A year ago, Judd Trump wasn't even in Berlin. He did not qualify for the German Masters and did not seem to enjoy his snooker.
Snooker players will tell you how hard it is to win a match and how much mental energy and emotional investment you need to survive the ups and downs of a week. So Trump, who won 14 ranking titles in three seasons between 2018 and 2021, is doing something great again.
This remarkable talent has gone from child prodigy to become one of snooker's leading men. His explosive shot-making is still in evidence, but his defensive game is now the most important component of his overall arsenal. He used it in Saturday night's semi-final against Sam Craigie.
His scoring is also on point. Trump has already hit 66 percent this season, 28 more than the next best. He has a realistic chance of becoming the first man to score 100 centuries in more than one campaign.
This combination of attack and defense is a powerful combination. Trump is not only a skilled player, but a smart one. He sees what moves to make and when. His cue ball can be loose at times but he is adept at pulling off tough recovery pots. His cueing power is remarkable and he can move White around the table at impossible angles.
In many ways he is a complete one-off, but his real talent lies in finding a winning formula for the different sides of his game.
If Trump is to be considered alongside multiple world champions, he really should be, with his only win so far at the Crucible coming in 2019, but otherwise he's ticked every conceivable box multiple times.
The relentless pursuit of success is what separates champions from mere players. Steve Davis had it. Stephen Hendry had it. Ronnie O'Sullivan, he likes to play it down.
It's the ability to keep getting better not just now and again, but over a season, over a career, that marks truly great players.
Trump's strength is his lack of interest in ranking the importance of contests. When it comes to winning a trophy, he is all in, regardless of how others view it. He covers his mantelpiece with silverware, not the opinions of others.
He should take the odd envy he attracts from the minority as a compliment. People who say he hasn't achieved enough don't need to celebrate themselves.
There are still some big titles to compete for this snooker year, including the Players and Tour Championships and the new big money event in Riyadh, with the focus turning to Sheffield and the World Championship in two months, with Trump and O'Sullivan, the season's two players, currently set to meet in the semi-finals.
Rocket is like a character in a movie, you can't kill him. He is 48 but age has not let him down. Every year his light and fame is growing.
So if they meet in the final four in early May — and that's a big „if” given the unpredictability of the sport's biggest rivalry — it will give Trump a chance to prove he can bring his season-long form. Lead when it really matters.
At the very least, it appears he will go into snooker's ultimate challenge feeling better about his game than last year, where he bowed out to Anthony McGill in the first round.
Trump's victory in Berlin brought the curtain down on a delightful week of snooker. Extending the German Masters from five days to seven was a smart move, guaranteeing spectators to see many of the top players in action, and more tournaments full stop.
Si was a revelation, going 14-5 at the World Championships to Luca Brezel, better than his agonizing semi-final exit. Some of his tactical flaws were exposed in the final but, at 21, time is on his side to improve that part of his game, just like Trump.
Both finalists clearly reveled in the atmosphere. This event is held by the people. Their interest and passion for snooker is growing every year. There is no ugly behavior and they are a real joy to watch. Trump described Saturday's semi-final inside the Tempodrom arena as „money can't buy”, and this from someone who has now pocketed more than £800,000 this season.
The German snooker public simply loves the game and their reward is seeing great players like Trump still achieve success. There is certainly more to come before the curtain falls on another season.
„Całkowity introwertyk. Nieprzejednany specjalista od sieci. Przyjazny fanatyk bekonu. Student ekstremalnych. Miłośnik piwa. Organizator.”