The UK Championship returns to the Barbican Centre in York this winter for the 38th instalment in an event that is historically action packed. The UK Championship is a World Ranking event and is widely considered to be the second biggest tournament on the circuit after the World Championships.
The UK Championship is one of the ‘Triple Crown’ events, a collective term used for the three most prestigious snooker tournaments: the World Championships, Masters and UK Championships. Nine players have won all Triple Crown events once, with Neil Robertson becoming the latest and first overseas player to do so by winning the UK Championships in 2013.
Robertson will be looking to retain his title in 2014, something that hasn’t been done since 1996 when Stephen Hendry won back to back UK Championships. Robertson is well placed to break that record after a successful 2014 to date, and that is reflected in the bookmakers predictions. Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan are the current clear favourites with the bookies while the likes of Mark Selby and Ding Junhui are cut further adrift.
Robertson has already tasted success in a world ranking event in 2014 after he won Wuxi Classic in China back in June. He, Selby and Ding have occupied the top three ranking spots throughout 2014, with the rest of the field trying and failing to play catch up with the trio. Selby and Ding have also tasted victory this year with wins at the first Asian and European events respectively. The 2014 calendar has provided a different winner with every event to date, making it very hard to pick a form player from the field, which is why the bookies have stuck to the rankings rather than form when deciding on their favourites for the UK Championships. Have your say on who will win the 2014 UK Snooker Championship and take advantage of the £200 Deposit Bonus on bet365.
The UK Championships has followed a similar trend in recent years, with the last eight titles going to eight different players. Ding Junhui and Ronnie O’Sullivan are among only a few players still on the circuit who can claim to won the title on multiple occasions; highlighting how wide open the 2014 UK Championship promises to be.
A look back into the history books will tell you that things never used to be so wide open. Steve Davis won the tournament six times during the 1980’s, while Stephen Hendry won five titles in eight years between 1989-1996. Hendry’s five titles make him the most successful player in the competitions history since 1986, which was the first year it was given ranking status. Steve Davis has won the tournament four times since 1986 and also won it twice before that when it was still a non-ranking even, meaning overall he has six UK Championships to his name.
Most UK Championships Titles (since achieving ranking status in 1986)
Stephen Hendry – 5 Titles
Steve Davis – 4 Titles
Ronnie O’Sullivan – 4 Titles
Ding Junhui – 2 Titles
Mark Williams – 2 Titles
The UK Championship is notorious for having memorable finals. In 1980, it was Steve Davis's first of his 73 professional tournament wins. In 1983, Alex Higgins beat Davis 16–15 after having trailed 7–0 at the end of the first session, which remains one of the most memorable comebacks in the history of the game. Stephen Hendry's 1989 win was the catalyst for his decade of dominance similar to the one prefigured by Davis's win in 1980; its significance was emphasised by the fact that the losing finalist was Davis himself. Hendry beat Davis again in the 1990 final 16–15 in another classic matchup between the two. In 1993, Ronnie O'Sullivan became the youngest-ever winner of the tournament, and any ranking tournament for that matter, aged just 17. Eight years later, in 2001, he produced the final's best winning margin since it had become the best of 19 frames in the 1993 tournament, beating Ken Doherty 10–1. The 2005 tournament saw Davis, aged 48, reached his first ranking tournament final for almost two years and make his highest break in tournament play for 23 years. He would lose that final to another rising star in the game in 18-year-old Ding Junhui.
With the field as competitive as it is, it would be very hard to pick a winner for the 2014 UK Championships. But with memorable moments stitched into the fabric of the competition, the one thing that is a sure bet is exciting and dramatic snooker throughout the tournament.