The end-of-year review on SHQ continues with a look back at the best player.
He may not have won one of the traditional big three titles, but there can only be one 2020 Player of the Year – Judd Trump.
For the second year in a row, the “Ace” has stood firmly above the chasing pack with his relentless pursuit of titles showing few signs of letting up.
Indeed, there were similarities between his efforts on the baize this year and with his stellar exploits from 2019.
In both, he captured six titles and dominated the circuit to cement his place at the top of the world rankings list.
There were obvious disappointments in 2020, notably his first-round exit in the Masters before additionally succumbing to the “Curse of the Crucible” at the quarter-final stage of the World Snooker Championship.
Who knows what impact the latter’s postponement had on his chances, considering Trump had just won a record sixth ranking title of a single season with victory in Gibraltar just as the world was heading into a widespread lockdown in March.
However, the 31 year-old rarely let any poor performances affect him, instead dusting those off as merely bad days at the office and moving straight on to the next tournament full of renewed ambition.
Inevitably, it wouldn’t be too long until he was back in the business end of a competition, and out of the 16 ranking events that were staged in 2020, Trump reached the final exactly half of the time.
Triumphs duly came in the German Masters, Players Championship, Gibraltar Open, English Open, Northern Ireland Open, and at last week’s World Grand Prix.
There were impressive displays by others as well, of course, with Neil Robertson in particular a consistent challenger.
The Australian’s dramatic 10-9 defeat of Trump in the UK Championship final was just the latest chapter in what is turning out to be a modern-day classic rivalry.
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced when it mattered most in Sheffield, especially in a come-from-behind victory over Mark Selby in the semi-finals en route to a sixth world crown.
The “Jester” himself claimed a brace of trophies, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire won prestigious tournaments, while there was important silverware for the likes of Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy too.
Trump, though, has continuously been the man to beat, something that seems unlikely to change too much in the months ahead.
In fact, Trump is already a clear favourite to reclaim the 2021 World Championship trophy with this list of bookmakers at My Top Sportsbooks.
It wasn’t too long ago when people were questioning his performances on the baize and whether or not he was going to live up to everyone’s lofty expectations.
But since the end of 2018, the Englishman has silenced all of those doubters with a relentless run of success that has him marching along the path that will ultimately conclude with him joining the pantheon of greats within the sport.
A century machine who has already accumulated more than 750 career tons – 102 of them coming during the 2019/20 season alone – Trump took his tally of ranking titles to 20 with his most recent success in Milton Keynes.
How many he can finish on and what records he might be able to challenge for will depend on his drive and determination over the course of the next decade or so.
For now, that focus appears honed in, underlined by his enormous lead of more than £800,000 at the top of the rankings list.
Perhaps most importantly, Trump has learned the art of winning ugly and to not just rely on his A-game to steamroll opponents with his trademark heavy scoring.
For all of these reasons and more, Judd Trump is the deserving 2020 Player of the Year.