Jason Francis discloses Important News

Jason Francis was on Facebook live yesterday to disclose some important news. For those who don’t have acces to facebook, here is his announcement.

There are a lot of  “news” in there: pro-ams. junior competitions with a handicap system, seniors tour news, Ronnie’s shop, and a return of the Legends events.

What Jason does to promote snooker is fantastic. Unfortunately because of  circumstances out of his control (Covid and Brexit) , it will once again mainly benefit UK based players. As a mainland Europe snooker fan, I write this last sentence not as a criticism to Jason, far from it, but with some sadness.

The part specific to Ronnie stuff is the last one in the video. He will play in three “Legends events” alongside Reanne Evans, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White.

Some dates clash with main tour events: the shoot-out and the Gibraltar Open.

There are also other announcements, detailed in the comments section, and again, for those who can’t acces Facebook, here are screenshots:

2021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -12021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -32021-09-07 Ronnie announcements -2

Regarding the Seniors Tour news, you will find more details here.

It’s a one hour long video but well worth the listen from start to finish.

 

 

Exhibitions in Hartley – 3 & 4 September 2021

HartleyexhoSeptember2021

Ronnie did a couple of exhibitions over the week-end. John Virgo couln’t make it, unfortunately, but he was replaced by another legend: the 1991 World Champion, John Parrott.

From what transpired on social media it was an enjoyable couple of evenings/nigths.

Here are a few images that were shared on twitter:

Jason tells me that Ronnie was good and had a few big breaks… and centuries but he wasn’t sure as he lost the count a bit over the two nights 😉

And Ronnie tweeted this

Ronnie Hartley Sept 2021 twitter

Ronnie speaks to Eurosport as he is at the start of his 30th season as a pro

Here is the interview:

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON 30 YEARS AT TOP – ‘I FEEL PRIVILEGED TO HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITIES

Six-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will celebrate an astonishing 30 years at the summit of snooker in 2022. The sport’s greatest player has told Eurosport he appreciates the opportunities he has been given in life since turning professional at the age of 16 in 1992. He is also thankful for the support of his partner Laila Rouass and family as he continues to chase new horizons in the game.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will celebrate 30 years at the summit of professional snooker in January, but the game’s greatest player admits he has been fortunate to have been afforded the opportunities in life to reach green baize utopia.

The six-times world champion holds the vast majority of the key records as he begins his 30th season ranked at number three in the world, but it his speed, flamboyance and precision of play that has attracted millions of bewitched fans to the sport over the past four decades.

The numbers stacked up by O’Sullivan are quite astonishing since he set out on his unprecedented golden sojourn at the age of 16 in 1992.

  • 37 – most ranking titles won by any player in history achieved in claiming 2020 World Championship
  • 15 – record number of maximums made in competition
  • Five minutes and eight seconds – fastest competitive maximum compiled at 1997 World Championship
  • 17 years and 358 days – youngest winner of a ranking event at 1993 UK Championship
  • 19 years and 69 days – youngest winner of the Masters in 1995
    1000 – first player to reach 1,000 career centuries at 2019 Players Championship
  • 29 – record number of consecutive appearances at World Championship between 1993 and 2021
  • 58 – record number of ranking final appearances achieved at 2021 Tour Championship final
  • 556 – record number of points scored without reply in 6-0 win over Ricky Walden in 2014 Masters quarter-final lasting 58min 31sec
  • 7 – record number of UK titles
  • 7 – record number of Masters titles
  • 20 – record number of triple crown titles

O’Sullivan made his first century at the age of 10 and his first 147 five years later, but shows no signs of slowing up with Judd Trump recently predicting that he has another decade at the top if he has the desire to continue.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunities that I’ve had,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

SO I CAN’T SAY THAT I’VE BEEN UNLUCKY. I’VE OBVIOUSLY HAD TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE PRIVILEGES, BUT THEY WERE GIVEN TO ME AND I’VE PROBABLY HAD A MUCH BETTER HEAD START THAN A LOT OF YOUNG KIDS.

“I was fortunate that my mum and dad did okay for themselves and were able to pay for my cab fares to the club, my table time and allow me to go away at weekends to play in competitions.

“Some kids don’t have that luxury. I think in that respect, I had a good opportunity, but had to make the most of it.

O’Sullivan admits one of the career highlights was celebrating lifting his sixth world title alongside his partner Laila Rouass at the Crucible after an 18-8 win over Kyren Wilson in the final.

We had such a good night,” he recalled. “After the final, we went back to the hotel, there was about 30 or 40 people in the hotel.

We had a fantastic evening. It was probably the best night I’ve ever had.

