Snooker Returns in Riga

Professional snooker returns on Wednesday with the Riga Open as the European Tour kicks off in Latvia.

Selby beat Allen 4-3 in last year's final - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Selby beat Allen 4-3 in last year’s final – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

After more than a three-week summer break from the sport, it will be interesting to see how the marquee players perform.

In truth, even though there has already been the World Cup and Australian Open, the season wont feel properly set into motion until September.

The Riga Open is followed by the Shanghai Masters qualifiers, but subsequent to that is another fortnight holiday so there is very much a continuous stop-start feeling.

I’ve made my own personal feeling on this quite clear over the last couple of years.

I don’t have too many problems with there being a long, arduous season with an abundance of tournaments for the players to get involved in.

What does bother me are these stagnated periods which do very little for the flow of a campaign.

Having multiple consecutive tournaments, as in the second half of the season, is exciting and leads to an escalating demo of drama and tension for both the players and fans to revel in.

Having a tournament here and an event there, with far too much time in between, ensures that any excitement generated inevitably loses momentum.

Current contracts must certainly be fulfilled, but thereafter there needs to be a concerted effort to build a more compact calendar.

If this means resorting back to the old system of having an entire summer off and starting the season in August or September, then so be it.

Anyway, that’s for the future; for the here and now we do have some action on the baize to look forward to.

Most of the big names bar Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui are making the trip out to east Europe.

The latter’s decision is perhaps strange, given the fact that he endured such a mediocre last season, but there are five other European Tour events for him to potentially sink his teeth into.

World no.1 Mark Selby and world champion Stuart Bingham head the seeded stars, with the likes of Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Mark Allen and recent Bendigo champ John Higgins in attendance as well.

Of course, this being a satellite event, the pros are joined by a sizable group of amateurs hoping to cause an upset or two.

The preliminary rounds kick the competition off for the first two days before the last 128 commences of Friday.

Following his semi-final exit in the World Under-21 Championship in Romania, Ireland’s Josh Boileau has made the short trip north and will be hoping to get his European campaign off to a good start, with it offering various avenues onto the Main Tour.

Boileau is joined by countrymen Daniel O’Regan, Tony Corrigan, Dessie Sheehan and national champion Brendan O’Donoghue in the amateur rounds as they seek to join Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien and David Morris in the main draw.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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