2012/13: The players to watch
Following the retirement of the legendary Stephen Hendry, and the ever-unpredictable Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to take a break from the game, snooker fans may be wondering which players will step in to provide the headlines.
They needn’t worry, for there are plenty of players to watch out for who have big seasons to look forward to. From the game’s brightest youngsters to international stars and the occasional returning veteran, snooker is a sport that always provides characters.
An obvious choice, but Trump will continue to figure in lists such as this until he wins a World Championship. Already the pundits are declaring that this can only be a matter of time. As young as he is, Trump will want to get over that hurdle as quickly as possible, and will be desperate to get his name on the Crucible trophy at his fourth visit.
However, current world number 1 Mark Selby and other experienced top ten players such as Mark Williams, John Higgins and Neil Robertson will be equally keen to see the youngster wait just a little longer.
Currently ranked number 79 in the world, there is no chance of this staying the same if the young Belgian continues to progress at his current rate. At 17, Brecel became the youngest ever Crucible debutant during the 2012 tournament, beating a number of seasoned pros in qualifying before losing 10-5 to Stephen Maguire in the first round.
While he has not yet broken the top 64, Brecel will remain on the professional tour next year after being given an extended wildcard, proof that Barry Hearn rates him extremely highly and is perhaps preparing him to be the poster boy for the next decade of snooker.
Like Trump, Ding is another established, top quality young player who should eventually win a world title. However, with Barry Hearn looking to make snooker a truly global game, he needs China’s number one player to start climbing the rankings again, after five first round exits saw him slip back seven places to world number 11.
The Chinese Sensation looked out of sorts as he branded the crowd and tables “rubbish” during the World Championship, but he did win the Welsh Open and reached the final of the 2011 Snooker Premier League, where he lost to O’Sullivan, an obstacle who, as we have already observed, no longer blocks his path. Ding is vital to Hearn’s grand plan, but can he handle the pressure?
After a year in which he was severely hampered by his well documented problems with Crohn’s disease, it was an incredible achievement for Carter to battle all the way to the 2012 final at the Crucible, where he ultimately succumbed to O’Sullivan.
Carter has previously been ranked as high as second in the world, but last year’s health problems contributed to him dropping from 6th to 17th. Now seemingly fit and well again, Carter will relish the opportunity to focus on playing again. If, as it seems, he has turned things around, the Captain will again be a force to be reckoned with next year.
- Shanghai Masters draw revealed
- Robertson favourite for Shanghai Masters
- World Championship tickets go on sale
- July snooker roundup
- Australian Open gets underway
- Robertson, Higgins & Ding head Wuxi Classic odds
- Reanne Evans qualifies for Wuxi Classic
- Selby and Murphy crash out of Wuxi Classic
- End of season rankings and money list revealed
- O'Sullivan secures sensational victory