For the past year…
Players have been struggling with the new normal and have been potting balls behind closed doors and living in the snooker bubble of Milton Keynes, which has hosted 90% of the tournaments this season.
So, it was rejuvenating that 32 players who qualified for the Crucible were able to step outside of that snooker bubble for two weeks and experience the freedom of Sheffield.
And it was even better that crowds were allowed in as a government pilot test to gauge whether fans could pack into sports venues again safely.
World Snooker Tour Chairman Barry Hearn, who was making his final appearance as the big boss and stepping down for Steve Dawson, told the BBC’s Radzi that this was a sign that the country is getting back to normal.
He added: “The country is back.”
The 2021 Betfred World Championship final saw a FULL house.
Mark Selby has lifted a fourth World title to put him alongside five other greats of the game who have won four World titles or more.
Only Ray Reardon Steve Davis Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and John Higgins have won four titles or more.
As the UK has struggled over the past year with the coronavirus pandemic, snooker has been a big winner over the past two weeks of tears, sweat and joy as the pilot to allow fans safely back into indoor venues was tested at the home of snooker in Sheffield at the theatre of dreams the Crucible Theatre.
SPELLS OF MAGIC FROM THE MAGICIAN
Magician Shaun Murphy made a gutsy comeback from 15 – 11 with two tons along the way but at 17 – 15 missed a tough red along the cushion and then Selby made a steely clearance on the colours to seal his fourth World crown.
Murphy’s gutsy comeback was similar to his semi-final against last year’s runner-up Kyren Wilson where he won five frames on the spin in the final session and had earlier been 10 – 4 down to the Kettering potter.
What a difference it makes with a crowd , what a buzz when they get involved . #electricatmosphere
— MARK WILLIAMS M.B.E (@markwil147) May 3, 2021
THE ROAR OF THE FANS
Selby’s route to the final included a long drawn out semi-final with Stuart Bingham, the former 2015 World Champion, where it had to be played in the same session as the final session of the second semi-final because of a lapse of time in the afternoon.
Fans roared inside the 1000 capacity arena in the final sessions as runner-up Shaun Murphy, emotionally thanked everyone of them for buying a ticket and attending and said after:
You brought me back…
The Jester from Leicester paid tribute to the magician’s battling qualities and said he was back to his best and where he should be.
But he also said he thought at one point he would never get back to winning the World title and had doubts, but his coach Chris Henry, who had coached both players in the final, had helped him with his mind management and got him back to believing in himself again.
Last year, snooker was one of the first sports to return to tv behind closed doors.
THE JUDD TRUMP AND JACK LISOWSKI SHOW
And, finally, there were two stars of the BBC’s pundit team this year as the BBC employed Judd Trump the World number one and his pal Jack Lisowski to do a spot of commentary and pundit work.
They were beaming with joy as fans were able to get to know them better off the table and their insight into the game.
Judd Trump wrote on his Facebook page:
I’ve had such a great time at The Crucible both at the table and in the studio and comms box and thank you for all your nice comments.
This year, it has again showed how fans can return safely to view their favourite sports safely.
Well played to both of them.