The 2012 Premier League got off to an excellent start tonight as four of the ten competitors got their league campaigns under way in Skegness.
In front of a packed crowd, the foursome provided a night of thorough entertainment and high-quality snooker – with star attraction Judd Trump producing the highlights.
In Group A Shaun Murphy – the only person to break Ronnie O’Sullivan’s winning record in the Premier League that dates back to 2004 when he won the event in 2009 – went down 4-2 to China’s Ding Junhui, one of the pre-tournament favourites.
In the evening’s second bout, Trump took advantage of some missed frame-balls from Stephen Lee to open up an unassailable lead and eventually run out a 5-1 victor.
In the process, the soon-to-be 23 year-old fired in successive century breaks to dazzle the exuberant audience that had come out in their numbers to support the event.
There are many great things about the Premier League but arguably the best is the fact that it travels to different locations and unused venues the length and breadth of the country over the course of the 11 weeks.
The likes of Sheffield, York and London are traditional hotbeds of the game with major tournaments forever being staged in the cities but the PL gives snooker fans from various regions the opportunity to witness their favourite players in the flesh.
Of course, many will be disappointed that O’Sullivan is not there this year to defend his title, a title he has won a record ten times.
Many have suggested that the tournament has lost some of its credibility, its clout as one of the sport’s biggest attractions with the absence of the world champion but, in truth, it could make the competition even more interesting.
In recent years, it was a case of the ‘Rocket’ turning up, picking up his winner’s cheque and heading home with a big fat smile on his face, much to the detriment of all of his opponents.
While the fans will initially be sorry, the players won’t be, and this should lead to a highly competitive round-robin stage followed by the play-offs in November – which in the end should hopefully make the fans forget all about their favoured box-office champ.
Okay, maybe not forget. But basically the PL will be just fine without him. The first proof of this was in evidence tonight.