Judd Trump won his maiden Betfred World Championship title as he made seven centuries in beating John Higgins 18-9 in a tremendous Crucible final.
Trump became the first player to earn over £1 million in a single season and fulfilled his greatest ambition, having been touted as a potential World Champion since his teenage years. At 29, he becomes the first player under 30 to lift the trophy since Neil Robertson in 2010.
A final of record-breaking quality featured 11 centuries, the most in any match in snooker history, plus 12 more breaks over 50. Trump’s individual tally of seven tons equalled the record for any match, held by Stephen Hendry and Ding Junhui.
The crucial passage of play came in the second session when Bristol’s Trump won eight frames in a row on Sunday evening to go 12-5 ahead. Higgins battled on Monday to prolong the contest but couldn’t hold back the tide.
Trump’s performance in the final must go down as one of the best of all time. As Steve Davis put it, it was a “controlled annihilation of a great player.”
Trump becomes the 21st champion of the Crucible era and the 11th player to complete the Triple Crown, having won the UK Championship in 2011 and the Masters in 2019. He is the first player to win the Masters and World titles in the same season since Mark Williams in 2003.
He receives a cheque for £500,000, the biggest in snooker history, taking his tally for the season to £1,098,400. It’s his third ranking title of the campaign, having also won the Northern Ireland Open and World Grand Prix. His career tally of ranking titles is now 11 and he moves up to second in the world rankings, behind only Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Left-hander Trump gained revenge on Higgins for the 2011 Crucible final when he lost 18-15. At the time, Trump’s game was all-out attack, relying on devastating long potting and break-building. His game has matured over time, particularly over the past year. By improving his safety play and shot selection he has become a far more formidable competitor. And any questions over Trump’s capacity to handle pressure at the highest level have been answered emphatically.
Defeat is devastating for Higgins as it means he has lost the last three Crucible finals, having been denied the trophy by Mark Selby in 2017 and Mark Williams in 2018. He is the only player to lose three world finals in a row apart from Jimmy White, who was runner-up five times in succession from 1990-94.
Wishaw’s 43-year-old Higgins lifted the trophy in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011 but remains stuck on four titles, one behind Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The Scot has been well below his best this season, failing to win a title. His legendary battling qualities got him into the final in Sheffield, but there was little he could do to stop the barrage of potting from an opponent 14 years his junior. He receives £200,000 as runner-up and finishes the season ranked fifth in the world.
Trump led 16-9 after three sessions having made breaks of 51, 63, 105, 103, 135, 114, 71, 58, 70, 101, 71, 126 and 104.
In the first frame of the concluding session he carried on in the same vein with a break of 94, missing out on a century chance when he failed to double the last red. And Trump ruthlessly finished off the match in the following frame with a break of 62.
“It’s surreal at the moment, it’s going to take a while for that to sink in,” said Trump. “John brought the best out of me as he always does. I was prepared for such a massive battle so the scoreline to win a World Championship final was incredible for me. It’s hard to put the feeling into words.
“Everything I went for seemed to be going in. My concentration has improved a lot this season. I have limited the number of balls I am missing and winning a lot more frames in one visit.
“My brother Jack has helped me a lot this season – since he has been travelling around with me I have won the Masters and the World Championship. Obviously my parents have been a massive influence through my whole career, taking me around the country when I was younger. So to win it for them when they were there in the arena was incredible. It’s a dream come true.
“I’ll keep putting the work next season and go back with the same hunger. It will be nice to sit back in the major events without people asking me when I’m going to win them. I can go into every tournament now a bit more relaxed and give it my best shot.
“I didn’t want to get to 40 years of age without winning it. When I played John in the final in 2011 I threw it away a bit because I lacked experience. I’m very pleased with how I played throughout the whole tournament. From the end of the (second round) match with Ding Junhui I found something and carried it through to the end.”
Higgins, who missed out on a 31st ranking title, said: “He was unstoppable, he really was. He was unbelievable. If I’m being hyper-critical, when I went 5-4 up yesterday and he missed a couple right at the start of the tenth frame, and then I missed one, I was thinking maybe if I had got in and made a frame winning break, who knows what might have happened. But after that he just blew me away, pure and simple. It was unbelievable to watch, it really was.
“Standard-wise it would be up there with the great world finals. That was just sustained brilliance from Judd in this match, there was nothing I could do.
“I’ve got to try and take the positives I suppose, I’m proud of making three finals in a row. This one’s not as tough to take as the previous two. I’ve basically forgotten about this one already because there’s nothing I could have done, he was just too good.
“His all-round game has really gone up a notch in the last few years. When he’s scoring he can be pretty much unstoppable. He doesn’t just overpower his opponent, he overpowers the snooker table. That’s what he was doing throughout that match, there was no shot he couldn’t play. Some shots I’m limited by with my cue power, but there’s not one shot on that table that Judd can’t play. It’s pretty daunting when he’s on it like that.”