sports’s 2020 Snooker Awards: Best player, biggest upset and more

Who will lift the brand new, but highly coveted awards? (Pictures; Getty)

Snooker has dealt with the devastating circumstances of 2020 in an admirable fashion, not only surviving but finding ways to thrive.

Some events have been lost and the fans have been missed, but the tour has continued despite the pandemic, even if it has often been a one-stop tour of Milton Keynes.

Even without the atmosphere fans provide, there have been plenty of memorable moments and stunning matches for us all to enjoy on our television screens.

Here are the players, matches, shots and more that have stood out over the last 12 months and claim glory at the inaugural Snooker Awards.

Player of the Year: Judd Trump

While there can be debate over any of the other awards dished out here, there is no convincing argument to say that Judd Trump has not been the player of 2020. He might not be the reigning world champion, but even Ronnie O’Sullivan would admit that Judd has trumped his achievements over the last 12 months.

The Juddernaut has been world number one throughout the year and won six ranking events, reaching two further finals.

Judd Trump has been racking up the trophies this year (Picture: Getty Images)

He currently holds the World Grand Prix, Northern Ireland Open, English Open, Players Championship, Gibraltar Open and German Masters. Incredible players such as Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, Graeme Dott, Matthew Stevens and Ali Carter have all won fewer ranking events in their careers than Judd has won this year.

He will be disappointed not to be holding any of the Triple Crown titles, but his superiority over the field for the year is unquestioned.

The likes of O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and even Masters champ Stuart Bingham have had good years but none would claim to have been as impressive as the Ace in 2020.

Young Player of the Year: Yan Bingtao

Yan Bingtao has continued his rapid progression in the sport (Picture: VCG)

What counts as a young player may be up for debate in snooker, but I’ve gone with the same criteria the PFA use in football – 23 or under at the start of the year.

Only four players in the world’s top 40 qualify for this criteria, all of whom hail from China.

While it is not quite as simple as the highest-ranked youngster, it is he who is crowned the winner here.

At 20-years-old Yan Bingtao is the youngest of the four youthful Chinese stars in the world’s top 40 and is now established in the top 16 at #11.

His 2020 has seen him reach two ranking semi-finals and a third ranking final, at the Players Championship where he was downed by Judd Trump.

Those long runs in big events saw him score wins over John Higgins, Kyren Wilson, Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham as he cements himself as one of the best players on the circuit.

Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong are not too far behind, but they are still behind their younger compatriot.

Match of the Year: Kyren Wilson 17-16 Anthony McGill – World Championship

There were plenty of contenders for this award, notably one on the very same day, but the epic tussle between Kyren Wilson and Anthony McGill in the World Championship semi-final gets the nod.

The final frame alone would have been a contender for match of the year even without the 32 that had gone before it, such was the drama of that hour-long epic.

186 points were scored in that final frame between the two men, a record for the Crucible and one that is tough to see beaten.

Eight consecutive misses from a snooker for McGill had not cost him the frame, but ultimately a fluked green from Wilson did.

John Parrott said on the BBC: ‘I have never, in 44 years of playing this wonderful game, seen a frame of snooker like that. It was unbelievable.’

This all came after Wilson won four frames on the spin, including two centuries, to lead 13-10 and look in command. McGill would win four of the next five, with two centuries and two breaks over 80 to level things up at 14-14.

They shared the next four before the unforgettable final frame, which is well worth a watch on YouTube as both men battled for a place in their first Crucible final.

Ronnie O’Sullivan would beat Mark Selby by the same scoreline later that day, while Neil Robertson’s epic 10-9 win over Judd Trump in the UK Championship final will long be remembered, but the tensions and high stakes pressure on display between Wilson and McGill gives it the edge.

Upset of the Year: Aaron Hill 5-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan – European Masters

There were upsets on bigger stages than this, with Jamie Clarke downing Mark Allen at the Crucible a memorable shock, but in terms of status in the game, few could be bigger than 18-year-old rookie Aaron Hill beating world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It was the Rocket’s first match since winning his sixth world title and he was expected to give the teenager a bit of a lesson at the European Masters.

Hill is without doubt one of the brightest young prospects in the game, but this is his first season on tour and his earlier win over Andy Hicks was more like the good victory he should be looking for at this stage of his career.

The young Irishman stormed into a 3-1 lead with a couple of half-centuries, but then it looked like class and experience was telling.

O’Sullivan won the next three frames with Hill scoring just 17 points and the Rocket knocking in breaks of 102, 64 and 58 to go one from victory.

The way the game went makes it even more of a shock as most youngsters would crumble under this pressure, but not Hill, who levelled things up without O’Sullivan scoring then made a match-winning break of 78 in the ninth to prove his immense potential.

Shot of the Year: Stephen Maguire vs Neil Robertson – The Masters

An almost impossible task to pick one shot out from the thousands that are played over the year, so rather than the best picking up this award, it will go to the most memorable.

Stephen Maguire produced something that could barely be described and certainly could not be replicated against Neil Robertson at the Masters.

Steve Davis said on commentary: ‘The most amazing shot, I think, in the history of snooker has just been played.’

The Scot missed a red, saw the cue ball jump over the pack of reds, the red he played then spun back into the pocket after leaping in the air, before the white rolled all the way up the table and into the pocket. It was mad.

If you want something that was actually well played, then this effort from Mark Selby was superb.

Comeback of the Year: Jimmy White 5-4 Ken Doherty – World Seniors

Jimmy White won a memorable World Seniors title (Picture: Rokit Seniors Snooker)

A handful of contenders for this one, notably Stephen Maguire coming back from 5-1 down to beat Neil Robertson 6-5 in the Masters and Anthony McGill bouncing back from 8-2 behind to pip Jamie Clarke 13-12 at the Crucible.

However, the comeback of the year goes to Jimmy White, who retained his World Seniors title in some style, rising from the dead to beat Ken Doherty 5-4 from 4-0 down in the final.

The Darling of Dublin was in total control, knocking in breaks of 93 and 56 to take the 4-0 lead, with the points totals standing at 375-31 in the Irishman’s favour.

The Whirlwind chose that point to blow into town and he battled to win the next three before knocking in breaks of 79 and 85 to get his hands on the trophy again.

The Seniors is no exhibition knockabout these days, as was illustrated by Ken’s words afterwards, tweeting: ‘Devastated to lose tonight, no words are adequate. Congratulations to Jimmy White he played great, gonna take a while to get over this.’

One notable mention goes to Martin Gould for his remarkable comeback in terms of form and fitness after dealing with some mental health issues admirably.

Worst comeback of the year goes to Stephen Hendry for not entering a tournament yet.

Fashion Statement of the Year: Kyren Wilson

Kyren Wilson sported a new look at the World Championship this year (Picture: REX)

Strangely, in a year in which we’ve all been stuck inside so much, 2020 has provided plenty of chances for players to show off some new styles in the fashion department.

Lockdown saw a few experiment with new hairstyles as Neil Robertson let his locks run loose and Judd Trump established himself as a Terry Griffiths impersonator.

Ronnie O’Sullivan also caught the eye with his new moustache, giving himself a Burt Reynolds vibe (to be kind). The Rocket’s pink nail varnish at the English Open was also notable, especially as it was for a good cause.

O’Sullivan’s moustache was a short-lived but memorable look (Picture: ITV)

One man that tried something new in lockdown and has rocked it ever since, though, is Kyren Wilson who got the bleach out and went blonde ahead of the World Championship.

He coupled this with a flash new red waistcoat and some Gucci shoes to complete a standout look.

A truly fine effort from the Warrior in both the wardrobe and hair departments.

Ronnie O’Sullivan reacts to heavy Judd Trump loss at World Grand Prix

MORE : Neil Robertson admits he never thought he was going to win epic UK Championship final against Judd Trump

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