When Judd Trump finished runner-up to John Higgins in the 2011 World Championship Final most snooker fans expected him to return to the Crucible and win it sooner than 2019. In 2011 Trump was a highly-rated prospect who came through qualifying and nearly went all the way. This type of unexpected performance usually signifies emergence of a top talent, think Shaun Murphy in 2005 and Terry Griffiths in 1979, where both players went on to have very successful careers.
In 2011 John Higgins had fallen 12-9 behind but his matchplay grit and experience saw him make a comeback and win 18-16. Fast forward to 2019 and a more mature and measured Judd Trump started strongly. They shared the first session 4-4, with Higgins winning the first frame of session two to lead 5-4. Then the tide turned with Trump winning 8 frames in a row and taking an overnight lead of 12-5 into Day 2.
A crucial moment came very early in session 3. Higgins won the first two frames to cut Trump’s lead to 12-7. Many players might have panicked that the tide was turning against them but Trump showed great resolve to carry on regardless and win the next two frames to share the first mini-session 2-2. A 126 break after the restart made it 15-7 before Higgins took the next two frames. At 15-9 down some hope existed for Higgins, but Trump responded with another century break of 104, followed by a 94 break which ended any realistic hopes of a Higgins comeback. Leading 17-9, Trump did not falter at the finish line and won the frame, and the title, with a 62 break. In doing so he became the first player to win over £1 million in a single season, no doubt helped by the record £500,000 winners cheque.
7-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, never one to over-exaggerate or get carried away, said that we are ‘entering a new era of dominance’ in the game. Who are we to disagree? Like a true champion he got stronger as the tournament progressed. After a slow start beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-9 in Round 1, Trump beat Ding Junhiu 13-9 in Round 2. Once he reached the quarter-finals of the tournament he caught fire beating Stephen Maguire 13-6, Gary Wilson 17-11 and then John Higgins 18-9 in an emphatic win. He is now a Triple Crown winner, but this might only be the beginning of a golden era for Trump at the very pinnacle of the game.