UK Championship (2011) - a personal note

16:35:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

The famous Uk Championship trophy
It only ended three days ago, but I surely miss it like hell. Each UK Championship has kind of a special meaning for me, but this one has had an even special one. Mainly because there were some questions regarding if it would lose its traditional spark after the format was shortened. Glad to say it didn't.

You are all aware of the fact that I prefer to see the classical tournaments untouched (format, rules etc.). So, I wasn't very fond of a short format. Still, if you read my preview article for this event you remember that I said, no matter what the format looks like, the ones that make the difference at the end of the day are the players.

I don’t like to brag, but they surely did their job. I, for once, didn’t feel that the format was a shorter one, or that the tournament lost part of its prestige. The players have absolutely rocked around those two snooker tables from the Barbican Centre and they offered us one hell of a snooker show.

Mark Allen's press conference blew out of proportion
Of course, there were things that made us sad like the scandal that exploded after Mark Allen's press conference when he criticized Barry Hearn's decision of "cutting the format" of the UK Championship and for messing up with snooker. 
The media suddenly found snooker interesting again. What a shock! When a scandal erupts or when O'Sullivan does something unusual, they find space for snooker in their sports section.

In the end, Allen apologised for using a totally inappropriate language while sustaining  his point of view over Hearn's decisions to revolutionize snooker (for those unaware of the subject, he used the "F" word) and everything got back to normal. He is however to explain his remarks in front of WPBSA's Disciplinary Committee.

But the eye of the public, although always vigilant, let this one out and focused on the main thing - the tournament. A tournament that was filled with outrageous flukes. Here's another particularity of this year's UK Championship.

A tournament of flukes
I have never seen so many flukes being committed in one match or in one tournament in all my life. They could have changed the name of the event in the "UK's flukes tournament" for what is worth it. 

It all started with the very first two matches, both John Higgins and Ding Junhui getting extra chances to win their first battle of cues because of those flukes. Judd Trump's comeback, from when he was being lead 4-2 by Dominic Dale, had been established thanks to a fluked red that helped him build himself a nice and steady break and pull back the first frame.
And there are just a couple of examples, because the whole tournament was spiced with flukes.

Steve Davis retuned to his 1st profession - playing snooker
Needless to say that one of the greatest moments of this event was the snooker meeting between the three-time world champion, Ronnie O'Sullivan and the six-time world champion, Steve Davis. 

It seemed like a blast from the past, although, practically, it wasn't one. Davis's form is not the one he had in his hey-day, but it was still nice to see the Nugget getting a huge standing ovation from the audience when the match finished and process, just for a second, that the man who once ruled the world of snooker is back playing in a major ranking event.

The surprise of this tournament, at least in my opinion, was Ricky Walden. Yeah, I know it shouldn't be a surprise since the lad is a great player and all, but considering his latest form and how he slipped out of the Top 16 at the end of last season, it was a surprise.

Walden was on fire during the UK Championship
He seemed not only focused, but with a great cue action on his side. He was potting the balls so smoothly and everything just fall into the right place like he was creating some kind of a puzzle image. Beating Stephen Lee, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy, the Englishman reached the semi-finals where he had to take on Mark Allen. 

Although he did manage to end the first session leading by two points, the final one saw the 2008 Shanghai Masters champion being defeated ironically, by two points.
However, it was a great achievement for Walden and a perfect way to end the year. I fancy him to get himself a trophy during 2012 if he keeps up the good work.

Another great surprise was to see Mark Allen reach his first ranking event final. This was a first for the Northern Ireland's man who was about to recreated the last year UK Championship final when he started coming back from being lead 9-5. Sadly for him, he only managed to get until 9-8, the next frame being won by Judd Trump, the current UK Championship king.

Taking a nice picture with the trophy before the final
The final was tense, had no more than four century breaks, three of them being hit by the man who lost (another snooker irony), saw a couple of flukes here and there, but most of all, some really cracking shots.
At the end of it the 22-year-old boy from Bristol lift the fabulous UK trophy and the cheque for £100,000. Santa came early this year for Judd.

In conclusion we were treated in the best possible way by this year's UK Championship and if next year the BBC gives up showing that stupid and totally unnecessary dotted cue ball spinning around the table as they recreate certain shots, it would be even better. I'm afraid there were some reminiscent from last month Power Snooker, but hopefully they'll get medicated until the next ranking event.

So leaving aside the dotted cue ball and Allen v. Hearn issue, this was a great tournament and another statement that snooker is back. The Barbican Centre from York was packed with snooker fans there came to see their favourite players in action and that says a lot about how beloved this sport is.

Trump's family, a happy family
There had been a certain radio show (not giving names here) where nonsense information was revealed to the eyes/ears of the public, saying that snooker has no characters left and that it's a sport only the old people like to follow.

Well, I don't know if the person who said that was under some kind of anti-snooker treatment, but after seeing this tournament, one must be totally insane to think such a thing.