Welcome to the 2010 Maximum Snooker awards, The Maxxies! Here some of the best and otherwise outstanding players will be rewarded for their efforts and achievements over the last year.
It has been an amazing year for youngster Jack Lisowski. Having qualified for the main tour reaching the top of the table of the Pontin's qualifying events with a record total and winning an event there was a lot of pressure for him to do well on his debut season.
But thankfully he did not dissapoint, early on in the season he reached the final of PTC2 beating Mark Selby in the semi's before loosing to Tom Ford in the final, getting into the top 24 on the order of the merit and qualifying for the PTC finals in Dublin and winning three of his matches in the German Masters qualifiers and reaching the televised stages in Berlin next year.
Now firmly residing in the top 64, Jack hopes to continue on his momentum next year and top his achievements of this season with big performances at the PTC finals and the German Masters.
Most Improved Player
Barely on our radar this time last year, Pinner's Martin Gould had been qualifying for a few venues and winning matches here and there but had hardly much to say for on the big stage. But that all changed in 2010 when Martin managed to impress on the biggest stage in the world, the World Championship.
He came through a tense final frame decider against Marco Fu in the first round and then it was the 2009 Grand Prix champion Neil Robertson in the second round. Martin produced probably the best snooker of his career to go 11-5 up after the second session with an amazing demonstration of long potting and cueball control. Unfortunately he came unstuck in the third session and eventually lost 13-12, but it showed to everyone that he was a force to be reckoned with.
This season he pushed on further towards the top 16 with an amazing run to the quarter finals of the World Open and reaching a PTC final and two other quarter's. Now sitting at 21st in the world, and in the PTC finals, Martin will be looking to top the best year of his career and get into the top 16 before the end of the season.
The deserving winner of the best comeback Maxxie is the Welsh Wizard and double World Champion, Mark Williams. After dropping out of the top 16 a few seasons ago, a string of poor results saw him fall all the way down 42th in the world.
But after getting to the quarter finals of the Masters, narrowly loosing to Ronnie O'Sullivan and then going on to win the China Open this year proved to the world that Mark Williams was back in form and ready to take on anyone.
But it was at this year's 12BET.com UK Championship where he made the biggest impression, dispatching Stephen Hendry, Mark Joyce and Shaun Murphy on route to the finals where he would come up against the resurgent John Higgins. Even though he lost by the narrowest of margin's, it showed to everyone that Mark was back to close to his best form ever and up to the 3rd in the rankings, he will be one of the top men to beat at the Crucible this year.
Most Successful Player
This year, the man on top and has the most to show for his efforts has to be Australia's Neil Robertson. He had a good start to the year, hitting his first ever professional 147 at the China Open, but his crowning glory was to come at the Crucible.
He went on to beat Fergal O'Brien, Martin Gould, Steve Davis, Ali Carter and then in the final he beat the 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott, 18-13 to claim the trophy and become the first Australian ever to be World Champion, it also ensured that he would be World No.1 for the start of the 10/11 season.
Later in the year at the inaugural World Open (formerly the Grand Prix), he beat the likes of Andrew Higginson, Mark Williams and also Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final to claim the event and cap off what was already a remarkable year for the Aussie. Although he didn't excel in the UK championship, bowing out in the quarter finals he is full of hope for next year's Masters and will be eager to reclaim his World Championship title in Sheffield.
Player Of The Year
It was a hard choice for player of the year, so many have impressed including Robertson, Steve Davis, Williams but there can be only one player of the year and it has to be the Wizard of Wishaw John Higgins.
He didn't have the best of start's this year, loosing 6-3 to Mark Allen in the first round of the Masters in London, but he bounced right back in the next tournament, the Welsh Open at Newport. Where he played, probably what I considered the best Snooker of the year to beat the defending champion Ali Carter 9-4 in the final.
Now comfortably far in front at the World no.1 spot, John was looking the favourite going into the World Championship and was ready to defend his title. It didn't go all smooth sailing though as he lost in the second round to the six-times World Champion Steve Davis 11-13. After that he take a business trip with his manager that would change his life forever (explained further here)
After returning to professional competition in November, he stunned the Snooker world once more by winning EPTC5 and reaching the final of the next one. Higgins was back and ready to compete at the top once again. He certainly proved it by going on to claim the UK Championship in one of the most exciting matches of the year by beating Mark Williams 10-9 from 9-5 down.
John is now back at the at the World No 1 spot and with a memorable year for both the right and the wrong reasons behind him, he now can fully concentrate on winning the Masters and the World Championship this year to cap off a brilliant season.
Special mentions also have to go out to players such as Steve Davis for his amazing defeats of Mark King and John Higgins in the World Championship, Ronnie O'Sullivan for his memorable 147 at the World Open and his record 9th Premier League title, Mark Selby for his second Masters title, Barry Pinches for his astounding win over O'Sullivan in the PTC4 final and topping the order of merit for six events and the Whirlwind Jimmy White for reaching the last 16 of the World Open and winning the World Seniors Championship and Ali Carter for reaching the world championship semi finals and capturing the Shanghai Masters.