WE HAD KEBABS, BEER AND SAT OUTSIDE UNTIL ABOUT FOUR IN THE MORNING. (FORMER WORLD NUMBER TWO) TONY KNOWLES WAS THERE AND A FEW OF MY FRIENDS FROM LIVERPOOL WERE DOWN. WE HAD SUCH A LAUGH. I’VE LOVED TO ABLE TO EXPERIENCE THAT AGAIN.

That’s a really lovely interview and Ronnie seems to be in a good place. Hopefully this season is a good one.

September at (not in the) Pool for Mark Selby and Judd Trump

With no snooker available for them in September, Mark Selby and Judd Trump are (re)turning to pool.

Read it here:

Judd Trump and Mark Selby swap snooker for pool as they enter September tournaments

Judd Trump and Mark Selby
Judd Trump and Mark Selby are swapping snooker cues for pool cues (Picture: Getty)

Both Judd Trump and Mark Selby will be competing in pool tournaments this month as they take advantage of a gap in their snooker calendars.

Trump will be playing at the US Open Pool Championship in Atlantic City, while Selby is teaming up with his brother-in-law Gareth Potts at the Ultimate Pool Pairs Cup.

The Ace heads to Atlantic City for the 9-ball competition which runs from 13-18 September, while the Jester from Leicester will be playing live on Freesports TV on Monday 27 September under International 8-Ball Rules.

On his American adventure Trump said: ‘I think the US Open Pool Championship has got the most heritage and prestige to it, it’s been around a long time. Everyone in the world of pool knows it’s the tournament if you are going to win one, it’s this one. For me, that’s what kind of attracted me, to go in at the deep end, going in at the biggest event and see what I can do.

I think when I get over there and step out, I don’t want to make a fool of myself, that will add pressure. But in the snooker world, I know what I am capable of and I know when I put the work in I’ve got that belief whereas, in pool, I do not know what’s going to happen. Hopefully, I can have a good run in it.”

‘It’s always been a dream of mine to try and take snooker over there into the US, it’s such a big market, it’s an aspiration of mine. It’s nice to be playing any cue sport out there. Just to be a part of it, part of the atmosphere, part of the US Open, hopefully, I can do well and one day they’ll have me back to play again and the dream would be to have a good run.

For me, there’s potential to play in front of a whole new fanbase, there’s a lot of people who watch snooker and don’t watch pool and vice versa. I think for me, it’s all about trying to find that middle ground and getting different people interested in different things, and getting people to open their eyes to see what’s going on.

‘It’s a chance for me to get on their radar and hopefully I can put on a good showing of myself and hopefully nobody hates me after the tournament! Hopefully, I can bring them b

Selby is returning to pool after winning the WEPF World 8-Ball Pool Championship in 2006 and is excited to compete with Potts, who is a four-time world 8-ball pool champion himself.

I’m really looking forward to the tournament and teaming up with Gareth – it’s going to be a unique and special challenge,’ said Selby.

It has been a long time since I’ve played 8-ball competitively but having seen what Ultimate Pool has done with its recent tv events, I can’t wait to get out into the arena and sample the atmosphere.

Trump and Selby have a clear September to take on some other opportunitites after the Turkish Masters was postponed and the month now only featuers qualifiers for the English and Scottish Opens.

Both players won’t be playing in those qualifiers as they head straight to the venues for those events and play their first round matches there, due to being in the top 16 in the world rankings.

Of course it’s not a “first”. Ronnie and Steve Davis played in the Mosconi Cup, representing Europe in the 90th. Tony Drago has played a lot of pool. Jimmy White and Alex Higgins played some as well. Mark Selby was a champion at English pool, before becoming one at snooker.  But it’s a different game and anyone expecting Judd Trump to dominate the opposition are badly deluded. I’m not saying that he won’t succeed, I’m just saying that it’s by no way guaranteed.

Interestingly WST has published an article on that subject:

Can Trump Conquer Pool?

Three cue sports experts – Steve Davis, Chris Melling and Phil Yates – have given us their opinions on how Judd Trump will fare when he competes in the US Open Pool Championship.

Matchroom Multi Sport announced on Wednesday that snooker’s 22-time ranking event winner Trump will swap green baize for blue when he plays in one of pool’s biggest tournaments at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City from September 13-18.

Trump said: “The US Open Pool Championship has got the most heritage and prestige, it’s been around a long time. If you are going to win one, it’s this one. That’s what attracted me, to go in at the deep end and see what I can do. I’m not going just to take part, I’m going to try and win the event.”

Here’s what the experts think:

Steve Davis
Six-time World Snooker Champion Davis competed successfully in a wide range of pool events, including 11 Mosconi Cup appearances between 1994 and 2007.

