And so Stuart Bingham’s one year adventure as World Snooker Champion comes to an end. A last thirty-two defeat to Ali Carter, means that no first time winner has yet been able to defend their title in Sheffield.
You might think that winning a title for a second time, would be easier than securing the first crown. But there’s a big difference. First time around, there is no expectation. You make your way through the rounds, simply playing what is in front of you.
Sure, your taking a journey into the unknown as you close in on your first World Championship, But the burden of expectancy is non-existent. You surf the wave of new possibility, letting the trust in your game take you into the unknown. You are the best player over seventeen days in S1. And thus are crowned champion player.
A year later you return to defend the title. As World Champion. And the burden of expectancy is cranked up. Instead of surfing the wave of possibility, you have to act like a defending champion. In other words, your sub-conscious translates that as thinking you have to play at a level of around 9/10.
Now that’s fine if you are at the top of your game. But what if your level is at a 6/10? It’s inevitable that you will end up trying too hard. Trying to bridge the gap between your current level and the expected level. Which means that you lose your naturalness. And it feels uncomfortable.
You know everyone is watching you and making an assessment of your suitabiity to be World Champion. And thus every mistake or bad shot builds up in your mind. That’s not how World Champions play is it! The harder you try the more you lose your touch and feel. And that was not how you played when you won the title.
The multiple champions are the ones who define the game and take it forward. Stuart Bingham was unlikely to be one of those. But for twelve months he had a glimpse inside a special world. And that glimpse will at least forge his belief in the art of the possible. And in any sport, that is valuable currency!