The proposed change to the Challenge Tour in snooker has been labelled as a “dumb decision” by Barry Hearn.
World Snooker chairman Hearn was responding on social media after a wave of criticism followed Monday’s announcement of a new play-off system.
Rather than granting two-year tour cards to the top two performers of the series, as was the case during this season’s inaugural staging of the secondary circuit, a total of 16 players from the final Order of Merit list after the completion of ten events will advance to a play-off tournament.
The latter event will then result in the two finalists being awarded with the coveted Main Tour spots.
There was an immediate backlash from players and fans alike, with many pointing to the fact that the new system was potentially rewarding mediocrity – something that Hearn has always vehemently campaigned against.
Mark Allen stated that it was “very disappointing for amateur snooker” while Joe Perry called it a “terrible decision”.
Amateur players like Steven Hallworth, Sydney Wilson, and Barry Pinches were among those who expressed their concerns.
Hope of a potential reversal remains, though, as Hearn suggested that a rethink was possible.
So do I. Dumb decision so let me review with my colleagues.
— Barry Hearn (@BarryHearn) March 26, 2019
The majority of players who commented didn’t have much of an issue with the implementation of a play-off itself, rather the complete disregard for the competitors who produce strong results throughout the campaign and finish top of the standings.
A balance between one or two automatic positions and an additional spot being awarded from the play-offs could be a more appropriate compromise.
The Challenge Tour in snooker was launched last year in a bid to increase the levels of competitive snooker among the amateur ranks.
English duo Brandon Sargeant and David Grace topped the order of merit standings and were granted with two-year tour cards that will commence next season.
However, the initiative wasn’t without its teething problems and of particular concern was the low entry numbers into the majority of the ten tournaments.
The same number of events will be staged on the 2019/20 Challenge Tour, with six set to be held in the UK and four across Europe.
Like last time, there will be £10,000 worth of prize money on offer from each event.
As things stand, in order for players to have a chance of taking part they must first enter the 2019 Q School, with entries for that competition closing on Wednesday at 12pm.