The two difficult things for Judd are going to be tactics and positional play. In snooker we often try to leave ourselves a straight pot because that makes the pot easier, and we use screw and stun to move the cue ball around. In pool it’s very different, the pots are easier and you need to leave angles to get on to the next ball. You are always playing for position on only one ball, and the table can be crowded. He won’t struggle with potting and in fact he’ll scare the life out of them with some of the shots he can pull off. But he’ll have to make sure he clears the table when he gets the chance.

He’ll be at a disadvantage when there are tactical exchanges early in a frame, and his opponent might try to exploit that by sitting back and waiting for him to make a mistake. For example, ‘kicking’ when snookered after the break – the best players are very clever at those shots. What I loved most about playing pool was embracing that challenge and trying to learn from the more experienced players. He’ll have no trouble hitting the ball hard when he breaks, but sometimes a softer break can be more effective, especially on a new cloth under the TV lights.

These are all things he’ll have to get used to quickly. I wouldn’t want to predict how far he’ll go because it depends to what extent he will prepare by practising with experienced pool players he can learn from. One thing is for sure – when he can see the next ball to pot, he’ll be dangerous.

Chris Melling
Melling has played five seasons as a snooker pro but most of his success has come on the smaller table, as a former eight-ball world number one and Most Valuable Player at the 2012 Mosconi Cup.

Chris MellingIt’s great to have Judd battling on the pool table and I think he will take to it really well. It’s great for 9-ball and Matchroom Pool. There’s always a perception from snooker players that if you can play snooker then you can play pool. It’s true to a certain point because the pockets are bigger, but there’s a lot of skill involved in 9-ball. The game is all about spinning the ball, pattern play, cannons and jump shots. There will be shots that Judd won’t be used to but it’s magnificent to have him involved, and obviously he’s going to bring a lot of attention to the sport.

He’ll really enjoy it, the set up that Matchroom have got is second to none. He’s a born winner and he’s won a lot of snooker titles, so he’s got a winning mindset. But with pool, it’s a different mindset because you may go into a match and not even play a shot. It’s not like snooker where you are definitely going to break off every other frame; in pool you might be sitting in your chair for 40 minutes.

When he comes up against the top boys from the Philippines, the USA and some from Europe, he’s going to find out how high their skill level is. They’re going to try and pray on his weaknesses, but if it comes to out-and-out potting there will be only one or two who can match him, players like Joshua Filler and Jayson Shaw.

He could go all the way because the nature of the game allows somebody who doesn’t play all the time to do that, as long as he gets a little bit of luck. If he gets a decent draw and gets two or three matches under his belt, which he can do, then he’s going to be a contender.

Phil Yates

Commentator and journalist Yates has worked on both pool and snooker for decades.

There have been lots of male crossovers from snooker to pool who have done well, including Steve Davis and Tony Drago. Then of course you have the female crossovers. For many years, in women’s pool, the leading players were all former snooker players: Alison Fisher, Kelly Fisher and Karen Corr. You need time to acclimatise and Judd doesn’t have that, but I certainly think he could win some matches.

The problem will be discerning, from watching previous matches, what sort of break is best. He won’t have that experience. Pool professionals actually go into the arena to watch to see which sort of break is the most effective. The table can break differently from session to session, depending on the atmospherics. All those little subtleties need to be taken into account. In terms of potting the balls he is going to be excellent. The one mindset that snooker players need to overcome is that they don’t have to be as precise with position. Sometimes they fall down by trying to be too precise when it isn’t necessary.

I never fail to marvel at how good pool players are at kicking or getting out of snookers. They don’t just get out of them, they do it in a way which enables them to get the ball safe. They are brilliant at that. Judd also won’t be used to the jump shot. I remember speaking to Alison Fisher and she said that was the thing she really struggled to get used to in the 90s when she went over to the USA.

Judd playing in the US Open will be fantastic for both pool and snooker. There have been some fleeting introductions of snooker to the US, but in terms of big-name players going out there it hasn’t really happened. This might be the best way to do it. Somebody who has an obvious skill level might just pique their interest.

He’s got to be respectful of the game. They are good these guys, they play pool for a living, and he must be respectful of them. It is a different game. You need a wide ability to think laterally and to think differently. Having said that, a good snooker technique will be one of his advantages, and so will his pure potting ability.

As for Judd himself and Matchroom’s take on that croos-over, here you go:

Trump To Compete At US Open Pool Championship

Snooker’s 22-time ranking event winner Judd Trump will compete at the upcoming US Open Pool Championship at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City September 13-18, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment and the Atlantic City Sports Commission.

