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The UK Championship is a professional ranking snooker tournament. It is the second-biggest ranking tournament, after the World Championship and is one of the Triple Crown events. Ronnie O'Sullivan holds the record for the most UK titles, having won the tournament seven times. Steve Davis has won six times, while Stephen Hendry has won five titles. However, two of Davis' wins (in 1980 and 1981) came at a time when the UK Championship's status had yet to be raised to the degree of a ranking tournament. O'Sullivan is the reigning champion, having won his seventh title.[1]

UK Championship
Tournament information
VenueBarbican Centre
LocationYork
CountryEngland
Established1977
Organisation(s)World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
FormatRanking event
Total prize fund£850,000
Current champion(s)England Ronnie O'Sullivan

HistoryEdit

The UK Championship was first held in 1977 in Tower Circus, Blackpool as the United Kingdom Professional Snooker Championship, an event open only to British residents and passport holders. Patsy Fagan won the inaugural tournament by defeating Doug Mountjoy by 12 frames to 9 in the final and won the first prize of £2000. The following year the event moved to the Guild Hall, Preston, where it remained until 1997.[2]

The rules were changed in 1984 when the tournament was granted ranking status and all professionals were allowed to enter. Since then, it has carried more ranking points than any tournament other than the World Championship[2] until being overtaken by the International Championship and China Open, both of which offer a higher number of ranking points based on the amount of money in pounds sterling on offer for winning the event.

The tournament has seen many memorable finals. In 1977 and 1979, it provided Patsy Fagan and John Virgo with their first and only major tournament wins respectively. In 1980, it was Steve Davis's first of his 83 professional tournament wins. In 1981, the final between Davis and Terry Griffiths set the stage for four more final battles between Davis and Griffiths that were to dominate the rest of the season before their unexpected losses in the first round of the 1982 World Championship.

In 1983, Alex Higgins beat Davis 16–15 after having trailed 7–0 at the end of the first session. In 1985, Willie Thorne led Davis 13–10 at the start of the evening session, only to miss a simple blue off its spot and lose 16–14. The victory regenerated Davis's confidence after his devastating World Championship loss; Thorne, on the other hand, never won another ranking title.

In 1988, Doug Mountjoy, became the oldest winner of the UK Championship aged 46 years old when he was widely viewed as just making up the numbers against the rising Stephen Hendry, producing a stunning display to win 16–12. Even more astonishingly, he was to win the Mercantile Credit Classic the following month, which at the time made Mountjoy only the fourth player to win two ranking tournaments in a row. This made him the second oldest ranking event winner after Ray Reardon (50).

Stephen Hendry's 1989 win prefigured his decade of dominance similar to the one prefigured by Davis's win in 1980; its significance was emphasised by the fact that the losing finalist was Davis himself. Hendry's 16–15 win the following year, over Davis again, spoke to his unique qualities of nerve. The Hendry/Ken Doherty final of 1994 is considered by many players as one of Hendry's best performance, as he won 10–5 making 7 century breaks along the way, six of which were in the span of eight frames played. Doherty has appeared in two more memorable finals.

In 1993, Ronnie O'Sullivan became the youngest-ever winner of the tournament (and any ranking tournament) aged just 17 years old . Eight years later, in 2001, he delivered the final's best winning margin since it had become the best of 19 frames in the 1993 tournament, beating Ken Doherty 10–1. Three years later, in 2004, Stephen Maguire repeated the feat against David Gray. Doherty almost won the tournament in the 2002 final against Mark Williams, but lost 9–10 in a dramatic deciding frame.

The 2005 tournament saw Davis, aged 48, reached his first ranking tournament final for almost two years and make his highest break in tournament play for 23 years. In a match that featured the widest age gap between finalists in professional tournament history, he lost 6–10 to the 18-year-old Ding Junhui. The following year, Peter Ebdon won the title and, in doing so, became the first and only man to have both won and lost a World and a UK Championship final to Stephen Hendry. The event offered £500,000 prize money, with the winner receiving £70,000.

In 2007, the tournament was won by Ronnie O'Sullivan for the fourth time, again with some ease, as he beat Stephen Maguire 10–2 in the final. The tournament was also notable for the longest televised frame (77 minutes) between Marco Fu and Mark Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan's maximum 147 break in the deciding frame of the semi-final. The 2009 final saw the reigning world champion John Higgins lose to Ding Junhui, after he missed the brown and the chance to go 8–6 in front.

