The 2019 Snooker Shoot-Out – the most controversial ranking event on the calendar – gets under way on Thursday at the Watford Colosseum.
Incorporating shot clocks and other variations on the traditional rules of the game, the Snooker Shoot-Out has always divided opinion ever since its launch eight years ago.
While many fans feel like it is a bit of light-hearted fun that can help to break up the campaign, others argue that the event is offensive to the ideals of the game.
The majority, though, come together in unison when believing that it is ludicrous to include the competition as a ranking event – yet, that has been the case since 2017.
Indeed, the Snooker Shoot-Out can now play a vital role in determining the outcome of some important races during the campaign.
Two years ago, Anthony McGill’s triumph helped him to rise into the top 16 in the world rankings and secure automatic qualification for that term’s World Championship.
In 2018, the £32,000 Michael Georgiou earned for his surprise victory practically assured his place among the top 64 in the rankings, thus guaranteeing tour survival.
McGill and Georgiou were also invited to potentially lucrative tournaments such as the Champion of Champions on the back of their triumphs.
The @BetVictor Snooker Shoot Out starts tomorrow! 🙌
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) February 20, 2019
This year’s edition could be no less crucial with the upcoming Players Championship – the second leg of the inaugural Coral Cup series – set to feature the 16 richest players from the money list this season.
The Snooker Shoot-Out represents the last counting event towards the Race to the Players Championship with one spot in Preston still up for grabs.
From Mark Allen as the first seed all the way down to Jimmy Robertson in 15th place, the elite field is almost set.
Only Stephen Maguire, in 16th place provisionally, stands to miss out and, with the Scot among many of the marquee names opting to skip the Snooker Shoot-Out this weekend, he will be relying on other results going his way.
Luckily for the five-time ranking event winner, only four players can usurp him and the quartet of Martin O’Donnell, Noppon Saengkham, Xiao Guodong, and Zhao Xintong would each need to capture the trophy to do so.
Given the fact that emerging through seven 10-minute speed rounds is as much about luck and timing as it is about skill in the Snooker Shoot-Out, Maguire should feel even more at ease.
Meanwhile, the top eight players in the one-year list following the conclusion of the Gibraltar Open next month will feature in the Tour Championship – the Coral Cup series finale.
An exciting new tournament in which the quarter-finals will be played over the best of 17 frames, the semi-finals the best of 19, and the champion determined by a three-session best of 25 frames encounter, the Tour Championship in Llandudno could prove to be one of the highlights of the entire season.
Current One-Year Standings Ahead of the Snooker Shoot-Out
- Mark Allen
- Judd Trump
- Mark Selby
- Ronnie O’Sullivan
- Neil Robertson
- Mark Williams
- Kyren Wilson
- David Gilbert
- Stuart Bingham
- Jack Lisowski
- Ali Carter
- Barry Hawkins
- John Higgins
- Joe Perry
- Jimmy Robertson
- Stephen Maguire
- Martin O’Donnell (Must win Snooker Shoot-Out)
- Noppon Saengkham (Must win Snooker Shoot-Out)
- Xiao Guodong (Must win Snooker Shoot-Out)
- Zhao Xintong (Must win Snooker Shoot-Out)