Shaun Murphy ended a three-year trophy drought when he won two tournaments in quick succession in the latter half of the 2013/14 season, earning himself a place in the Champion of Champions in the process.
He won the Gdynia Open European Tour event in Poland, beating Fergal O’Brien 4-1 in the final. He also made a 147 during that event, which was his second maximum in a matter of weeks having made one at the Championship League.
And Murphy went on to land a full ranking title at the Haikou World Open on Hainan Island to the south of mainland China. The fifth ranking title of his career came with victories over Jimmy White, Mark King, Ding Junhui, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen and a 10-6 final defeat of close friend Mark Selby.
At the World Championship, he opened with victories over Jamie Cope and Marco Fu, but then lost 13-3 to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals.
The 2005 World Champion only had a brief taste of action in the inaugural Champion of Champions last year, losing 4-2 to Mark Selby in the Group Two opener.
Murphy rewrote snooker’s history books with his extraordinary victory at the Crucible in 2005. As the world No 48, he was the lowest ranked player ever to win snooker’s biggest title. He was also the second youngest winner, after Stephen Hendry in 1990, and the second ever qualifier, after Terry Griffiths in 1979.
His route to the final took him past Chris Small, John Higgins, Steve Davis and Peter Ebdon then he came from 10-6 down overnight to beat Matthew Stevens 18-16, finishing the match in style with breaks of 97 and 83 in the last two frames.