|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2001 CALENDAR|
By BBC Sport Online's
This year's snooker headlines have been dominated by an Englishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman.
Scotsman John Higgins began and ended the season with a victory.
Welshman Mark Williams stormed to his first World Championship success in April and Englishman Ronnie O'Sullivan, who threatened to quit the sport in December, picked up a number of trophies in another rollercoaster year.
Higgins, who began the year as world number one, made the perfect start to the new millennium by winning the Regal Welsh Open in the Cardiff International Arena with a 9-8 win over Stephen Lee in an epic final.
Ken Doherty gave the Irish something to cheer about when he raced to a 9-3 victory over Mark Williams in the Rothmans Malta Grand Prix in February.
Shock exits for Stephen Hendry and John Higgins in Aberdeen provided Ronnie O'Sullivan with the chance to seize the limelight in the Regal Scottish Open.
The Rocket not only knocked in a sensational 147, he also stormed to a 9-1 success over soon to be world number one Mark Williams in the final.
Having featured in two of the three major tournament finals in 2000, it seemed only a matter of time before Mark Williams picked up his first trophy of the year.
It arrived in the shape of the Thailand Masters in March when Williams, arguably the cleanest potter in the modern game, humbled steady Scotsman Stephen Hendry with a 9-5 victory.
But if Williams thought this would be the highlight of his year, he couldn't have been more wrong.
His greatest moment arrived just one month on when he became the first left-hander to win the Embassy World Championship, defeating fellow Welshman Matthew Stevens 18-16 in a brilliant final.
That victory effectively embedded his name into snooker folklore.
It not only elevated him to world number one, it also put him alongside legends such as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry as one of only three players who have won the two majors in the same season.
The new season began in earnest in late August and suddenly the man who has always promised so much was beginning to deliver.
A new-look O'Sullivan appeared to have overcome his motivational problems and it reaped instant financial reward.
Rocket Ronnie had already accrued a cool £200,000 just over two months into the new season by adding two titles to his collection.
He finished runner-up in another and also made the quarter-finals.
The Englishman, who has natural talent in abundance, began with a thrilling fightback against old foe and World Champion Mark Williams to claim the £100,000 Champions Cup at the Brighton Centre in September.
The Champions Cup was to be marred however by news that Stephen Lee tested positive for marijuana.
The 26-year-old was ordered to attend a World Snooker Association disciplinary committee hearing in Bristol on 14 November to determine whether he breached their rules.
There were further controversies and interruptions at the British Open in Plymouth at the start of October.
After John Higgins hit out at the lack of new sponsors being attracted into the sport, Mark Williams and Mark King walked out of their third round game due to the unevenness of the table.
Elsewhere Alan McManus came out on top in the battle of the Scots as he overcame holder Stephen Hendry 5-2.
But Peter Ebdon was to have too much for McManus in the semi-finals as he moved into his second British Open final in two years and this time around he would be victorious, beating a rejuvenated Jimmy White 9-6.
Following his blast about the future development of the sport during the British Open, Higgins was once again expressing his displeasure at snooker's organisers in Telford.
The problem this time was that, contrary to assurances that the Scot said he had received, the quarter-finals were scheduled to clash with the wedding of his elder brother.
Higgins warned that if he reached the last eight he would withdraw from the event and he duly proved as good as his word.
That left the way clear for Williams and O'Sullivan to book another last two meeting and on this occasion it was the Welshman who came out on top with a 9-5 victory.
O'Sullivan's disappointment was to prove short-lived though as within a week he added the Regal Masters in Motherwell to his collection and he did so in some style, capping it off with a 9-6 win over three-time winner Stephen Hendry.
But Higgins ended the year exactly as he began it, producing snooker of the highest quality to destroy Williams in the final of the UK Championship.
The Scotsman laid the foundations of victory in the first session when he ruthlessly punished any slips by Williams to claim a 7-2 lead.
After a brief revival from his opponent, Higgins wrapped things up in the 14th frame to put himself on target to reclaim the world number one slot he so cherished.
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