European Masters 2020 – Qualifiers Round-up

The European Masters 2020 Qualifiers were played in Barnsley over the last three days… and the outcome, I’m sure, will please neither the organisers, nor the European fans. Only seven of the top 16 players have come through: Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins.

You can find all the detailed results on snooker.org

Ronnie didn’t enter, the defending champion, Jimmy Robertson, went out in the first round, as did Judd Trump the World Champion and World n°1. Luca Brecel is the only player from mainland Europe still in the draw. There is no point awarding young European wilcards, if you are not prepared to hold their matches over to the venue. Their chances to win two rounds against pros are next to nil and everyone knows it.

It’s a disastrous outcome for the “European leg” of the tour, and what both saddens and angers me, is that it was totally predictable. This is the last week of the year, the players have been playing non stop for the last three weeks, with just one day between the final of the Scottish Open and these qualifiers. It’s the end of a long first half of the season: those who go deep in most tournament are bound to be mentally drained. The environment isn’t inspiring either. Elliott Slessor on twitter said it was freezing cold in the venue, and some tables have no seats for spectators. And… it’s every year the same story. Since the German Masters qualifiers were played in this spot in the calendar, there have been a lot of “shocks” evey time. It will probably be the same in the  coming three days again.

A tweet I posted, saying that the players are tired, and that the enviroment isn’t inspiring, triggered a whole discussion, including Barry Hearn stating that HE is not tired – good for him – and that if they aren’t able to give it their best they should not enter. Right! As if the whole system wasn’t aimed at having them to play in every tournament. Yes, they do have a choice not to enter … at a price that many can’t really afford.

And, yes, it’s a normal working week for most people … who haven’t been working for the last three weeks without a break, and haven’t travelled the world constantly for the last six months or about. Denying a fact that sits right under his nose – namely that this end-of-year scheduling is a recipe for disaster – won’t change the facts and won’t help the cause of snooker in mainland Europe. He probably doesn’t care (to say it politely).

And it’s not as if there weren’t alternatives. They could fit two groups of the Championships League Snooker here. No ranking pressure in those. Or they could put the Shootout in that spot. It wouldn’t matter much, it’s a right lottery anyway, and a bit of fun would probably suit most players.

4 thoughts on “European Masters 2020 – Qualifiers Round-up

  1. well as a fan watching snooker at barnsley, it was a shame that we could not watch half the matches and now we cannot take photo of matches as phones have been banned, l wonder how all the betting companys like that idear as they pay the wages?

    • Regarding the phones, you have to consider the fact that players are playing to earn a living. Phones going off, fans moving in their eye line as they try to find the best angle for pictures, and betting alerts ringing at random times are definitely not on. I was sat in the middle of a group of Selby fans at the Crucible, during the Selby v Ding final. They were betting in play and, at least 3 or 4 times one of their “alerts” went off whilst a player was on the shot. Their own “man” Selby was seriously annoyed.

  2. Professional snooker players are just that, professional. Professionals tend to be clever individuals. Management types seem to think that professionals, otherwise very competent and thoughtful, cannot discern if they are being manipulated; more fool them.

  3. Of course, with a blank sheet of paper, we could all come up with ways to rewrite the schedule. But obviously there are a whole series of negotiations and arrangements with venues, sponsors, organisers, staff, etc. that make change very difficult.

    Another huge problem with these Euro qualifiers is the prizemoney distribution: £3000 for 2nd round, £4000 for 3rd round (at the venue). Thus it would appear that an ideal outcome for many players would be to win the first match, lose the second, collect the £3000 (money and RPs), and not have to travel in January. I was considering going to Dornbirn, and it’s at least £1000 and a very complex journey, involving trains from Zurich. It’s a particular disincentive for players who will be involved in the Coral series, who probably feel they have to take things easy before a very busy February.

    It may be very hard to change calendar dates, but it’s much easier to change prizemoney allocations and qualification mechanisms.

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