19.10.08

STRANGE FINAL, GREAT TOURNAMENT

The Royal London Watches Grand Prix final was one of the strangest I've ever seen.

John Higgins was in complete control at 7-2, even though he wasn't playing his best stuff.

He became unusually anxious, Ryan Day recovered, and then the mistakes grew on either side.

In the end, Higgins won 9-7 to cap a great week at the SECC in Glasgow.

Does anyone now seriously prefer the round robin format to the random draw?

Those who warned it would produce a sub standard winner were well and truly proved wrong.

Unlike last year, not a single player has publicly complained about the tournament format. Neither did I hear any moans about conditions or much else for that matter.

The venue was first class, the crowds were very encouraging, the tournament was well organised and there was plenty of top quality snooker and interesting stories.

Judd Trump came good for the first, but surely not last, time.

Day proved his fighting qualities by coming through three deciders, including a 55 clearance to the black to see off Mark Selby.

Peter Ebdon added a bizarre bit of theatre by lying on the floor after suffering some bad luck at the end of his defeat to Jamie Cope.

All in all, the Grand Prix was a success story.

Don't let anyone tell you interest in snooker is over in the UK. There's plenty of life in this sport yet.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to say I'm not a fan of the open draw format, as it distorts the seeding system.

For example, at every other tournament this season the defending champion gets the number one seeding, and one of the main advantages of that is not having to play Ronnie O'Sullivan until the final.

But at the Grand Prix, Marco Fu had to face O'Sullivan as early as the second round. This was just one example of the distortion of fairness I'm talking about.

I might warm to it a bit more if the draw was conducted properly, but unfortunately it already seems to have been sucked in to the tiresome BBC/Rob Walker circus.

Monique said...

Does anyone now seriously prefer the round robin format to the random draw?

Yes I do! yeah ... I know ... bring them rotten tomatoes on my face! But to me the round robin is the fairest of all formats as it truely favours consistency over several matches.
And I'm not a single bit "excited" by the random draw. But then ... I'm not the "gaming/betting" type at all.

stuartfanning said...

So Dave if what you say is true why can't they find a sponsor for the World Championship, as well as The Masters and other events?

Monique said...

I also wonder if the audience would have been that "encouraging" had John Higgins, the local man, not gone the distance. What if Ding had won in the quarters and no Scott was left in the race?
Do you have stats about per match attendance?
I'm also wondering if that many persons have made the trip to Glasgow from abroad or distant UK places with no idea what match they would be given to watch? I wouldn't. I know you never have certainties. But at least ... probabilities.

Dave H said...

Tickets for the final sold out midway through the tournament, so it made no difference who got through

kimball said...

If there,ever, should be round robin again, the it should be in
double knockout format.
Ex. 4 players in a group, losers
play losers, 2 losses and you are out
undefeated (2 wins) is nr.1 in the group.
Nr.2 is the one with only one loss.
It is very fair since every match is important and is best run in groups of 4 or 8.
Regarding open draw, downers happen, I would have prefereed to
keep Fu and O'Sullivan separated to
make sure there could be rematch -
final eventually.
Otherwise ok.

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of the round-robin format as there'll always be some lose matches towards the end and it's generally hard to get an overview of who is playing when and who needs which result to get through - at least with the 8 groups of 6 players each we had last year.

I would rather stick to the usual seeded draw though I don't agree on anon's comment it was "unfair" to Fu that he had to play O'Sullivan in the second round. What's unfair about that? In many other sports, the defending champion has to qualify next time (i.e. football world champion Italy) and has no guarantee whatsoever to avoid playing the world's best team before the final.

cheers, Eric

Anonymous said...

David

There is life left in snooker, but it is going to take major life-saving surgery to keep it alive, such as the open draw format. What is the next big innovation for snooker.
Crack that and snooker might be able to relax on the sun lounger rather than bob around in the ocean gasping for air.

Jonathan said...

Perhaps World Snooker could try the shot clock in one of its tournaments - I know people might see it as a 'dumbing down' of the discipline but all forms of cricket co-exist quite happily (test, one day and 20-20) so why not snooker. Then again, it was the brainchild of a 'third party promoter' so they may not want to be seen to be following suit.

Matt@PSB said...

I agree that the open draw was a success, a huge improvement on the round robins last year.

One thing that annoyed me with the venue though was the sound of all the helicopters landing seemingly every other frame!

Anonymous said...

round robin cannot work unless groups are limited to four or preferably three players.
The random draw worked well from last 16 on- all was needed was for it to be properly conducted.
Fu was unfortunate with the draw (and doubly so as Ronnie played well for the only time all week against him) but that is how it is. In the early eighties draws were fixed tightly so the world number 16 always had to play the defending champion in the last 16 in every tournament- this was 'fair' according to rankings but meant the same players were competing against each other in the same round every tournament all season! Maybe we should have the random draw in more tournaments as the cream will always rise to the top.

Anonymous said...

Just to add my voice to those that would still prefer a round robin format.

I think the open draw makes a mockery of the ranking system and should be banned from ranking tournaments as soon as possible.

Players didn’t complain about the format for the same reason many of them wouldn’t mind playing the World Championship in China if they doubled the prize money. They aren’t stupid! The old group’s format made them play 9 matches to win the title. With this one they only have to play 5 to win the same amount of money.

The Grand Prix is the minor tournament with biggest prize money. Compared to the Northern Ireland Trophy, an equivalent event, it pays 2.5 times more money to the winner. It would only be fair to make the players ‘work’ a little more to earn it. A format like the FIFA World Cup at last 32 stages would be the ideal format.

