Mark Williams tonight defeated Stephen Maguire 4-0 to win the first Players Tour Championship title of the season, for which he earns £10,000 and 2,000 ranking points.
He tops the new order of merit in the 12-event series. The top 24 at the end of it take part in the televised grand finals for which the winner pockets £60,000.
It’s interesting that, though the tournament was played in a non-televised environment at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, where there were no crowds, two members of the top eight still reached the final, confirming why they are among the best on the world – regardless of the set up.
I’m pleased for Mark because as well as being a great player – one of the best ever – he always has the right attitude. This is one of the reasons he has won so many tournaments outside the UK: not for him moaning about having to get on a plane or, in this case, play in reduced circumstances to what he’s used to.
He merely rolls up his sleeves and gets on with it and once again he has got his reward.
Amid sweltering temperatures and away from all the hoopla surrounding the World Cup, the first tournament of the Barry Hearn era was contested by 73 professionals and 75 amateurs.
There is a large amount of goodwill on the part of the players towards these new tournaments but this was severely tested by a farcical schedule that saw play on the opening day finish not much before 3am.
It was always asking a lot to have all the best of sevens done and dusted in just 90 minutes apiece. The reality was that some matches were starting several hours after the allotted time, meaning players had to hang around and do their best to stay awake before being called to play.
Of course, matches can be over in that time and much quicker. The final only lasted 43 minutes.
This is one of the problems with snooker when it comes to scheduling. The quickest ever frame lasted three minutes, the longest 93. All the rest have been somewhere in between.
Nevertheless, it is unfair on the players to expect them to give of their best in the early hours – and then again at 10am the following day – and unfair too on the WPBSA officials running the event and of course the referees.
In early rounds, where the standard is not as high, every likelihood is that matches will generally be slower.
One of three things needs to happen for the next PTC tournament in July:
1) Reduce the length of matches in the earlier rounds to best of fives
2) Play some of the first round matches on the qualifying day
3) Play it at a venue that has more than eight tables
Without a change such as the above, the exact same thing will surely happen again.
Teething problems in new innovations such as this can be expected but are less forgivable when no action is taken to prevent them in the future.
Action is certainly needed to sort out the live scoring facility on worldsnooker.com which was once again unreliable.
It’s 41 years since we sent men to the moon but it’s apparently beyond the means of modern technology to keep a live scoreboard ticking over for longer than a couple of hours. It stopped dead today at 11.35am and did not work again.
Again, no blame should be attached to the on site officials. It’s the system that needs to be upgraded.
As there is, as yet, no web streaming this should be a priority. The turnaround in snooker’s fortunes depends as much on the fans of the sport as anyone else. You alienate them at your peril: I get more emails lamenting the live scoring problems than on any other subject.
Some spectators turned up and were disappointed to be told there were no seats available for the public. This hadn’t been made clear in advance of the tournament.
It’s worth pointing out again that when you try anything new there are going to be problems. Let us hope that they are properly addressed because the PTC remains a good idea and the fact that so many players embraced the first one proves it is a popular addition to the circuit.
It does, of course, carry ranking points but no list has been issued because a decision is still to be taken on starter points. We still don’t have a ranking points schedule for the major events.
While these things undoubtedly take due consideration so that the right decision is ultimately made, it has been nearly a month since the EGM that decided the future path of the game, the season has now started and players need to know where they stand.
Hearn’s revolution, of which the PTC is an important and welcome part, may well transform the sport but even he can’t do it alone.
His own boundless energy and enthusiasm needs to be matched by the rest of the organisation he now controls.
We’ll see by the second PTC event, starting on July 9, whether that is happening.