Triple Crown (snooker)

Logo of the Triple Crown Series

The Triple Crown (sometimes called snooker's majors) refers to winning the three most prestigious tournaments in snooker: the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the invitational Masters. These three events together make up the Triple Crown Series with each individual tournament referred to as a Triple Crown event. The individual events are deemed to be the most prestigious in the snooker calendar, despite not always being worth the most ranking points or prize fund. Players who win all three tournaments are said to have "won the Triple Crown", either over their career, or in one season alone.

The Triple Crown dates back to the 1969 World Snooker Championship, when the event changed to a knockout format from the prior "challenge" basis. These events were not considered part of the Triple Crown until the 1977–78 snooker season when the UK Championship was introduced, although the event was only open to British players until 1984. After this time, the previous events were retrospectively recognised as Triple Crown events.

As of 2020, 11 players have won all three events, with only Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan having won each event five times or more. O'Sullivan has the most titles, having won 19 individual tournaments. Three players have won all three in the space of a season, a feat Mark Williams and Steve Davis have achieved once, with Hendry being the only player to do so on two occasions. Shortly before the start of the Masters tournament in January 2020, the events were renamed as the "Triple Crown series", with any player who had won the Triple Crown in the past being able to adorn their waistcoat with a crown symbolising their achievements.

HistoryEdit

The World Snooker Championship returned to being a single elimination tournament, rather than the challenge format that had previously been used in 1969,[1] with snooker championships held after this date being considered part of the "modern era" of the professional game.[1] Six years later, a non-ranking invitational event, the Masters, was introduced; there were 10 competitors in the inaugural Masters in 1975, and this number later increased to 16 players.[2] John Spencer won the 1975 Masters tournament, becoming the first person to win two Triple Crown events, having won the world championships in 1969 and 1971.[3] The following year, Ray Reardon won both the Masters and World Championship in the same season.[4][5]

In 1977, the third Triple Crown event was created, the UK Championship. Originally restricted to British residents and passport holders, in 1984 the competition was opened to all professionals and also became a ranking event.[6][7][8] Patsy Fagan won the 1977 UK Championship, in his only Triple Crown final.[9] In the 1980–81 season, Steve Davis won both the 1980 UK Championship and the 1981 World Snooker Championship, and was the first player to "complete" the career Triple Crown when he won the 1982 Masters the following season.[10][11][12] Davis was also the first player to complete the season Triple Crown, winning all three events in the 1987–88 season.[13]

The Triple Crown events are sometimes referred to as the "big three BBC events", due to them having been broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation since inception.[14][15][16] They are also sometime called "snooker's majors",[17][18] or the "big three" events.[19][20] Triple Crown events are considered the most prestigious snooker titles, and have generally offered the most prize money.[21][22][16] However, in recent years, money for other events, such as the China Open and the upcoming Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters has exceeded that of these events.[23][24] From the 2020 Masters onward, players who have completed the Triple Crown have a gold crown embroidered on their playing waistcoats in recognition of their achievement.[25]

Triple Crown winnersEdit

 
Ronnie O'Sullivan has won 19 Triple Crown titles—the most by any player in history—including a record seven UK titles and a record seven Masters titles.

A total of 11 players have completed a career Triple Crown, having won each of the events at least once. These players are Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, Alex Higgins, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, and Judd Trump.[26][27] Only Davis, Hendry and Williams have won all three Triple Crown events in the same season, and Hendry is the only player to achieve this feat twice, in the 1989–90 and 1995–96 seasons.[28][29]

After winning the 1999 Masters, John Higgins held all three Triple Crown titles at the same time but his victories spanned two seasons. Only O'Sullivan and Hendry have managed to successfully defend all three Triple Crown events. In 2013, Robertson became the first player from outside the United Kingdom to complete the career Triple Crown.[30] Following his win in the 2018 UK Championship, O'Sullivan took the record for the most wins in Triple Crown events, with 19, passing Hendry's previous record of 18.[31] Trump is the most recent player to have achieved a career Triple Crown, winning the Masters and World Championship in the 2018–19 snooker season.[32]

One win away from Triple CrownEdit

Of those still active on the tour as of 2020, four players have won two of the three events, leaving them one away from completing the Triple Crown.[26][27] Jimmy White, Matthew Stevens and Ding Junhui all need to win the World Championships, having won the Masters and UK Championships. The three have lost nine World Finals between them, with White accounting for six of these. White, however, has not appeared at the event since 2006.[26][27] Stuart Bingham needs to win the UK Championship, having a World Championship title and a Masters championship to his name.[26][27]