Trump will not be the first snooker player to cross disciplines, with Ronnie O’Sullivan having represented Europe at the Mosconi Cup in the early 90s and the likes of Jimmy White, Alex Higgins, Mark Williams and Steve Davis all taking on the challenge.

Trump with Matchroom Multi Sport Managing Director Emily Frazer

The Ace in the Pack is heading in at the peak of his powers. He said: “I think the US Open Pool Championship has got the most heritage and prestige, it’s been around a long time. Everyone in the world of pool knows it’s thetournament. If you are going to win one, it’s this one. For me, that’s what kind of attracted me, to go in at the deep end, going in at the biggest event and see what I can do.

I think when I get over there and step out, I don’t want to make a fool of myself, that will add pressure. But in the snooker world, I know what I am capable of and I know when I put the work in I’ve got that belief whereas, in pool, I do not know what’s going to happen. Hopefully, I can have a good run in it.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to try and take snooker over there into the US, it’s such a big market, it’s an aspiration of mine. It’s nice to be playing any cue sport out there. Just to be a part of it, part of the atmosphere, part of the US Open, hopefully, I can do well and one day they’ll have me back to play again and the dream would be to have a good run.

“There’s potential to play in front of a whole new fanbase, there’s a lot of people who watch snooker and don’t watch pool and vice versa. It’s all about getting people to open their eyes to see what’s going on. It’s a chance for me to get on their radar and hopefully I can put on a good show and hopefully nobody hates me after the tournament! Hopefully, I can bring them back across to snooker and hopefully in the future make them both as big as possible.”

Trump has won 14 ranking titles over the past three years

The 2019 World Champion gave us an idea of what fans can expect: “I’m excited for the US Pool fans to get a glimpse of me playing, I will bring a lot more freedom and energy to the game because it isn’t the be-all and end-all on it for me at the moment, my whole life isn’t depending on it. I will be one of the players who can play with a smile on my face with a lot more freedom and enjoyment. Hopefully, they will take to that, they will see I am having fun with what I am doing, I try to get that across in everything I do. I think people respect that and hopefully, I can get as many people as possible playing pool.

Trump says he isn’t there just to make up the numbers. He added: “At the US Open, I’ve not come to take part, I’ve come to try and win the event. I’ve come to give it my absolute all and to see what I can do with myself, it’s something I’ve always felt I wanted to do, and see how good I can be at pool. I am not under the illusion that I will go there and blow everyone away. I know the breaking off and tactical side of things is going to be tricky for me. I know there’s a lot of things that can go wrong. Hopefully, I can just enjoy myself and pot all the balls on the table and not get into that problem.”

Emily Frazer, Matchroom Multi Sport Managing Director, said: “This is huge news for Matchroom Pool – what a player. Judd is very current with our times right now; he’s forward-thinking, he’s young, modern, and fresh. It’s exactly what Matchroom Multi Sport is about and the direction we’re heading in for our Matchroom Pool Series. To get Judd on board for the US Open is major and positive news for the growth of the sport, Matchroom Pool, and Judd himself in his own profile and career.”

Frazer added: “The US Open is a real big chance for Judd to step over into Pool, take on a new challenge, and in turn gain a different style of audience. It feels like he’s the perfect person for it and why we didn’t stop until he was on board! Judd’s arguably the best and strongest snooker player in the world right now and for someone of his stature and social presence to step into pool is major news for players in our industry and the overall viewership of the sport in areas it may currently be lacking. Seeing Judd’s appreciation for the game, respect for the players in it, and potentially the challenges the event may produce shows his character and I’m excited to see how the pool fans warm to him!

The part I put in blue is a cause of worry for me. Barry Hearn loves snooker, but his son, who is now at the head of Matchroom is mainly into boxing. I’m not sure that he cares about snooker at all. Judd has recently expressed the opinion that snooker should evolve towards shorter formats because that’s what suits “the people in his age group” according to him. Neils views on the World Championship also push towards shorter formats.  Reading the above it seems to me that this is also the direction Matchroom wants to take and it may not ne coincidence that a lot has been made on social media of the fact that snooker has topped the charts on ITV4 during the short-format British Open.

Snooker and Tour News – 03.09.2021

Here are some snooke/tour news that popped up over the last days

WST has published an updated “Format and Schedule” for the television stages of the Northern Irland Open:

BetVictor Northern Ireland Open Updated Draw

The updated draw and format for the 2021 BetVictor Northern Ireland Open following the conclusion of the qualifying round is now available.

Click here for the updated draw

Click here for the updated format

The world ranking event runs from October 9th to October 17th at the fantastic Waterfront Hall venue in central Belfast. It is the first of this season’s BetVictor Home Nations Series, with the winner to lift the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Tickets to see the best players on the planet are available now  For full details CLICK HERE

The tournament has 128 players all starting in round one. The top 16 seeds, as well as Jordan Brown, had their opening matches held over to Belfast, while all other players competed in the qualifying round.

