Judd Trump: How the World Champion became the Ace in the Pack
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Judd Trump: How the World Champion became the Ace in the Pack

The 29-year old thrashed John Higgins 18-9 to win his first Crucible crown.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

13 seasons after turning professional, Judd Trump has finally won his first World Championship.

Competing against eight-time finalist John Higgins, a runner-up in three successive seasons, the pair broke the record for the most centuries in a Crucible contest. No less than 11 three-figured contributions were made in just 27 frames, seven of which manufactured by the hands of the new champion.

Yet, in a season to remember for the Ace in the Pack, it has not been an easy ride to the top for a player who has traditionally been seen as one who has not quite lived up to his early potential.

Out of the blue final appearance

After becoming a professional in 2005, a 17-year old Trump soon made a name for himself as he became the third youngest player at the time to qualify for the Crucible. It was an early defeat, in the opening contest, but many felt that this young hopeful had the hallmarks of becoming a snooker great for years to come.

However, Trump was hardly seen during the next handful of years. Other than a couple of under the radar semi-finals and a Championship League success in 2009, Trump barely won a game, yet alone a tournament.

2011 proved to be a turning point. Still on a lacklustre run of form, Trump stunned the circuit with victory at the China Open, a traditional curtain-raiser before the World Championship. After easing through the Crucible qualifying rounds, Trump made it all the way to the final against a certain John Higgins. He was 10-7 up before finally succumbing to an 18-15 defeat.

Despite the defeat, Trump had now thrust himself truly into the spotlight.

Falling just short of the final pot

From that memorable moment, after two tournaments that saw Trump win almost more professional games than he had done in the past six years, the still youthful talent went on to win at least a tournament every season but never more than two.

It was enough to keep him on the radar but only served to acknowledge his title winning credentials that were falling just short in some of the biggest competitions.

Over the next seven seasons, Trump would reach at least the semi-final stage in 39 competitions but only converted in ten of them. From the outskirts of Bristol, a historical hotbed of exploration, Trump was ironically better on foreign shores. 

Two European Masters, an International Championship, two China Opens and an Australian Open served to underpin that the shy personality performed more consistently out of the British limelight.

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Breaking away

Going into this season, The Masters and World Championship crowns were still absent from Trump's mantlepiece. On these greatest stages, he had reached three quarter-finals and four semi-finals in seven years. The world was witnessing Trump as the perennial bridesmaid.

After a shaky start to this campaign, it looked like another 'not quite enough' season. But in November, Trump's snooker started to click. An improved tactical game to match his break-building ability.

A Northern Ireland Open victory against Ronnie O'Sullivan preceded a maiden Masters success over the same opponent at the turn of the year. This was the man who was to go to the Crucible as heavy favourite and world number one after a vintage season.

A World Grand Prix followed in February but defeat to Robbie Williams in his final match before the World Championship raised question marks oncemore. 

Clearing up

The opening round almost saw another Sheffield disappointment. A final frame victory against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh just about kept the world number seven in the running.

But big names started to fall on Trump's side of the draw as the 29-year old held his nerve. Wins against Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire and Gary Wilson eased him through to a first Crucible final since 2011. A repeat of the epic against Higgins eight years previous

It looked set to be a tight finale, Higgins taking a 5-4 lead after five centuries between the duo in the opening nine frames.

Yet Trump was to win the next eight frames, flying into a 12-5 advantage. On the cusp of becoming the first player in 16 years to win the World Championship and The Masters in the same campaign, Trump played astonishing snooker, even showboating with shots behind his back.

A new era?

Going into the final session, 16-9 ahead, the contest was over in a flash as Trump continued his whirlwind form. Equalling the most centuries by a player in a single match at the Crucible, Higgins recorded eight frames without potting a single ball.

The Scotsman, who turned professional when Trump was just three, has now been a runner-up on a hat-trick of successive occasions on the greatest stage.

With Trump finally putting the 'nearly' tag to bed, is this the start of a new dawn on the snooker circuit? The next Mark Selby perhaps?

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