A good time – in some cases a very good time – was had by all those who attended the World Snooker Awards at the Dorchester in London last night.
It was disappointing that more top players did not attend but understandable that at the end of a busy season several wanted to spend more time with their families.
Ronnie O’Sullivan was named player of the year by World Snooker and the game’s leading journalists but in a fans’ vote on worldsnooker.com that honour went to Judd Trump.
Stuart Bingham won the performance of the year award for his dramatic capture of the Australian Open, his first world ranking title.
Luca Brecel was named rookie of the year for becoming the youngest player to compete at the Crucible.
The magic moment of the year was Stephen Hendry’s maximum on his final Crucible appearance.
O’Sullivan certainly deserved his awards. He was the only player to win two ranking titles, also won two PTCs and the Premier League and of course ended the season as world champion.
He took part in two of the campaign’s best matches: the final of PTC9, in which Trump beat him 4-3, and the final of the German Masters, where he beat Stephen Maguire 9-7.
I think the best match of the season was the UK Championship final, in which Trump beat Mark Allen 10-8. William Hill probably agree. Barry Hearn last night revealed they will be sponsoring the tournament for another two years.
It was a long but thrilling season of snooker in which several players took their chance to shine.
Allen won his first ranking title. Stephen Lee returned to form in a major way. Neil Robertson added to his title haul, most notably at the Masters.
Some of the older players struggled. Mark Williams didn’t look the same after losing in the final of the Shanghai Masters. John Higgins had a very poor campaign. Hendry took the decision to retire.
There were various controversies, mainly involving people saying things they would later regret but for all the arguments and grievances in the sport, which you get in any sport, it is refreshing that the bad old days of internal politics are over.
There was more snooker on TV than ever before and record audiences were reached around the world.
Live streaming, for so long talked about, finally arrived and brought home the drama of the qualifiers.
Players’ work loads have dramatically increased but so too has the amount of money they can earn.
Hearn is serious about filling the calendar in the manner of golf and tennis. He has made a spectacular impact on the sport – as he will tell you himself – and has been having discussions about even more tournaments in the next two years.
So the season is over but it all starts again next week with Q School. Good luck to all involved in this. It would be good to see some new, young faces coming through.
Like O’Sullivan, I am taking a break, but not for as long. The new season will be upon us very soon, with all the drama that it will inevitably entail.