Matches to look out for on Sunday October 10th include

1pm session
World Champion Mark Selby v Mark Davis
John Higgins v Joe O’Connor
Northern Ireland’s top player Mark Allen v Si Jiahui
Neil Robertson v Barry Pinches

7pm session
Defending champion Judd Trump v Andrew Pagett
Kyren Wilson v Jamie Clarke
Local favourite Jordan Brown v Gary Wilson
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stuart Carrington
Mark Williams v Mark Joyce

Trump is aiming to win the tournament for a fourth year in a row – remarkably he has beaten O’Sullivan 9-7 in the final in each of the last three seasons.

The event begins with a 7pm evening session on Saturday October 9th, with tickets at just £5.

The event will be televised by Eurosport, Quest and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.

The have also announced that referee Peter Williamson is retiring:

Referee Peter Williamson Retires

Long-serving referee Peter Williamson has retired from the World Snooker Tour after 30 years on the circuit.

The Liverpudlian first refereed on Merseyside in the late 1970s and moved into the professional game in 1991.

Williamson officiated several ranking event semi-finals as well as the final of a Players Tour Championship event in 2012 in which Rod Lawler beat Marco Fu 4-2 in Gloucester.

We spoke to him about his career highlights, favourite players and plans for retirement…

What lessons have you learned from your career that you will take into your retirement?

“Sometimes you cannot take people at face value, they can turn out totally different. It was a joy to meet people from all around the world, all different ages and different backgrounds.”

What were your favourite places to go on the tour?

“Well, obviously, the Crucible – and also Shanghai and York. Shanghai is a totally different environment and seeing the way the country was developing at the time, just when they were going to be getting the Olympics in China was brilliant. They were building a completely new rail system with 120 stations and building the whole thing at the same time simultaneously. The whole place was bright, multi-coloured and the electric bill for the city must have been tremendous!”

What was your favourite game to referee?

“I refereed Ronnie O’Sullivan against John Higgins in the 2009 Shanghai Masters semi-final, and O’Sullivan against Marco Fu in the same tournament. With Fu being from Hong Kong, they reckon the audience for that was in the tens of millions, if not 100 million. I don’t really feel pressure in games like those, you get used to it and I’d been refereeing professionally for about 15 years by then.”

What was your favourite moment of your career?

“Not long after I started, August 1991, I refereed at Trentham Gardens. In the qualifiers, I had the privilege of refereeing Fred Davis. It was a booth situation and most of the booths only had one or two people in, but mine was full and there wasn’t a seat to be had, because there was a party of pensioners in! They all wanted to see Fred play and when it got to the interval, he was 4-0 down and it was quite a distance to get to the refreshments area. He beckoned me over after his opponent, Jamie Woodman, had gone out and said: “You couldn’t do me a massive favour.” So I said: “Yes what’s that?” and he said: “My legs won’t get me to the refreshment area in time for the restart, is it at all possible you could organise a cup of tea for me?” So I got the balls set up and ran off to the tournament office and ordered the tray with a cup of tea for him that was delivered to the table. He lost the match 5-0 but that always stuck with me!”

Who was your favourite player to referee?

“I always had a lot of fun and banter with Ken Doherty, because of our football connections. I’m a Liverpool fan and he’s Manchester United, of course. Another player was John Higgins. I’ve refereed two 147s with Higgins, so I remember those well.”

What will you miss most about being on tour?

“Apart from watching the development of the game, seeing the way the game is spreading around the world, it’s probably the chance to meet up with colleagues from lots of different countries. It’s the only chance you get to meet up with workmates.”

What are your plans for retirement?

“I may still referee a bit of billiards. I’ve done five world billiards finals, and I got asked over the weekend if I was available to referee in Reading, but unfortunately I’m in Cyprus at the time. I’ll also be doing more gardening. I’ve just got a barbeque so I’ve been coming up with innovative menus for that, like chocolate bananas.”

Finally, what is your message to players on the tour right now?

“Keep at it, even if you are having a bad day. Practice makes perfect so stick with it.  Also – I’d just like to thank all my colleagues for making the second part of my working life my most memorable.”

I have met Peter at countless events over the years and it was a pleasure always. Enjoy your retirement Peter. All the best for the future!

Twitath Warinthrakom, who is a in many ways the Thai equivalent of Rolf Kalb, has shared some worrying news on his Facebook page. Last Tuesday, he annouced that he had tested positive to covid-19. Yesterday, he wrote that he was in hospital. His condition looks serious alas. Twitath was asking his friends to pray for him.

