The Welsh Open will be played under a new format this season.

The tournament, staged in Newport, will use best of seven frame matches for all rounds up to and including the last 16.

This means the Newport Centre can go from three tables to two, both of which will be televised.

Last season's second table looked awful on the TV, as if there was barely room to cram it in.

The Welsh Open, as I wrote earlier this month, has become the poor relation of the ranking event circuit. These changes are by no means guaranteed to alter that but at least World Snooker are trying something new.

The World Open format was similarly bold but seemed to go down well and the shorter format did not produce a high number of shocks - on the contrary, it proved that the top players are the best under pressure.

The point about snooker formats is that they have all been devised for TV, but most of them for TV as it was a quarter of a century ago.

The Welsh final will still be best of 17, the semi-finals best of 11 and the quarters best of nine.


Anonymous said...

how will that be better than Best of 9 ?

at least with a interval Spectators can stretch their legs at the interval with Best of 7 there is no interval so they trying to be clever without really thinking it through.

its only 2 frames shorter after all

Dave H said...

TV hates intervals - they'd rather just show the matches straight through

Anonymous said...

At least the change cements the Welsh open as the least important ranking event on the circuit

Anonymous said...

but so often intervals creates the Match and that is where the excitement comes from.

so again TV Dictates to the sport what they want despite the fact the matches wont be as good.

JIMO96 said...

OMG...the players who used to contest the world final over the course of a fortnight will be spinning in their graves. Is it not enough that there are already 12 best of 7 ranking events? and a best of 5??

I like what Hearn's doing in terms of global expansion, playing opportunities and bringing stability to the game, but if I was a pro, I'd be appalled to learn that my ranking will depend primarily from now on by my performances in best of 7's!I can fully understand Hendry's negativity towards the PTC with that in mind.

Dave, you'll remember the Mita World Masters (Hearn's best ever idea in my opinion)...it was all best of 11, progressing to best of 13, 15, 17 etc as the rounds went on. I seem to remember that matches were all played in one session, even the best of 17's, is that correct? Drago beat Griffiths 9-8 in one sitting, and it was roll-on, roll-off. I can't quite remember how the intervals worked...I think it was a brief interval every 5 frames...?

Anyway, I hope these reductions are temporary measures until the game grows and re-establishes itself. After that, I'd like to see matches played over proper distances....and best of 9's being regarded as "short sprints" again....as Davis, Griffiths, Higgins etc described them in the 80's.

Anonymous said...

Dave, reducing the number of frames played has nothing to do with "trying something new".

They're killing the tournament even more.

Anonymous said...

the Mita World Masters had best of 11 frames first 3 Rounds then Best of 13 for Last 16, Best of 15 for Quarter Finals, Best of 17 for Semi Finals, and Best of 19 Final, however if the score went to 5-5 that meant it was First to 6,6-6 first to 8, 7-7 first to 9, 8-8 first to 10 and 9-9 first to 11 .

in the semi finals of the Mita Masters Jimmy White beat James Wattana 10-8 and Tony Drago beat Darren Morgan 9-7.

why cant they do that with the Welsh Open play first to 4 but if it went 3-3 then its first to 5.

kildare cueman said...

The fact that somebody subscribes to a snooker blog generally means that they are avid fans, and therefore are happy enough with current formats.

Unfortunately the game needs to attract new fans and it has been blatently obvious that best of 9 with an interval is not enough.

I think the new format will appeal to the casual fans, who can sit down to a match and watch it to a conclusion without having to set up camp.

There is also a better chance of a close finish and it is TV friendly.

There are several best of 9's, and longer in some tournaments.

An odd short one is no harm.

Anonymous said...

Less time in Wales ... great format

Dave H said...

The worst thing about the World Masters - an otherwise great event - was that nonsense of having to win by two frames.

The reason was that they had billed it as the 'Wimbledon of snooker' but took the tennis analogy too far.

They didn't play proper deciders but had 'tie-breaks' if the scores were level: putting one red and the colours on the table!

No matter how bad a match, the decider will always be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dave i think the Mita way is a more interesting way than Putting best of 7 in the Welsh Open.

make it different dont just shorten matches for no reason.

