Championship League Snooker – Sponsor and how to watch

BetVictor will be the title sponsor for the event.

Matchroom Multi Sport is pleased to announce that BetVictor, a leading online gambling company, will be the title sponsor of the next two stagings of the BetVictor Championship League Snooker, which begins at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes on Sunday, September 13th.

Following the unprecedented success of this summer’s Championship League, the event has been expanded to a full WST ranking event featuring 128 players over 21 days, split into three weeks across September and October.

The popular group format employed during the summer’s Championship League returns, with players split into 32 four-man groups for Stage One and prize money standing at £328,000. World No.1 Judd Trump gets the tournament underway on September 13, while newly crowned six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan enters the fray as the second seed on October 5th.

Matchroom Multi Sport Managing Director Emily Frazer said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with BetVictor once again. We have a strong, well-established relationship with BetVictor having worked with them across a number of Matchroom Multi Sport events, including last season’s Championship League Snooker.

“This new agreement builds upon their support of snooker and we’re thrilled to be able to work alongside BetVictor with a longer-term commitment for the next two Championship League Snooker events.”

BetVictor Director of Sportsbook Matt Scarrott added: “It’s a pleasure to team up with Matchroom Multi Sport again and we’re really looking forward to what should be a fantastic tournament. There’s plenty riding on it for the players with the Championship League Snooker now a full WST ranking event and we’re expecting three weeks of exciting, high-quality, quick-fire action.”

And how/where to watch has been announced.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker will be broadcast live around the world, with two tables of action to be enjoyed every day.

The first two weeks will be broadcast globaly on the below platforms, with FREE UK coverage at  Matchroom.Live

Table One
Viaplay – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland
Zhibo.TV – China (including Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)
SportKlub – Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Luxembourg
Silknet – Georgia
TV Poland
NTV – Russia
Rest of the World – Matchroom.Live

Table Two
Zhibo.TV – China (including Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan)
Rest of the World – Matchroom.Live

So, unfortunately, nothing changes. The sponsor is again a betting/gaming company, and because it is specifically specified that the coverage will be free in the UK, I can only suppose that the rest of the World will have to pay.

This, once again, shows that, although snooker has the ambition to be a global sport, it remains in so many ways strongly UK centered. OK, this is a matchroom event, but it counts as a WST – WORLD Snooker Tour – ranking event. Because of the history of the sport, and because England still accounts for about half of the main tour, and China is the second best represented nation, you would expect that the majority of viewers would be in the UK and China. So this decision is hard to explain by the “costs” aspect, as it’s free for them. New viewers and new fans are more likely to come from the “Rest of the World”, those for whom it’s not free. That doesn’t make sense to me in terms of promoting the sport globally.

.Any chance to reconsider Matchroom? 

The Chalk – issue 5 – is out.

HigginsChalk

“The Chalk” is a free online magazine, written by people who just love their cue sports.

Issue 5 is out today and I have contributed to it with reviews of the 2020 World Snooker Championship and the 2020 World Seniors Snooker Championship. But there is much more to it. Barry Stark, who coaches Kyren Wilson, shares his experience and knowledge on video, Rodney Goggins remembers “Team Events”, Tom Moorcroft talks about Ronnie speed record, Snookerbacker shares his highlights of the championship and life as usual gets in the way of snooker for Max Potter. Enjoy!

You can subscribe to The Chalk here and it will be delivered to your mailbox.

Whilst still waiting for the draw … a very bad news and a podcast

Let’s start with the bad news, and, if confirmed it’s VERY bad news.

Apparently, the China govt has published an advice/recommendation/law – I’m not sure how to name this – on July 6 that basically means that there will be no International sporting event of any kind allowed in China, hence no snooker tournaments in China until 2021 the earliest.

Here is the source:

Screenshot 2020-07-10 at 09.11.23ChinaGovtAdviceScreenshot 2020-07-10 at 09.11.00

I don’t understand any Chinese but I have no reason to doubt this is genuine.

That means that the idea to have a string of Chinese ranking events at the start of the next season is as good as ruled out, and there would be no Shanghai Masters either. This may hit the game hard, because the Chinese events are actually more lucrative in general than the European ones. It’s a big loss of revenues for the payers. It could probably impact the perception and broadcasting of snooker in China as well, and with it the financial support China gives to the sport.

If this decision is extended further in 2021, it could be a disaster. If not, then, WST will probably have to rethink the calendar, pushing events that are usually played early in the season, after the new year. It will probably also have an impact on the Champion of Champions criteria.

And them we have another David Hendon and Michael McMullan podcast. They answer fans’ questions – there are some interesting ones – then turn to discussing the “Crucible Curse” and why it’s no curse.

davehendon · Snooker Scene Podcast episode 115 – Be Here Now

 

Snooker in the press …

Today should have been the eve of the 2020 World Championship, and it should have been the “Press Day” in Sheffield. Instead, we are in lockdown, and there is no certainty whatsoever that we will have a World Championship this year…

All the same, both BBC and Eurosport will show a lot of snooker over the next two weeks, and snooker is a hot topic in the press as well.

