The newest chapter in a sequence of articles wanting again at every marketing campaign from the Crucible period.
Across the time of the 2015/16 snooker season there seemed to be an identical routine in play, with the most important trophies dominated by three gamers and the remaining occasions shared neatly among the many supporting forged.
Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham might have briefly bought in on the act the marketing campaign prior, however generally the Triple Crown tournaments have been being dominated by a trio of stars.
Certainly, between the 2012 Masters and the 2017 UK Championship, solely Murphy’s success in London and Bingham’s victory on the 2015 World Championship prevented Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Neil Robertson from Triple Crown glory.
The development was by no means extra evident than in the course of the 2015/16 snooker season when the three shared the spoils with one victory apiece within the main occasions – mirroring, in reality, the 2013/14 time period.
The UK Championship, Masters, and World Championship have been snooker’s oldest tournaments, and since they have been the one ones coated by the BBC there was typically an additional spice of status hooked up to them.
Many followers have been upset that the UK Championship’s format had been shortened, and there have been loads of newer tournaments round this time difficult its standing because the third largest occasion on the calendar, however a fast look at its roll of honour indicated simply how a lot successful it meant to the highest rivals.
On the Barbican Centre in 2015, Robertson compiled an excellent 147 break within the remaining en path to a 10-5 success in opposition to Liang Wenbo – a match that marked the primary time a UK Championship title decider featured two abroad gamers.
It was a fairly respectable month or so for the Australian, who took benefit of reigning champion O’Sullivan’s resolution to skip the Champion of Champions to assert that prestigious title in November as nicely.
Simply over a month after the New 12 months, Robertson and O’Sullivan clashed for Welsh Open honours, however the Melbourne man’s run of kind in finals was dropped at an abrupt finish following a 9-5 reverse in opposition to the Rocket.
It took O’Sullivan’s tally of Welsh Open crowns to 4, and extra importantly introduced his profession rating whole to twenty-eight on a par with John Higgins and Steve Davis in equal second place.
Earlier within the marketing campaign, Higgins had leapfrogged O’Sullivan with terrific triumphs within the Australian Goldfield Open and the Worldwide Championship, however now they have been all-square once more and a race was on to see if both of them may reel in Stephen Hendry’s as soon as untouchable goal of 36.
A number of weeks earlier than the Welsh Open, O’Sullivan triumphed within the Masters invitational for the second time in three years, and a record-equalling sixth event general.
It was just a few years earlier when many onlookers questioned whether or not or not the Englishman had something left within the tank to supply the sport, nevertheless it now appeared as if the entire sport’s largest information have been inside his attain.
Certainly, it was solely within the earlier version of the Masters when O’Sullivan compiled a 776th century break to topple the legendary Scotsman’s profession tally of tons.
However O’Sullivan, who was chasing Hendry’s seven world titles, wasn’t fairly the identical animal in Sheffield after throwing away a giant result in Mark Selby within the 2014 World Championship remaining, and a dramatic second spherical deciding-frame reverse to Barry Hawkins in 2016 ended his probabilities for one more yr – candy revenge for the Hawk after his 10-1 annihilation by the hands of O’Sullivan within the Alexandra Palace in January.
On the 2016 World Snooker Championship, it was as an alternative Selby who was underlining his credentials as one of many nice Crucible champions.
After narrowly edging Marco Fu in an enthralling semi-final encounter, Selby got here up in opposition to Ding Junhui within the World Championship remaining, a run for the Chinese language cueist that sparked a media frenzy again in his homeland.
It had been a wierd interval for Ding, who backed up an excellent 2013/14 marketing campaign wherein he received a record-equalling 5 rating titles with an totally dismal run of kind that culminated in his disastrous plummet exterior the world’s prime 16.
Unbelievably, the previous world primary was pressured to endure the World Championship qualifiers, however in some ways it did him the ability of fine as he comfortably received his three preliminary ties and entered the venue levels with a renewed sense of confidence.
Ding downed German Masters champion Martin Gould within the final 32 earlier than morale-boosting defeats of Judd Trump and Mark Williams helped him to succeed in the only desk set-up for under the second time in his profession.
Veteran Alan McManus, a fellow qualifier, was his shock opponent within the final 4 and he took full benefit of his alternative by compiling a powerful seven tons in a powerful 17-11 victory.
Thousands and thousands of followers in China have been set to have a good time their maiden world champion, however Selby in fact had different concepts, and the granite-like competitor withstood Ding’s problem to seal world glory for the second time – concluding on the identical night time that his beloved Leicester Metropolis F.C. secured their odds-defying Premier League success.
Selby was proving himself to be the person for the large moments and he would quickly proceed to boast an air of invincibility on the Important Tour, however extra on that subsequent time.
Among the many different winners in the course of the 2015/16 snooker season have been Judd Trump, Mark Allen, and Shaun Murphy.
Trump and Allen obtained the champion’s cheques within the China Open and the Gamers Tour Championship Grand Finals respectively, every accomplished with remaining defeats of Ricky Walden.
Murphy, in the meantime, gained a modicum of revenge for his earlier yr’s World Championship remaining defeat to Stuart Bingham, edging his countryman 10-9 within the World Grand Prix.
One of many performances of your complete marketing campaign, nevertheless, transpired within the Shanghai Masters in September, when a comparatively unknown Kyren Wilson got here from nowhere to clinch the £85,000 prime prize.
When Barry Hearn took over the game in 2010, the vast majority of occasions adopted a flat-draw system wherein all 128 tour gamers entered on the similar opening spherical.
Within the 2015/16 snooker season there have been just a few exceptions to this, one being the Shanghai Masters wherein Wilson got here from the second qualifying spherical and received an unimaginable 9 matches – together with a 10-9 upset of Trump within the remaining – to develop into the shock champion.
Hearn had been on the helm of the game for greater than half a decade, and the wily businessman had delivered on numerous his largest guarantees – notably rising the prize cash, which had virtually tripled since 2010.
Few may argue that his tenure hadn’t been a roaring success, however within the forthcoming 2016/17 marketing campaign, arguably probably the most controversial implementation of his time in cost was to return.
Click on right here for extra from the Snooker Seasons sequence.