Judd Trump is going to play in the US Open Pool Championship next week. It’s a Matchoom event. Of course the move has attracted the attention of the media, and Judd took the opportunity to once again air his views on what the future of snooker should be: shorter formats, more like pool and moving the World Championship away from the Crucible and towards a “big” venue. You read it here:
‘Deep down I know I can’t win it’ – Judd Trump testing the waters with US Open Pool Championship entry
“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he sai, . “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water. “Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.”
Judd Trump says his trip across the Atlantic for the US Open Pool Championship is to test the waters, and he would be happy to win one game.
There is a gap in the snooker calendar due to the cancellation of the Turkish Masters, and it opened up a window for Trump to enter the eight-ball event.
Trump will face Joe Magee in his opening match on Monday, but is not expecting much as his practice has been non-existent and he does not even possess a pool cue.
“I’d be happy to win a game,” Trump told the Metro. “We left it so late and I’ve just tried to experiment and do as much as I can with no snooker tournaments going on.
I’ve not even got a proper cue at the minute. I haven’t played since I was a kid, really. I expect absolutely nothing.”
The US Open is the most prestigious pool tournament on the calendar, and Trump is hoping to make a positive impression to open up the prospect of mixing sports.
“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he said. “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water.
I don’t like going with the attitude that I’m just there to enjoy it, that’s not what I’m about, I like going there knowing I can win it.
“Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.”
Trump has spoken about trying to modernise snooker, and he feels pool is more suited to his forward-thinking approach.
“It’s something I want to be involved with,” Trump said. “It’s much more up to date, more modern and more in line with the year we’re in and values I want and who I want to appeal to.
To be a worldwide sport you’ve got to have the backing of America, I think. Pool has the potential to do that, whereas snooker is still struggling, that’s why I’ve gone over there to suss out the market and see what can be done.
“There’ll be a lot more noise. It’s not good when you’re losing and I’m probably going to lose so it’s not good for me, but when you get on a winning streak in that kind of environment you can feel invincible.”
Judd Trump: The World Snooker Championship needs to move on from the Crucible
Judd Trump believes it is time for the World Snooker Championship to move on from Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, feeling that the pinnacle of the sport deserves a bigger venue.
The World Championship has been held at the Crucible since 1977 and has become the sport’s spiritual home, with the likes of Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis winning all their world titles there.
However, it is a relatively small venue with a capacity of around 1,000, less than half the number that Alexandra Palace in London can accommodate for the Masters, for example.
Trump accepts that the uniquely tight conditions the Crucible provides helps create the special atmosphere in the room, but also feels that snooker bosses should look to expand if they want to grow the sport.
‘It’s an amazing venue but is it the best place for the World Championship now? Probably not, I don’t think,’ Trump told Metro.co.uk.
‘It needs an historic, prestigious event there, maybe put the UK Championship there but the Worlds needs to go to a bigger venue, for me.
‘The pinnacle of the sport shouldn’t be held back spectator-wise, there should be thousands! If you can sell the Masters for 2,200 people, the Worlds should be getting 5,000 at a massive stadium or arena, not a little theatre.
‘I know it brings the excitement with the crowd so close, it makes you more nervous but I think they could do that on a bigger scale somewhere else. It’s the World Championship, everyone’s going to be excited, everyone’s gearing up for it all year, but I think it’s just a little bit held back.’
The 2019 world champion was speaking after Neil Robertson suggested a reduction in the length of matches in the semi-finals and final of the World Championship, with the Australian also suggesting playing the first few rounds elsewhere before returning to the Crucible for the one-table set-up.
Robertson was making the point that casual or non snooker fans will struggle to stay engaged over matches that last four sessions and Trump agrees that changes are needed to attract new supporters.
‘Nobody wants to make changes, but Neil’s not saying that for his benefit, he’s thinking of a bigger picture,’ said Judd. ‘He knows that to play snooker over two days, four sessions, the die-hard fans watch it, but the people who we want to appeal to, to grow the sport aren’t going to watch all four sessions.
‘They’re going to come in at the last session and watch the end, it doesn’t really get going until it gets to like 12-12 or something like that. I can see where he’s coming from.
‘The format needs to be long, it needs to be two or three sessions, but first to 18 might be a bit too long these days.
‘The semi-finals taking three days…a round should never take longer than the final. I’ve played in second round matches that take three days, which is absolutely ridiculous.
‘Three sessions is enough, you could even do it in a day, play 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm and have it done in a day. I think it could capture the audience more.
‘Going to the first day of a match is not the same as seeing the outcome. I wouldn’t go to, say, golf and just watch the first 12 holes and not the finale. I wouldn’t watch the first set in tennis then not the rest of the match.
‘Probably from a commercial point of view, extending the tournament makes more money, sells more tickets, better viewing figures, but the game could head in a different direction in that tournament.’
The Ace enjoys playing at the Crucible and recognises the vast history connected with the venue, but strongly believes it is in the good of the game to move on and try new things to attract new fans.
‘It’s such a special event with so much history behind it, but unless you were around in that era…I don’t think kids these days go back and watch the 1978 or 1980 final. I know I don’t,’ he said.
