Balance the Equation

With a brief respite before the Premier League on Thursday and the sixth Players Tour Championship event at the end of this week, there is an opportunity to discuss a couple of things that have arisen recently among the snooker community.

Let us get one thing straight. What will be said below is in no way crying or moaning about the influx in tournaments in the last fifteen months or so.

However, there is no point in resting on your laurels and issues that come to light must be raised and debated at whatever time necessary.

As the second main ranking event of the campaign was completed earlier in the month – with Mark Selby lifting the Shanghai Masters trophy in China – people have come to a stark realisation that there will not be another proper ranking event until the start of December.

In that time, and including last weekend’s PTC 5, there will have been six extra PTC weekend events.

That means that over the course of almost three months there will be no ranking event for the regular snooker fan.

All of the PTC events are streamed online while some of the remainder will be televised live on Eurosport but these events are vastly different to what people are generally used to when viewing the sport.

All of the matches in the series are played over best of seven frames and there is, generally, a speedy format that ensures that a player that reaches the final will have played three encounters on either the Friday or the Saturday and four ties on the Sunday.

Without being able to know for absolute definite what time each player is competing, it is tricky for a fan to make plans to be able to watch their favourite competitor.

In a separate point, the fact that there are only PTC events from now until December means that it will constantly be a case of a short format, with no instance of the regular longer framed clashes that most of us are still accustomed to.

The question has to be asked is the balance right?

In the new year, there will potentially be seven ranking events in just over four months including the PTC Grand Finals that were held in Dublin last March – not to mention the invitational Masters.

Seven as opposed to only three between July and December this year seems to be a little out of kilter with the overall equilibrium of the campaign.

There is scope to suggest that the second half of the season will be so entertaining that each week a new inpouring of viewers will gather to watch the continuous snooker.

Yet, why risk that in the first place? A lot of people would rather pay more attention to bigger events and to have a three-month interval between Shanghai and the UK Championship – one of the sport’s three majors – alienates them.

Up until this season, the World Open, formerly the Grand Prix, was held in October and that always bridged the gap.

But the World Open appears set to move away from Britain and into Asia for a more lucrative market, thus a new slot on the calendar in what looks like being the end of February.

Was there a need for this and, if so, could there not have been a replacement found for the October slot? The Welsh Open, for example.

Again, it must be stressed that this is not an attack on Barry Hearn and company’s efforts to bring snooker to a more global environment with the inclusion of more events.

In addition, the PTC series is becoming a huge success with opportunities for both professional and amateur players alike to earn some money as well gain ranking points (only Pros).

However, with only one PTC event after Christmas there is cause to suggest that a greater balance could be implored in the future.

With a gap of so many months, it is foreseeable that some will have questions as to why there is such a long period between major events by the time November comes around – and perhaps rightly so.


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