Former professional players Peter Ebdon, John Parrott, Ray Reardon, John Spencer, Dennis Taylor, Doug Mountjoy and Cliff Thorburn won two of the three events before retiring.[26][27] Ebdon and Parrott won both the UK and World championships, with Parrott reaching the final of the Masters on three occasions between 1989 and 1992.[26][27] Reardon, Spencer, Thorburn and Taylor won the World Championship and Masters titles during their careers, but not the UK Championship.[27] Mountjoy failed to win only the World Championship, reaching the final in 1981.[27]

Tournament winnersEdit

By seasonEdit

A list of all winners of the three Triple Crown events is shown below by season:

Season UK Championship[33][34] The Masters[35][36] World Championship[37][38] Ref.
1968–69 started in 1977/1978 started in 1974/1975   John Spencer (ENG) (1/4) [39]
1969–70   Ray Reardon (WAL) (1/7) [39]
1970–71   John Spencer (ENG) (2/4) [39]
1971–72   Alex Higgins (NIR) (1/5) [39]
1972–73   Ray Reardon (WAL) (2/7) [39]
1973–74   Ray Reardon (WAL) (3/7) [39]
1974–75   John Spencer (ENG) (3/4)   Ray Reardon (WAL) (4/7) [40][39]
1975–76   Ray Reardon (WAL)  (5/7)   Ray Reardon (WAL)  (6/7) [40][39]
1976–77   Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (1/3)   John Spencer (ENG) (4/4) [40][39]
1977–78   Patsy Fagan (IRL)   Alex Higgins (NIR) (2/5)   Ray Reardon (WAL) (7/7) [40][39]
1978–79   Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (2/3)   Perrie Mans (RSA)   Terry Griffiths (WAL) (1/3) [40][39]
1979–80   John Virgo (ENG)   Terry Griffiths (WAL) (2/3)   Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (1/4) [41][40][39]
1980–81   Steve Davis (ENG)  (1/15)   Alex Higgins (NIR) (3/5)   Steve Davis (ENG)  (2/15) [41][40][39]
1981–82   Steve Davis (ENG)  (3/15)   Steve Davis (ENG)  (4/15)   Alex Higgins (NIR) (4/5) [41][40][39]
1982–83   Terry Griffiths (WAL) (3/3)   Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (2/4)   Steve Davis (ENG) (5/15) [41][40][39]
1983–84   Alex Higgins (NIR) (5/5)   Jimmy White (ENG) (1/2)   Steve Davis (ENG) (6/15) [41][40][39]
1984–85   Steve Davis (ENG) (7/15)   Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (3/4)   Dennis Taylor (NIR) (1/2) [41][40][39]
1985–86   Steve Davis (ENG) (8/15)   Cliff Thorburn (CAN) (4/4)   Joe Johnson (ENG) [41][40][39]
1986–87   Steve Davis (ENG)  (9/15)   Dennis Taylor (NIR) (2/2)   Steve Davis (ENG)  (10/15) [41][40][39]
1987–88   Steve Davis (ENG)  (11/15)   Steve Davis (ENG)  (12/15)   Steve Davis (ENG)  (13/15) [41][40][39]
1988–89   Doug Mountjoy (WAL) (3/3)   Stephen Hendry (SCO) (1/18)   Steve Davis (ENG) (14/15) [41][40][39]
1989–90   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (2/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (3/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (4/18) [41][40][39]
1990–91   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (5/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (6/18)   John Parrott (ENG) (1/2) [41][40][39]
1991–92   John Parrott (ENG) (2/2)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (7/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (8/18) [41][40][39]
1992–93   Jimmy White (ENG) (2/2)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (9/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (10/18) [41][40][39]
1993–94   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (1/19)   Alan McManus (SCO)   Stephen Hendry (SCO) (11/18) [41][40][39]
1994–95   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (12/18)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (2/19)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (13/18) [41][40][39]
1995–96   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (14/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (15/18)   Stephen Hendry (SCO)  (16/18) [41][40][39]
1996–97   Stephen Hendry (SCO) (17/18)   Steve Davis (ENG) (15/15)   Ken Doherty (IRL) [41][40][39]
1997–98   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (3/19)   Mark Williams (WAL) (1/7)   John Higgins (SCO) (1/9) [41][40][39]
1998–99   John Higgins (SCO)  (2/9)   John Higgins (SCO)  (3/9)   Stephen Hendry (SCO) (18/18) [41][40][39]
1999–2000   Mark Williams (WAL)  (2/7)   Matthew Stevens (WAL) (1/2)   Mark Williams (WAL)  (3/7) [41][40][39]
2000–01   John Higgins (SCO) (4/9)   Paul Hunter (ENG) (1/3)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (4/19) [41][40][39]
2001–02   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (5/19)   Paul Hunter (ENG) (2/3)   Peter Ebdon (ENG) (1/2) [41][40][39]
2002–03   Mark Williams (WAL)  (4/7)   Mark Williams (WAL)  (5/7)   Mark Williams (WAL)  (6/7) [41][40][39]
2003–04   Matthew Stevens (WAL) (2/2)   Paul Hunter (ENG) (3/3)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (6/19) [41][40][39]
2004–05   Stephen Maguire (SCO)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (7/19)   Shaun Murphy (ENG) (1/3) [41][40][39]
2005–06   Ding Junhui (CHN) (1/4)   John Higgins (SCO) (5/9)   Graeme Dott (SCO) [41][40][39]
2006–07   Peter Ebdon (ENG) (2/2)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (8/19)   John Higgins (SCO) (6/9) [41][40][39]
2007–08   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG)  (9/19)   Mark Selby (ENG) (1/8)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG)  (10/19) [41][40][39]
2008–09   Shaun Murphy (ENG) (2/3)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (11/19)   John Higgins (SCO) (7/9) [41][40][39]
2009–10   Ding Junhui (CHN) (2/4)   Mark Selby (ENG) (2/8)   Neil Robertson (AUS) (1/4) [41][40][39]
2010–11   John Higgins (SCO)  (8/9)   Ding Junhui (CHN) (3/4)   John Higgins (SCO)  (9/9) [41][40][39]
2011–12   Judd Trump (ENG) (1/3)   Neil Robertson (AUS) (2/4)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (12/19) [42][43][44]
2012–13   Mark Selby (ENG) (3/8)   Mark Selby (ENG) (4/8)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (13/19) [45][46][47]
2013–14   Neil Robertson (AUS) (3/4)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (14/19)   Mark Selby (ENG) (5/8) [48][49][50]
2014–15   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (15/19)   Shaun Murphy (ENG) (3/3)   Stuart Bingham (ENG) (1/2) [51][52][53]
2015–16   Neil Robertson (AUS) (4/4)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (16/19)   Mark Selby (ENG) (6/8) [54][55][56]
2016–17   Mark Selby (ENG)  (7/8)   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (17/19)   Mark Selby (ENG)  (8/8) [57][58][59]
2017–18   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (18/19)   Mark Allen (NIR)   Mark Williams (WAL) (7/7) [60][61][62]
2018–19   Ronnie O'Sullivan (ENG) (19/19)   Judd Trump (ENG)  (2/3)   Judd Trump (ENG)  (3/3) [63][64][65]
2019–20   Ding Junhui (CHN) (4/4)   Stuart Bingham (ENG) (2/2) [66][67]
Legend
Player won all three Triple Crown tournaments in the same season  
Player won two Triple Crown tournaments in the same season  

