The emergence of China as a force in snooker was one of the most important developments of the decade about to end so it was perhaps apt that Ding Junhui won its last ranking event tonight.

His victory in the Pukka Pies UK Championship was hard fought. He beat four members of the world's top five in Telford, culminating in a dramatic 10-8 victory over John Higgins in the final.

Ding's fourth ranking title makes him the most successful player to come out of Asia.

Higgins missed a simple brown to lead 8-7 but it was through carelessness rather than pressure. Ironicially, he slipped up because he was playing for position on the blue to give him extra insurance. He took his eye off a seemingly unmissable brown and the match turned at this late stage.

Credit, though, to Ding for the way he held himself together at the end.

He is a fine young player who has now won ranking titles by beating then four greatest players in snooker history in finals: Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Ronnie O'Sullivan and now Higgins.

China remains important to snooker's future growth. It won't all rest on Ding's shoulders but he remains the standard bearer.

His victory capped a superb tournament that was well attended and marked out by some very exciting matches.

But what a shame that, yet again, it was a midnight finish. These used to be a novelty, now they are commonplace.

This is too late for kids, too late for those with work in the morning and too late for casual viewers - the very people snooker needs to attract.

Starting at 7pm would at least mean that, come 10.30pm, a casual viewer may stick with the match because there are only two or three frames to go rather than a more daunting five or six.

Not a word of how the match ended will appear in most editions of the morning newspapers.

And the peak viewing audience figure is almost certain to be around an hour before the end.

Let's hope Barry Hearn forces a rethink in future.


Anonymous said...

hmmmmmmmmm sorry david ur so wrong on this one, most finals dont go the distance so if they started at 7 pm it would be all over by 8.30 latest, which is when most of us parents settle down to watch tv, so it would be lost to most viewers, i have to say dave most of your comments lately are far off the mark, maybe you need to rethink things over the break

Anonymous said...

Tips his hat at Dave and gives him the big C'MON, C'MON Peter Ebdon style for predicting Ding to win this, Ladbrokes here i come :)

Anonymous said...

The late hours are even more late for Eastern Europe viewers, in some cases time difference is +2 hours, so end of the match Sunday night 2 a.m.:)Why can't the matches start a bit earlier? And shouldn't the semis be on the same day? Higgins had a tough match against Ronnie and made probably because of that uncharacteristic errors in the final. Extra day off for one player is bit unfair.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see the viewing figures as for my part, it must have took a big hit with X-Factor and Sports Personality of the Year.

Barry Hearn gave us Thursday night action with Premier League Darts & Snooker, and we also have Monday night football with Sky's Premiership game. It may not be popular to say this (probably due to peoples natural short-sightedness), but moving the tournaments/latter stages of tournaments to different days could prove sucessful. Failing that, at least give the final a slot where it would be the biggest thing on instead of putting up against far more popular programmes.

Joe McElderry v John Higgins. It may be an easy choice for people who read this blog, but people on this blog are very much in the minority.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know Dave if there are any Chinese referees coming through?

Monique said...

These late finish are also too late for the many, many viewers in mainland Europe, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Russia, Romania. We are one, two or 3 hours ahead. Watching till 2 in the morning when you have to work on the next day isn't an option.
I'm sorry to say but the above post is typical of a certain Brit selfishness. There is a world out of UK and it's there the popularity of snooker is growing ...

And congrats to Ding Junhui. Glad to see him win after such a slump, and even more glad to see him play with a smile on his face again.

Anonymous said...

Dave has summed up my thoughts on the scheduling perfectly. I don't know how much of it is down to World Snooker or the BBC, but whatever, there needs to be a rethink. All the other evening sessions during the week started at 7pm, so that should have been the case for the final, if only for consistency.

It's unfortunate because, whilst neither player was at their best I don't think, it was still a very close and keenly contested match which could have maintained an audience if it had finished earlier.

Now that he's back in the winners enclosure so to speak, can Ding maintain his place at the top of the game? It would be unfortunate if he were to tail off like he did after the 2007 Masters again, but this title should bring about some closure to that slump, if he hasn't done so already.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see Hearn last night talking about shorter events. This is obviously to accommodate the multiple events that have been muted, similar in set up to darts at the moment. The difference with the darts is that they can set up a 'floor' event almost anywhere, and the tournament is over in a day.