‘It’s an amazing place to play snooker, it’s hard to say and a lot of people won’t like it, but maybe put another tournament there and move the World Championship somewhere else, or maybe you could have it there every couple of years at first.
‘Neil’s not saying what he said to benefit himself and neither am I, it’s beneficial for the future of snooker. People aren’t going to like it now but you’ve got to think about 10 years’ time.
‘To grow the game it’s got to go to a bigger venue. It’s not an easy change to make and the Crucible will always be attached to snooker and should have a tournament there, but I’m not sure it should be the World Championship.’
Trump has been happy to speak out about the future of snooker in the past, telling Metro.co.uk earlier this year that dress codes, commentary and the marketing of the game all need to be shaken up.
On taking over from Barry Hearn as World Snooker Tour chairman this year, Steve Dawson said he was looking forward to talking with Trump about his ideas for the future.
‘The door is always open,’ Dawson told the BBC in April. ‘It will be good fun to talk.
‘There are formal channels which players should go through but there is no reason why we shouldn’t listen to players and groups of players and their ideas.’
Asked whether that chat has taken place yet, Trump says is hasn’t, but understands that it has been a difficult time for snooker chiefs, trying to get tournaments organised as the impact of the pandemic rumbles on.
‘Not yet. I think it will happen in time,’ said Trump. ‘At the moment it’s been quite quiet, it’s probably stressful them with not many tournaments and people moaning that they can’t earn money.
‘It’s nobody’s fault but it’s a bit of a struggle and stressful time for a lot of people at the moment. They’re obviously working hard behind the scenes but as soon as we can start getting back to tournaments again and crowds back in, and we know it’s not going to be taken away at any given moment, then that’s when we can really get into the nitty gritty and give our opinions on how we can grow the game for the benefit of snooker.’
Trump believes it is not just his opinion that needs to be heard, but all players should have more of a say on how the game is run.
The world number two has the whole of September off as the Turkish Masters was postponed and the top 16 now go straight to the venue for Home Nations events, with qualifiers brought back in for those outside the elite, which take place this month.
The change was brought in for this season and the former World, Masters and UK champion feels players should get a say on such things.
‘It is quite hard because players don’t really get a say in anything,’ he said. ‘For me, there should have been a vote over whether players want to play in qualifiers or not, but it’s just done instantaneously, all of a sudden a letter’s sent out and people have to go to qualifiers.
‘Everything is brought upon players so fast and I think players need more of a say in stuff.’
OK, in short, here are my views:
- If Judd wants to grow snooker then he should make sure that snooker remains snooker and is not made to look more like pool, be it when it comes to the rules, the dress code, the atmosphere. If people want to watch pool, they will attend pool events.
- Formats should certainly NOT get shorter. I would go back to best of 9 as the standard, maybe event best of 11. I want the best players to get through, I want tension to build. I’m a traditionalist, not a sensationalist (or a gambler) loving “shocks”.
- The format of the World Championship offers a unique challenge and should stay. There are two changes I would want to see though: a return to the best of 31 for the SFs – to possibly avoid the very late SF2 night finish – and the Final to conclude on a Sunday, not on a Bank Holiday Monday, which is only a holiday in the UK. If WST has serious ambitions to make snooker global the latter is a must.
- The Crucible is an iconic but inadequate venue in many respects: it’s cramped, it’s too small, it’s poorly ventilated, it offers little room for hospitality. However, IF the World Championship is to be moved, it should be moved around the World, not just more or less permantly moved somewhere else in the UK. The BBC would probably never agree to such change though.
- Putting the World Championship or any snooker event in a big 5000 seats stadium is just preposterous. Already at the Tempodrom, if you are sat in the rafters, the table looks very small and you need good eyes … There is no point to be sat in a big venue, and to pay good money, only to have to watch on TV screens to see the action properly. If it comes to that, you’ll be more comfy at home … maybe with a very good bottle of wine that will cost you (much) less than the price of the ticket + travel + hotel.
In principle I would agree on a vote on qualifiers. However, no qualifiers would mean, having to travel to the main venue for all, and this in turn would mean added costs for the UK players, whilst it would stay the same, or be cheaper for the “oversea’s” players and for this reason I’m afraid that, even if nobody likes qualifiers, they would still stay because UK players are a majority, and the current UK centric bias would only be reinforced by the fact that it would then be the result of a “democratic vote”… and that UK bias in turn is one of the reasons why the UK players continue to be a majority. It’s a vicious cercle.
The only way to get out of this vicious cercle would be to scrap qualifiers, play the tournaments as a whole at or near the final venue, and to pay basic fees to the first round losers, not counting towards rankings, but covering basic expenses. It would only be right: you need two to play a match of snooker. As long as they give it their best, the losers contribute to the event, entertain the fans, generate money for the broadcasters, sponsors and venue management. they should get something for it, it should not cost them. It’s not “rewarding mediocrity”, it’s paying for a work done.
Having said all that, good luck to Judd at next week event, and safe trip.