What, then, are we to make of the new World Open, tickets for which are already on sale?

Well, it’ll certainly be different to those tournaments that make up the bedrock of the circuit.

First up, I think Barry Hearn was right to scrap the Grand Prix a season early. The BBC told him they didn’t want to show it from 2011. If the World Open is popular they may take that instead and therefore not reduce their portfolio from four tournaments to three.

The Grand Prix was regarded as a big deal when it was sponsored by Rothmans and held at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading.

However, it has been moved around over the last 15 years and had several – and sometimes no – sponsors, all of which cost it its identity. Put simply, it is in the shadow of the BBC’s big three: the World Championship, UK Championship and Wembley Masters.

That said, the Grand Prix had a rich history. It was the first ranking title won by both Stephen Hendry and John Higgins, and indeed Neil Robertson, and will be missed by many.

The World Open is being billed as the FA Cup of snooker. The Grand Prix had a random draw for the last two seasons but only in three rounds. The World Open draw will be random throughout, although players will be seeded to come in at certain times (as in the FA Cup).

The 96 main tour players will be joined by 32 amateurs. 20 of these will qualify through clubs, there will be two invited women, two juniors, two former world champions and six players from around the world.

This could, in theory, mean first round matches like Alex Higgins v Luca Brecel and Maria Catalano v Tian Pengfei.

The first round chucks the 32 amateurs in with players ranked 65-96. The 32 winners then go into the second round with those ranked 33-64.

The top 32 come in at the third round stage. Most of these matches will be played at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield but 11 will be held over for TV (i.e. the ones featuring the best known players).

So far, so good. However, criticism is sure to follow about the length of matches. They are only best of five, all the way up to the final which is just best of nine.

For a tournament carrying ranking points, many will feel this is too cut-throat.

Then again, players said the same 30 years ago when best of nines became commonplace.

The reason for both is the same: television.

All snooker formats – including that of the World Championship – were invented for TV, not passed down by the snooker ancestors over centuries. As TV changes with society, so must sport. Most have. Snooker has been slow to.

Are best of fives too short? Yes, I’d say so.

Should best of nine frame finals be encouraged? No.

But do we want the BBC to show a fourth tournament or not?

The answer is an obvious yes and they are not going to broadcast one that is similar to what’s already on offer so the World Open, though not a tournament many traditionalists will necessarily relish, at least fits the bill.

The acid test will be whether audiences take to it. It could be a double-edged sword for viewers. On the one hand it’s something completely different; on the other this could be the reason for not watching.

We’ll see what they make of it at the SECC in Glasgow come September.


CHRISK5 said...

Presuming it still carries 7,000 pts for the winner (like the old Grand Prix) - that is good value.

I like the random draw element,
though this should not be used too often on the circuit - I assume the
provisional rankings will determine how the other events are to pan out.

I agree that the format has been shortened a bit too much.

I would have had best of 5 frames upto & including the Quarters &
then gone best of 9 in the Semis
with a best of 11 or 13 Final.

Don't get me started on the name of the event ! - The World Open
takes some getting used to !

Anyway,it's in everybody's interest that it's a success &
means the BBC will still cover
four events on the scheduele.

I think the Grand Prix event got unfairly criticized - At it's peak in the mid 80s-early 90s - it was
up there with the UK & Masters
in similar prestige.

Not having a steady venue & lack of sponsorship were it's eventual
pitfalls - the round-robin stages
in 2006 & 2007 was ridiculous.

I am confident the World Open will be a worthy successor & rebuild fan
interest in the first BBC event of the season.

It has to work - whether we agree with all of it's quirks or not.

jamie brannon said...

Despite my reservations about the frame length, I like how the field is going to composed and also the random draw.

Originally I thought the semis and final was going to be of a normal length, which would have nade the best of 5 format more acceptable. Personally this would have been better as an invitation event but if the BBC are going to show it then it better than having nothing in instead.

What affected the Grand Prix was when it was re-packaged as the LG Cup for no apparent reason. I have a soft spot for it, because of it's rich history.