How is this ever going to be replicated in snooker? It will be by either introducing shot clocks, best of 3/5 frames, or - shudder here for the head stuck in the sand traditionalists - 6 reds. Or possibly a combination of all three.

Whatever Hearn decides he's up against it.

southerner said...

I know that the BBC usually gets blamed for insisting on an 8pm start for finals, but, this time, since the BBC didn't even bother to tune in until 9pm, surely it wouldn't have minded if the last session had started at 7pm?

Anonymous said...

For us European snooker fans the late finish is yet a bigger problem. I tried my best to watch it to the end but had to stop at 1:30 am to be able to wake up early for the work. I had to fast forward through the last frames while having my quick cup of morning coffee...

But still, it was a great match and I'm more than happy with the Ding's comeback. Can't wait for the next tournament!

Anonymous said...

I have been stating regularly for ten years now that 8pm starts to final sessions are not in the best interests of the viewers - and especially the paying public at the venue! Hopefully commonsense will prevail and world snooker will now decide for themselves the best times for finals to be shown and not be dictated to.

kimball said...

Maybe Barry Hearn is on to my suggestion.
Final stages, last 16, could start
on thursday and saves a lot of money
and opens for more weekend thrills.

Even last eight is a thought in some
tournaments if the earlier stages get
an upograde on pay per way, bookie-
sites, e-sport player et.cetera.

Finally, reshuffle and upgrade the
ranking as often as possible and
maybe, finally, a thicker stream
of fresh snookerplayers will rise
in the rankings.
Barry Hearn understand very well that it is not about UK anymore.

A thing BBC commentators does not
seem to understand, frozen in time,
hallucinating about the old days.

There are a new aduince out there
and new stars to groom.

Start earlier? Absolutely, 1900-30
CET would be perfect for the final session.

Anonymous said...

Snooker© The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hi Dave
How are you! I think you were a bit presumptuous Dave with your opinion on that easy brown missed by John Higgins that possible swung the “Pukka Pie” result.

Without sounding too pedantic Dave, being “Careless” isn’t a reason for a shot missed. Like “Moving on the shot” is not a reason either until you state what the causes of the movement or what induced carelessness.

It was a tit for tat final and very enjoyable, but please remember! I am one of those sick people addicted to playing, watching and perpetually “thinking” about snooker. There are possible about one million of us Dave here in Blighty.

Dull dilatory snooker got a wake up call at the Week End Dave. Chelsea football supporters booed there team off the pitch, I presume for not “Entertaining” The mundane and repetitiveness can be seen without payment.
Mr hey you.

Anonymous said...

We can sit here moaning as much as we like but if Barry Hearn brought in 3-red snooker with an annual prize fund of £5m the players would show their arses in Fenwicks window if he told them to.

Re: Last nights final. A wide-awake Higgins would heve won this match at at canter. The worst he's played since Cope beat him 9-3 IMHO! Well done to Ding though, I thought O'Sullivans beating had finished him for good. Glad to be wrong in this case.

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...

Just on this point of one player having the advantage of a day off before the final, it's interesting to note that since the current format for the final weekend was introduced in 1994, the winner has almost always been the player who came through the Saturday semi final.

Anonymous said...

Hazel Irvine asked JP and SD why the pockets seemed to vary from tournament to tournament.JP said they were all templated and SD "didn't know".We are well aware that they are all templated but the rubber is cut differently at the pocket entrance at different venues.This defeats the object of templating as it creates anomalies.All Championship pockets should be exactly the same especially the cut of the rubber.So there wouldn't be any need for any discussion.Do you agree?

Anonymous said...

When WPBSA contract was with Riley tables I wondered if these were the best quality tables available with all the big bounces and rolls off etc. There can be an excuse for roll offs when on a sprung floor but big bounces are unforgiveable.Now we have Star tables and still getting big bounces.Any snooker player will tell you what they most hate are kicks and big bounces.If tables were made to exacting standards and quality control players would be in God's pocket.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Southerner - when it was clear in advance that BBC wouldn't be arriving until 9pm, surely the final session could have got going a shade earlier. Also, I thought the BBC should have been more apologetic to viewers of programmes that were cancelled because of the overrun - fair enough they were repeats, but surely it was a bit antagonistic of Hazel to say "never mind" if you've tuned in for "Never Mind the Buzzcocks". Surely the point is to try to get these people to stay and watch the snooker as passing trade?!

