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Review Of The Season

From Shanghai to Sofia, from Bangkok to Bendigo, from Lisbon to Llandudno. Snooker players went all over the planet during the 2014/15 season to compete for silverware. Here’s a summary of who picked up the trophies on the World Snooker Tour…

Ranking events

Wuxi Classic
June 23-29
The city of Wuxi in southern China hosted the first ranking event of the campaign. The final brought together two close friends and practice partners as Neil Robertson faced Joe Perry. And it was Robertson who took the title for the second consecutive year with a dramatic 10-9 victory. He said: “At the end I was really emotional. Maybe people thought it was because I’d won, but in fact it was for Joe as he was there at the start of my career.”
Top prize: £85,000

Australian Goldfields Open
June 30 – July 6
Snooker’s popularity is gradually building in Australia, thanks to Robertson’s success, and this tournament has been staged Down Under, in Bendigo, for the past four years. But it’s the one title Robertson craves that he hasn’t won yet, despite reaching the final for the last two years. This time Judd Trump took the trophy and his fourth ranking title with a 9-5 victory. “I enjoyed every game and the crowds were a lot better than the first time I came here,” said Trump.
Top prize: 75,000 Australian dollars

Judd Trump

Trump on top Down Under

Bank of Communications OTO Shanghai Masters
September 8-14
The Grand Stage in the beautiful city of Shanghai has staged this tournament every year since 2007. This time it was Stuart Bingham who hoisted the trophy, after beating Mark Allen by an emphatic 10-3 scoreline to capture the second world ranking title of his career. “I’m delighted to win such a big title, it means a lot,” he said. “Mark Williams calls me Chesney Hawkes because he says I’m a one-hit wonder, so he won’t be able to call me that any more.”
Top prize: £85,000

International Championship
October 26 to November 2
The city of Chengdu in the west of China, famous as the home of giant pandas, has hosted this event since 2012. It is the richest snooker tournament outside the UK, with a six-figure top prize. Ricky Walden and Mark Allen went head-to-head in the final, and it was perfectly poised at 7-7. Then Walden fired in breaks of 85, 103 and 62 to win the last three frames for a 10-7 victory. “It was just so important for me to get my hands on the trophy,” said Walden. “The money is just a bonus. My wife will find a good place for it.”
Top prize: £125,000

International Championship

It’s hard to tell from this picture who won the International Championship final

Coral UK Championship
November 25 to December 7
Fans flocked to the York Barbican for snooker’s second biggest ranking event and were treated to high drama and classic matches. Ronnie O’Sullivan stole most of the headlines, firstly for breaking his ankle while out running, then for a making a 147, the 13th maximum of his career (worth a handy £44,000 bonus). In the final, the Rocket led 9-4 before Judd Trump stormed back to 9-9 with a barrage of high scoring. But in the end it was O’Sullivan who clinched a 10-9 victory thanks to a break of 51. “Judd is a tough opponent,” admitted the champion. “He’s very dynamic and he’s very explosive.”
Top prize: £150,000

Ronnie O'Sullivan

O’Sullivan enjoyed a purple patch of form before Christmas

Kreativ Dental German Masters
February 4-8
The iconic Tempodrom in Berlin is one of the most popular venues on the circuit and often draws crowds of 2,500. The fans were not disappointed this year as the event produced some superb highlights, including a 147 from Judd Trump. Mark Selby won his first ranking title since becoming World Champion by beating Shaun Murphy 9-7 in the final. “It’s hard to believe I’m standing here having won the title. I have struggled this season,” admitted Selby.
Top prize: £66,000

Mark Selby

Selby congratulated on his Berlin triumph by the boss

 

BetVictor Welsh Open
February 16-22
Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena hosted this event for the first time since 2003, and all 128 players started at the venue. Ben Woollaston enjoyed a giant-killing run, notably beating home favourite Mark Williams in the semis to reach his first ranking event final. But he was no match for John Higgins, who stormed to a 9-3 victory to capture his first ranking crown since 2012. “The doubts over the past couple of years were really deep,” said the Scot. “So to feel that my game has come back is brilliant.”
Top prize: £60,000

John Higgins

Higgins meets fans after his Welsh Open triumph

Indian Open
March 10-14
This event was added to the calendar last season, when it became the first ranking tournament ever to be staged in India, the country where snooker was invented nearly 140 years ago. This time it was held in Mumbai at the superb Grand Hyatt Hotel. Sunbathing and curry were the main pastimes for the players away from the table, but on the green baize it was deadly serious. Michael White took advantage of a purple patch of form to win his first ranking title, thrashing Ricky Walden 5-0 in the final. “Ever since I first played snooker at the age of seven, I have dreamed of winning tournaments,” said White. “It means everything to me.”
Top prize: £50,000