However, if this event is marketed properly then I think it will be a hit.

I agree about the television reason for this shorter format, but let's not forget the World Championship is the most popular event and is a long-frame tournament.

Matt said...

Best of fives are a total turn off for me to be honest, they don't really feel like matches to me so I think it's a shame. We shall see what others think though as you say.

On another note, did Neil get the Grand Prix trophy for keeps then?


The general public want to see the top players, and they want to see the match finish.

Most casual viewers don't want to watch Hawkins v Bond and they don't want to watch snooker for 3 hours.

Snooker fans, however, do want to watch for longer periods, and are not as fussy about who they watch.

This is why formats need to be tinkered with, and why Barry Hearn has been brought on board.

By introducing tabloid style snooker to the masses, the possibility arises that at least some of them will become hardcore fans, and with the increased viewing figures that will inevitably arise, a proper year round tour of lucrative ranking events can become a reality.

These events can be interspersed with the gimmick events, thereby constantly reeling in a shoal of new potential snooker addicts.

Personally I can't wait for the World Open. I think it will be a refreshing change from the sameness of best of 9 rankers.

Anyone who doesn't like the format can just pretend it was 2-2 at the interval and now the players are back on.

Anonymous said...

The classic cuemen enter the arena,
Their ash or maple blades glisten,
The chosen music pulsates from the rafters,
A cosmopolitan field embracing the new regime,
Dancing girls,
Numbered balls drawn from bags by the mayor in all his finery,
And the cry from the players lounge is,
Rolling rolling rolling....ranking lists for us.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the World Open. Just because there's a rebranding with best of 5's doesn't mean that's the way snooker is heading. What it means is variety, plus a lot of players getting their ugly mugs on tv as there will be only one tv table. This also means it'll be fast and furious with plenty of opportunities for players to showcase their talents on the table and their personalities in the tv studio as there will be a lot of them in the vicinity and they will all have been seen by the viewer so their views will be seen as relevent.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who will be showing the World Open?


Anonymous said...

anyone outside the uk going to this?

Anonymous said...

If, as a poster on the previous thread suggested, all qualifiers are going to be 'friends and family ticketed only', will there be any chance to watch these on t'internet? I would be disappointed not to see the PTC events streamed, and mortified not to be able to attend the final round of the World Champs qualifiers.

RichP said...

I think I agree with others that the draw structure etc is great but I also have an issue with the best of 5's. I'm certain players competing in events with shorter formats regard them as less important because when it gets down to best of 5 luck really does play a part. Best of nine at least provides an interval for players to re-group etc and a cold start won't cost you as it will in these events.

I also have an issue with the shorter format from a betting perspective. Most gamblers will tell you that the best matches to bet on are the World and the UK where the best players generally come through. If it becomes a lottery, which this is, it becomes less attractive as a betting medium. For starters the tournament outright betting market holds less value as you simply don't know who will play who. Obviously that means an outider might be value because he could get an easy draw - but that doesn't really appeal.

You may say who cares about the gamblers wanting to bet on snooker? But you have to remember that many of the sports sponsors are gambling related companies and if the sport becomes less attractive to bet on then the sponsors may look elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear OJ Simpson and the Mr Xes
Ronnie O Sullivan should be heard more often than watched and admired on the snooker table.

Ronnie has admitted playing good stuff and playing rubbish, therefore the lad in some games doesn’t know what he is Doing Right and in others what he is Doing Wrong.

Most players including Ronnie play snooker on “Form” but form is unreliable it is like Lady Luck it comes and goes. Form can’t ever be practiced or recorded like shots acquired by “Trial and Error”.

Please accept mister Xs that the “Fine Art” does not criticise, merely an explanation to a Mr X on the frustrated Ronnie’s perpetual search for Snooker perfection. Mr hey you

CHRISK5 said...

From what I understand,all 128 players competing will be at the venue on the September 18th start.

So,with the plethora of matches to
get through - best of 5 matches are sensible in this regard,for the
earlier rounds.

