This weekend marks the return of the Shoot-Out to our screens, this year sponsored by Coral and staged at The Hexagon in Reading for the first time.
The Shoot-Out began in 2011 and offers fans a variation of the traditional game with emphasis placed on speed and loud entertainment.
This is one of the rare occasions when noise inside the snooker arena is encouraged, rather than ruled upon with impatience.
The Shoot-Out invites the top 64 ranked players in the world to compete in a series of straight knockout rounds lasting just one frame each.
Each game lasts only 10 minutes with a 15-second shot clock initiated for the first five minutes before the timer is reduced to only 10 seconds per shot for the remainder of the tie.
Players must also hit a cushion (or pot a ball) with every shot, so to discourage playing negative safety, while all fouls result in ball-in-hand.
While the rules have been tinkered with, the object of each frame remains the same – score more points than your opponent.
Thus, by winning a mere six frames lasting a total of only one hour, one speedy potter will pocket a cool £32,000.
While most players have taken to the concept as a bit of fun across a single weekend, the Shoot-Out has been met with mixed reviews from fans.
The staunch tradionalists hate the gimmicks and see no reason to tarnish the sport’s reputation in such a tacky manner.
However, several others enjoy the change of pace, literally, as running around the table and making ridiculous decisions amid the pressurised conditions appeal to many’s sense of entertainment.
And the Shoot-Out is just that – a bit of fun and entertainment, certainly nothing to be taken too seriously.
Its major downside is that too many of the frames are actually one-sided, with players now accustomed to professionally running down the clock, and because there aren’t enough thrilling climaxes a lot of the matches peter out rather boringly.
But the Shoot-Out definitely has a place on the calendar and it’s good to have an extra option to look forward to every season instead of just the norm week in, week out.
The simple matter of it is, if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.
On that, there’s been a change this year with ITV4 agreeing a three-year deal to televise proceedings – starting on Friday and running until the tournament’s end on Sunday.
Michael White is the defending champion and is back to defend his title, while the likes of Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham are also taking part.
It’s really a lottery, though, so if you think that I’m going to dissect the draw and predict a winner, well, you can think again.
Categories: Snooker News