I sincerely hope that Twitath will make a full recovery soon. He’s always been very friendly with me and is loved by the whole snooker community in Thailand.

Neil Robertson wants shorter format for the World Championship

Neil Robertson was interviewed on the Talking Balls podcast:

Neil Robertson calls for change to ‘stale and dated’ World Snooker Championship

2020 Coral World Grand Prix - Day 7
Neil Robertson wants to see changes to the World Snooker Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson wants to see changes to the ‘dated and stale’ World Snooker Championship format, with shorter matches at the climax of the tournament and even a change of venue.

The 2010 world champion believes snooker needs to evolve and that few people want to watch the epic World Championship matches played over best of 33 frames in the semi-finals and best of 35 in the final.

The Australian says that he would never watch a match of that length in its entirety, so struggles to see how casual snooker fans, or potential fans of the sport could be enticed in by such lengthy contests.

The 39-year-old has only been to the Crucible semi-finals once since his incredible world title triumph in 2010 and he admits that his desire for a change in format is a personal choice, but it comes not just from a playing perspective, but also from an entertainment stance.

‘I’ve got a little bit of an issue with the World Championship, with the length of the format,’ Robertson told the Talking Balls podcast. ‘I feel that matches can drag on a bit and I’ve been sucker-punched into getting bogged down too much and getting involved in longer, scrappier frames. Which is my fault and it happened again this year, even though I said it wasn’t going to happen.

‘Personally I don’t really like the format, I think it’s pretty dated and it can be very stale.

‘I’ve never watched a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. You’ll never get the general public watching a best of 35 from start to finish, ever.

‘They’ll watch the final of the Masters or UK [Championship], they’ll dip in and out of the World Championship but they’ll never be engaged in the whole match.

‘From an entertainment point of view, the World Championship is a struggle for me to watch and I’m a top snooker player in the game.’

The Thunder from Down Under is not calling for a move to short format games at the World Championship, but believes the length of matches over the first three rounds are as long as any games should be.

‘I think best of 19 is great, best of 25 is really intriguing but you should just cut it off at that,’ he continued. ‘You don’t need to play best of 33 or 35.

‘I’ve never watched a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. You’ll never get the general public watching a best of 35 from start to finish, ever.

‘They’ll watch the final of the Masters or UK [Championship], they’ll dip in and out of the World Championship but they’ll never be engaged in the whole match.

‘From an entertainment point of view, the World Championship is a struggle for me to watch and I’m a top snooker player in the game.’

The Thunder from Down Under is not calling for a move to short format games at the World Championship, but believes the length of matches over the first three rounds are as long as any games should be.

‘I think best of 19 is great, best of 25 is really intriguing but you should just cut it off at that,’ he continued. ‘You don’t need to play best of 33 or 35.

2020 Coral World Grand Prix - Day 7
Robertson has racked up 20 ranking titles over his amazing career (Picture: Getty Images)

‘For me personally as a sports fan I’d never tune in to watch it, I just wouldn’t, it’s like the equivalent of an eight-day Test match in cricket, it’s far too long.

‘I feel as though we’re going to lose a lot of potential fans of the sport unless we change it up.

‘I feel as though the UK Championship has benefitted a lot from going from best of 17 to best of 11. The players have adjusted, we’re not concerned about playing these long formats anymore, we just want to play the matches and for people to see good entertainment quickly.’

Robertson is not expecting the format to change any time soon and knows he must learn to deal with the longest matches in the sport if he is to add to his one world title.

However, if the World Championship was played over a shorter format, he believes he would already be a multiple world champion by now.

‘I don’t enjoy playing a best of 33 or 35,’ he said. ‘It’s me personally, and I’ve probably lost a bit of focus during some matches and that’s on me. I need to change that, while this event is as long as it is then I need to adjust to that.

German Masters 2020 - Day 5
Robertson has narrowly missed a return to the one-table set-up in recent years, losing in the last three quarter-finals at the Crucible Getty Images)

‘I’d love it to be a shorter format and I’d probably have won it a few more times since I did, but that’s up to me to change that.’

On the longest matches, Robertson added: ‘As a player it’s kind of boring, you’re not shaking the other guy’s hand and saying, “well played” or “bad luck” you’re saying, “we’re going to continue this four hours later and then the next day.”

‘Sometimes you play a best of 25 over three days and it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a match, it feels like you’re playing three best of 9s at that point.

‘Best of 19 up till the quarters and then best of 25 all the way through would make for a much more entertaining World Championship, that’s my opinion.’

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Twelve
Robertson lost out to Kyren Wilson in the quarter-final stages in Sheffield this year (Picture: Getty Images)

Robertson has previously said he is not a fan of the Crucible ‘from a technical point of view’ as it is too tight for him to comfortably play some shots during the two-table set-up stage of the tournament.

He says there have been shots he simply could not play as the venue is so tight, and would like to see a different venue used until the semi-finals when the event could return to the Crucible for the one-table set-up.

On how tight the venue is, Robertson said: ‘That’s where the Crucible is pretty terrible, really. It’s an amazing place to play when you’re in the semi-finals, one of the best venues you could ever play at.

‘But when it’s that small, compact environment, it’s not a great venue to play at from a player’s point of view. Even though you appreciate all the history that’s gone on there.

‘I wouldn’t mind seeing a change in venue and then bringing it back for the semi-finals and final at the Crucible. I can’t see that happening but that’s probably something I’d look to do.’

Both Ronnie and John Higgins have called for making the World final shorter and got absolutely crucified by the fans for it. Yet, both said that right after winning it and they were exhausted: all Crucible winners are absolutely shattered when they emerge from that marathon. Here comes Neil, fresh at the start of a new season and having won it just once more than eleven years ago…

So here is my take on shortening the format: NO, NO and NO!

The only change I’d like to see in the matches format is reverting to best of 31 for the semi-finals, as it was in the early 90th. I know that there is a higher risk of a short last session with the best of 31, but, on the other hand, the best of 33 often leads to a very late finish on the eve of the Final, putting one of the finalists at a serious disadvantage. Bear in mind that after the match, the players have to speak to the media, and the winner goes first to the BBC studio, and then to the media room. After that, the winner has filming to do with the BBC for the next day features. They also probably need to eat something – after they finish with the BBC – and, with adrenaline still running high, they are unlikely to find sleep easily.

The other change I’d like to see is the Final being played on a Sunday, so that viewers outside UK, who don’t get “bank holidays”, can watch it without needing to take a day off work, or being restricted to just watching the last session until ungodly hours after a full day at work. Why not start the whole thing on the Friday?

I 100% disagree with the current trend to shorten the matches. For me, I’d like to see the UK championship go back to the best of 17 from round one, yes from round one on, with tiered qualifiers. That would help the younger players too as, currently, if they manage to reach the latter stages of the World qualifiers they are faced with a multi session match, and its psychological challenges, often for the first time and they totally unprepared for it.

I know that there is pressure coming from the broadcasters in favour of one-session matches: “Viewers want to see a result” they claim. Possibly … but then the same viewers watch series with a zillion episodes. So?

For me, if fans can’t appreciate the “slow burn” of the longer matches, they are in the wrong sport, they should watch pool.

Neil’s criticisms of the Crucible as a venue on the other hand are justified. In the early rounds, the arena is really too small. The players have only just enough room to manoeuvre around the table and it’s very claustrophobic. I know of a few players who feel physically uneasy in that environment. When it’s packed, the ventilation is left wanting and, if the weather is a bit hot, it quickly becomes very uncomfortable inside. It’s an iconic place, and it’s fantastic when the one table setup is reached but, until that stage, it’s extremely cramped. What’s the solution? I’m not sure. Because moving the early rounds elsewhere would deprive the debutants of the magic of going down those steps for the first time and being welcomed by a packed Crucible audience. It’s not on. Would it be technically possible to remove the first couple of  rows to make the arena a bit bigger? I suppose not, otherwise they would have tried that already I guess.

 

 

 

30 August 2021 – Snooker News

With not much action in the coming day here are two pieces published in the news:

Mark Williams reckons that Ronnie owes him a favour… 

Ronnie O’Sullivan owes me a massive favour for Champion of Champions place, says Mark Williams

Ronnie O’Sullivan was helped out by his old rival at the British Open (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams reckons Ronnie O’Sullivan owes him a ‘massive favour’ after his British Open win is set to secure the Rocket in this season’s Champion of Champions event.

Williams claimed the British Open title on Sunday 22 August, beating Gary Wilson 6-4 in the final in Leicester and he gave his old rival a helping hand in the process.

O’Sullivan, quite remarkably, reached five ranking finals last season but failed to win any of them, so didn’t manage to book a spot in the Champion of Champions by lifting any silverware.

However, due to players winning multiple titles over the last year, places in the event are opened up to the highest ranked players who didn’t manage to qualify.

With the Rocket ranked number three in the world and Williams stopping Wilson from qualifying for the event, O’Sullivan is set for a return to the Champion of Champions and the Welshman is expecting a thank you from his fellow Class of ’92 legend.

Speaking after his British Open glory, Williams spoke of the remarkable achievement that he, O’Sullivan and John Higgins are still competing at the top of snooker nearly 30 years after turning professional.