Baic Motor China Open
March 30 to April 5
This event in Beijing has been ever present on the calendar since 2005, when Ding Junhui announced his arrival by winning his first major title. This time the home favourite got to the semis before a shock defeat against Gary Wilson, who had never previously been past the quarter-finals of a ranking event. However there was to be no fairly-tale ending for Wilson as he was hammered 10-2 by Mark Selby in the final. “This win gives me a good boost of confidence going to the Crucible,” said Selby.
Top prize: £85,000

Betfred World Championship
April 18 to May 4
The culmination of the season came, as ever, at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, with 32 players battling for the most coveted prize in the sport. Debutant Anthony McGill made the headlines in the first week, knocking out defending champion Mark Selby on his way to the quarter-finals. Stuart Bingham then assumed the role of giant-killer, knocking out Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump to earn a tie with Shaun Murphy in the final. 2005 champion Murphy held early leads of 3-0 and 8-4, but Bingham’s self-belief never wavered as he clawed his way back. At 15-15, Bingham won a crucial 63-minute frame on the colours, and he went on to take the next two frames for a remarkable 18-15 triumph. “You dream of it as a kid. But it’s reality now,” he said. “I’m going to be the same person, playing in all the tournaments, and I’ll be hopefully a good role-model. Any kids out there growing up that want to play, just stick at it.”
Top prize: £300,000

Stuart Bingham

The Bingham clan celebrates at the Crucible

 

European Tour and Asian Tour events
Running alongside the main ranking events are the Kreativ Dental European Tour and Asian Tour events. Players strive to finish in the top 24 of the European Order of Merit, or the top eight of the Asian list, to earn a place in the Players Championship.

Kaspersky Lab Riga Open
August 7-10
The first ever professional tournament in Latvia took place in the country’s capital, and Riga proved an extremely popular destination. Mark Selby came from 3-0 down to beat Mark Allen 4-3 in the final. Selby said: “In Europe we always get good crowds and that’s what we play snooker for.”
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

Arcaden Paul Hunter Classic
August 20-24
Aditya Mehta earned a piece of snooker history as he became the first Indian player to make an official 147. But the tournament in Fürth, Germany, was eventually won by Mark Allen, who beat Judd Trump 4-2 in the final. “I still feel I need to get more consistent,” said the Pistol. “I don’t know why I do better in the European Tour events than the main ranking events.”
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

Victoria Bulgarian Open
October 1-5
The Bulgarian capital of Sofia has hosted this event each year since 2012. Shaun Murphy was in tremendous form, conceding just seven frames in seven matches, culminating in a 4-2 defeat of Martin Gould in the final. “It has been a brilliant year for me so far,” he said. “I’ve been working very hard on my game and it’s really nice to see the fruits of that.”
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

Kreativ Dental Ruhr Open
November 20-23
Murphy made it back-to-back European Tour titles by winning this event in the German city of Mulheim. Murphy thrashed Robert Milkins 4-0 in the final and made a 147. “When I started working with my coach Chris Henry we focussed on making 147s because top players make them all the time but I wasn’t doing that. Now the work I’ve done is coming through,” said Murphy.
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

147

The Magician registers the magic number

Lisbon Open
December 10-14
Portugal became the latest country to stage a professional tournament for the first time and the capital city of Lisbon proved a fantastic location. Matthew Selt reached his first pro final, but then lost 4-2 to Stephen Maguire, who landed a title carrying ranking points for the first time in 21 months. “It feels good to lift a trophy again and to be the last man standing,” said Maguire.
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

Gdynia Open
February 26 to March 1
The city of Gdynia on Poland’s Baltic coast draws thousands of fans to see many of the world’s top stars. Neil Robertson had won two titles in Poland before, and he made it a hat-trick by thrashing Mark Williams 4-0 in the final. “I get great support from the fans, and the events here feel like the big ranking events because the crowds are so good,” he said.
Top prize: 25,000 Euros

Asian Tour

Yixing Open
June 17-21
In his home city of Yixing, Chinese favourite Ding Junhui delighted his fans by beating Michael Holt 4-2 in the final. “I played consistently well in the tournament and kept determined through to the end,” said Ding, who made five centuries and 12 more breaks over 50 during the event.
Top prize: £10,000

