Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

The year in sport 2018: Snooker

Posted on 30 December 2018 by Jack Cunningham

2018 was the year of ‘The Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan, as he officially became the greatest snooker player of all-time, moving onto 19 majors, overtaking Stephen Hendry’s 18. He also becoming the record UK Championship title holder with seven.

This victory statistically proves something snooker fans have known for a long time. That Ronnie is the best player to ever pick up a cue.  

The win itself at the Barbican in York against Mark Allen was majestic as Ronnie was better than his opponent in every single department and took the final 10-6 in the end after a mini fightback from Allen.

The damage in truth was done in the first session as from 2-1 down he reeled off six frames in a row, leaving Allen with too much to do in the end. 

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O’Sullivan, who at 43 would be forgiven for thinking about packing it in, has no intention of doing so as he is still chasing Hendry’s record of seven World Championships.

Allen himself had a successful year as at the Masters. In January he secured his first major with victory over Kyren Wilson, coming out on top 10-7.

On the way to that final he beat O’Sullivan and John Higgins, adding that to making the final of the UK Championships, Allen is going to be someone to look out for in 2019.

The World Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield is the ultimate prize for any Snooker player and this year it was Mark Williams who claimed it.

At the age of 43, Williams became the oldest winner of the tournament since Ray Reardon. This was Williams’ third world title, and the last one had been in 2003.

Williams saw himself as such an underdog that he proposed to do his press conference naked if he won the title. And he stuck true to his word, though he was asked to wear a towel.

After a truly epic final with Higgins, he eventually came out on top with a 18-16 win. A truly remarkable comeback for a player many had considered finished.

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Off the table though, O’Sullivan caused controversy as he proposed a possible breakaway tour of elite players which will be independent of World Snooker.

His reasoning was that new rules introduced will force all 128 leading players to participate in more tournaments around the world. The players will be allowed to sit out of certain ones, but this will affect their world ranking and therefore make it harder to qualify for the majors.  

O’Sullivan, for example, is ranked number three in the world because he doesn’t go to every tournament, even though he is the most talented player on the circuit.  

This idea has brought him into direct conflict with Barry Hearn, as he believes that the idea will fall flat on its face.

If it didn’t though and O’Sullivan got the support of the top 16 players, then World Snooker would be in huge trouble as he is the man crowds want to see and his breakaway would no doubt get the punters in to watch.  

As well as this controversy, snooker also saw a match-fixing scandal as two Chinese players Yu Delu and Cao Yepung were handed bans after they were found guilty of manipulating the course of matches.

Delu received a 10-year ban for fixing five matches and Yepung was given a six-year ban for fixing three matches. Sad to see that snooker still has those in the game who want to exploit it. 

Man of the Year— Ronnie O’Sullivan  

The greatest of all time and, at the age of 43, he only seems to be getting better.  

Moment of the Year— Mark Williams’ nude press conference

Hard to beat Mark Williams winning the World Championships and then doing his press conference fully nude.  

Shot of the Year

Take your pick out of any of these tasty shots.

Featured photograph/Wikipedia Commons/DerHexer