As expected, Power Snooker has been variously greeted across a spectrum ranging from those who found it all a bit of harmless fun to those who thought it was the greatest affront to humanity since the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
I would say I was somewhere in between.
The half hour format is ideal for TV because they get to schedule matches and not worry about overrunning.
The powerball is an interesting innovation and I found the action perfectly watchable.
I’m not sure there needs to be a 50 point bonus for a century because this creates such a gulf in the scores that a close finish is unlikely. There were a couple of tight finishes yesterday but not as much tension as there could have been.
The 20 second shot clock invites mistakes and players are yet to fully think through how to approach the game, understandably as it has only just been launched.
Tactically, the player ahead would be best advised to keep the colours on the table as long as possible because the best chance of scoring is when the powerball is in play.
Power Snooker gave Ronnie O’Sullivan a chance to showcase his extraordinary natural talent. I was genuinely pleased for him that he seemed to enjoy it so much considering how low he has often been even after winning at proper snooker.
But one of the appeals of snooker is the variety it produces and Power Snooker is much more repetitive on first viewing.
It’s good to have the crowd interacting with play but while some good natured banter is fine, a baying mob of boorish drunks chanting and shouting while the players are down on their shots is not.
Why on earth would snooker want to encourage such behaviour? Would golf? Would tennis? Would any sport?
It’s always a festive atmosphere at the darts but the audience is told to shut up if they get too rowdy and they do so. At Power Snooker, the referees were instructed not to intervene when the crowd got raucous.
A balance can be struck. I recently watched the 1989 Irish Masters final between Alex Higgins and Stephen Hendry, which I’d never seen before. Played in the bearpit surroundings of Goffs, the atmosphere was tremendous with most spectators of course supporting Higgins but many also cheering for the then 20 year-old Hendry.
At one point late on, Hendry approached the table and the noise got a bit much. The referee, the late John Street, expertly handled proceedings by turning to the crowd and saying: “Thank you ladies and gentlemen. He knows it’s his turn.” There was laughter and then there was silence and the match continued.
Attending snooker events certainly needs to be made more attractive but the game has to also retain a bit of dignity.
I’ll be interested to hear what Barry Hearn thought of Power Snooker. It wasn’t his idea but he gave it World Snooker’s official seal of approval.
Hearn is a populist and an innovator but he is also shrewder than most and he elected not to personally invest in the consortium behind the venture. Will he do so now?
More pertinently, does Power Snooker have a future at all? As ever, the market will decide. It will depend on TV ratings and the financial outlay of staging further events.
The players seemed to enjoy it and I’m not surprised: they were playing for £35,000 for a maximum of 90 minutes work. I don’t blame them for lapping it up.
But traditional snooker has emerged unscathed from this new innovation.
These variants – and a number have come and gone over the years – generally end up reminding fans what it was they liked about established snooker in the first place.
Power Snooker was never intended to replace proper snooker. And it won’t.