Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas everyone

Before I sign off from the snooker for this year's festive break, I'd like to take the chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Thank you all again for reading my blog over the past year. I hope you have all enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

I'll be back with my snooker thoughts in the new year.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

Merry Christmas,


Talking Snooker... with ProSnookerBlog

It's been a hectic year on the baize with competitive action at every corner.

There have been twists and turns, spells of great form and talking points all the way. In a sport that refuses to be dominated, the major titles in 2012 have been shared around by the game's top players.

World number one Mark Selby signed off the year with the last big win, capturing the UK Championship.

To draw an end to 2012, OnCue spoke to Matt from ProSnookerBlog, one of the best snooker blogs in the business, to discuss some of the big talking points before the Christmas break.......................

Monday, 17 December 2012

Ding ends year on a high

There aren't many better sights on a snooker table than seeing Ding Junhui playing in full flow.

The Chinese star is one of the classiest break-builders around. He has a compact cue action of which not much can go wrong, judges cannons to perfection and has excellent, close, cue-ball control.

Picture by Monique Limbos
This weekend, he won the Scottish Open in Ravenscraig and, at times, played some of his best snooker of the year.

He made seven centuries in total and completed his march to the trophy with a 4-2 victory against home hope, Anthony McGill, in the final.

Victory for the young Scot would have been the fairytale ending for a return to action north of the English border. To reach the final, he battled back from 3-0 down against Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon in the quarter-finals and pinched the decider in the semi-finals versus Andrew Higginson after requiring two snookers.

McGill has a great future and showed he has plenty of his compatriot Graeme Dott's finest battling attributes.

But Ding played like a man who believes his time could be coming here and now.

After winning the Welsh Open back in February Ding has now won the final ranking event of the calendar year and closes 2012 with two new additions to his trophy cabinet. This is an impressive return considering he has struggled with his form for large parts of the year.

These wins will only be a small consolation for Ding though after suffering poor results at the biggest events. He will be desperate to better in 2013 and is hardworking enough to make it happen.

His performance here is a timely reminder of his capabilities. When Ding plays with this kind of confidence, he is immediately dangerous and a contender for every title.

This can't come soon enough for his fans. When Ding first broke onto the scene to win the China Open in 2005, he was tipped to go on to dominate the game.

Nearly eight years down the line this prediction hasn't quite materialised, but he has won two UK Championship titles and also triumphed at the Masters. This is success many professionals will never taste so he should be proud of it but he has still probably only achieved a fraction of what you feel his talent is really capable of.

At the age of 25 he has the luxury of time still being able to win more. Dominating the game now is tougher than ever, such is the stern competition at the top of the rankings. But Ding's main task is to find consistency and then the titles will automatically follow.

If he can carry through the momentum from this tournament into 2013 he is almost certain to enjoy a good year.

The challenge for him as always though is to wipe aside the pressure of being China's leading light and to find a way of getting results when matches turn scrappy.

I will be watching his form in the new year with great interest because I appreciate how good he really is.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Marcus Campbell EXCLUSIVE: "I can't see new players coming through unless something dramatically changes"

Scotland is the destination for the final snooker tournament of 2012.

Starved of competitive tournaments in the last two years, the European PTC event 5 in Ravenscraig is a welcome return of the baize north of the border.

Picture by Marcus Campbell
The country has superb snooker history but perhaps a gloomier future. A successful tournament here could be the first steps to the return of a full ranking event.

OnCue spoke exclusively to Marcus Campbell ahead of the big off to find out more.  

Snooker is coming back to Scotland. You must be really looking forward to it...

It's nice to be playing in an event that is virtually on my doorstep. There have been a lot of trips over to Europe this season in the PTCs and this is a lot easier for the London boys who are nearer to the airports and can get there for cheaper. We normally have to go from Glasgow to London and then onto the event.

I'm about half an hour away from Ravenscraig, which is John Higgins and Graeme Dott's area who live only five to ten minutes away from the venue. 

It will be nice to take my wife and my wee son to watch me play locally for a change.

Is interest in the game waning in Scotland?

I think the snooker fans in Scotland have just been spoilt with the world champions we've had down the years and taken it for granted. But right now there aren't many players coming through in Scotland.

Scott Donaldson and Michael Leslie have done well to get on the tour and Anthony McGill is just in front of them in the top 64 and fairly well established now.

