The 2019 World Snooker Championships was will go down as one of the best, if not THE best, snooker tournament ever, with a glut of records broken along the way – and an inaugural champion in England’s Judd Trump, who defeated John Higgins 18-9 in a breath-taking display of snooker.
The two finalists combined for eleven century breaks in their match – the most 100+ breaks in a single match, and their tally helped the total number of century breaks reach the highest ever mark of, ironically, 100 in the tournament. Judd Trump also broke the record for a number of individual century breaks in one match, with 7 in the final.
THE EARLY ROUNDS
The tournament had been spectacular from the start, with a number of top names falling in the first two rounds. World number 6 Mark Allen fell in the first round, losing 10-6 to Chinese qualifier Zhou Yuelong.
But even more remarkable than that was the departure of snooker legend and pre tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was defeated 10-8 by another qualifier, and amateur player, James Cahill (pictured above). Cahill showed no fear or intimidation by his illustrious opponent – going for his shots and out scoring O’Sullivan to take a 5-4 first session lead. The lead was 8-5 until O’Sullivan moved up a gear to tie the match up at 8-8. But Cahill would not be denied and took the final two frames for a famous victory. O’Sullivan later claimed he was feeling unwell. Many argued though that the ‘Rocket’ took his opponent too lightly and casually – and suffered what was, ultimately, a humiliating loss.
Defending Champion Mark Williams fell in the second round – losing to Englishman David Gilbert, who would go on, rather surprisingly, to make the semi finals before losing to John Higgins. Former champions Stuart Bingham, Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby also lost in the second round. Ali Carter’s win over Zhou Yuelong meant there would be at least one unseeded player in the semi finals, as Carter would face Gary Wilson, Selby’s conqueror, in the last 8.
Australian Neil Robertson had been impressive in the first two round, but came unstuck against Higgins in the quarter finals. Gary Wilson saw off Ali Carter whilst Kyren Wilson couldn’t stop the Gilbert juggernaut. Meanwhile, after two huge scares, Judd Trump clicked into gear in his last 8 win over Stephen Maguire. Trump had needed a deciding frame win over Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round….and then needed a huge comeback to beat Ding Junhui – winning 13-9 after finding himself 9-7 down.
World Number 16 David Gilbert made an impressive start to his semi final with John Higgins – going 5-3 up in the first session, including a 15 red, 14 black break for a possible 147 but failing on the final black needed – and then extending this lead 8-3. Higgins made a mini comeback to trail just 6-10 at the end of session two – but didn’t seem his usual self. The third session was crucial – and Higgins found his normal steel and resolve to fight back, ending the session just 2 frames down at 11-13 – notching up a 143 break along the way that would prove to be the high break of the tournament. Higgins continued his form to take a 16-13 lead, needing just one more to claim a berth in the final. But Gilbert wasn’t done just yet, fighting back himself to level at 16-16. The deciding frame was a tense affair, but when Gilbert missed the black off its spot, Higgins made no mistake and claimed the win. Both men gave highly emotive interviews after the game, with Higgins lamenting his poor form and apologising for ‘bringing Gilbert down to his level’.
In the other semi final, Trump had it much easier, beating Gary Wilson 17-11 – early exchanges were nervous, with frames being shared at 4-4 after the end of the first session. Trump moved ahead to lead 9-7, and then 14-10 by the end of session three. Wilson won the first frame of session four, but that was as good as it got for the unseeded Englishman, as Trump reeled off the next three frames to take the win. Again, both players not happy with their form or conditions, with the table coming in for harsh criticism, especially from Wilson.
2019 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SNOOKER FINAL
Played over a maximum of 35 frames and four sessions, the final between Judd Trump and John Higgins was a repeat of the 2011 final, where Higgins prevailed 18-15. But Trump came into this final as the favourite, with many suggesting that the exertions of Higgins semi final win may well catch up with him, despite his famous focus and battling qualities that meant this was his eighth World Championship snooker final of his illustrious career, and third final appearance on the spin.
No nerves or fatigue was on show though….of the first eight frames, there were four century breaks and they could not be split, ending session one at 4-4. Higgins then fired in a 125 break to make it 5-4…but then watched in disbelief as Trump played eight frames of the highest quality, in what was described as one of the best sessions of snooker ever, winning all 8 frames and taking a commanding 12-5 lead. Such was Trump’s dominance across this session that he outscored Higgins 704-146 in those 8 jaw dropping frames that included two centuries and three more of fifty plus.
Higgins needed a fightback and started frame 18 in almost the perfect way…coming so close to a maximum 147 that included a spectacular long doubled red to keep the break going. Even his opponent willed him to make the 147…but a failed black put paid to the huge opportunity. Higgins needed to win the third session but shared the frames – making it 16-9 to Trump – needing just two more frames for victory.
The fourth, and final, session was over quickly, as Trump secured his first ever World Championship with breaks of 94 and 62 to win 18-9 – the highest margin of victory in the final since 2009, when Higgins himself handed out that scoreline to Shaun Murphy. Trump knocked in 7 centuries and 15 overall 50+ breaks, with a high break of 135 to claim the spoils – including the winners prize fund of £500,000. Higgins took home £200,000 plus the £10,000 prize for the highest break of the tournament.
After the game, Trump’s display was widely lauded as one of the best of all time, with Higgins stating how ‘awesome’ Trump had been. Certainly anyone who witnessed it would be hard pressed to disagree.