Multiple Triple Crown event winnersEdit

Player Total World Championship[39] UK Championship[41] Masters[40] Winning span
  Ronnie O'Sullivan   19 5 7 7 1993–2018
  Stephen Hendry  18 7 5 6 1989–1999
  Steve Davis  15 6 6 3 1980–1997
  John Higgins   9 4 3 2 1998–2011
  Mark Selby   8 3 2 3 2008–2017
  Ray Reardon 7 6 0 1 1970–1978
  Mark Williams   7 3 2 2 1998–2018
  Alex Higgins  5 2 1 2 1972–1983
  John Spencer 4 3 0 1 1969–1977
  Neil Robertson   4 1 2 1 2010–2015
  Cliff Thorburn 4 1 0 3 1980–1986
  Ding Junhui  4 0 3 1 2005–2019
  Terry Griffiths  3 1 1 1 1979–1982
  Shaun Murphy   3 1 1 1 2005–2015
  Judd Trump   3 1 1 1 2011–2019
  Doug Mountjoy 3 0 2 1 1977–1988
  Paul Hunter 3 0 0 3 2001–2004
  Peter Ebdon 2 1 1 0 2002–2006
  John Parrott 2 1 1 0 1991–1991
  Stuart Bingham  2 1 0 1 2015–2020
  Dennis Taylor 2 1 0 1 1985–1987
  Matthew Stevens  2 0 1 1 2000–2003
  Jimmy White  2 0 1 1 1984–1992
Legend
Player has won all Triple Crown events at least once  
The names of active players are marked in bold  

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