Haining China Leather City Open
October 20-24
Oliver Lines, the gifted teenage potter from Leeds, reached the final – a fine achievement in his debut pro season. But Lines was no match for Stuart Bingham, who ran out a 4-0 winner to capture the fourth Asian Tour title of his career. “I’m just over the moon to win,” said Bingham.
Top prize: £10,000

Ding Junhui

I’ll get my coat…Ding Junhui receives a gift from the sponsor

Xuzhou Open
January 20-24
Xuzhou in China’s Jiangsu Province hosted the third and final Asian Tour event, and it was Joe Perry who came out on top by beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-1 in the final. “It’s always a surprise to win a tournament because the standard is so high,” said Perry.
Top prize: £10,000

Players Championship
March 24-28
There was an even bigger surprise to come for Perry, at the Players Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. After knocking out the likes of Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham to reach the final, Perry came from 3-0 down to beat Mark Williams 4-3 and land the first full ranking title of his career, after 24 years of trying. “It has been a lifelong ambition for me,” said Perry. “I’ve been playing snooker since I was 12, and all I’ve ever wanted to do is win a major tournament.”
Top prize: £100,000

Invitation events

Sangsom Six-Red World Championship
September 1-6
Bangkok in Thailand played host to this event which uses just six reds rather than the traditional 15. Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn was the name on everyone’s lips as the Thai amateur knocked out big guns including John Higgins to reach the semi-finals. He then lost to Stephen Maguire, who went on to beat Ricky Walden in the final, coming from 7-5 down to win 8-7.
Top prize: £48,000

Dafabet Champion of Champions
November 3-9
This tournament at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry brings together winners of major titles. Ali Carter made an emotional return to the big stage, playing his first tournament since battling lung cancer, though he lost to Neil Robertson. The final saw Ronnie O’Sullivan successfully defend his title, winning an excellent match against Judd Trump 10-7. “I am happy to have been involved in a match of such quality, that was as well as I can play,” said O’Sullivan.
Top prize: £100,000

Dafabet Masters
January 11-18
Alexandra Palace in north London has become the home of snooker’s biggest invitation event and drew record crowds this year. Marco Fu scored only the third 147 in the history of the Masters, but in the end it was Shaun Murphy who proved the man of the week. The Magician made Neil Robertson disappear in the final, winning 10-2 to capture the Masters trophy for the first time and become the tenth player to complete the Triple Crown. “It hasn’t hit me yet at all, it will take days, weeks and months for what I have achieved to sink in,” said Murphy.
Top prize: £200,000

Shaun Murphy

Triple Crown delight for Murphy at Ally Pally

Championship League
This invitation event runs throughout January and February at Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex. The matches are not televised and have no spectators, but are streamed live online. Many top players take part, trying to win groups and earn a spot in the lucrative Winners’ Group. Stuart Bingham eventually came out on top, beating Mark Davis 3-2 in the final. “This event can be an endurance test, but it’s a great one to win,” said Bingham.
Top prize: £28,500

Betway World Seniors Championship
March 2-3
This tournament sees players over 40 from the modern era lining up with stars of previous decades including Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn and Joe Johnson. Mark Williams, age 39 at the time, was allowed to enter the event as he turned 40 before the end of the season. And he took full advantage of this loophole to win the title, beating Fergal O’Brien 2-1 in the final in Blackpool.
Top prize: £18,000

Mark Williams

Williams: the youngest ever senior champion

Betway Shoot-Out
March 4-6
Snooker, but not as you know it. This one-frame knockout event with a shot clock is a fast and furious version of the sport, guaranteeing virtually non-stop drama as 64 of the world’s best players try to survive. Fans at Blackpool’s Circus Arena enjoy every minute. This time Michael White proved the last man standing, beating Xiao Guodong in a thrilling finish by potting four balls in the last few seconds.
Top prize: £32,000

888.com World Grand Prix
March 16-22
This ITV4-televised event was new to the calendar this season. Staged in the beautiful seaside town of Llandudno in North Wales, it brought together 32 players from a ranking list which ran from last year’s World Championship to the Gdynia Open. For the third time this season, Ronnie O’Sullivan faced Judd Trump in the final, and this time Trump got revenge for two previous defeats as he came from 7-4 down to win 10-7. He said: “It’s a great feeling to beat Ronnie in a big final for the first time. You don’t want to lose too many times in a row against the same player. “
Top prize: £100,000