Snooker review of 2012
A look back at how the snooker year of 2012 unfolded, with Ronnie O'Sullivan having another mixed year.
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There may well have been a changing of the guard in the snooker world in 2012, with the new breed taking over on the baize and the sport bidding farewell to one legend and possibly even another enigmatic figure, too.
Mark Selby ended the year as the world number one after an up-and-down 12 months. The year also belonged to Judd Trump, who announced himself as the natural successor to Ronnie O'Sullivan as the most naturally talented player on the circuit.
O'Sullivan himself had a difficult year; despite winning a fourth World Championship at the Crucible he struggled with issues off the table and after dropping out of the world's top 16 he announced he would be taking the rest of the season off.
The snooker circuit lost a living legend from the ranks as Stephen Hendry called it a day at the Crucible, but typically he signed off in style with a 147.
Former world champion Neil Robertson started the year in style by winning the Masters for the first time, while Barry Hawkins beat Graeme Dott in the entertaining Snooker Shootout event in Blackpool.
Mark Allen won in China but that was just the start of an eventful year for the Northern Irishman who turned out to be the bad boy of 2012 with numerous run-ins with snooker's authorities.
Stuart Bingham had a superb season including claiming the Premier League title, while Trump battled to number one in the world at one stage before Selby took over on top courtesy of a third ranking event success at the UK Championship in December.
Without O'Sullivan, Allen seems to be the main headline maker, albeit maybe for the wrong reasons, as he received a suspended three-month ban and £10,000 fine after his post-match comments following a Crucible defeat to Cao Yupeng.
Allen accused Cao of a push-shot during their match, and then went even further by saying that sort of cheating was a problem with Chinese players, pointing the finger at Liang Wenbo and Marco Fu.
After his previous Twitter rant at a Chinese venue, Allen was on shaky ground but stuck by his comments again before the UK Championship which could yet have more consequences for the fiery left-hander - he has been urged by Hearn to have media training.
Rocket shoots off
O'Sullivan won at the Crucible for a fourth time, but soon after the signs were there that all was not well with 'The Rocket', as he refused to sign the official player's contract with World Snooker, and it looked like he would miss the new season.
He did sign and return to action, but dropped out of the world's top 16 for the first time. He then withdrew from the International Championship in China on medical advice, and his off-table issues soon got even worse.
In November he announced that he was withdrawing from every event for the rest of the season to work on his problems, and although Hearn says he could return at the Crucible, he is still a huge loss for a sport he has been synonymous with for so long.
Legend bows out
What more can you say about Stephen Hendry? The seven-time world champion called time on his career in Sheffield this year as one of, if not the, most talented snooker players ever to grace the green baize.
Aptly, Hendry hit his third Crucible 147 in his opening match to sign off in real style, to end a career that had yielded nine years as world number one, 11 maximum breaks and 26 ranking event titles.
Mark Selby ended the year as the top dog in snooker but Trump was hot on his heels and held the number one spot for five weeks after winning the inaugural International Championship in China.
Finals of the Premier League and Shanghai Masters helped, and if he continues his progression next year the young Bristolian could well dominate in 2013.
One of the surprise top performers of the year was Stuart Bingham after he started the new season in superb form by winning 16 consecutive matches until losing in the Wuxi Classic final - and even then he made a 147 in defeat.
Bingham then produced a scintillating Premier League display, beating both Neil Robertson and Mark Selby 6-0 to make the semi-finals before beating Trump in the final to scoop the lucrative title in his debut season.