The 2010 final turned out to be another dramatic match, instantly described by many commentators as an all-time classic. At one point, John Higgins, playing in his first major tournament after the end of a six-month ban for his involvement in match-fixing discussions, was 5–9 down to Mark Williams. However, he won the next two frames. At 7–9, Williams led by 29 points with only 27 on the table, leaving Higgins requiring a snooker to remain in the tournament. Higgins got the snooker and cleared the colours. Another frame won by Higgins took the match to the decider. Finally, with only brown, blue, pink and black left at the table, Higgins potted the brown into a top pocket by playing cross-double across the long axis of the table and then added a difficult long blue and equally difficult pink, thereby winning the frame and thus the tournament by 10–9. In the emotional post-match interview, he described his win as his finest hour and dedicated it to his terminally ill father.[3]

In 2011 the event returned to the Barbican Centre in York,[4] and the matches until the quarter-finals were reduced to best of 11 frames.[5] In 2013 a 128-player flat draw was used, with all players starting in the first round and all rounds played at the Barbican venue. The tournament was contractually due to stay at the Barbican Centre until 2013,[6] but it also hosted the event in 2014.[7] The 2014 event changed the format once again, with every round up to and including the semi-finals being played over best-of-11 frames.[8] This tournament saw yet another classic final, as Ronnie O'Sullivan won his fifth title 10–9 over 2011 winner Judd Trump, who had recovered from 9–4 to take the match into a decider.[9]

In 2015, the final featured Australia's Neil Robertson and China's Liang Wenbo, the first time that a UK Championship final had been contested between two overseas players.[10] The 2016 final between Selby and O'Sullivan saw five century breaks in the final six frames of the match as Selby won 10–7. The next two editions of the tournament - in 2017 and 2018, were captured by O'Sullivan who became the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1996 to successfully defend the UK title. In addition, O'Sullivan set a new record for most UK titles with seven.

The last 7 UK Championship titles have been shared by just 3 players. Since 2012, the event has been won by either Neil Robertson, Mark Selby or Ronnie O'Sullivan. Selby (2012 & 2016) and Robertson (2013 & 2015) both have two wins in that period while O'Sullivan has won 3 times (2014, 2017 & 2018). The final line ups of 2013 and 2016 featured a combination of these three players- In the former, Robertson defeated Selby and in the latter Selby beat O'Sullivan.

The tournament has had many different sponsors over the years, including Super Crystalate, Tennents, StormSeal, Royal Liver Assurance, Liverpool Victoria, PowerHouse, Travis Perkins, Maplin Electronics, Pukka Pies, 12BET.com,[2] williamhill.com,[11] Coral,[12] and Betway.[13] It is one of the tournaments televised by the BBC and it is held towards the end of each calendar year.

WinnersEdit

Sources: cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk,[2] World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (worldsnooker.com),[14] Snooker Scene (snookerscene.co.uk),[15] snooker.org[16]
Year Winner Runner-up Final score Season Venue
UK Championship (non-ranking)
1977   Patsy Fagan   Doug Mountjoy 12–9 1977/78 Tower Circus in Blackpool
1978   Doug Mountjoy   David Taylor 15–9 1978/79 Preston Guild Hall in Preston
1979   John Virgo   Terry Griffiths 14–13 1979/80
1980   Steve Davis   Alex Higgins 16–6 1980/81
1981   Steve Davis   Terry Griffiths 16–3 1981/82
1982   Terry Griffiths   Alex Higgins 16–15 1982/83
1983   Alex Higgins   Steve Davis 16–15 1983/84
UK Championship (ranking)
1984   Steve Davis   Alex Higgins 16–8 1984/85 Preston Guild Hall in Preston
1985   Steve Davis   Willie Thorne 16–14 1985/86
1986   Steve Davis   Neal Foulds 16–7 1986/87
1987   Steve Davis   Jimmy White 16–14 1987/88
1988   Doug Mountjoy   Stephen Hendry 16–12 1988/89
1989   Stephen Hendry   Steve Davis 16–12 1989/90
1990   Stephen Hendry   Steve Davis 16–15 1990/91
1991   John Parrott   Jimmy White 16–13 1991/92
1992   Jimmy White   John Parrott 16–9 1992/93
1993   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Stephen Hendry 10–6 1993/94
1994   Stephen Hendry   Ken Doherty 10–5 1994/95
1995   Stephen Hendry   Peter Ebdon 10–3 1995/96
1996   Stephen Hendry   John Higgins 10–9 1996/97
1997   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Stephen Hendry 10–6 1997/98
1998   John Higgins   Matthew Stevens 10–6 1998/99 Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth
1999   Mark Williams   Matthew Stevens 10–8 1999/00
2000   John Higgins   Mark Williams 10–4 2000/01
2001   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Ken Doherty 10–1 2001/02 Barbican Centre in York
2002   Mark Williams   Ken Doherty 10–9 2002/03
2003   Matthew Stevens   Stephen Hendry 10–8 2003/04
2004   Stephen Maguire   David Gray 10–1 2004/05
2005   Ding Junhui   Steve Davis 10–6 2005/06
2006   Peter Ebdon   Stephen Hendry 10–6 2006/07
2007   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Stephen Maguire 10–2 2007/08 Telford International Centre in Telford
2008   Shaun Murphy   Marco Fu 10–9 2008/09
2009   Ding Junhui   John Higgins 10–8 2009/10
2010   John Higgins   Mark Williams 10–9 2010/11
2011[5]   Judd Trump   Mark Allen 10–8 2011/12 Barbican Centre in York
2012[17]   Mark Selby   Shaun Murphy 10–6 2012/13
2013[18]   Neil Robertson   Mark Selby 10–7 2013/14
2014[19]   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Judd Trump 10–9 2014/15
2015[20]   Neil Robertson   Liang Wenbo 10–5 2015/16
2016[21]   Mark Selby   Ronnie O'Sullivan 10–7 2016/17
2017[22]   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Shaun Murphy 10–5 2017/18
2018[23]   Ronnie O'Sullivan   Mark Allen 10–6 2018/19