People still love the game here but it's difficult getting people to come to watch. The World Open was in Glasgow in 2010 but the turnout wasn't fantastic. It's not really improved since then.

Are you hopeful that a successful tournament this weekend could see it developed into a full ranking event?

I've been telling all the boys at the club that this is a chance to go to support an event again in Scotland and see it develop into a full ranking event.

The recent tournament in Bulgaria was absolutely fantastic because of the fans there. They knew all the players and wanted photographs and autographs. You're lucky to get that here now.  If the support is right this weekend we can hope it will become bigger one day.

Do you think people seeing an event back in Scotland will help to change perceptions as well?

Definitely. It's only a PTC but to even have something back in Scotland is very important, especially for the players. We've got a lot of top players in Scotland and it's not nice to not to have our own event. I just hope people support it, enjoy it and it can grow.

Scotland has a great snooker history Why is that momentum being lost?

The Scottish fans have been spoilt with top players. The appreciation for them went for a few years because of it. It was taken for granted. I think if other countries had had this kind of talent they might have embraced it a bit more. They're a good crowd but need to go to the events rather than sitting and watching it on the TV. The PTCs are excellent for fans. You can watch lots of different matches and players. It's great value for money.

What more can you say about Leslie and Donaldson?

They're both in their first season as professionals. They've gone from playing in small events in Scotland to being on the circuit so it's a big leap. It's not easy financially for them but if they can get some wins this season and get some confidence it would be good to see.

The two of them can play but it's all about building the experience and developing a bit of grit.

There looks to be a real togetherness between the Scottish professionals. Is it quite a happy circle?

We always stay together whenever we go somewhere. We share rooms, have a drink together, have food together and all look after each other.

We've got our own little clique. We practice together and see a lot of each other compared to other professionals outside of Scotland. We do mix with others but tend to find ourselves in our own company more often than not. We're friendly with all the players though. There isn't a problem at all.

What do you think has got to change for the future of snooker in Scotland to be a bright one?

It's all about numbers. The club that I play in is fantastic but doesn't get used anywhere near enough. There's an offer on at the moment for children under 16 to come in and have free time on the tables but not one person has taken it up. It's a beautiful family run club but there's a lack of interest.

When I was younger all I wanted to do was finish school and go to the snooker club. That attitude seems to have gone. Every generation of Scottish players has always had older players to aspire to but that could disappear.

We're skipping a generation. There are pro-am events now that only get 12 players in. We used to get 70 turning up. It's very difficult and I can't see new players coming through unless something dramatically changes.

How good would it be for a Scottish player to win the tournament this weekend or have a good run?

It would be really good. It would encourage lots of family and friends to come and generate more interest about it in the country. We all want it to go well.

I hope it gets well supported and is a success. If the Scottish players we've got in the top 32 at the moment can't generate people to come through and watch then we've got no chance.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Selby's greatest triumph

Mark Selby wakes up today as the new UK champion - the greatest triumph of his career so far.

The world number one beat his close friend Shaun Murphy 10-6 in a gripping final that went on beyond midnight in York.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Question the quality if you will but this was still a fantastic final. Anxiety and pressure was at the heart of the drama as there were plenty of twists and turns, but Selby was a worthy winner.

Murphy showed again he is a great potter but, in the end, Selby had too much nous in his toolkit to be denied the trophy, as he won eight of the final 10 frames.

This was a massive win for Selby. It has been a difficult year for him with a nasty neck injury threatening his future in the game. But being the tough player he is, he has come back fighting.

Before this week Selby was already a two-time winner of the Masters but victory in either of two biggest events, the World and UK Championships, was long overdue.

Selby is often unfairly criticised for his style of play because people don't understand what an excellent match player he is. He can play fluid snooker along with the best of them. In fact, for each of the past two seasons in succession he has scored more centuries than anyone.

Above this, he's also a born winner. He's not afraid to dig his heels in and fight his way to victory and this fine win will go a long way to proving some of the doubters wrong.

Sport has never been about making friends. The huge piece of silverware Selby can put in his trohpy cabinet is all that matters.

Shaun was unsurprisingly gracious in defeat because he knows how much Selby deserves this. He is one of the most hardworking and hard to beat players on the circuit.

