2017/18 WORLD SENIORS SNOOKER TOUR - SEASONAL REVIEW
From China to the Crucible, the inaugural World Seniors Snooker Tour has visited clubs and famous arenas in the UK and beyond.
Building on from the success of the popular Snooker Legends series and the re-invention of the World Seniors Championship, entrepreneur Jason Francis and his team expanded the seniors palette this season by adding three further major titles. The concept has gained momentum and approval, even being recognised by the sport's governing body, the WPBSA, as opportunities and dreams have been realised for all amateur players aged 40 or above.
The opening major of the season in October saw Jimmy White capture the UK Seniors Championship at the The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill; a quarter of a century on from winning the professional version.
White defeated Ken Doherty 4-2 in the final after overcoming amateur qualifiers Les Dodd and then Jonathan Bagley in the Quarter and Semi-Finals. During the event Doherty compiled a break of 137.
One of the most iconic venues in snooker history is Goffs - synonymous with professional snooker in Ireland. It got a chance to stage a big competitive event again with the creation of the Irish Seniors Masters in January.
There was also a return to the competitive fold for Steve Davis, who was a replacement for Stephen Hendry. The Nugget made the most of his cameo by eliminating Dennis Taylor, John Parrott and then qualifier Bagley 4-0 in the final.
The main event of the season was the expanded World Seniors Championship that again was open to any amateur player aged 40 or above.
Evolving the tournament and making it even more inclusive, there were eight opportunities for players to feature at the main stage via various club qualifiers and join the invited legends at the Baths Hall – double the amount from 2017. As well as domestic qualifiers, there was also a ground-breaking event staged in China - proof that the tour is thinking internationally.
16 players would remain in Scunthorpe. Much talk revolved around Hendry and his chances of claiming the title and a subsequent berth at Crucible qualifying afterwards, but it was the less talked about Aaron Canavan – a car restorer from Jersey, who 'Dared to Dream' and walked off with £10,000.
Canavan held his nerve in the final against former World Professional Championship Quarter-Finalist Patrick Wallace by slotting home the Tie-Breaker Black Ball to win 4-3, having been 3-1 down.
It didn't work out for Canavan at the EIS earlier this week, but he can feast out on being a reigning World Champion for a good while yet.
The last major of the campaign was the one-day spectacular held at the Crucible on Thursday. The Seniors Masters saw 70 year old Cliff Thorburn roll back the years and lift the John Spencer Trophy aloft after a Tie-Breaker Black Ball victory over Bagley in the final.
Despite not securing one of the four major trophies, in some ways, Leeds taxi-driver Bagley was the player of the season because of his sheer consistency throughout.
Including the World Seniors in 2017, Bagley has qualified for every venue so far and finishes the tour as the Number 1 ranked amateur. Whilst it was terrific seeing Thorburn so joyous at winning the Masters, a trophy for Bagley would have been richly deserved given his efforts over the last few months. Of the five majors so far, he has made two finals and three semi-finals.
Hendry's form in these events has also been a notable talking point having failed to make a final in the three legs he participated in. In fact, his only victory was a 3-0 defeat of Tony Knowles at Redhill. It is maybe a wake up call for the seven-times World Champion if he wants to be successful on the tour next season.
Talking of next season, the World Seniors Tour appears to be evolving again with qualifiers potentially being held in the USA and Australia. Considering it will be just its second full season, so much has been achieved in such a small space of time.
Although the quartet of major champions has now been confirmed, the Top 16 ranked amateurs from this season will compete at a special knock-out competition in a few weeks time. Bagley will be the top seed.
Pictures above are courtesy of the World Seniors Snooker Tour / Monique Limbos
Article written and published by Michael Day on the 14th April 2018