Judd Trump is the defending champion, but he’s not at all the main topic in the media. It’s mainly about Ronnie, Steve Davis,

Here is a short selection…

Ronnie picks out his best ever performance (metro)

Ronnie O’Sullivan picks out ‘by far the best performance’ of his snooker career

Phil Haigh – Thursday 16 Apr 2020

Reflective RonnieRonnie O’Sullivan has reflected on his peak as a snooker player (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan says his 2012 World Championship win has been by far the best performance he ever turned in as a professional snooker player.

The Rocket has plenty of highlights to choose from, having won 19 Triple Crown titles and competing with the elite of snooker for the last 25 years.

It is his 2012 Crucible triumph that stands out in his mind, though, when he swept aside the competition, beating Ali Carter 18-11 in the final.

A 13-10 victory over Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals was O’Sullivan’s sternest test that year, with no one else really getting close to him

The 44-year-old rates that World Championship win, one of his five in total, as his finest performance and credits his choice to ease off the practice beforehand, heading to Sheffield fresh and hungry for success. A philosophy he adopted from his love of running.

‘A lot of the time in snooker you feel like you have to put in six hours a day and I was doing that all the time and I’d go to tournaments and not feel excited to play,’ O’Sullivan told INTER SPORT running on Instagram Live.

‘When I started running I thought I had to run every session hard, but the guys at the track said “no, Tuesdays and Thursdays are our hard sessions, we’ll race Saturday or Sunday, the rest of it has got to be easy, and if you really have a big race coming up, the week before, really taper off.”

‘I listened to them and took the advice on board and they were right.

‘I realised that for years and years I was doing the wrong thing in snooker. I was over-playing, by the time I got to the tournament I didn’t really feel that excited to play. The way I approached the running I thought I’d do that for the snooker. It really helped.

Ronnie 2012 ChampionRonnie O’Sullivan dominated the 2012 World Championship as the number 14 seed (Picture: Getty Images)

‘When I played in the 2012 World Championship, I played a lot all season, tournaments and practicing.

‘Maybe about eight or nine days before, I had a practice session and it was so bad, the guy beat me 9-0. I thought “I’ve got to go to the World Championship next week and if I keep playing the way I’m playing I probably won’t be very optimistic about my chances.”

‘I just left my cue under the table, I didn’t come back to it the day before I had to go to Sheffield so I had eight or nine days off.

‘I went to Sheffield and I’d absolutely lost nothing but what I gained was the enthusiasm and the hunger to want to play snooker.

‘All that year of playing and practicing hadn’t gone anywhere, but the 2012 World Championship I couldn’t have played any better. I totally put that down to adopting the philosophy of tapering off.

‘Maybe before I’d have played hard during that week, got to Sheffield and thought “it’s not happening” and mentally not been in the right shape to even get through the first round.

‘Because I’d tapered off, I trusted that I’d put everything in place, 2012 was by far the best performance I put in as a professional snooker player.’

Ronnie 2012 ChampionThe Rocket claimed his fourth world title in 2012, adding his fifth the following year (Picture: Getty Images)

Many see O’Sullivan’s greatest achievement as his defence of the World Championship title 12 months later in 2013.

The Rocket had the entire season off and returned to defend his title in similarly dominant style to how he had won it the year before, making 13 centuries in the tournament.

O’Sullivan was undoubtedly the most potent force in the game at that point, which makes it all the more surprising that 2013 was the last time he lifted the World Championship trophy.

I remember that Championship vividly. Ronnie certainly wasn’t the dominant force that season. He only just avoided having to qualify for the World Championship. He had to win the 2012 German Masters and to make the semi-finals in the 2012 Welsh Open to secure his place in the top 16. Only the year before, he had withdrawn from the 2011 World Championship after a spell of nearly six months without winning a match. He only changed his mind after his then manager persuaded him to start working with Steve Peters.

His health had been poor for most of the season, and his private life was not a happy one.

On the evening before his QF match against Neil Robertson, we had a chat and he told me that he expected a very tough challenge. But he was clearly determined to try his hardest.

Having his son watching him win made this title extra special for Ronnie. 

WDSC_1763

Steve Davis would do anything to avoid to have to watch the “Black Ball Final” once again (sports mole)

Steve Davis jokes he’ll break lockdown rules to avoid re-watching 1985 final

steve-davis-dennis-taylor

© Reuters

Even long days of self-isolation will not stir Steve Davis to sit through another repeat of his defeat to Dennis Taylor as the World Snooker Championships prepare to roll back the years over the next 17 days.