Christmas celebrations will be enjoyed this year in the Selby household. He pocketed the £125,000 top prize at the Barbican and ends a trying year reborn. He is back on top of the world rankings, the UK Championship winner, free from injury and back believing in himself again.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Final thoughts

An outstanding week at the UK Championship looks as if it will get the great final it so definitely deserves.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Friends off the table but fierce rivals today on it, Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby lock horns in pursuit of the UK Championship title.

Murphy won this event back in 2008 of course, but for Selby this is his first taste of a final in the event.

The plot is as thick it as it comes with two very established players looking to cue their way to a relatively overdue piece of major silverware.

Murphy has had a great week. All the of his experience throughout his career seem to have dropped nicely into place.

At times he's had to play clever snooker and show composure when the balls have not quite been going his way. This is a sign of his maturity.

Picture by Monique Limbos
But the biggest development in York for the Magician has been the return to his more natural out and out attacking style of play.

He produced the finish of his life to win five frames on the spin to beat Ali Carter 9-8 in the semi-final, playing the kind of snooker to match that which earned him the 2005 World Championship crown.

This was a timely reminder of his outrageous potting abilities; a weapon he shouldn't hold back from using. If he manages to recreate the form he showed to end Carter's hopes there might not be a player in the world who could stop his charge towards the title. It was gripping stuff.

The challenge for world number one Selby is to keep him under control and produce his very best shotmaking .

The Jester has looked happier playing this week than he has for a long time, despite not yet producing his best. He's had to rely on well-crafted match snooker to battle his way through the rounds and overcome some daunting deficits.

Selby is a tough opponent and has proved on many occasions that he's capable of turning it on under the biggest pressures. The big match atmosphere could easily ignite him.

He'll be looking to employ a mix of attack and defence to to etch his name on the trophy for the very first time.

Mark Selby: "To win one of the big two would be nice"

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Selby sails on

Mark Selby enjoyed a night to remember at the Barbican reaching his first UK Championship final and recapturing his place as world number one.

The Jester has put his fans through the ringer in York this week but there was a welcomed sense of comfort about his 9-4 victory against Mark Davis, even if he still didn't play to his best.

Picture by  Monique Limbos
He plays Shaun Murphy next in the prestigious UK final and is back on top of the world after losing his position to Judd Trump for the past five weeks.

These are achievements well worth celebrating but Selby will not choose to dwell on them. Instead, he is focused on the silverware on offer.

It's been an odd tournament so far for Selby. His path through to the final has been treacherous to put it lightly.

He's known as the master of brinkmanship and has pushed those credentials to the limit. He found himself 3-0 down to Ryan Day in round two and also trailed Neil Robertson 4-0 in the quarter-finals.

Selby has been asked plenty of questions this week but has managed to come up with the answers responding with some excellent spells of hard match snooker that look to be providing a gradual remedy to his confidence issues.

As much as people have bemoaned his inability to start matches quickly, these kinds of tests have a habit of helping a player build the steel required for an assault on the title. Getting to the final in the manner he has will make him feel bulletproof.

Today, Selby will be pleased to have done it the easy way with his next opponent, Murphy, enjoying the luxury of an extra of day of rest and being able to watch the action from the comfort of his own home.

Selby dominated the contest. Davis was playing in the biggest match of 21-year career and looked overawed by the occasion at times. He made mistakes at crucial moments and Selby picked him off.

He has greater experience of playing on the big stage and put it to good use. Davis was bound to be nervous so he put him under pressure from the start which helped him build an early advantage he never lost.

Davis has had another good week but knows he is better than this display. He didn't do his game justice. But Selby marches on and has the chance to claim one of the sport's biggest prizes....

Shaun Murphy: "That's my best five-frame spell ever"

Friday, 7 December 2012

Semi-final 2: Mark Selby v Mark Davis

Mark Selby has his eyes on the prize.

He needs a win against Mark Davis in the second UK Championship semi-final to regain his world number one ranking and reach his first final here.
Picture by Monique Limbos

The Jester is a big favourite with the bookmakers and the general public, but don't expect a walkover.

This contest pits two players together who have both showed their qualities at the Barbican this week, but are in very different places mentally.

Selby says he is suffering from an inability to get going in matches quickly because he doubts his game when he's out in the heat of the battle. This is remarkable for a player of Selby's quality, but reiterates how much of the game is played in the mind.

