Mark Allen’s victory over Stephen Hendry and Jamie Cope’s excellent performance last night against John Higgins, taken together with defeats for the likes of Ken Doherty, Peter Ebdon and Stephen Lee, raises the question of whether we are entering a new era of snooker in which the old guard is being swept away.
I’m not so sure.
Nobody goes on forever in any sport and Allen are Cope are bona fide stars of the future but let’s not forget that Doherty, Ebdon and Lee weren’t beaten by young up-and-comers but vastly experienced players in the form of Nigel Bond, Ian McCulloch and Mark King.
Even so, there are clear signs of a changing of the guard represented by the likes of Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire and Mark Selby coming to the fore in recent years.
Cope has already been in two finals and he produced the break of the day yesterday in clearing with 53 to win the sixth frame of his match with Higgins, bringing two reds off cushions and appearing as nonchalant as a multiple world champion as he knocked in a tough pink using the rest and a far from simple black.
New eras tend to be created gradually with young stars improving while the established elite begin to decline.
However, we can only say the old guard’s days are numbered if they start winning tournaments on a regular basis.