The Royal London Watches Grand Prix has a new venue and will revert to a knockout format this year.

It will be moving from the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, which has staged it for the last two years, and is heading to the SECC in Glasgow, a first rate venue that hosted the 2004 Players Championship.

For the last two seasons the early stages have been played in groups. This received a mixed response from snooker fans but most players were against the round robins.

World Snooker’s official press release states: “We would like to thank all the staff at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre for their co-operation and assistance during the last two years. Snooker has a rich history with the AECC and the Royal London Watches Grand Prix has been well supported during this time.”

This is being kind to say the least. Crowd figures were very disappointing – the main reason the tournament is moving to Glasgow.

Aberdeen is a bit out of the way for many – and the venue is not in the city centre – but it attracted huge crowds for the Scottish Open from 1997 to 2002.

Interest failed to pick up again, although some put this down to poor marketing. I well recall Ronnie O’Sullivan coming into the press room at the 2006 event demanding to know why promotional posters for the tournament had only been put up the day before it started.

He had a point.

I think Glasgow will be better supported as it is more accessible and it is good to see this tournament, which began in 1984, continuing.

This was by no means a certainty just a few months ago when it was very nearly turned into a World Cup event.

Most would welcome a World Cup but would not want to lose one of the few long running tournaments the game still has.

But here’s my suggestion: let’s do something different and use a random draw format – like the FA Cup – instead of having seedings.

It would give it a unique identity and cause great excitement for players and fans alike as they wait to find out the various pairings.

This format was used three times for the British Open in the early 1990s.

People often say it didn’t work because Bob Chaperon ended up winning the title but they ignore the fact that the other two winners were Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White.

I think this would, together with an excellent new venue, re-energise the whole event.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to disagree Dave but surely having an open draw in one of the few remaining ranking events would devalue the ranking system even more?
I agree that Glasgow should,at least,improve attendances and the competition reverting back to a straight knockout must also help.
The only time group formats should ever be considered are for overseas events or invitational ones.
Are you aware of any further ranking events being added in the near future?

Dave H said...

There's always talk of new events but nothing concrete - yet!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer.
Do you know how serious any of the talks are/were?
It seems nothing ever materialises so is this just another tactic by the board to cover up their inadequacies?

Dave H said...

There's been discussions for an event in Bahrain for - literally - four years. We're yet to see a tournament there but there's still talk of one.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was another ranking event in China and would expect the Malta Cup to carry ranking status again, hopefully this season.

Anonymous said...

They always say they can't do FA cup draw because people want to buy tickets in advance for their favourite player. What are advance ticket sales like for this year's events? Also, not comforting that every World Snooker calendar says that all dates and venues are subject to change - surely events that are announced should actually take place.

kimball said...

Round robin is never good but
groupings of 4 or 8 with a double
knockout system, meaning that you
are out after two losses could be
used, then every much would count
as important.
Round robin in overseas tournaments,is like demeaning those
Personally, I would like to see a
tournament in China with the status
of UK, regarding rankingpoints.
Prizefunds does not seem to be a problem for chinese sponsors.
100 mill. spectators is quite a thing.
128 players is a drag, as well as
only one PIOS tour.
Asia-middle east certainly deserves

Steve said...

Hi David

I read in the Aberdeen Evening Express that concerts were taking place at the AECC during the week of the snooker. James Blunt and an ABBA tribute show were taking place. It says that World Snooker claims the competition was not moved because of low attendances.

MJ said...

I like the idea of an open draw tournament but agree with those who say it wouldn't necessarily work for a ranking tournament.

I'd have liked to have seen them use that format for Pot Black and have all 96 players involved with the event lasting for a week.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, it’s bad news for snooker now that the GP returned to a full knock out format. Now there is nothing that differentiates this event from all the other minor tournaments (NI Trophy, Shanghai Masters, Welsh Open and China Open). The only thing wrong with the round robin stage was that the groups were too big. With 6 players and 2 going through, there were way too many uninteresting matches toward the end of groups’ stage, when some players are way behind and can’t get enough points to go through even if they win their remaining matches. Groups of four would have been the right choice. A round robin stage should be the rule in every ranking tournament and not the exception. For some reason all football major events have that format.
Now that the only ranking tournament of the season that had a round robin stage is gone I feel the circuit is poorer in diversity of formats and the Grand Prix lost what could have been it’s signature for the future years.

I like the idea of a cup format tournament, as long as it isn’t used in a ranking tournament. If a new event with a Cup style format can be created it would enrich the season calendar in both the number of tournaments and diversity of formats, but I wouldn’t like to see it being used in a ranking tournament, because it has no seeding of players in the draw. And in a ranking tournament, ranking should always count for something or it would be absurd to call it a ranking tournament.