The postponement of this year’s event, which was due to begin in Sheffield on Saturday, has led the BBC to fill the hole in the schedule with a series of classic re-runs, in which six-time champion Davis features prominently.

Beside his 1984 final win over Jimmy White, Davis’ final defeats to Taylor and Joe Johnson will also be revisited, and the series will begin with a repeat of his stunning 10-1 first round loss to Tony Knowles in 1982.

Davis - Taylor

But it is the prospect of once again watching the most famous frame in snooker history that has left Davis, now 62, joking about the drastic measures he may be forced into taking to avoid it.

Davis told the PA news agency: “If they are going to show the 1985 final again I’ll need to see the schedule because I’m going out – and I’ll break any rules to do it.

“I’d rather watch any other defeat of mine. In fact, you can strap me in a chair and I’ll watch ‘Steady’ Eddie Charlton playing 25 frames against Cliff Thorburn until three o’clock in the morning.”

Davis - White

Davis no longer has a snooker table in his house and has resisted the urge to return to the game in any kind of playing capacity since announcing his retirement in 2016.

“Once I stopped playing competitively my desire to play just evaporated,” added Davis. “I still appreciate the skill, but I no longer feel the need to put the balls in the pockets.”

The tournament’s postponement has robbed the sport of the traditional April date it has kept since it was first played at the Crucible in 1977.

Davis retires

For all the multiple-title winners like Davis and Stephen Hendry, it is a history propped up by a colourful cast of characters whose success may have been more fleeting, but their place in the annals of the game is assured.

Knowles now lives in the Lake District and still occasionally frequents the Crucible, while Johnson, who went on to be beaten by Davis in their second final in 1987, is a regular commentator on Eurosport.

Others, like Davis’ former world doubles team-mate Tony Meo, turned their backs on the game and have resisted all entreaties to return. “I haven’t spoken to Tony for years,” admitted Davis.

Matchroom Mob

For every member of Barry Hearn’s ‘Matchroom Mob’, and so-called bad boys like the flamboyant, white-suited Kirk Stevens, there were others whose qualifications as characters remained somewhat more tenuous.

In an era which currently offers the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, Davis gives short shrift to suggestions that the 1980s somehow represented the halcyon days for recognisable names.

“It’s the same thing as when people say policemen are getting younger these days,” added Davis. “It’s actually the selective memory of people who are getting older.

Screenshot 2020-04-16 at 20.59.30.png

“If you name some ‘characters’ – Terry (Griffiths), Cliff – they weren’t exactly the fastest players on the planet.

“It will be nice to watch all the old stuff but it will remind us that a lot of it wasn’t that good. There was no century break in the 1985 final, and the standard of play these days has gone through the roof.

“I think we’re living in the golden age of snooker now, and we’ve got so many great players to tap into. You’ve got to be even more outrageous if you want to be a character today.”

:: The BBC’s series of classic Crucible matches starts with Davis v Knowles on Saturday April 18 at 1500.

I totally understand Steve Davis. It must be horrible for him. And frankly, it was a terrible final. The drama of the last ball has somehow obliterated the fact that the standard of this match was very low.

Coronavirus messages – Neil Robertson and Ronnie

The coronavirus has been dominating the news and impacted our lives for several weeks now. It’s the same for everyone, including snooker players.

According to “The Sun” Neil Robertson is offering to help other snooker players who face temporary problems because of the lack of earnings:

LEAN ON NEIL

Neil Robertson offers financial help to fellow snooker stars affected by coronavirus shutdown

KIND-HEARTED Neil Robertson has offered to financially help any struggling snooker players during the coronavirus crisis.

Australia’s 2010 world snooker champion says he would support close pals if they find it hard to pay their mortgage before the rescheduled World Championships this July.

Robertson and Trump

Neil Robertson (pictured to the left) wants to offer financial help to snooker players who have been affected by the coronavirus crisis. The 2010 world snooker champion has earned more than £900,000 over the past two years.Credit: Getty Images – Getty

World No 2 Robbo said: “Should any struggle or need advancement for their prize money at the worlds, then they can pay me back as soon as they get paid from World Snooker. It’s no problem.

“If a player I know came to me and said, ‘Look, I’m really struggling to pay my bills, are you all right to front me as a guarantor for the first round of the worlds?’ Well, I’d do that no problem. Absolutely.”

Snooker chiefs have set up a hardship fund against future prize money for those down the rankings.

Some people in the UK may have mental health issues and we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity. People are trying to be generous and help elderly people.

Neil Robertson

Robertson, 38, who earned £915,000 over the past two years, knows how fortunate he has been and is willing to help out the baize community.

“Some people in the UK may have mental health issues and we’ve seen the best and worst of humanity. People are trying to be generous and help elderly people. In Cambridge where I live, everyone’s pulling together.”

