How many players will enter the first event of the new Players Tour later this month?
Or, to put it another way, why would any player not enter it?
Each event carries a top prize of £10,000 plus 2,000 ranking points to the winner.
It will be played on templated tables at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, not on “tables with pockets like buckets where the outcome is just a lottery,” as Mark King claimed last week. The matches will be best of seven. Most ranking event matches are only best of nine.
The PTC also provides additional playing opportunities – something the players have been asking for, quite rightly, for a long time – and the chance to qualify for the big money televised finals towards the end of the season.
To do so, players must enter a minimum of six of the 12 PTC tournaments and finish in the top 24 in the order of merit.
The first event is open to all 96 players on the main tour and any amateurs who wish to have a go. If, as seems likely, there is a surplus of amateur entries then a qualifying event will whittle the field down to 128.
The PTC is not designed to propel snooker back into the limelight. It has been devised purely for the players to do what they do best...play.
Nigel Bond told the Sheffield Star this week that Barry Hearn is “only interested in the elite.” If that was true, he would have ploughed the money being used to stage the PTC into invitation events for the very top players.
The middle and lower ranked players should be over the moon at this additional playing opportunity because it is mainly them who will benefit. No more six week gaps between matches and the chance to earn a lot of money – if they do well on the table.
Some players spoilt by years of being glad-handed around the big arenas may feel the new events are beneath them. Well, they could always sit at home doing nothing while the rest battle for the £10,000 first prize – to most of us a pretty good return for three days work.
The entry fee is £100. Players are guaranteed £200 for winning just one match.
Snooker players are supposed to play snooker. If they do it well they will be handsomely rewarded.
The game should not be – and won’t be from now on – about ‘guarantees’ and doggedly digging in to protect a ranking position.
It should be about ambition and effort. Players should aspire to climb the rankings, not just hang on grimly.
Despite the lies spread by his enemies, Hearn has already announced that the 2011/12 season will still consist of a 96-player circuit.
The PTC will play a part in this because the top eight players who don’t finish in the top 64 in the main rankings will qualify.
The model has worked well on the PDC darts circuit – also run by Hearn – where prize money has increased dramatically.
The regular match-play the PTC will give players should enable them to build up form rather than have it dwindle away in the long gaps between ranking events.
Another charge levelled at Hearn of late is that he’s “only interested in gimmicks.”
There are no gimmicks in the PTC. It’s a series of snooker tournaments in which those who do well will be nicely rewarded.
If I were a player who has spent several years feeling like a part-timer I would be grateful for the opportunity and my entry would be in the post before the ink had dried.