Barry Hearns Crucible announcements

As per usual  during the World Championship, Barry Hearn took the opportunity to make some announcements to the assembled media. There will be an increase in prize money, with £500000 for the WC winner, but also interestingly more money for the second and third rounds losers. There will also be more events.

New 8 players ranking event added 

http://www.worldsnooker.com/tour-championship-added-itvs-series-snooker-events/

The new Tour Championship will be added to World Snooker’s calendar for the first time in 2019, televised by ITV4.

The event will run from March 19 to 24, with the leading eight players from the one year ranking list, after the seeding cut off point, competing for total prize money of £375,000 and a top prize of £150,000.

This follows in the series incorporating the World Grand Prix, which is for the leading 32 players on the one year list, and the Players Championship which is for the top 16.

All three world ranking events will be televised by ITV4 for the next three years.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to add the Tour Championship to our global calendar, it will be a highly prestigious event for the best players in the world.

“The race to qualify for this series of tournaments begins from the very first moment of the 2018/19 season, and every pound earned counts. All players will be striving throughout the season to move up the one-year ranking list and make it to these three crucial and highly lucrative events.

“We’re also thrilled to be working with ITV on this series for the next three years. They are a great team to work alongside, with fantastic production values. The viewing figures they receive for snooker are outstanding and growing year on year so their appetite for broadcasting our sport is growing in tandem. This is great news for snooker fans as the amount of coverage on television throughout the season continues to increase.”

The venue and ticket details for the Tour Championship will be announced soon, as will the calendar and seeding cut-off points for the 2018/19 season.

That’s excellent news. ITV coverage is always excellent. However I hope it will be available on Eurosport somehow as well because ITV is not easy to access if you are not in the UK. Speaking to John Parrott and Stephen Hendry during the MSI of this afternoon match, Hearn said that matches in this event will be long format: best of 17, best of 19 and best of 25.

The Shoot-out to stay and be covered by Eurosport

http://www.worldsnooker.com/snooker-shoot-stay-eurosport-quest-agree-take-host-broadcaster/

EurosportSnooker’s Shoot Out event will be televised live by Eurosport and Quest for the first time next season.

The world ranking tournament, which has been running since 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

Broadcast of the event has now been incorporated into World Snooker’s long-term partnership with Eurosport and Quest, which runs until 2026. The Shoot Out brings the total number of events broadcast by Eurosport to 19 (17 in the UK) with qualifying rounds and other events available on Eurosport Player.

The 2019 Shoot Out will run from February 21-24, at the Watford Colosseum, with Eurosport and Quest as the host broadcaster.

The tournament features 128 players in a flat draw, each needing to win seven matches to take the title. Michael Georgiou captured the trophy for the first time in 2018, beating Graeme Dott in a dramatic final.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Eurosport and Quest on the Shoot Out for the first time. We have established a fantastic partnership with them in recent years. Eurosport really is the Home of Snooker, broadcasting to 137 million homes in 54 countries. We have also seen incredible viewing figures on Quest since they first televised snooker in 2016.

“The Shoot Out is a wonderful event which has become one of the highlights of the season for fans who enjoy the fast and furious pace of play. The 2018 Shoot Out was the best I have ever seen, with so many matches going down to the last few seconds, including the final which was a great moment for Michael Georgiou. It’s a chance for up and coming players to make a name for themselves.

“I’m sure snooker fans will be thrilled that the Shoot Out will stay on the calendar and will be televised both on Eurosport and free-to-air on Quest.”

The agreement to broadcast the Shoot Out supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker throughout the season. The pan-European broadcaster already screens in excess of 800 hours of live snooker action throughout the season.

Laurent Prud’homme, Senior Vice President Rights Acquisition and Syndication at Eurosport, said: “The idea of making snooker quicker and more appealing to a wider viewership through the Shoot Out concept aligns neatly with our own objective to appeal to new and younger and audiences.

“We’re delighted to secure the rights to showcase the Shoot Out on Eurosport and Quest in the UK and are already looking forward to seeing the best players in the world go toe-to-toe – not only playing against esteemed opponents, but also playing against the clock.

“The agreement supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker, where we already offer fans in excess of 800 hours of live action from around the world throughout the season.”

Ticket details for the 2019 Shoot Out will be released soon.

