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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
2005 World Snooker review
By Saj Chowdhury
BBC Sport at The Crucible

The 2005 World Snooker Championship witnessed a new champion but said goodbye to a close friend.

Qualifier Shaun Murphy's first Crucible victory will be celebrated far and wide.

But while the party has just begun for the 22-year-old, the 30-year marriage between the championship and Embassy has come to an end.

The championship will continue - that goes without saying - but snooker's governing body, the WPBSA, now faces the tough task of finding a sponsor willing to adequately fill the financial hole now sponsorship from tobacco companies is forbidden.

But while work goes on behind the scenes, on the main stage many will be reflecting on a World Snooker Championship full of emotion and surprises.

Paul Hunter

Old favourite Steve Davis showed he could still cut it with the best, despite being in the autumn of his career, while the likes of Murphy, Stephen Maguire and Michael Holt showed that the future looked bright for the game.

There were mixed emotions in the first week.

Paul Hunter, who was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before the championship, was greeted by a very warm welcome from the Crucible crowd prior to his first-round match against old friend Holt.

A tremendous battle ensued, but Holt played some great snooker to edge out Hunter 10-8.

The other major seeds all progressed, with Ronnie O'Sullivan beating nemesis Stephen Maguire 10-9 in a thriller.

There was also a maximum break to savour, made by Mark Williams in the final frame of his match against Robert Milkins. Despite losing in the next round, the Welsh two-time champion had the consolation of pocketing a cool 161,000 for his 147.

There were shocks in store in the second round, with three previous champions John Higgins, Ken Doherty and Williams saying goodbye to the Crucible for another year.

Jimmy White also bowed out, the 'Whirlwind' getting blown away 13-5 by Stevens.

The first week ended with the announcement that the World Snooker was staying in Sheffield, and also at the Crucible Theatre for the foreseeable future.

As we moved into the last eight, more former champions fell by the wayside.

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Both Stephen Hendry and O'Sullivan, hotly fancied to play each other in the final, played well below par.

Hendry succumbed to Stevens, while O'Sullivan was left frustrated and disillusioned by Peter Ebdon's determination and rather deliberate play.

'Rocket Ronnie' said after the game he was almost certain to take a year off from the sport and perhaps even pack in the game altogether. Not entirely a knee-jerk reaction either, so watch this space.

That left us with a semi-final line-up not many would have predicted: Ebdon against Murphy and Stevens against Ian 'Preston Potter' McCulloch.

McCulloch, at the age of 33, surpassed all expectations. His dogged play almost got the better of Stevens, but the Welshman eventually squeaked through 17-14.

Shaun Murphy

Murphy meanwhile exuded supreme confidence in dispatching O'Sullivan's conqueror Ebdon.

The Rotherham-based star, who was ranked 48 at the start of the season, boldly chose to go for broke in the semi, and it worked a treat, especially in the scintillating final five frames of his 17-12 win.

And so to the final. Stevens took a 10-6 lead, before 'The Magician' struck back in style.

His supreme break building and fearless shot-making simply stunned Stevens.

And his eventual triumph proved a fitting climax to a rollercoaster tournament.

Here's to more of the same when we return, to The Crucible after all, next year.

Roll on 2006.

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