The Semis & the Final should have been lengthened slightly.

The World Open is already distinctive with a shorter format,
random draw & with surely a
sponsor waiting in the wings -
With all that,it would have a
different/radical identity from the
other more established events.

I would advocate the World Open become a shot-clock event in future - So,best of 11 or 13 Finals
can be televised within a single-session 3 or 4 hour timeframe.

Obviously,the World Champs,UK & Masters are NEVER going to have the
shot-clock - So,maybe the World Open could become even more distinctive than it already is - if it were adopted in the future.

Anonymous said...

mr h u 6 20 more nonsense. ronnie says he plays bad even when he has played really well just to take the piss out the other players.if u think ronnie means everything he says then hes quit the game at least 10 times.

Trophymad said...

Too bad I'm not in the area. From what I read it's a good concept. And it's exactly what Hearn said he would do: New formats, faster formats for new fans, younger fans. And I guess he can reach them with this.

Anonymous said...

Enter stage right the gladiators of the baize,
Who plays who is decided by a celebrity ball grabber,
Round by round,
From Ray Reardon to Denzil Washington making the random draw,
Shorter matches,
The cut & thrust,
The players singing the praises of the new regime as the ticker tape greets the new champion.

Anonymous said...

dave. am i right in saying that keith warren and gary baldrey have nothing to do with the academy any more. also now barry is the current chairman will this be bad news for del hill? who was called an ignoramous in the last snooker scene. i am a player and was going to go to the academy only to be told i would have to pay when it belongs to the association.of which i have been a fully paid up member and player for over 15 years.think its good news that most qaulifiers will now be at the academy rather than pontins.nothing against it but thought it showed snooker was at an all time low playing in a holiday camp.

Dave H said...

They've been given notice to quit as the academy will no longer be as it was

Barry Hearn doesn't have an especially exalted view of Del Hill

Betty Logan said...

If matches are going to be shortened I'd rather it was by reducing the number of frames than introducing a shotclock. A shotclock immediately makes an event mickey mouse. Reducing the frames won't necessarily lead to poorer quality or less entertaining snooker - arguably snooker's greatest TV success outside of a certain match in 1985 was Pot Black with its one frame format. The World Open if it works could be the new Pot Black.

Anonymous said...

11 55.thanks for a quick reply dave. what if any thoughts do u have on brandon parker being involved. me personally think if barry is going to look like he wants the game to move away from all the crap in the past then this is one guy who should not be in any future plans for the good of the game.

Anonymous said...

The new season awaits us all,
Dusting down mothballed dress suits,
Velveteen bow ties,
Frilly shirts worn by toupee'd players,
The gaggle of players examinining the rankings with angst,
While the excitment gets to Holty, Roey and erm Milkinsy,
More power to their respective elbows,
and may peace break out amongst our ranks, the age of the EGM is a mere memory.
Snooker has returned to its celestial past, wartime is no more.

Dave H said...

I have nothing against Brandon

However, make no mistake: Hearn is the one in charge

Maza said...

All I want is tournaments that are distinctive.

My dad, who is not a hardcore snooker fan but watches it on the T.V when I am, struggles to tell the Grand Prix apart from the UK Champs. This, I feel, is what turns off a lot of the causual fans. It all feels a little too samey.

If we can give each of the 'big four' tournaments a certain atmosphere/style that viewers can easily relate to, this will help eradicate that problem.

Listed below are factors which I think will be easily distinguishable for casual fans.

*World open - Random draw, amatuers, women & seniors allowed. Short format all the way through.

*UK Championship - Second most important ranking event. Rich history. Long format.

* The Masters - Formally the Benson and Hedges. Invitational only. No ranking points, but big prize money and prestige. Boisterous London crowd.

*World Championship - Self explanatory.

If Barry feels this new format is the way to go for the world open. Then I'm all for it. If not purely for the sake of distinguishability.

P.S. Oh, but don't let my optimism fool you. Like everyone else ON HERE, I think a best of 9 frame final is too short. "On here" being the operative words in that last sentence. You won't find too many of the casual fans, to whom I referred to earlier, posting on a dedicated snooker blog read by hardcore followers ;-)

Anonymous said...

dave . do u have to answer to clive before u put anything on this blog. not the most serious question just wondered. cus i know he has his own view and agendas. hope u answer this .

Dave H said...

No I don't

We're allowed our own opinions as SS Towers

CHRISK5 said...

Betty - Sky Shootout is the rebranded Pot Black I would say.

Shot-clocks have been tried & tested for years in the Premier League to some success & also will do with the Shootout.

Having just one of the four BBC events including the shotclock -
The World Open being the event that most needs radical ideas &
'cutting edge' concepts would be a perfect fit in my view.

With multi-table earlier round match ups,this would be a no-go,
probably just have the shot-clock
for the Semis & Final as a suggestion - It's about time the
BBC embraced this concept sooner or

The mass viewing public would enjoy it for sure - if it were ever implemented.

The other 3 majors have enough positives which only need small tweaks here & there.

Anonymous said...

if this is not true then u wont show this. but i heard years ago clive tried to sell snooker scene to rex williams who was then chairman of wsa for £40,000. but rex said no deal. after that rex was slaughtered in the magazine over everything he did . dont think u dare print that dave but hope u do .after all its only a rumour.

Dave H said...

It's complete nonsense and typical of some of the rumours that go round the circuit

Anonymous said...

good answer dave but he is your boss. clive accused me of voting for rex years ago cus it did me a favour. no truth in that at all but he still printed it.if u want to look at back issues its the howard kruger days. brandon is the modern day kruger but without the brains.i really want snooker to have a good future but we cant have that if we continue to have these brandon types involved.

Anonymous said...

"rex said no deal"

Clive left him in the hall of fame 1p club!!

Betty Logan said...

> We're allowed our own opinions as SS Towers

You had me puzzled there momentarily - I thought you were calling Clive a Nazi until I twigged that SS stood for "Snooker Scene"!

Chris, I think the World Snooker Shootout is mickey mouse and will only be a bit of fun. Pot Black was never mickey mouse and was always serious which is why I think the World Open could work - I think there is a place for a serious short format contest. The trajectory of a snooker match is dictated by session format, and even in one session snooker you get an interval that can alter the flow of the match. Removing the interval and putting intense pressure on the first two frames (which you can effectively write off in a best-of-9) will create a match that feels different and plays different to everything else around. I don't want to see shotclocks in ranking events because rankers should be kept pure - the format shouldn't favour one player over another, only skill should be the deciding factor. You put a clock in there you immediately tip the odds in favour of fast players and when you rig a format to favour particular styles that's what makes it mickey mouse. I have no problem with mickey mouse, Disney can do big box office after all, but such events should not play a part in deciding how players compare via the ranking system because ultimately it's not a fair contest.

Anonymous said...

Chinese whispers,
Divisions formed,
Tall men cut savagely down to size,
Bewildered players with many allies,
Proxy forms gathered by maverick figures,
Cheif executives furiously bang dinner tables knocking over HP sauce bottles,
These are things of the past as peace has broken out and birds twitter and tweet their views.

Anonymous said...

You're completely wrong on BP. He's running some of these new tour events that are open to all 96 players. To still be grizzling about events from 25 years ago is pretty odd.

Anonymous said...

dave is pontins not going to be used anymore for qaulifying.not tottally against BP just anonoyed how he favoured certain players in events depending on how u would vote . this was not fair and i believe hearn wont let the game be run like this anyway.I think the game is going to have a great future now.

Dave H said...

The qualifiers will be in Sheffield

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance of viewers in Denmark enjoying the Sky televised tournament, such as in cooperating with Eurosport or viewing it on Eurosport player at an additional cost? Or are there other ways of catching the action?

Maza said...

^I doubt you sky sports will co-operate with Eurosport. Your best chance will be to watch an online stream at sites like justin.tv.