I couldn’t care less if I’m honest…

And, finally, Hearn vows to clamp on slow play… 

Now that average shot times are available, Hearn wants to use that data in order to speed up the game in an attempt to make it more entertaining. If I understood correctly, players who get an average shot time above 30 seconds in a match, will be warned at first, get a “yellow card” (whatever that means ???) if they do it again, and get fined if they persist…

I’m not sure I’m convinced about this approach. There are basically two types of slow play. One is the slow pace dictated by the situation in the match and on the table and I strongly disagree with any attempt to “clamp” on that. It would only cut off a very important aspect of snooker, the battle of wits and encourage negative shot selections. The other is the deliberate and unnecessary slow play in an attempt to disrupt the opponent concentration and rhythm. That one is tackled by the section 4 of the rules: such behaviour is gamesmanship. That part of the rules is rarely enforced and that has to be addressed by encouraging the referees to use their discretion when they see it happen. Nothing more or different is needed. Some will tell you that this type of deliberate slow play isn’t an issue in snooker. I believe it is. There aren’t MANY culprits, but there are a few players who often resort to this. I have witnessed a prime example of it in the World Championship qualifiers last season, by a player who eventually DID qualify having used these tactics in the last two rounds.

Barry Hearn’s Full Press Conference

 

Ronnie news and snooker news

Ronnie was out on social media today to confirm that the sequel of “Framed” will be out in November and its title is “Double Kiss”

On twitter:

my new book, out Nov but pre-order it here and i’ll sign it too. thanks for your support Ro x

DoubleKissCover.jpg

And on Facebook

please to say my new book will be out in November. More stories of Frankie, you can order a signed copy here thanks for your support Ro x

As a reminder, here is the “trailer” …

The race is on. The stakes are high. Frankie James thought his troubles were behind him. He’s busy running his Soho Club, and his brother’s finally out of prison. But when a postcard arrives from Mallorca, he’s stopped in his tracks . . . Is it from his mother – the woman who’s been missing for eight years? When the goddaughter of London’s fiercest gangster, Tommy Riley, goes missing in Ibiza, Tommy knows there’s one man for the job – Frankie James. Just when Frankie was on the straight and narrow, he’s now faced with an impossible choice. If he agrees to help find Tanya, he’ll be thrown into a world of danger. If he doesn’t, Tommy could destroy him. For Frankie James, old habits die hard. One thing’s for sure, playing with this gang is no game. But with everything at stake, how can Frankie say no? Double-Kiss is the fast-paced, thrilling sequel to Framed, by snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Note that, unfortunately, whsmith delivers only in the UK, so this offer is only valid for UK readers…

Now about the snooker

It transpired on social media earlier last week that the Shanghai Masters 2017 was still no certainty, that the deal wasn’t done yet and the entry pack not out. Worldsnooker has since removed the tournament from its “live scores” calendar, so I reckon it’s not going to happen. That the Shanghai Masters disappears is a shame, that the week between 13 and 19 November becomes free would be good news, in my opinion at least. I’m not sure how the top players, who are only human, were supposed to cope with playing in China for the International Championship, next in the Champion of Champions in Coventry, then in China again for the Shanghai Masters, then back to UK for the Northern Ireland Open considering that there isn’t a single “free” day in that schedule. It would not have been just about the hectic traveling, it would also be about how the human body adjusts to time difference and broken sleep patterns.  You can’t realistically expect them to play in every of those tournaments AND to perform at the top of their ability in each. That said there is still a “China Ranking Event” in Worldsnooker Calendar but unless it’s all 128 at the venue, I wonder when the qualifiers could possibly be played, Maybe right after the English Open? Anyway, personally, I hope it’s scratched.

Players are currently in Yushan for the World Open and there have been a few notorious casualties already: Mark Selby, Michael White, Liang Wenbo, Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins and Graeme Dott are all out already (*) as the last 32 is starting tomorrow. Apparently the venue and conditions are very good. But the trip to get there is quite long and tiring – it’s a rather remote place – and a number of players arrived without their cue or their luggage. This of course isn’t Worldsnooker fault, but the more connections and different transports are needed, the likelier these incidents become. And there are complaints about the hotel(s) too. Why not stick to big cities, with easy connections? Surely this would allow more fans to come and watch live as well?

(*) Ali Carter, the defending Champion and Ronnie didn’t enter, Judd Trump didn’t qualify.

Ronnie has safely arrived in Beijing

Just a short one as I’m traveling home today from Scunthorpe.

RonnieSuperStar

Super Star Online, the sponsor of the World Seniors Championship and also the sponsor of Ronnie in China, has put a short video on their weibo earlier this morning showing Ronnie in the car, en route to his hotel, and expressing his pleasure to be in China and saying he’s looking forward to the tournament and meeting the Chinese fans.

Good news!

Busy day in China for Ronnie

Ronnie arrived yesterday in China and the least we can say is that he’s been kept very busy!

He was welcomed by LE TV, a major sport channel at their headquarters but from what I understood from weibo, it was a lot about music. He met the fans, signed autographs and did a bit of coaching too …

 

He also took part in the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation Billiards Charity Fund launch ceremony, held in one of Soong Ching Ling former residences in Beijing. WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson was present as well. 