He found himself 4-0 down against Neil Robertson in his quarter-final match before finding a way to eek away at the lead and win six frames on the spin.

The comeback wasn't glamorous. It was a display of true grit as the match became a war of attrition.

Selby got his usual public bashing but take nothing away from him. I don't think there is any other player in the world who could have recovered from 4-0 down against a player of Robertson's class.

It was shear willpower and a sign of what he can do if he's up against it. We've seen that Selby can blow away his opponents when he starts quickly and scores heavily.

Picture by Monique Limbos
He isn't firing so easily this week but he deserves credit for still finding a way.

Davis is in a completely different place.

The Sussex man is enjoying a real purple patch on the baize right now - the best of his career.

This is his third major ranking event semi-final already this season and his form has recently seen him into the top 16 for the first time in his 21-year career.

The 40-year-old is playing with rich confidence boosted by his dramatic win against John Higgins earlier this week. He followed that up with victory against Matthew Stevens in the quarter-finals but insists he isn't thinking about lifting the trophy just yet.

Coming out on top against Selby is going to take a monumental effort, but why not? We haven't exactly been starved of shocks this week, so don't dismiss another.

Murphy's magic

Shaun Murphy has a history of making great comebacks and this deciding frame win to reach the UK Championship final was up their with his very finest.

Picture by Monique Limbos
The appropriately named Magician looked dead and buried as he trailed Ali Carter 8-4.

Then, just like in the World Championship final against Matthew Stevens in 2005 and the Wuxi Classic final against Ding Junhui in 2010, he produced an attacking masterclass to storm back.

Murphy won five straight frames and put together a gallery of unbelievable pots. It was genuinely a joy to watch as he bulldozed his way to victory and went on a snooker onslaught.

Carter didn't throw this match away, Murphy won it. His attacking prowess sensationally paid off. That's a sweet feeling for Shaun who admits he has tried to strip his game back to the raw attacking qualities that have brought him his success in years gone by.

He said: "I'm very proud of the comeback.

"Maths was never my strong point. I like it when things are simple. With four down and five to play it's pretty straightforward. You know where you stand with that; it's very simple.

"There was no room for mistakes - I didn't feel any different or try to play any differently. I  tired to play the right shots and luckily for me they went in."

Murphy is now through to his second UK Championship final and goes into it on the back of one of his finest moments on the table.

For Ali, you can't help but feel gutted for him.

The manner of this defeat would be tough for anyone. He has had a fine  year made even more remarkable when you consider his ongoing battle against Crohn's disease.

When asked about the battle and the struggle he has faced, he broke down in tears at the press conference.

It was a sad, sad sight but we know he is a fighter, so he will be back.

Shaun roars on and will go into the final with a feeling of invincibility.

Mark Selby: "I'd be dangerous if I got off to a good start"

Mark Davis: "I don't want to think about winning it yet"

Semi-final 1: Murphy v Carter

Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy prepare to face each other in today's first UK Championship semi-final but both admit their preparations could have been better.
Picture by Monique Limbos

Here are two of the game's smoothest cueists. They are happy to be in the last four of the second most important ranking event on the calendar, but are know they must play better.

Murphy, quite frankly, is lucky to still be here. He breathed a sigh of relief after knocking out 17-year-old Luca Brecel 6-5 in the quarter-final. He spurned plenty of chances and could easily have lost albeit for some good fortune in the decider.

He was under pressure playing a sensational young talent with nothing to lose, but at times he was all over the place. His excellent temperament took him through in the end and sometimes the pleasure of winning a match where you've played badly can bring added motivation.

Earlier this week Murphy was cueing sweetly enough and looking as confident as I've seen in a long time. He hasn't won a major ranking event in over 18 months and will need to bring his classy best to the table to change that in York.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Carter has played solid stuff this week and beaten Steve Davis, Mark Joyce and Stuart Bingham with a little bit to spare each time.

His 6-4 win against Bingo in the quarter-final saw him knock out the man in form but he still isn't totally satisfied.

He says he's been able to let his attention switch across to the neighbouring table to take his take his mind off the pressures in his own matches.

We're down to one table now and a best of 17 frame format so Carter will have nowhere to let his mind wander. He'll be the centre of attention when he walks out to play Murphy.

Ali has always been blessed with a big match mentality and has always been good at blocking out the back story of a tournament. Victory here would help him to a second successive BBC final.

Who is going to step up to the plate in this finely poised match?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Looking at Luca and looking ahead

We head into the quarter-finals of this year's UK Championship with a fascinating line-up - but there's one young man who has dominated the headlines in York this week.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Belgium's wonderkid Luca Brecel, aged just 17, is taking his chance to show the entire snooker world what he's capable and beat Mark King 6-4 from 3-0 down to become the youngest ever UK quarter-finalist.

Brecel's unbelievable ability has never been questioned. Everyone who has seen him play regularly believes he will one day go on to be world champion. He's that good. In fact, he hasn't played anywhere near his peak yet at the Barbican.

His ability to scrap and keep on fighting has has helped him to win matches of fairly low quality against Ricky Walden and King this week. But this is just another string to Luca's fantastic bow, and proves he is rapidly progressing into a complete player.

He is improving with every match and probably growing in confidence with each televised win. Even since playing Stephen Maguire at the Crucible back at May, he has come so far and already looks a more rounded. He has played with great maturity.

The beauty about Brecel playing in the biggest match of his career next in York is that the result is only actually of minor significance. This run is all part of his development. He isn't expected to go on to win the trophy here. So, he can afford to enjoy the occasion and play his game without huge worry.

His quarter-final opponent, Shaun Murphy, obviously comes into the match under more pressure. You have to go back more than 18 months to his last major ranking event win at the PTC Grand Finals in 2011.

A piece of silverware is long overdue for the man who won the World Championship aged just 22. He has been cueing the ball sweetly at times this week but more telling is that he looks more confident than I've seen in ages. Murphy won the UK Championship back in 2008 and would love to claim it for a second time on Sunday.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Also bidding to win a second UK title is Welshman Matthew Stevens. He hasn't reached the last eight at the event since his year of triumph in 2003. He swept an unwell Dominic Dale easily aside in round one but made tough work of Marco Fu after leading 4-1.

He was outclassed by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-final of the World Championship earlier this year and is lacking in recent experience of playing in the biggest matches. This is the challenge in front of him now. He'll have to stand up to the pressure.

Next up for him is Mark Davis. He won an absolutely epic match against John Higgins to reach this stage. He played almost the perfect gameplan to lead 5-2 but then had to watch the Scot charge back to 5-5, including a splendid maximum break.

The match looked to be meandering towards a predictable ending but the final twist saw Davis nick the decider on the final pink. He will now go into this match feeling he can go all the way. This win was so significant in a match that will be remembered for many years to come, it has to breed confidence.

There's an Essex battle to look forward to in the next round as well.

Stuart Bingham is playing the best snooker of his life right now. He's come to York fresh off the back of winning the Premier League and is oozing confidence.

Picture by Monique Limbos
He has never been the kind of player to fear his opponents. He knows he can beat anyone in the world on his day, but now others are beginning to believe it too.

His 6-4 win against Maguire was hugely impressive. He knows his time is now and will be desperate to make it count. No-one would deserve success here more than Bingham for all the dedication he's shown to the game in a long career.

This year's World Championship finalist Ali Carter isn't likely to be intimidated by Stuart's form. He's a man for the big occasion and bundles brings of fighting spirit to the table.

He is still suffering from the effects of Crohn's disease but looks to have found a way of staving it off and continuing to play snooker. Ali is flowing nicely and showing off his classy technique. His two easy wins mean he's fresh for the business end of the event.

The other match in the quarter-finals is arguably the juiciest of all. Mark Selby admits the weight of expectation of being world number one was heavy. He hasn't enjoyed the best season so far and has recently been knocked off the top by Judd Trump.

Ironically, he can reclaim number one with a run here after Judd suffered a shock early exit. That won't be on his mind too much. Instead, he knows victory here would be up their with his very best. A neck injury has made times tough but he's over that now and is playing well again.

His mixture of break building and tenacious safety play make him one of the toughest match players around. He beat Ryan Day from 3-0 down to reach the last eight, but was gifted a route back into the match.

A tougher test is definitely ahead against Neil Robertson. The excellent Aussie has enjoyed a very safe passage so far. He's so good right now it takes great performances to give him a fight. He is in the same mould as Selby where he can compete with a number of different playing styles.

This means the match will have several different layers to it and different departmental battles. They will be trying to pot better balls, score more and tactically beat each other. It could be a classic.

