Stuart Bingham Defying the Odds at the Dafabet Masters
by Glenn Baird - January 20, 2020
Before the Dafabet Masters (the first major snooker tournament of 2020) began all the talk was about Trump, Robertson and Selby. These were the guys that would slug it out, the three favourites and the 3 most prominent names in world snooker over the last few years.
Of course, Ronnie O’Sullivan always has something to say about that, but on this occasion the most gifted snooker player of his generation and probably of all time, would not be making an appearance. This meant that the only player left to upset the apple cart would be the relentlessly consistent, 4-time world champion, John Higgins.
If this tournament has taught anybody anything, it should be that there is no such thing as a dead cert in any sport.
All 3 of the bookie’s favourites left the tournament in the first round. Trump lost to Shaun Murphy, who would go on to reach the semi-finals. Robertson lost to Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who wouldn’t make it beyond the quarters and Selby fell to the eventual runner up, Ali Carter.
As for John Higgins, he went one better, than the 3 favourites, but couldn’t make it beyond the quarters.
Plenty will argue that the much shorter format that defines the Dafabet Masters adds a degree of uncertainty to the tournament. The World Championships will not favour a smash and grab approach, with the final requiring the winner to take 18 frames opposed to the 10 in this one. The earlier rounds are also much more of a slog than in this tournament but that should not take away from what Stuart Bingham achieved last week.
In a competitive final Bingham finished on top against 2-time World Championship finalist, Ali Carter. Along the way he ousted 3-time World Champion, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert, the player with the highest break over the course of the week.
At 43 years old Bingham is the oldest Masters winner in history, picking up a prize fund of £250,000 as he lifted the title at the weekend.
Whilst Bingham was considered a rank outsider before the tournament began we must not forget that is was only 5 years ago that he lifted the World Championship, with his previous ranking title coming in 2017 when he won the Welsh Open.
Bingham had this to say when interviewed after the final:
“Ali played so well I was starting to think about what to say after being beaten. How I turned it around I don’t know,”
“I have won seven major tournaments now and want to get to 10. Hopefully one will be the UK Championship and I will go into the history books for winning the Triple Crown.
“I’ve really enjoyed the week and I think that’s the key to my game and why I can perform like that.
“I am shattered. I’ve had about nine hours’ sleep in two days. Every time he was scoring I was sitting in my chair thinking ‘this is getting really comfy’. To get my hands on this trophy means the world.”
With the World Championships just a few months away, Bingham will want to use his victory in the Dafabet Masters as a springboard for snooker’s biggest prize, whilst some of the other names mentioned in this piece will be using this experience to ensure that slip ups are kept to a minimum when it really counts.