Champions events, it is hard to look past Ronnie O’Sullivan, who at 39 still remains the man to beat when his name is in the draw.
It was not to be at the Crucible, as he lost out to Mark Selby in the final, but it is easy to forget the way that he finished his last 16 match against Joe Perry by winning four frames in a row from 11-9 down, before he won his next two matches against Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins, both with a session to spare.
As well as the titles, he also went clear at the top of the 147s chart on 12 with his brilliant maximum break at the Welsh Open (left handed final red and all), before extending that record further with number 13 at the UK Championship in York.
Back up to number three in the world, with no money to defend prior to the World Championship in April, it will not be long before he is at number one for the first time since the rankings have changed to a prize money based system.
Young Player of the Year: Oliver Lines
When I first watched Oliver Lines play at the Northern Snooker Centre just over five years ago now, little did I know that by the end of 2014 he would have emerged as one of the most promising young players on the professional circuit.
Oliver earned his place on the tour back in March when he claimed victory at the European U-21 Championships in Romania and made a strong start to his professional career by defeating Dave Harold to qualify for the Wuxi Classic, before winning three matches to reach the last 16 of the first Asian Tour event of the season.
His big breakthrough however was to come at the International Championship qualifiers in Barnsley, where he came back from 4-0 down to reigning world champion Mark Selby to win 6-4, before going on to reach his first professional final at the Asian Tour 2 event in Haining, China.
Although he was to suffer an early exit in York at the recent UK Championship, it has still been a year to be proud of for the 19-year-old.
Surprise of the Year: Michael Wasley’s victory against Ding Junhui at the Crucible
When five-time ranking event winner during the season Ding Junhui took on Crucible rookie Michael Wasley at the last 32 stage of this year’s World Championship, few would have expected the drama that would eventually unfold over the next two and a bit sessions in Sheffield.
After Ding had made the scoreline 9-8 as the players were taken off late in the afternoon session of their second session, it appeared as though he would perhaps survive the scare given to him by Wasley, but Michael, who had already made it to the venue in dramatic style in the first place following a re-spot victory against Robert Milkins in qualifying, had other ideas.
First he drew level with a break of 103, before coming through a nervy decider on the pink to record one of the biggest upsets in recent years at the Crucible Theatre.
Comeback of the Year: Nigel Bond 6-5 Barry Hawkins, (2014 UK Championship)
While there were no shortage of other memorable comebacks in 2014, not least in both the World and UK Championship finals, for me the comeback of the year award for 2014 has to go to 49-year-old Nigel Bond, who fought back from 5-0 down to defeat world number five Barry Hawkins 6-5 at the recent UK Championship.
Evoking memories of his famous Crucible fightback from 9-2 behind against Cliff Thorburn in 1994, the feat is particularly noteworthy simply because I can’t ever remember anyone else having come back from 5-0 down in a best of 11 frames match to win 6-5 before.
Qualifying Win of the Year: Kyren Wilson 10-7 Graeme Dott (2014 World Championship qualifiers)
While it was perhaps not the most dramatic qualifying match of the year, for me the most memorable qualifier of 2014 was the last 48 clash between Kyren Wilson and Graeme Dott at Ponds Forge in April.
As Dott moved into an early 4-1 lead with breaks of 70, 70, 68 and 57, things were looking good for the former world champion, but crucially Kyren was able to take the next having needed a snooker on the pink and with further breaks of 64 and 61, was able to close to just one behind at 4-5 at the mid-session interval.
Although Graeme was able to take the first of the evening with a run of 64, from there Kyren was able to turn the match around with a series of high-quality breaks, runs of 63, 76, 64, 58 and finally 81 enough to book his place at the Crucible for the first time in his career.
Honourable mentions also go to Oliver Lines for his victory against Mark Selby as mentioned above, the re-spotted black wins at Ponds Forge for Michael Wasley and Robbie Williams, as well as wins for amateurs such as Oliver Brown and Wang Zepeng against Ding Junhui later in the year.
Break of the Year: Mark Selby’s 35 clearance (2014 World Championship)
It might not have been the biggest break in the world, but to Mark Selby his clearance of 35 to defeat Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14 and win his first world title must have felt like it back in May.
Sat in the media room at the Crucible this year as the drama unfolded, it was slightly surreal to see because as he started the break, few in the room were truly ready or expecting the match to conclude when it did.
But as the balls were potted, it was time for the mad dash into the arena to be in position to see the coronation of snooker’s latest world champion.
Watch the break again here.
Shot of the Year: Ronnie’s red (2014 Welsh Open)
He might not have been able to win my break of the year prize, but there can be no doubt in my mind that his left-handed shot on the final red during his final frame 147 break against Ding Junhui at the Welsh Open was the shot of 2014. Simply put, a shot that I would not expect any other player in the world to be able to pull off with their ‘wrong’ hand in those circumstances.
Watch it here.
An honourable mention for Shaun Murphy’s black, also on his way to a maximum break at the ET4 event later in the year.
Disappointment of the Year: UK Championship semi-finals reduced to best of 11’s
All in all it has been such a good year for snooker and so I found it difficult to come up with a suitable suggestion for this category. Ali Carter’s cancer diagnosis was without doubt the worst news of 2014, while from a snooker point of view it was also a shame to see Steve Davis relegated from the main tour after so many years.
In terms of ‘disappointments’ however, perhaps the format change that I particularly wasn’t a fan of was the decision to reduce the semi-finals of the UK Championship from the best of 17’s to the best of 11’s.
As good as the best of 11 matches are, the International Championship semi-final between Mark Williams and Mark Allen in Chengdu was a reminder that for me, the multi-session matches remain on another level.
Part Two will follow over the next couple of days…