Judd Trump came from 4-2 behind to beat Dominic Dale 6-4 and set-up a mouth-watering second round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the UK Championship in York.
However, the day will be mainly remembered for controversial comments made by Ulsterman Mark Allen, who launched a scathing attack at World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.
Former semi-finalist Allen had seen off the challenge of English qualifier Adrian Gunnell 6-3 but wasted little time in expressing his feelings towards the direction of the sport in the post-match press conference.
“When Barry came in, one of the first things he said was that the World Championships, UK and Masters wouldn’t be touched. Only 18 months later, the UK format has changed.
“I don’t think he’s pleasing too many players, but anyone who voted for him has only got themselves to blame. I wasn’t one of them.
“I’ve got no doubt he’ll tweak the World Championship. Barry’s just there to make money for himself, it doesn’t really matter about the players. The whole tradition of the game is going to pot.
“It’s not all about bringing people in to watch and have a good time, shouting and having a drink.
“He (Hearn) needs to get away from the darts factor. It’s getting close to that. I think in the long run he’ll probably do good for snooker, but not for my generation. It’s time to let someone else have a go.”
In general, the 25 year-old’s definitive opinions are probably not actually shared with most of his fellow players – although many would admit for the need to changes made to the Players Tour Championship series.
In addition, most players and fans would not be pleased at the alteration to the UK format and the potential shortening of the World Championship too.
Yet, to suggest that it is time for someone else to have a go is absolutely ludicrous.
Hearn’s short era at the helm of the sport may not have been perfect but it has been far from a failure.
Indeed, the promoter has brought snooker from a dying entity back to at least respectability in terms of a viable global sport.
Allen has not been short of an opinion on the subject in the past as well as enjoying a notorious battle of the words with fellow competitor Stuart Bingham that began at this event twelve months ago and continued at the Australian Open last summer.
Whether he is purposely trying to garner a ‘bad boy’ image is anyone’s guess but one thing is for sure, his vocal opinions breath new air into the overall debate as to where the sport is going – and that can only be a good thing in the long run.
For Trump, the Bristol potter edged past Welshman Dale but not before it looked for all money that the China Open champion was going to be heading for an early exit.
In a largely scrappy affair, Dale opened up a 4-2 advantage with a top run of 118 in the second frame and visibly had his young opponent on the ropes.
Trump was increasingly going for more and more reckless pots but, fortune favouring the brave, enjoyed a remarkable run of the ball that dramatically altered the pattern of the encounter in the seventh frame.
He first fluked a red, then fluked position on a pink before wildly missing the resultant effort only to see the ball rebound into the middle pocket to continue the break.
Thereafter, Trump settled and Dale began to miss more often as his confidence and patience grew thin before the World Championship runner-up finally completed the triumph.
In the two evening ties, Mark Williams was nowhere near his best but withstood a tenacious fight back from Joe Jogia to emerge victorious 6-4 while Stephen Lee became only the second Top 16 player to be sent crashing after a 6-3 defeat at the hands of Ricky Walden.
It’s the type of comment i’ve come to expect from Allen. To be asking for Barry Hearn to step aside and let someone else come in is idiotic. Barry Hearn set out his plans to the players, he was voted in and now in the year and a half he’s been in power the snooker season has gone from six ranking events and a Masters to eight ranking events this season, 12 PTC’s, a Snooker World Cup, an event in South America, a ranking event in Austrailia, a Sky Shootout, and possibly much more to come. Snooker is now truly a global sport.
Allen should consult his accountant and compare his possible earning figures before Hearn and his possible earnings now, you don’t need a degree in accountancy to figure out the answer to that.
The format for the UK was altered basically to suit the BBC, and i for one think it works, three sessions of snooker a day, the fans both in York and at home are getting to see more players and more matches, and it will revert back to the best of 17 for the semi finals and best of 19 for the final.
Yes the PTC’s are flawed, but with some minor tweeks they can become an integral part of the snooker season. Players do have to incur more travelling expenses but as i said snooker is now a global game, for too long all snooker events were confined to the UK, now with the recent visits to Brazil and Austrailia, the game is getting worldwide attention.
India is more than likely going to be the next country to stage a ranking tournament.
The new ranking system introduced by Hearn was long overdue, now players have the choice to either play in or miss events but will now do so knowing that with ranking cut off points at various times during the season their position will change depending on performances throughout the season.
Back to Allen, if he was so concerned about Hearn introducing a darts culture into snooker than he should ask himself why he accepted a paid invitation to appear in the recent Power Snooker event, if he was expecting Crucible type silence and order during that tournament that he may be just as idiotic as his comments were yesterday.
It’s hard not to agree with most of that assessment to be fair. But snooker having someone with a bad boy image isn’t entirely a negative thing, I don’t think. Every sport has them and it adds an extra dimension to the public viewing as well as for us bloggers and media. It certainly has attracted a lot of debate this week.
Totally agree, there will always be a side attraction to most snooker events, no doubt Allens comments this week have made headlines and as always with any thing in the public domain there is no such thing as bad publicity.
I hope no action is taken by the governing body towards Allen, as idiotic as his comments were players should be allowed voice their opinions or grievences within reason of course.
I don’t think he’ll be sanctioned for his opinions – it’s because he swore in the press conference I believe. Bit harsh nevertheless.