‘Myself, John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan having turned pro together all those years ago… we are still hanging around like a bad smell,’ Williams told The Sportsman.

‘I have dropped down the rankings a few times and come back up. But we just seem to be sticking around for a lot longer than people expected.

‘I have always believed there are definitely more titles out there for the other two, but I have won another one here and won one last season – so who knows, maybe I can get a couple more?

‘And by winning this week I may have guaranteed Ronnie a place in the Champion of Champions on his world ranking, so that could be a massive favour he owes me.’

Williams took his ranking title tally to 24 with his victory in Leicester cementing his place at fifth on the all-time list behind O’Sullivan (37), Stephen Hendry (36), Higgins (31) and Steve Davis (28).

The Welsh Potting Machine thinks that players of his era and older were only limited by the number of events they played in during their pomp and Judd Trump (next on the list on 22 titles) has a great chance to surpass them due to the regular tournaments on the calendar now.

‘I do think that if there had been the number of events we play in now all through from 1992, then Ronnie would have 100, Higgins 80, and maybe me on 40,’ said Williams.

”Judd has won 11 in two years. There were only 12 tournaments in total in two years at one time.’

The Class of ’92 and Trump will have their next chance to add to their ranking titles at the Northern Ireland Open, with the main stages starting on 9 October in Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Open and then the English Open offer qualifying chances for the Champion of Champions in November, but even if there are two unqualified winners at those events – which aren’t O’Sullivan – that will still only be 15 different champions for the event and the Rocket will take the final spot on the world rankings.

So about this one…

  1. I totally agree with Willo that comparing how many ranking titles players of different era have won makes little sense. When I said something very similar to what he says here about Trump’s tally I got stick (including from Trump)  but it’s only common sense.
  2. I would prefer for Ronnie to qualify for the Champion of Champions on merit … on the other hand making it to 5 ranking finals in proper events is better in my eyes than winning the Shoot Out. So… if Ronnie wants to play in it, good luck to him, I won’t complain!

This appeared yesterday on news feeds

Chinese snooker player Xiao Guodong accuses British competitor of abuse after match, enraging Chinese netizens

Published: Aug 30, 2021 12:57 AM
Photo: Screenshot of Weibo

Photo: Screenshot of Weibo

Chinese snooker player Xiao Guodong said on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Friday that he was abused by British rival, Peter Lines ,with swear words after winning a match. Xiao reported the rude behavior to the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS). “I do not make trouble but also am not afraid of any trouble,” Xiao wrote.

The incident has been considered “a very ungentle scene at a gentle event” on Sina Weibo and in media reports. Chinese netizens strongly condemned Lines for not accepting defeat and insulting Xiao.

Xiao beat Lines by 4-3 and qualified for the Northern Ireland Open on Thursday. After the match, Lines abused Xiao in the lounge in front of other witnesses using “swear words.”

“Peter was also threatening Xiao to step outside the arena for a fight in front of a referee, which is not acceptable and quite intimidating for a player who is coming here from a different country,” according to a letter to the WCBS Xiao posted on his Sina Weibo account.

The letter also said that Wu Yize, Pang Junxu and Elliot Slessor were all witnesses of what happened, adding that security staff had to stop Lines from doing anything worse.

Xiao took to Sina Weibo again on Saturday to thank for all the support from netizens. “I have sent all the details to the WCBS and am waiting for them to announce the investigation results. I will not make trouble and I am not afraid of any provocation. I am a Chinese,” he wrote.

Many Chinese netizens stood by Xiao, supporting him to guard his rights and dignity.

“Do not need to be afraid! 1.4 billion Chinese people are all behind you,” one Sina Weibo user commented.

Netizens also urged the WCBS to investigate if Lines abused Xiao, adding that to correct the damage to the sports spirit, he must be punished and apologize.

“I agree with Xiao’s attitude. No one can unequally treat Chinese people, especially on sports events. We are waiting for a result together with Xiao,” another netizen wrote on Sina Weibo.

When I read this I was surprised for several reasons:

  1. I have known and met both players for over 12 years now and never saw anything bad from either so this surprised me. I won’t take sides and I will wait for WST/WPBSA inquiry. What I do know is that, with a lot at stakes during matches, emotions run high. Mistakes and misunderstandings  do happen.
  2. I was very surprised that nothing was said on WST website.
  3. I’m even more surprised that when WST did react it only appeared on Chinese social media…

WSTXiaoLinesIncidentonWeibo

 

That’s weird to say the least. Why not put this on their website as well? Because, obviously, this was always going to land somewhere in a news feed or on social media sparkling questions and speculations.