Full quarter-final draw:

Ali Carter v Stuart Bingham
Luca Brecel v Shaun Murphy
Mark Davis v Matthew Stevens
Neil Robertson v Mark Selby

Monday, 3 December 2012

The early contenders

Judd Trump and Mark Allen's shock double elimination from this year's UK Championship has begged the question of who is going to take this tournament by the horns.

We may have lost last year's two finalists at the first hurdle in York, but there are still plenty of contenders and more great battles en route to the trophy presentation on Sunday night, I'm sure.

Picture by Monique Limbos
I read a couple of comments after yesterday's two shocks questioning whether there was any point watching the remainder of this tournament with the absence of arguably the sport's two most exciting young players.

It's difficult to deny that the omission of Trump and Allen hasn't dented the tournament, but I've never been one for rating individual players as high as an entire tournament.

As long as good snooker is being played, I'm happy.

Neil Robertson, now favourite with the bookmakers, played plenty of that today as he steamrolled Tom Ford's hopes 6-1 with the assistance of four centuries.

Victory at the Barbican would mark a superb achievement for the flying Aussie. He has already won himself two of the three BBC titles, with just the UK Championship missing from the collection.

Lifting the trophy on Sunday night would complete a famous treble and he looks like he's in the zone to go all the way.

Robertson is one of the scariest snooker packages in the world right now. He's a demon long potter, a prolific break builder and master of controlling the tempo of a match to his liking.

Who else has impressed so far? Stephen Maguire won rave reviews for his 6-2 win against Fergal O'Brien. There aren't many greater sights in snooker than seeing the Scot bully his way round the baize. He has an authority and dominance about him when he's playing well..

His fellow countryman John Higgins was efficient, if not spectacular, in dispatching of Michael Holt 6-3. He has a habit of growing into tournaments and finding momentum towards the business end of big events. He's a competitive animal and still be widely tipped.

Mark Selby negotiated a tricky looking tie against Michael White on paper with a relatively controlled win.

Form man Stuart Bingham showed no signs of fatigue in beating dangerous Jack Lisowsi.

Matthew Stevens took advantage of Dominic Dale, who fears he is suffering from shingles, to score an easy 6-1 win.

Shaun Murphy's progress could be interesting to watch. He's been edging back towards what I'd call tournament-winning snooker for a while now and looks mentally relaxed to have a real crack.

What about Marco Fu? He played some super snooker to knock out Allen. He's a fine talent with an unwavering temperament. He reached the final here back in 2008 and has beaten almost all of the world's best players at some point.

Who do you think will grasp the nettle this week?

Full last 16 draw:

Mark Joyce v Ali Carter
Stuart Bingham v Stephen Maguire
Mark King v Luca Brecel
Graeme Dott v Shaun Murphy
John Higgins v Mark Davis
Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu
Neil Robertson v Barry Hawkins
Ryan Day v Mark Selby

Jumping for Joyce

Mark Joyce enjoyed the best win of his career as he sent defending champion and world number one Judd Trump crashing out of the UK Championship.

This was a fantastic result as he charged back from 5-2 down to win on a decider and stun everyone inside the Barbican, including Trump himself.

Picture by Monique Limbos
Judd played poorly. He shouldn't be losing matches like this, but it may turn out to be a lesson well learnt. It's unrealistic to think Trump can play his best in every match, but he should still have had enough to get the job done here.

When he was 3-0 ahead he should have stepped on the gas and gone for the clean kill. But his ruthlessness and excellent long-potting were curiously absent. As Hendry said in commentary, he will need to develop a reliable killer instinct to become a really great champion.

Trump was probably guilty of of under-estimating his opponent and for that he paid the ultimate price of elimination before his title defence had barely got going. 

But however Judd played, Joyce deserves huge praise for the win.  He didn't play well early on but won the last four frames to cash in on Trump's poor performance. It was opportunist in that sense.

He isn't used to regularly playing in big matches on the TV but he handled the pressure well and took the occasion in his stride.

Joyce usually goes quietly about his business but this was a moment where he deserved to be in the limelight.

Snooker fans in his hometown Walsall would have been loving this and he should take great confidence into his next match with Ali Carter. Joyce's last big moment in the sun came when he reached the quarter-finals at this tournament back in 2010.  He will be hoping for a repeat now he's walking witha spring in his step.