JUDD TRUMP’s 10-7 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 888.com World Grand Prix final in Llandudno on Sunday night is a significant moment for the 25 year-old Bristolian.
Having trailed 4-1 and 7-4, Trump, not for the first time this week, proved his mettle. He had survived a black ball finish against Mark Williams in the quarter-finals and rallied from 5-1 down to beat Martin Gould 6-5 in the semis.
This was an important win for Trump. He has been threatening for the last few years to assume O’Sullivan’s mantle as the game’s leading crowd pleaser but had lost twice to the five times world champion in finals this season, at the Champion of Champions and UK Championship.
O’Sullivan, to his credit, has refused to go away and Trump was pretty much in his shadow coming into the tournament.
But he demonstrated a steely nerve and preparedness to dig deep and employ effective safety play mixed with his naturally attacking game to stay in the match.
At the end, he looked by far the stronger of the two and, with £100,000 for winning the title, has enjoyed a huge re-Crucible boost ahead of next month’s World Championship.
At different points in the first session, both players appeared to have lost their discipline. Post interval, trailing 3-1, Trump’s body language was not good but he kept his head sufficiently to win the sixth frame and thus started a recovery.
By the end of the eighth frame, O’Sullivan looked all at sea but, again, he dug deep to win the last frame of the afternoon session.
It proved what competitive beasts these players are. The will to win can sometimes flip to become deep frustration when things aren’t quite happening.
O’Sullivan led 7-4 but Trump looked mentally stronger in the evening session and won five frames in succession to hit the front at 9-7.
O’Sullivan had been in a fractious mood all week, as evidenced by his behaviour and comments. At the start of the evening session he had the arena photographers dismissed before they’d barely taken a picture. They certainly had done nothing to put him off.
O’Sullivan remains a law unto himself but the night belongs to Trump, for whom this victory could prove a psychological catalyst to even greater things.
This first staging of the tournament has to be judged a success based on the brilliant crowd support it enjoyed throughout the week. Venue Cymru in Llandudno was much praised and ITV4 are happy with the figures and feedback.
Perhaps the event could be given more prestige by awarding it ranking status. Its format is similar to the upcoming Players Championship, which used a qualification process to determine the 32-man field, and carries ranking points.
The bottom line, though, is that these events do not just happen. A huge amount of work goes into the organising and promotion of any tournament and so World Snooker – from Barry Hearn down through the ranks of staff – deserve praise for putting this one together.
The World Snooker staff are relatively small considering the increased amount of tournaments and certainly not underworked. Neither are they exactly showered in gratitude.
They spend a lot of time away from home and have to deal with all manner of complaints and problems which crop up along the way. In the main they do so diligently and with good grace.
Already, they are setting up the next event, which starts in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Trump plays on Wednesday, fresh from one of the most satisfying nights of his career.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.