Three Things Learned After the Gibraltar Open

After each big tournament this season we’ll be reflecting on the latest action, so let’s take a look at a few things learned after the Gibraltar Open.

Trump’s a Record Breaker

This is perhaps obvious, but the sheer scale of Judd Trump’s current achievements ought to be highlighted as frequently as possible.

The world number one’s latest title, secured following a dramatic 4-3 defeat of Kyren Wilson in the Gibraltar Open final, represented his sixth ranking success of a stellar season in the sport.

That figure eclipses the previous record of five that was first set by Stephen Hendry way back during the 1990/91 campaign and was since matched by Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It’s an esteemed group of stars to surpass, and Trump has done so in magnificent fashion despite carrying with him the pressures of being a first-time world champion.

Barring a minor blip either side of Christmas, which unfortunately for him coincided with two of snooker’s majors, the 30 year-old has been a consistent force at the business end of events.

Indeed, Trump has won almost half of the ranking events he’s participated in this season and has extended his undefeated streak in finals to nine overall.

With 97 century breaks this season, Trump is also on the cusp of becoming only the second player to reach the century of centuries milestone.

The record of 103 that is held by Neil Robertson is firmly within his sights, albeit whether he’ll get the opportunity to complete the feat, with continued doubts hovering over the rest of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak, remains to be seen.

Either way, Trump has underlined his position as the world’s best player at present with another million-pound campaign.

No Fans Don’t Equate to Bad Matches

After the Gibraltar Open got under way, a decision was made on Saturday to prevent fans from attending the action.

An initial limit of 100 people was ultimately deemed too risky by the local government, so the final couple of days concluded behind closed doors.

Professional sport is nothing without its fans, and that left many querying whether the tournament would be watchable or not on TV.

Of course, this isn’t the first snooker event to be played under these conditions, with the Championship League also without spectators and several tournaments in China too – albeit that’s usually not by choice.

As it turned out, there was plenty of excitement towards the business end in Gibraltar.

The final itself was a huge affair for both contenders as Trump aimed for the aforementioned record as well as a £150,000 bonus for topping the inaugural European Series, and Wilson sought to join the upcoming Tour Championship party with a late rally.

A showdown that ebbed one way and then the other, with four tons between them, had all the components of a mini classic even if there was no atmosphere to go along with it.

There’s every chance that, if the World Snooker Championship goes ahead as planned next month in Sheffield, a similar setting might be required, which will bring a whole new meaning to the annual phrase of a “quiet hush descending on the Crucible Theatre.”

Snooker Relies on Many People

Snooker, and all sports, needs more than just the players to keep the operation working to perfection.

With so many travel woes across the European continent and the introduction of the ban on large groups, some of the early stages of the Gibraltar Open became a bit chaotic.

A shortage of referees meant that, in somewhat farcical scenes, the players on some of the outside tables had to officiate their own matches themselves.

It was about as far away from being professional as a professional sport can get, and it threw up several dilemmas – including what appeared to be a lengthy discussion between Liang Wenbo and James Cahill about the adoption of the miss rule.

These are unprecedented times, though, and the organisers can be forgiven for a gaffe that in the grander scheme of things is rather minor.

What it did serve to underline was the importance of these referees, tournament directors, officials, and volunteers, who between them undertake a lot of important work behind the scenes at all our favourite events.

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