Magician out to entertain
Shaun Murphy has vowed to unleash his inner entertainer next season after drawing inspiration from a ton of Crucible capacities during his Betfred World Championship final showdown with Mark Selby.
The 2005 Crucible King defeated Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson en route to the fourth World Finals, but fell 18:15 after an epic clash with Selby earlier this month.
A hallmark of Murphy's run to the title fight, which included his usual dazzling way of attacking snooker, was his post-keyframe celebrations. The Englishman, who now lives in Dublin, pumped his fist into the crowd several times throughout the event.
After spending much of his career celebrating important shots or breaks, Murphy admits that his intention now is to fully embrace the crowd and show his emotions in the gaming arena. He believes that an unwritten rule of etiquette among some members of the professional ranks means that it is considered bad form to party while playing.
With society emerging from a pandemic where the snooker circle is played behind closed doors, the magician believes it is more important than ever to entertain the paying public.
"It always amazed me that you no longer see it in snooker. We are always so cautious with our emotions. I never got it. Tennis players celebrate after every point, golfers celebrate when they get a birdie or a birdie in the middle of the round Eagles do. We have to be one of the pedestrian sports when it comes to showing emotion, "said 38-year-old Murphy.
“From my point of view, after having lived like me for the past 12 months, I am no longer ready for it. I will enjoy everything I do as much as possible. I want to try to connect with the fans. The feedback I received is that it was nice to see emotion and show how much it meant to me. I think this stuff is important.
“I suppose snooker has its roots in the old days of Leicester Square Hall, combed hair and men in evening suits. That's the story. People like Joe Davis and John Pulman would not have jumped the arena after hitting a black match point. It feels like I opened Pandora's box by accident. I just decided to play a little more with my emotions and let people in. I gave them and they gave me. It's no more complicated than that. If it bothers some players, it bothers some players. That's not my intention, but I'm not going to hold back from entertaining the crowd. They are the most important people on our tour. Without them we have nothing. I'm not going to hold back entertaining them just because it annoys a few snooker players.
“When you try to be someone other than yourself, life is very difficult. The fact is, I like to entertain. I am an entertainer. I've kept this fun site under wraps for years. I tried to do the right thing, not to upset anyone, and not to pucker any feathers. I know if you do your fist pumps and interact with the crowd, behind the scenes in the players room is frowned upon. Everyone else seems to like it. I just decided I don't have that anymore. The last year has shown us that we never know what's coming around the corner. Life can be stopped instantly so I will try 100 percent in every game and I will try to put on a show for the crowd anytime. "
The sold-out crowd provided a gladiatorial backdrop for the final day when Murphy chased the steely Selby fiercely. He came back 10-7 after the first two sessions and never managed to break the deficit, with Selby stoically taking advantage of his advantage to secure a fourth world title. Murphy remains deeply disappointed not to have claimed a second crucible crown. However, he admits that in recent years he has given up hope of climbing the snooker mountain again, having won just two World Championship games since reaching the finals in 2015.
On the way to this year's Sheffield final, it had been a difficult season for Murphy, who had only completed one run to the semi-finals and another to the quarter-finals in ranked competitions. His experience in the Crucible of the Crucible restored his belief that winning another World Cup might not be too far away.
“The truth is, I had lost my faith in the past few years. I had won ranking events and big tournaments like the Welsh Open and the China Championship. However, my belief in winning a world championship or a Triple Crown event was probably gone. You would never tell anyone that this is the case because you don't want to pronounce it or hear you admit it. I think it's the truth that I felt this way. When I look back on previous appearances, I looked like a shell, a bit like a shadow of my former self. After the world finals, I owe so much to the crowd. The love and support they gave me brought me back as I said after the game. It breathed new life into me and even though I didn't win the championship, it showed me that I can do it. Hope is not lost and I can hold my own at the top of the world's biggest events. I'm itching to get the new season off the ground. I can't wait to get out again. I hope that we play in front of an audience and that normality continues to return.
"I've never heard a roar like the last day at the Crucible this year. The structure of the intros in the last session was hair-raising. It was phenomenal to be backstage waiting to be called. I knew Rob." Walker barely heard my intro say my intro and barely knew when to leave, it was a great experience and I think the last 12 months have given me the perspective not to take things like this for granted, the nerves, the energy and the passion have been gone for a year and I want to accept all these things for myself in the future
“The competitive person in me says no one is playing for second place. I would be telling lies if I did not admit that I am in a bit of pain, just as I am still in a bit of pain because of the losses in the 2009 and 2015 finals. I think if you weren't disappointed in losing in the biggest game of your life, then you are probably in the wrong game. As a 38 year old father of two, I can now look at it from a slightly more mature perspective and I won't let the loss of the last prey spoil three weeks of my life. In terms of performance, it turned my year around and ended a bad season on a high level. I've played in front of a full audience, me and Mark are the only two players on the tour who have done that in the past 12 months. It was special to be a part of it and I will never forget the energy, love and support the crowd showed me. "