After each big tournament this season we’ll be reflecting on the latest action, so let’s take a look at a few things learned after the Shoot Out.
Selective Participation is Risky
One luxury of being a top player is the ability to pick and choose the events to participate in throughout a campaign.
The players at the top of the rankings list have so much money accumulated that an immediate plummet down the pecking order is unlikely if one or two tournaments are skipped.
That’s certainly the case with Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is still fifth in the official world rankings despite only entering eight out of the 13 ranking events so far this season.
However, that list is based on a two-year rolling system, a method that is not used to determine the line-ups in the Coral Series events.
The World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, and the Tour Championship all rely on rankings accumulated from the current campaign alone.
After a disappointing spell of form in which the “Rocket” hasn’t captured a ranking trophy, O’Sullivan duly entered the Shoot Out last week clinging on to the 16th and final qualifying spot for the Players Championship.
The Englishman bowed out in the second round, taking the destiny out of his hands, so when Michael Holt lifted the trophy for his maiden ranking success at the Colosseum on Sunday it meant that the 44 year-old dropped below the cut-off point.
O’Sullivan is the two-time defending champion of the Players Championship but an unusually barren spell, coupled with a perhaps regrettable decision to skip five events on the schedule, has cost him an opportunity to reign for a third time in Southport this week.
Great night for @hitmanholt First career ranking title; £50k; snatches last Players Champ place from Ronnie O’Sullivan; almost certainly a spot at Champion of Champions; and watched by wife Amy expecting their second child. Dedicated win to poorly father 👋👋 #Shootout
— Hector Nunns 🌹🇪🇺 (@senornunes) February 23, 2020
It’s Not All Luck
There’s obviously a great deal of luck that goes into winning a tournament like the Snooker Shoot Out.
Yet, some of the results over the years would suggest that it can’t always be just about fortune.
After the Shoot Out in 2020, the tenth edition of the controversial competition, there have been three players who have reached the final twice.
That includes this year’s winner himself with Holt having won 13 out of his last 14 matches in the event – a sole defeat coming against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh twelve months ago.
There’s no doubt that Holt would have needed things to go his way from time to time, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but the 41 year-old evidently boasts a bit of skill and know-how to be able to master the quick-fire format.
The Shoot Out is as much about nerve as it is about talent, but Holt proved that he had both over the course of the week in Watford.
The “Hitman” did win two events classed as minor-ranking earlier in his career, but this represents his first at the full ranking event level.
There’ll be no asterisk next the Nottingham player’s name in the record books, despite many disagreeing with the Shoot Out’s elevated status.
Following his triumph, Holt will be considered a ranking event champion just like Un-Nooh and Michael Georgiou before him, and added bonuses are his place in the lucrative Players Championship and probably next season’s Champion of Champions to boot.
Very nice of amine amiri to let @hitmanholt win it 🙌🏻😂
— Judd trump (@judd147t) February 23, 2020
Know the Rules
One of the reasons that the Shoot Out divides opinion so drastically is the fact that it uses different rules from the traditional game.
However, whether in agreement or not, everyone understands this change before the event gets under way.
Poor old Amine Amiri didn’t get the memo, though, and Holt’s victory lap could have been very different had he not received some of that aforementioned luck against the Moroccan in the first round.
The African Games gold medallist, a rookie on the Main Tour this term, evidently didn’t understand the guidebook as he twice failed to hit a cushion when taking a shot – a Shoot Out requirement.
Amiri looked bemused as the referee called a foul and subsequently offered Holt with the cue ball in hand, to place wherever he wanted on the table.
The 25 year-old was very much in the game at one point, but ultimately paid the penalty and crashed out.
Holt, of course, made the most of it all by proceeding to etch his name on the trophy.
Live and learn.
Photo credit: World Snooker Tour