It’s that time of the year again … so here we go! Those are of course my picks, personal choices. Fell welcome to come up with yours !
Player of the year
Clearly there were two obvious candidates in Ronnie and Mark Selby for the reasons exposed here.
Mark won three ranking events: the World Championship, the International Championship and the China Open. He also made the final of the Championship League Snooker. You can have a look at Mark’s 2017 achievements on Cuetracker.
Ronnie also won three ranking events: the UK Championship, the Shanghai Masters and the English Open. In addition he won the Masters and made it to two other finals: the champion of Champions and the Hong Kong Masters. You can have a look at Ronnie’s 2017 achievements on Cuetracker. Ronnie also equalled or broke several records during the year: he passed the 900 centuries mark, he now holds the record of most Masters won with 7, equalled Steve Davis record of 6 UK Championships and equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of 18 Triple Crowns.
So, all things considered Ronnie is my player of the year.
Young player of the year
That’s an easy one: Yan Bingtao is my young player of the year. Look at Yan’s 2017 achievements on Cuetracker. Yan has only been a pro for one season and a half. He’s climbed as high as 26th in the rankings, he’s reached a ranking event final. He took some serious scalps during short career including Mark Selby and Ronnie. And I like his gusto, he’s a showman, he relates to the crowds. I even have a soft spot for his terrible sense of fashion!
Entrepreneur of the year
Jason Francis is my entrepreneur of the year for singlehandedly building the Seniors Tours, now supported by WPBSA. This is a fantastic achievement in a very short time span. It’s about giving opportunities to all those players who have entertained and thrilled us in their prime, who still love the game but dropped off the tour, as well as to all the amateurs over 40, who dare to dream to play a legend, in a legendary venue. Jason’s events offer the right balance between good snooker, competitiveness, fun, glamour and nostalgia.
Snooker coverage of the year
The Eurosport UK coverage of the Home Nation Series and the UK Championship. They are my pick, providing the right mix of knowledge, intelligent punditry and commentary and lighthearted fun. There is a complicity in that team that I never found elsewhere. Special mentions for Ronnie, Jimmy White, Neal Foulds and David Hendon.
Coup de coeur of the year
It has to go to this, especially the twin interview with Ronnie and Sunny Akani after their UK match. And Sunny himself. I’m a fan!
2017 Golden Turkey
That one goes to Barry Hearn for making the Shootout a ranking event.
Here we have an event that isn’t even played under the rules of snooker, with a ridiculously “short” shot-clock, over just one frame, in a drunken atmosphere. It was marred by refereeing mistakes that robbed players of earning opportunities or worse and I don’t blame the refs really because it’s humanely impossible to keep the required level of concentration and to spot everything in that circus. And it had a definite impact on who was finally at the Crucible by right.
In my eyes this event is an insult to the players skills. and hard work. It’s not even funny anymore with what is at stake. It’s just tailor-made for the bookies, as close as it can be to prostitution to the betting industry. We were told that making it a ranking event was required by the television broadcasters, probably in an attempt to get the big names on board. It didn’t really work.
And the way Hearn reacted to the flood of criticism, by organising a vote that excluded the option everyone wanted, was one of the worst pretence of “democracy” I’ve seen in this sport.
End of rant!