Baize-lovers rejoice for, after a long hiatus, the sport with the greatest nicknames in the world returns to video games. It's never really been that far away, of course, because while there hasn't been a 'big' snooker game since 2011's WSC Real 11 there have been various mobile entries. But everyone knows it's not the same. We don't want some dinky top-down table, we want a 3D Crucible and serious cue textures.
Snooker 19 certainly delivers on the cue textures, check out this bad boy. What impresses me is not so much the wood effect or the shiny ferrule, but the slight wear and rounding of the chalky tip.
Lovely stuff. As this is officially licensed it'll have various modern players, which gives us an excuse to roll through some of those nicknames. Judd Trump is also known as Judd Triumph, Stud Trump or (brilliantly) The Juddernaut. What about current world number one Mark Selby? The Jester from Leicester! I swear I'm not making this up.
John Higgins? The Wizard of Wishaw! Nigel Bond? 00-147! Dechawat Poomjaeng? Mr Poombastic! Neil Robertson? The thunder from down under! Mark Williams, the current world champ, is the Welsh Wonder!
I could go on all day. I love snooker but it's a polite game (for the most part) about knocking balls around a table with precision, so I've always found it hilarious that the masters end up with nicknames that are probably more suited to wrestlers. Take the greatest of all time, Stephen Hendry, variously known as the ice man, the maestro, the great one, and most fittingly, the king of the Crucible. Coincidentally the Guardian ran an amazing interview with Hendry yesterday looking back over his career's later decline, my personal highlight of which is him talking about his final 147 break (the maximum possible) at the Crucible in terms of 30 bad shots out of 36.
“I got to the Crucible having flown to China and back, with one day there to meet my new employers. Somehow the 147 came about. It was amazing because, of the 36 shots, only six were played properly. My game had debilitated so far it was mostly shots I wasn’t hitting properly. I’d given every shot a pint of blood to get it in the pocket. The outsider was probably saying, ‘That’s amazing.’ Inside, it felt horrible.”
The question for Snooker 19 is whether it'll include classic players alongside the modern crop, because honestly who doesn't want to set history to rights with Jimmy White? The game does include 128 players, with those named being Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui, as well as the big venues like the Crucible and Alexandra palace.
"Players will be able to compete in every major tournament culminating with the World Championship in Sheffield," it says here, and there'll be a singleplayer career mode and multiplayer modes with "compelling TV-style presentation." Sign up John Virgo boys, you know it makes sense.
I've asked about whether we can expect to see the likes of Hurricane Higgins but there's no answer yet (I'm not getting my hopes up). If not, I'll just have to make do with the legend that is Anthony Hamilton: the Sheriff of Pottingham.