As the curtain closes on 2015, last weekend saw the conclusion of the final major event of the snooker calendar year – the UK Championship.
In the final, Australian Neil Robertson beat Liaing Wenbo of China by ten frames to five to secure his second UK triumph. Indeed, Robertson was the overwhelming favourite ahead of the match, having already completed the ‘career slam’ of winning all three of snooker’s major titles (UK Champs, Masters and Worlds).
And the Australian certainly provided the crowd at the Barbican Centre in York with evidence of his quality by firing in a 147 maximum break on his way to glory. It was by no means a straightforward affair however, as the antics of the colourful Liaing (which included slapping himself in the face after a poor shot) endeared the underdog to the watching audience.
But Robertson ultimately overcame these distractions, maintained his composure and closed out the match with the same clinical precision which he had displayed all week. This merciless display also saw him dispatch world number one Mark Selby 6-0 in the semi-finals, and take the deciding frame against the in-form four-time world champion John Higgins in the quarters.
What an Awesome feeling. UK Champion and making a 147 in the final is a dream come true!? pic.twitter.com/ZqsJOSHqqz
— Neil Robertson (@nr147) December 6, 2015
So now snooker fans look ahead to the next major tournament, and they don’t have long to wait as the Masters gets underway at London’s Alexandra Palace next month. The question has to be however, who can stop Neil Robertson from completing a triple crown this season?
Well Higgins and Selby, still sore from their respective defeats in York, will be keen to redress the balance at the Ally Pally. Then one must also consider the newly crowned people’s champion in Liaing, now equipped with the experience of reaching a major final.
But perhaps Robertson’s sternest challenge will come from the return of the mercurial Ronnie O’Sullivan from yet another self-imposed exile from the game. The Rocket has previous for having hugely successful comeback events, like the 2013 Worlds, and the Essex man will undoubtedly have the support of a partisan crowd in all of his matches.
Yes, with the addition of this X-factor, it promises to be a blockbuster beginning to 2016 for snooker.
Are you a fan of snooker? Are you looking forward to the upcoming Masters tournament? Let us know in the comments below!