Plus, draws with seeding exist in part to avoid the ‘big names’ to face each other early on. By using a random draw WSA is sending the message that there aren’t any ‘big names’ in the top 16 of tour and we might as well play bingo with the draw.

Mig

Anonymous said...

I thought the random draw worked well and enhanced the tournament however I thought a lot of the snooker was of a very poor standard.
I also fear that this tournament marked the end of the great Stephen Hendry as a force in the game.I really hope this is not the case but his performance against Higgins would seem to indicate that he has not got much left in the tank.He desperately needs a good run in Bahrain or the UK.If this does not happen then it may be time to think about retiremennt because it hurt me badly to see my hero struggle the way he did against Higgins.

Anonymous said...

My point about it being unfair to Fu is that Stephen Maguire (twice), Dominic Dale and Mark Selby were all seeded number one this season for ranking events they won last season.

They all earned this right and the advantages that go with it. So did Fu, but he then had that taken away.

So Fu was denied one of the benefits which every other ranking tournament winner gets, purely to satisfy the endless obsession with gimmicks which exists among people who run major aspects of the game but don't actually seem to know anything much about it.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get what was the point af this random draw? Making it harder for spectators to follow? Giving Rob Walker more TV-time? Putting all interesting matches in earlier rounds?
There is nothing wrong with usual seeded draw and it is fair to all players. I can understand the round robin formant because it favors consistency better players usually come out on top. But random draw? What's the point in playing consistently and earning a number 1 spot in rankings if you get the number 2 as your second round opponent? Let's get rid of rankings altogether then and make 1000 players play the whole month with the random draw - now that will be exciting... not.
I've stopped watching halfway through the second round. All this mess made the whole tournament boring.
And I think players should get no ranking points for this - what does it have to do with the rankings anyway?

DSh

Matt@PSB said...

For a one off tournament I think it is ok really, if it were every event then yeah I would be against it, but the Grand Prix has always been a little different and I think that this is an exciting solution.

The random draw I thought was exciting, the fact that you didn't know who was going to play who until shortly before and that you could get ties like Hendry/Higgins in round two...you can't say that's not exciting.

Yes it is unfair on the players at the very top of the rankings but ultimately this week we ended up with the two players who had played the best snooker all week in the final. It wasn't as if they beat nobodies either, the cream rose to the top.

The fact that as far as I know none of the players have had anything bad to say about it speaks volumes for me.

Anonymous said...

"The Grand Prix has always been a little different"

Has it? How? Apart from the group stage format which was only brought in two years ago and which proved very unpopular.

"I think that this is an exciting solution"

Solution to what?

jimo96 said...

I know none of the players have come out and slagged off the random draw feature, but the comments above prove it's not altogether popular among snooker fans. When is the GP (which incidentally, has only been "different" for the last 3 seasons)stop messing about with gimmickry?

If the GP wants to really stand out as a tournament, then make all the matches best of 11 or 13...at least that way the extra ranking points would be justified. Or try out a rule change that makes for more positive snooker, or...just something that isn't overly difficult to follow (round robin) or pointless (random draw).

The round robin system would be good for a season long event, where the positions are updated after every round (a season long series of "Championship Leagues" involving all 96 main tour players, anyone?).

And the random draw only carries any excitement if it's done between the last match of one round finishing, and the first one of the next round starting....NOT when 4 of the previous rounds' matches have to be played. But then that can't be done because of ticketing issues, which makes it pointless for a week long event.

Good event though, all of Ryan Day's matches were thrilling, especially the Selby and Carter ties, and good to see John Higgins getting some consistency back.

ProSnookerBlog said...

Anon, the Grand Prix used to always have a much flatter draw and the top 16 players came in at an earlier stage, at the last 64 stage I think? It has never been quite like the other events.

And a solution to the BBC's desire to differentiate the GP and generate interest in it. I believe that compared to the UK's, Masters and the World Championship, the interest tends not to be quite as high for the GP and that is something they have tried to remedy by trying different formats.

Jimo, I agree about the timing of the draw, but I guess the BBC wanted it done at prime time, not at 11pm or something. That said, in football they have replays and draw "zzzz or yyy to play xxxx" so I don't see a huge problem with that personally.

Dave H said...

Had the Grand Prix not had a new format it may never have taken place

Incidentally, Marco Fu was all for the random draw

Anonymous said...

"The Grand Prix used to always have a much flatter draw and the top 16 players came in at an earlier stage, at the last 64 stage I think? It has never been quite like the other events."

This simply isn't the case. It used to be that all the top 32 came in at the last 64, but that was the standard format for ranking events in those days. It only changed for the Grand Prix when it became that way for all events in 2000.

So in the interests of accuracy, let's dispense with the notion that the Grand Prix had some sort of tradition of being different to other tournaments prior to 2006, because it didn't.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, the open draw was a great success and there's no harm in having one tournament on the calendar per year like this. It's like the FA Cup excitement of throwing up a big match early on in the tournament like Man U v Arsenal but then the final could still be Man U v Chelsea.

Anonymous said...

It isn't really a valid argument to just say something "was a great success". Saying "Let's face it" doesn't strengthen the point either.

In what way was it a success?

Sammy said...

LOVED THE TOURNAMENT
Random draw is brilliant.

Sammy said...

LOVED THE TOURNAMENT
Random draw is brilliant.