O’Sullivan is the Champion of Champions

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the 2013 Champion of Champions, following a 10-8 victory over Stuart Bingham tonight at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Taking home the winner’s cheque of £100,000, O’Sullivan underlined his status as the man to beat as we head to the UK Championship in York on Tuesday.

Click below for a round-up of the action from Coventry…

  • Click here to view all of the results from the Champion of Champions

Today’s final in Coventry might not have provided us with the highest quality of the week (Ali Carter and Neil Robertson probably supplied that earlier in the week), but what it might have lacked in pot success, it made up for in tension and momentum swings.

Never the be separated by more than a couple of frames, it was O’Sullivan who looked to take the early initiative this afternoon, leading 2-1 and eyeing up frame ball for a two-frame lead at the first mid-session interval. It was not to be however, as the reigning world champion faltered, allowing Bingham to step in and draw level, before adding the next two frames to lead 4-2.

Indeed during this afternoon in particular, O’Sullivan struggled to play at the very high standard that he have almost become accustomed to seeing from him, but crucially he never gave up and though clearly frustrated at times, he never gave less than 100%.

The result of this was that despite a few misses, he trailed Bingham by just one frame heading into the evening session, a gap that would count for little as he won the opening two frames of the evening session to lead 6-5.

Back though came Bingham, who took the next two frames to lead 7-6 at the final interval, before there would be another shift in momentum, as O’Sullivan took two on the bounce to lead 8-7.

Though O’Sullivan was to falter in the next, resulting in him giving the baize a bash with his head, the five-time world champion was not to be denied and took the final two frames to run out a 10-8 winner and become this year’s Champion of Champions.

Having this week already defeated Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui, arguably the two best players in the world at the moment, both in deciding frames, there can be little doubt that O’Sullivan is a deserving winner and what impressed me the most was not his play, but his attitude. He consistently tried his hardest and looked like a player who was desperate to come out on top, even when not at his best on the baize.

While I am not sure that he is necessarily my favourite for the upcoming UK Championship, if he takes the attitude that he showed this week into that tournament, he will prove hard to beat.

Well done also to Stuart Bingham, who while not able to quite get over the line, went some way to exorcising the ghost of that heavy defeat which he suffered at the hands of O’Sullivan earlier this year at the World Championship.

As was the case in the Premier League last season, Bingham played some excellent snooker during the course of week and showed people why he has become a consistent top ten player in recent seasons.

And so what of the event as a whole? Clearly from listening to the views of players, pundits and fans alike on Twitter, both the format and coverage of the event provided by ITV have been extremely well received generally.

Seeing only the world’s elite present, the paying public have been treated to match-up between the sport’s biggest hitters from the off and while the new flat draws seen in the sport’s major ranking events have been positive for the sport, so too is it important that we have more tournaments like this one for snooker’s elite.

A word also too for ITV’s coverage of the event, which has been hugely refreshing and of which I have barely seen a negative word written. Yes it might not be quite as polished as that provided by the BBC, but in terms of providing careful analysis and insight into matches and the key shots played, at the very least it has given the production team at the BBC something to think about.

To me there was a real feel this week that they set out to provide snooker coverage, for snooker fans, using three of the best analysts in the business and giving them a platform to show us their expertise as far as possible. I am sure that I am not alone in hoping that the network can pick up another tournament or two over the coming seasons.

All in all, the event has proven to be almost an unqualified success and one that I have no doubt will be back on our screens in a year’s time.

Next stop, the UK Championship which starts on Tuesday…