The Crucible showpiece was supposed to start on April 18 but will be moved to July 25.

It could be staged behind closed doors in Sheffield or with restrictions in place for the crowd.

With Premier League football on hold, the Tokyo Olympics postponed and Wimbledon cancelled, top-class snooker could save our summer.

Left-hander Robertson and world No 1 and defending champion Judd Trump were the men in form before the tour was postponed.

But Robertson reckons maverick Ronnie O’Sullivan might fancy his prospects of winning a sixth crown.

The Thunder from Down Under said: “Snooker is a very good TV sport. And it’s probably more equipped to deal with this situation than maybe other sports.

“Lifting a major trophy in front of an empty stadium would be a very strange feeling.

“But then you’d rather do that than not play at all. It’s a tough balance.

“Form goes out of the window now. It’s like starting a new season. We cannot do exhibitions or smaller events to get match sharpness.

“It could be wide open. Myself and Judd were clear favourites from the end of the season.

“But I feel Ronnie has a better chance than maybe if he had been busy in the second half of the season. He’s one who would be the favourite should it go ahead.

“A crowd plays a massive part with Ronnie. It can get on top of his opponent but at the same time, sometimes they can get on him if he’s not entertaining.

“At the same time, he won’t have the pressure from the crowd. Sometimes they can get on him if he’s not entertaining.

“When you watch Barcelona play you want to see Lionel Messi score two goals. If he hasn’t after 80 minutes you can perhaps get restless.

“But if the tournament goes ahead with full safety guaranteed, it’d be better to play than not at all.”

Robertson, who is sponsored by Dental Centre Turkey, is able to practise three times a week at his Essex club with no one else around.

This lockdown period has allowed him plenty of time with his wife and two young children.

He added: “When I do start playing again it’s important to be sharp. A long break can cause long-term damage to a player’s technique.

“It can be dangerous for a snooker player to go 2-3 months without even touching a cue.”

This is a genuinely kind gesture from Neil who is one of the nicest and more positive person on the tour.

Meanwhile, this was published on Youtube:

The channel/user behind it is named “Covid 19” and the associated link brings you to the WHO site on the page offering info about the pandemics.

I’m not too sure what to make of this. Ronnie doesn’t look great in there. Maybe it’s just because the camera is fitted with a wide-angle lens, and the focus is poor, but he appears rather fat and out of shape, physically and mentally.

He thanks China for the help they sent to Italy and praises their response to the crisis. Both of it makes sense knowing how much Ronnie loves China and keeping in mind that his mother is Sicilian.

China indeed sent equipment and doctors to Italy at the worse of the epidemics. One interesting thing I read about that “mission” to Italy, is that one on the most experienced  Chinese doctors said that we, in Europe, were making the same mistake that they had made in Wuhan at the start of the epidemic: putting people with mild symptoms in self-isolation at home. Even if those people try their best to self-isolate, very few of them actually live alone at home and, despite everyone’s best efforts, they are bound to contaminate others in the same household. He said that some time into the crisis, they had come to understand that, despite the Chinese respecting the social distancing measures much better than most Europeans do, spreading continued and as much as 80% of contamination happened inside families. They then started systematic testing and isolation for everyone coming up positive in ad-hoc facilities, no matter how mild the symptoms were. That resulted in a very fast decrease in new cases.

Going back to Neil’s article and his views on Ronnie’s chances, should the World Championship be played end July, I’m again in two minds about it. Ronnie is rather fragile mentally and I’m afraid that all the anxiety around these epidemics might affect him badly. On the other hand, not being seen as a favourite and not having the media attention, would probably help him. Also, in the past, when the season only started in September, Ronnie used to do very well in the first event of the season: he seemed to need less time than most to brush off the cobwebs.

Judd Trump, on the other hand, has been busy talking to Stephen Henry on Instagram a few days back and it was reported by the press. He insisted that the World Championship can’t be played behind closed doors and wrote Ronnie’s chances off. That was before Barry Hearn announcement.

Regarding that announcement, the dates Barry secured overlap with the dates announced for the postponed Tour Championship. I’m not sure how that’s going to work. Judd Trump is the seed n°1 in both events and all eight players involved in the Tour Championship are seeded at the Crucible, but their seeding could still change.

Should both events go ahead, this means two things:

  1. That because the draw of the World Championship can’t be made before the definitive seeding is known, it may cause a major issue as it might not happen until the second day of the World Championship is completed, and, whatever happens, it will certainly make the promotional media work extremely difficult.
  2. Should Judd Trump reach the final in Llandudno, there is no way that he could start his defence on the first day of the World Championship. This won’t go down well will the people who bought tickets for the morning and evening session of the opening Saturday, knowing that the defending Champion was due to play.  It may also not particularly please the sponsors and the BBC