Neil Robertson met Liang Wenbo in the UK Championship final earlier this month and walked away with a rather sensational victory. The event caused a surprisingly quiet reaction. Perhaps, as was noted in The Guardian, it’s because this was the first time the UK Championship has been contested between two overseas competitors (Robertson being Australian and Wenbo hailing from China). But regardless, Robertson’s win deserves some attention.
In part, this is because of the style in which Robertson won the final. BBC Sport’s recap of the contest featured a pretty thorough examination of how the action unfolded. It also made note of the incredible fact that Robertson notched the third 147 of his career, making the perfect break in the sixth frame against Wenbo. That’s a pretty amazing way to rise to the occasion, and it was one of the key moments that helped Robertson hold an edge in what was otherwise a fairly tight contest. Wenbo, for his part, felt he didn’t play as well when the pressure was on, and he arguably distracted himself with his own bizarre tactics (such as engaging the crowd and occasionally slapping his own face). Still, it wasn’t as easy a victory for Robertson as it may now seem.
The victory was also fairly remarkable because of the run of success it capped off for Robertson. In Betfair’s preview of the championship, some of the most recent contests for the two contenders were discussed and it was pointed out that Robertson defeated three former UK champions from the final 16. He took down Stephen Maguire, John Higgins and, in emphatic fashion, Mark Selby—not to mention he also won the recent Champion of Champions event. Considering all of this, the win at the UK Championship was more of a culmination of terrific recent play than a single triumph for Robertson.
It was Robertson’s second title at the UK Championship, and though he’s currently number three in the world, he’s playing as if he has his eye on the top spot.