Anonymous said...

7:54AM X Factor viewer's 19 million, sport's personality 4.7 million, X Factor accounted for 56% of the total TV audience. Viewing figure's for snooker not published yet.

jamie brannon said...

It has not helped that the first two finals have been disappointing though. When Ebdon v Hendry went the distance it finished at 11.30pm and it started at 8pm. I have no problem with starting at 7pm, but then you run into a lot of primetime tv on other stations which can hit the audience figure.

Greg said...

I think we have bigger problems than the start time when we accept it as "inevitable" that some Geordie singing karaoke "is always going to beat the snooker". The simple answer is, of all the sports that have been diluted by political correctness, corporate straight-jacketing, and the takeover of the media by the vacuous and absurd "celebrity" culture, snooker is the one that has been hit the hardest.

If the players were allowed to express themselves more freely, there would be a much better atmosphere and people would tune in. I doubt that's going to happen any time soon, though.

jamie brannon said...

Some thoughts on the UK Championship and snooker.

1. O'Sullivan should not be conceding frames when needing only one snooker. Plenty of frames are won from this position and after all the hard work I was non plussed and the BBC team didn't mention it.

2. I reckon Dave may need to adjust his top ten overseas player as I just now cant see any reason for having Robertson ahead of Ding. The only overseas player to win the UK or World title twice.

3 He is also the only player other than Hendry, O'Sullivan, Higgins, Williams and John Higgins in the last two decades to have won the World or UK title twice. This just reflects what I have always felt that this guy is the 'real deal' and it would be a surprise if he did not win a World crown. In the balls I echo Dave he is just as proficient as Higgins and only a shade behind Hendry and O'Sullivan.

4. O'Sullivan v Higgins was the best match in UK history for me and it was ashame that Ronnie could not complete the comeback as it would been the best I have witnessed. I felt John won as his safety was better Ronnie also did miss one or two ball s and seemed to leave Higgins in where as when Higgins missed, Ronnie was left with an awkward starter.

5. It was a great tournament, although, not outrageously great. I felt the final let it down and there could have been one or two more matches that went closer. However, standards were high and the event through up some cracking matchups and some delivered. Plus Peter Lines gave us some shock value.

6. As for the rankings I'm resigned to O'Sullivan not holding his number one spot, the gap is too substantial with Higgins in such consistent form. White may well regret the jungle he has slipped to 62nd, and on the one year list has barely accumlated any points. I think Drago deserves credit to be at 65th considering he is only just back on the tour.

7. Terry Griffthis was in brilliantly funny mood this week, ashame he was not used for the final stages. As for Clive I heard him once I though he was meant to be doing more than this. Steve Davis was good on Twitter, but it would be nice to see some top 16 players tweeting.

Anonymous said...

Monique, you could all move to the UK and watch tv here! :P

Anonymous said...

Jamie forgetting the fluked yellow which if it sat over the hole would have left Higgins with a roll in finish.

Ronnie had many bits of good fortune himself in the latter half of the match. I counted 5 to Higgins' 2. Earlier it was the oppostite, but it appears you blanked out the reversal....surprise surprise, biased, other....you decide

Isak said...

I agree with the European mainland posters, it was a bit too late. I had to leave it at 00.30 am. Too bad really, even if the final wasn't that great. @GMT +1

jamie brannon said...

I agree that the run went Ronnie's way when he was charging back, but Higgins was generally presented with better opportunities after a miss. Hardly say I'm biased as I have been critical of Ronnie not playing on needing one snooker.

Anonymous said...

jamie you are biased

you chose not to post about ronnies outrageous run of the ball (while playing well) during his comeback

several times he would normally have left frame and match

you chose not to mention that but to mention higgins' good luck

imho thas biased.

your opinion obviously differs

i am a grown up. i am happy to leave it at that.

still biased tho ;) :P