Of course Ronnie is in China primarily for the International Championship 2016 and he is due to do some work for the sponsor as well as playing. The tournament starts on Sunday and Ronnie’s first match, a last 64 against Xia Guodong, is scheduled on Monday evening (local time, hence afternoon in Europe).

Pictures source: weibo. 

Ronnie personally donated 300 000$ to the Charity fund.

IntChamps2016Charity7.jpg

 

and he shared this on weibo:

Very proud day announcing my work with the Soong Ching Ling foundation

Framed

 

Today, Ronnie announced the publication of his new book, a crime novel, with this message:

Book launch is 17th November, hope you like it, Ro

Framed

Interested? Here is the amazon link .

Frankie James is a young man with a lot on his shoulders. His mother disappeared when he was fifteen; his father’s in jail for armed robbery; and he owes rent on the SoHo snooker club he inherited to one of London’s toughest gangsters. Things, you’d think, can only get better. Actually, they’re about to get a whole lot worse.

He always swore to his mum he’d keep his younger, wilder brother out of trouble, but when Jack turns up at the club early in the morning, covered in someone else’s blood, with no memory of the night before, and with the cops hard on his heels, it seems there’s no way Frankie can make good on his promise. With Jack banged up, awaiting trial for the vicious murder of a bride-to-be – a murder that’s sparked an even more vicious gang war between London’s two foremost crime families – Frankie knows a conviction could quickly turn into a death sentence.

To prevent that from happening, he needs to find out who framed Jack and why, but that means entering the sordid world of bent coppers, ruthless mobsters and twisted killers that he’s tried all his life to avoid getting sucked into. Now, however, he no longer has any choice. But in the dog-eat-dog underworld of 1980s SoHo, is he tough enough, and smart enough to come out on top?

Clearly the plot was inspired by Ronnie’s own live experience …

Hector Nunns take on Ronnie’s sixth Masters

O’SULLIVAN RAISES THE BAR YET AGAIN

O'SULLIVAN RAISES THE BAR YET AGAIN

Ronnie O’Sullivan was in the history-making mood at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night as he equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of six Dafabet Masters titles.

The Rocket did it in the grand manner, reeling off a perfect 10 frames in a row to beat a demoralised Barry Hawkins 10-1. That has never before been done at the Masters.

It was the biggest winning margin since Steve Davis whitewashed Mike Hallett 9-0 back in 1988, also the last time there was an all-English line up from the semi-finals onwards.

Not bad for someone who could have been forgiven some rustiness after his eight-month sabbatical, and O’Sullivan’s re-tuning plan worked to perfection.

He effectively sacrificed the German Masters by using those qualifiers for his very first matches back, and then tore through the Group One field at Crondon Park in the Championship League the week before the Masters.

O’Sullivan, who turned 40 in December, becomes the oldest player to win this title since his former mentor Ray Reardon in 1976 at the age of 43. With John Higgins back winning titles, the golden oldies are doing the game proud.

O’Sullivan said: “I am part of a right Dad’s Army, it’s like the OAPs out there with John Higgins also winning titles at 40. But it’s great to be competing, we should be in the Seniors really.

“I am never normally surprised to win tournaments but to get this one a little, the first big one back after eight months.

“But I still think if I can produce some form it doesn’t matter how long I take out, you have that talent and game if you can produce it. It is great to match Stephen’s record here, let’s hope I can win No7.”

Amid the great play and the eulogies and records, there were also plenty of parallels between this Masters success and the 2013 World Championship win for O’Sullivan, and not just because Hawkins was sitting in the other chair for the final.

Both came after him taking a long break away from the sport, and both also saw good players fail to produce their best against O’Sullivan even in the spells when he was not on top form.

This last aspect continues to frustrate some onlookers. There is no doubt how difficult a challenge O’Sullivan represents, and how much trouble he can leave opponents in on a regular basis.

That of course loads extra pressure on when the chances do come along, and only Mark Williams got close last week. Selby brought the best out of the now six-time winner, but Bingham and Hawkins could have done better.

It was the same in 2013 at the Crucible, when Ali Carter, Bingham and Judd Trump could not put enough pressure on him.

If you had to name four players who can genuinely take on O’Sullivan believing 100 per cent they can beat him, you are probably looking at Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Higgins and Selby – possibly Shaun Murphy too.

Partly through the luck of the draw and partly through O’Sullivan not playing so much, Robertson simply has not run into the Rocket often enough for the neutral’s taste.

At the Masters he ran into an inspired Trump, the equivalent of an opening batsman getting out to an unplayable delivery. There was very little he could have done differently.

In their only three big matches in the last five years, there was a 6-1 win for Robertson in the 2015 Masters, a 6-5 win for O’Sullivan at the 2013 Champion of Champions, who also prevailed in a superb 13-10 contest at the 2012 World Championship.

If there was a wish for 2016, it would be that these two get paired together a bit more.

Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos