So I’m back from the Championship League at Crondon Park in Essex and am delighted to be able to report that this new event appears to be a worthwhile addition to the snooker calendar.
There were a few fears that the players wouldn’t take it seriously but, from early on, it was clear that they were.
Indeed, when Mark Williams played Matthew Stevens they fought every bit as hard as they did when they contested the 2000 world final.
When Mark missed out on the play-offs yesterday he was absolutely gutted.
This goes to prove that a round robin format will work if there is financial reward - £100 per frame in this instance – on offer.
This is a perfect event for the players. With such big gaps between tournaments, what they want is quality match practice. Even better, they are getting paid for it.
Joe Perry ended up with £7,700 and is still going in the event. Ryan Day pocketed £6,100 in just two days.
This begs the question: why on earth would any player turn down the chance to play in this – as Graeme Dott, Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire did?
What else would they be doing other than practising in the club?
I suspect they didn’t quite appreciate the opportunity provided by the Championship League. If they speak to any of the players who did compete then I’d imagine they’d regret not accepting the invite.
Credit must go to Barry Hearn and his Matchroom team for making this innovation work. They are open, honest and good natured people who will also hold their hands up if things need changing.
This resulted in the semis and final being reduced to best of fives because the general pace of slow was slower than imagined. Next time, the matches will start at 1pm rather than 2pm. The cloths seemed a little on the slow side but this can be sorted out before the event resumes.
The matches were streamed on the web by Perform, an enthusiastic, hard working bunch who did an excellent job in producing live, high quality snooker on the internet all day, free for whoever wanted to watch it.
Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby are among the players coming into the next group.
They’ve certainly made the right decision in deciding to play.