ENGLISH OPEN. IN SNOOKER THERE WAS A BIG THREE, AS IN TENNIS. THERE’S NO RONNIE O’SULLIVAN IN IT

More recently, snooker was compared to women’s tennis because of unpredictability: leaders regularly stumbled, almost every tournament there were sensations. Players outside the top 16 knocked out stars, but rarely developed success and almost never got out of the middle of the rankings. One of the main examples is 24-year-old James Cahill, who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of the 2019 World Cup as an amateur, but has not risen above 76th place since then. However, this season the situation is changing. Favorites dominate again – it begs comparison not with the WTA, but with the ATP, where for many years almost undivided rule Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The Big Three also appeared in the snooker season 2020/21, with the Spaniard, Serb and Swiss judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby. Each of them stands out both statistically and in style. At the European Masters, Robertson reached the quarterfinals, Trump reached the semifinals, and Selby took the title, beating Martin Gould in the main match in recent months. At the English Open, all three kept their form: Robertson defeated Selby only in the semifinals and then lost to Trump in the deciding frame of the final. Symbolically, the victory in the second-ranking tournament of the season brought Judd the 18th ranking title – on this indicator he equaled with Selby and Robertson.

It is also important how all three performed during the tournament. Trump stayed three times a step away from relegation in the first three rounds, but consistently won 1-3 against Luis Hitcoute, Yuan Syjun and Michael Holt. In the late stages, Ace defeated last World Cup finalist Kyren Wilson and withstood a fight with John Higgins. A series of comebacks with outsiders and a confident game against the tops reminded of Judd’s progress over the past two years – from being too aggressive and naive talent, who could not realize the potential, he turned into a mental giant. Trump plays a variety of and pragmatic – sometimes reminiscent of himself five years ago, and sometimes exhausting his opponent with a win-win.

In addition, Judd has won 10 consecutive rankings – the same figure in the title games Selby has. If one of these two comes to the end, the opponent has almost no chance. The only exception is Robertson, who at the expense of tactical versatility and large series does not let go of any of the iron competitors. This season, the Australian has already pulled away from his three-figure break rivals – he has 18 against nine for Trump and six for Selby. Neil holds the record for hundreds in one season since 2014, but the best form of his career he has gained in the last couple of years: for example, last season for the first time in his career took three titles, including the prestigious Invitational Champion of Champions. At the English Open 2020, he showed tremendous stability and at all stages except 1/2, won without reaching the decisive frame.