Three things learned after the International Championship
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Three Things Learned After the International Championship

After each tournament this season, we’ll be taking a brief look back at three things learned from the concluded action on the calendar.

Three Things Learned After the International Championship

World Domination for Trump?

If anyone had any doubts about the credentials of Judd Trump after his superb World Championship success in May, they surely have been squashed after his performances in Daqing.

Trump, playing in his first tournament since that maiden glory at the Crucible Theatre, was rarely threatened as he coasted to a twelfth ranking title.

The Englishman’s 6-2 victory over Joe Perry in the last 16 guaranteed his return to the number one spot in the world rankings for the first time since 2013.

That he overtook Ronnie O’Sullivan in the pecking order was telling, in the same ilk as his demolition of the “Rocket” in the prestigious Masters earlier this year.

Everything of late points to the developing plot line of Trump’s impending domination in the sport.

Only O’Sullivan could live with the soon to be 30 year-old in this kind of mood, but the former’s sketchy levels of participation will always leave the door ajar for the pretender to take the mantle of being snooker’s king.

Shaun Murphy is Swinging Again

Shaun Murphy’s run may have ended in defeat to the world’s best player at present, but at least the “Magician” demonstrated a welcome return to form.

Murphy celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday with a triumph over the defending champion Mark Allen that provided him with his biggest paycheck in a year and a half.

After capturing the 2017 Champion of Champions at Ronnie O’Sullivan’s expense, Murphy endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign and it looked as though his time at the top may have been coming to an end.

Fans were even more convinced when, following a year of first round exits in ranking tournaments, Murphy dabbled in more television work during the World Championship and subsequently made the odd decision to enter qualifying for The Open in golf.

However, the 2005 world champion has clearly been back on the practice table and a change in his technique, which has seen his bridge hand edge significantly closer to the cue ball, appears to have worked wonders.

Murphy’s still young enough to challenge for another few years and his place among the top 16 is safeguarded for the time being.

One thing that will be of serious concern to his supporters, though, is his return in ranking event finals – with Murphy having now lost six in a row at the latterly stage.

Boring Chinese Events

Well, this isn’t exactly a new thing learned, more a continuation of what has been said for a number of years.

There is a serious problem with Chinese events that eventually needs addressing.

Before anybody jumps on the “we once had only six ranking events” train, we all know, so don’t.

This isn’t about being ungrateful, because the majority of sound-minded people are aware that the impact of China has generally been excellent for the game.

But there can’t be anyone out there who can say with a serious face that there is any passion or excitement in watching these events on TV.

There were two mouthwatering semi-finals in Daqing and both of them were badly attended, a picture that was mirrored throughout most of the competition. 

Even matches involving home hero Ding Junhui weren’t selling out, with the atmosphere remaining flat for a lot of the final when the most tickets seemed to have been sold.

Whether it’s the size of the venue, marketing, or ticket prices, an effort needs to be made to inject some life into these events in China.

For the players it’s terrific to have these opportunities to make more money, but at what cost to the boring image of the sport it depicts on TV around the world?


  1. Carl Hungness

    It would appear on site attendance does not have much to do with prize money paid, thus the world-wide TV audience is to be considered as central to the success of any tournament. The significant purse available for the China event has to come from somewhere so it would seem the TV audience is strong enough to support it. Of course for the purists it is a shame not to see the house packed with rabid fans as we see at the Crucible, but we can’t transfer passion. The players have to be more than satisfied with the purse and I haven’t seen any on-site interviews with the fans in attendance to get their views on why the event hasn’t sold out. Nor have I seen any reportage on ticket pricing, so we have reasonable questions. There has to be some snooker journalists in China whose opinions should be shared here.

  2. I’ve heard poor attendance in China mentioned many times, usually by people who don’t even go to tournaments in the UK. Last season I went to the English Open, UK Championship, German Masters and World Championship qualifiers, plus several days in Preston for qualifiers. I tend to watch the younger players, and I can say that there aren’t many spectators for those. It’s really the Crucible, the big invitational events (Masters, CofC,…) and the semi-finals onwards of other tournaments that get packed out, plus Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White matches of course. It takes years to develop a fan-base. The ticket prices are relatively expensive, but it’s also the lack of availability of working people in China to go to matches – it’s still a fairly niche sport. There are a huge number of fans in China, but spread out over 10 million square kilometres. In most cases, the big matches can be seen on CCTV5 anyway. The attendance will probably increase gradually, but gain a boost when there are Chinese players regularly winning tournaments. I think we should be far more worried about what’s happening to the European events.

    As for Shaun Murphy, that extraordinary match against Yuan Sijun might have turned his career around. He did win the Champion of Champions in 2017, worth far more than most of the so-called ‘ranking’ tournaments, but the defeats in finals since have been against Ronnie O’Sullivan (twice), Mark Allen and now Judd Trump, each playing at their absolute best. Shaun’s real problem is the succession of losses against significantly weaker players in early rounds. He hasn’t been able to get any momentum or confidence going. This could change quickly if he has a couple of deep runs. He does have some easy draws coming up.

  3. Pingback: По следам International Championship

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