Vegan Neil Robertson had to dig deep into his mental reserves to take a massive win at the Champion of Champions.
The tournament invites sixteen current champions of major tournaments and includes the pats winner. Neil was the current champion, although he would have qualified from winning the China Open. Neil did not have an easy route, facing World #1 Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semi finals where he won 6-5, then facing an in-form world #2 and current World Champion Judd Trump.
What follows was later described by Neil as “the best match I’ve been involved in and for a lot of people it’s probably the best match they’ve ever seen.”
9-8 down with the World Champion needing one more to win, Neil saw Trump make a break of 69 leaving the Australian vegan very much on the ropes. Gaining the snooker he required and forcing the black to be re-spotted due to tied scores, he took the frame. The momentum was with him in the decider, compiling one the highest breaks of the tournament (137) to take the win.
“I was semi-unconscious potting the winning balls and just clearing up there” he said later.
“It’s one of those rare genuine occasions where you have to say it is unfortunate to have a loser in the match. It was just brilliant match play all round.”
Neil has made no secret of his focus on health in order to boost his mentally demanding career, leaving some to wonder whether the intense concentration need for occasions like his recent final were boosted by his diet.
“I felt I needed to eat healthier to give myself the chance to get the most out of my career. I was pretty interested in the vegan diet for months before I decided to give it a try through speaking to [vegan snooker professional] Peter Ebdon” Neil told Great Vegan Athletes in 2015.
He’s a big fan of juicing and smoothies and is known for his phenomenal break building, recently becoming only the fourth player in history to compile 650 century breaks in competition.