Fair play to the organisers of Power Snooker. They have thrown considerable PR resources at the new innovation and it’s worked, resulting in an almost unprecedented amount of coverage in the newspapers for a new event.
Much of this has been misleading. Many journalists have claimed Barry Hearn is behind Power Snooker when in fact all he has done is sanctioned the event on behalf of World Snooker Ltd – and has elected not to personally invest in the company responsible for bringing it to our screens.
For a more sober view of Power Snooker, here’s Clive Everton in today’s Guardian.
My view of it is unchanged since it was launched. I think people should give it a chance. Despite what’s been written, it is not intended to replace traditional snooker.
It’ll most probably be a fun day for the players, spectators at the O2 in London and viewers on ITV4. Eurosport will also screen live coverage for those outside the UK.
But one of the negative by-products of the Power Snooker hype is the clamouring from apparently sensible players to shorten the World Championship.
As far as I’m concerned this is like saying 2+2 = 147.
For a start, Power Snooker hasn’t even been held and so can’t yet be described as a success.
Yet players like Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White have called for alterations to the Crucible format, ranging from the shortening of matches, a one day final and the introduction of a shot clock.
One player who disagrees is Mark Selby. Writing on his personal blog today, he said: “Short-format tournaments like Power Snooker are interesting and create a lot of buzz, which is good for the game. There has been some debate lately about the World Championships, with some players saying the final should be shortened or the duration of the tournament reduced. I understand where they are coming from, but I don’t go along with it – it is what it is because it’s the World Championships.
“It’s the pinnacle of our sport and what makes it great is the test of duration over those 17 days. The only thing I would maybe consider is making the first couple of rounds a few frames shorter, and also starting the sessions in the final earlier than they do at the moment. Snooker fans love the game and I don’t think they are too bothered about how long the tournament goes on for, in fact, the longer they can see the top players in action, the better. No, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
What Selby has grasped is not just that the championship is supposed to be a proper test but that snooker’s great appeal is its slow burning drama and the capacity for fortunes to change over a longer distance.
Exhibit A: the 1985 world final.
Had that match been a best of 17 Steve Davis would have won easily, probably something like 9-1 or 9-2.
Had there been a shot clock would it have made the conclusion any more exciting?
There is room for innovation and different formats but people need to keep a sense of proportion.
The brains behind Power Snooker went out of their way at the launch to state that they were not trying to kill off traditional snooker, only to compliment it.
I agree with Selby that the odd tweak could be made to the Crucible format – the final should certainly start earlier – but a one day final? A shot clock?
I don’t think so.