News

Stinted Season Opener Damaging to Snooker

The Australian Goldfields Open ended on Sunday and thus concluded the unusual entrée to the new season.

There was less than three weeks of a break in between the climax of the 2013/14 campaign, in which Mark Selby captured his maiden World Championship crown in Sheffield, and the opening segment to this one with the qualifying rounds for the opening two ranking events.

Two weeks off followed before an Asian-Oceania leg of the calendar featured the Yixing Open preceding this pair of tournaments in Wuxi and Down Under.

One would have been forgiven to suspect that with these tournaments conjuring up champions in the name of Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, that the new season had already moved past first gear.

Snooker venues for the next month.

Snooker venues empty for the next month.

Yet, there is nothing scheduled for an entire month and we will see no professional snooker between now and the return to Europe for the Riga Open on August 7th.

This constitutes one of the longest respite from competition since World Snooker supremo took over the reins of the sport back in 2010.

In addition, it completely goes against Hearn’s previous promise of delivering 51 weeks of competitive opportunity for the players to participate in every year.

Now, that amount of weeks in any sport is borderline ridiculous and it isn’t a surprise to see the popular promoter perform a u-turn.

After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that he has boldly stated something before acting to the contrary – take his good friend Steve Davis’ situation for an example.

In this regard, it is definitely a good thing for players and fans alike that there is more than just the paltry couple of weeks off in May that has been customary in recent years.

However, a stagnated start to a season like the one we are currently experiencing now will do no favours to anyone, or indeed to the sport itself.

First and foremost, from the activity on social media alone, not to mention the other snooker websites out there, interest in the Yixing Open, Wuxi Classic and the Australian Open were at an extreme low.

That said, towards the end of this stint it was visible that the investment of time was growing and a momentum building.

This is certainly true for some of the players.

Neil Robertson would have felt the best having collected his 10th ranking event title before just coming up short for a second successive year in his home event in Bendigo.

The player who defeated him in the final in Oz, Judd Trump, will be rejoicing having gained success in a ranker for the first time in almost two years.

The likes of Xiao Guodong, Mark Davis, Martin Gould and, to a slightly lesser extent Michael Holt and Ryan Day, have shown form and no doubt would be hoping they could continue playing while their cues are hot.

Instead, there is now this four-week standstill to proceedings and the question must be asked as to why?

Why has it been so difficult to schedule the season properly?

Of course, contracts with promoters and venues must be signed in advance but how much intellectual foresight on the part of the World Snooker organisers has been demonstrated?

Surely, it would have been better for the season to be delayed until the middle of June or even around now at the beginning of July.

In that scenario, everybody would feel that there was a proper break in between seasons and there’d be no need for an undesirable timeout just as everybody feels ready to accept its return.

To be fair, perhaps this is a one-off and the powers that be are working in tandem to try to rectify the situation for the upcoming campaigns.

For that outcome we will just have to wait and see, but one can only hope.

Now, all we can do, quite literally, is sit and wait.



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.