StatsEdit

FinalistsEdit

Rank Name Nationality Winner Runner-up
1 Ronnie O'Sullivan   England 7 1
2 Steve Davis   England 6 4
3 Stephen Hendry   Scotland 5 5
4 John Higgins   Scotland 3 2
5 Mark Williams   Wales 2 2
6 Doug Mountjoy   Wales 2 1
Mark Selby   England 2 1
8 Ding Junhui   China 2 0
Neil Robertson   Australia 2 0
10 Alex Higgins   Northern Ireland 1 3
11 Terry Griffiths   Wales 1 2
Jimmy White   England 1 2
Matthew Stevens   Wales 1 2
Shaun Murphy   England 1 2
15 John Parrott   England 1 1
Stephen Maguire   Scotland 1 1
Peter Ebdon   England 1 1
Judd Trump   England 1 1
19 Patsy Fagan   Ireland 1 0
John Virgo   England 1 0
21 Ken Doherty   Ireland 0 3
22 Mark Allen   Northern Ireland 0 2
23 David Taylor   England 0 1
Willie Thorne   England 0 1
Neal Foulds   England 0 1
David Gray   England 0 1
Marco Fu   Hong Kong 0 1
Liang Wenbo   China 0 1
  • Active players are shown in bold.

Champions by countryEdit

Country Players Total First title Last title
  England 9 21 1979 2018
  Scotland 3 9 1989 2010
  Wales 4 6 1978 2003
  China 1 2 2005 2009
  Australia 1 2 2013 2015
  Ireland 1 1 1977 1977
  Northern Ireland 1 1 1983 1983

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/snooker/42301866
  2. ^ a b c d Turner, Chris. "UK Championship". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Higgins – My Finest Hour". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  4. ^ "UK Championship to return to York Barbican". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b "UK Championship (2011)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  6. ^ "York Return for UK Championship". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  7. ^ "York Snooker Tickets on Sale". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  8. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/snooker/30080548
  9. ^ http://www.worldsnooker.com/page/NewsArticles/0,,13165~4352524,00.html Archived 14 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Robertson sets up final date with Liang at UK Championship". RTÉ Sport. 5 December 2015. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  11. ^ "williamhill.com To Sponsor UK". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Coral To Sponsor UK Championship". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  13. ^ http://www.worldsnooker.com/page/NewsArticles/0,,13165~4608877,00.html
  14. ^ "UK Championship Event History". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  15. ^ "UK Championship". Snooker Scene. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Hall of Fame". Snooker.org. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  17. ^ "williamhill.com UK Championship (2012)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  18. ^ "williamhill.com UK Championship (2013)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Coral UK Championship (2014)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Betway UK Championship (2015)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Betway UK Championship (2016)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  22. ^ "Betway UK Championship (2017)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Betway UK Championship (2018)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 26 November 2018.