Executor said...

Of all the changes and new ideas World Snooker brought to the scene under the leadership of Barry Hearn, this is the one I personally am going to hate. Looks pretty stupid, and does nothing at all to attract the fans. Sad news this one.

Executor said...

They should have made it a OneForSeven tournament instead...

Anonymous said...

Will the quarter-finals be roll on roll off like last year? I loved that, it was a great day of snooker and if it's the same next time then I'm booking the day off work. Or I'll have a tactical sickie.

Posting as anon incase anyone at my work sees this :)

Anonymous said...

Kildare 3:04 - how will reducing a match from 9 frames to 7 appeal to "casual fans"? If you are one of the people that feels a best of nine match means you have to "set up camp" then snooker is not for you I'm afraid, especially in December and April

jamie brannon said...

The win by two frames rule would not be telegenic, I think this is a fairly artificial change, nothing to get concerned about either way.

I don't think it's impact will be anything more than miniscule.

What are the chances of snooker coming to Birmingham? I don't think we have staged an event since the Charity Challenge in the mid nineties, we don't even get a round of Premier League action.

Anonymous said...

That shoot-out business at the Mita World Masters was made all the more bizarre by the fact that whenever a shoot-out was starting, a graphic would appear of some sort of Mexican bandit walking out into the middle of the table and firing a couple of pistols into the air!

Remarkable to think that unique tournament is just a couple of months short of being 20 years ago.

Greg P said...

TV hates the intervals? Does that mean they get a lot of emails from ordinary people saying they wish to see snooker with no intervals, or is it just something that the media want as a fidgety personal adjustment that they like to make?

Jim said...

How many snooker fans does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. Because it doesn't need changing, even though it went out 20 years ago and we've been sitting in the dark ever since.

Can't believe the things people get worked up about. The early rounds of most events are boring apart from a few games. This slight change won't detract from the tournament in any way. It will ensure every qualifier appears on TV, which is how it should be.

All the people slagging it are the ones who said the same about the World Open, and were proven wrong.

It shows the task the new lot have ahead of them: even the slightest change is howled down by those who can't see the bigger picture.

Dave H said...

Jamie - I'd certainly like to see some snooker in the West Midlands as it's a hotbed, although Telford isn't that far away

The darts is doing pretty well in Wolverhampton so maybe they will consider that as a venue down the line

Executor said...

Jim: I am slagging it and I loved World Open beyond my wildest expectations.

This idea just looks so incredibly stupid. Nothing breathtaking like with the World Open. The innovative idea for the Welsh Open is as impotent as the idea of World Open has been radical. You just can't compare the two.

Greg P said...

Hey Jim I don't know why you say "They have such a tough task ahead of them"....

Baz seems to have pushed through plenty of changes already and it's not like his house is covered in rotten fruit or anything, or he had to really battle hard for any of it!

You can say what you like about "traditionalists" but I'm just slightly baffled why you say that internet whining or tutting is going to be "hard" for Hearn.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think the move to one table at the World Open was a last ditch attempt, albeit a good one to revive a dying patient, pity it didn't work but it was never going to as the Beeb have agendas and targets.

With the Welsh Open, again it needs something and I think the reason for doing this is more for the TV, but hey, what's the problem with that? More players on screen, more potential for personalities to come through. Still think it's a graveyard tourno though.

Let's face it, the players need to step up to the mark more. They need to be 'people' not just snooker players. Some of the top boys understand that such as Ronald Antonio, Robbo, Ali and Smurf, some others get a bit too precious and self important.

Kildare Cueman talks a lot of sense on here and I'd agree with what he says on this topic.

Saying that, I can't wait for the UK and long two session battles.


Dave H said...

The truth is, nobody knows whether this will be a good change or not until the tournament actually happens but I'd agree with that last point that the players have an important role to play, whatever the format

Anonymous said...

Jim if the World Open was such a success why did the BBC drop it? The viewing figures don't back up the event being a success, and in the main the quality wasn't very good.

kimball said...

Mita Masters were probably Hearns worst idea ever, the red numbers came out in capital and Hearn learned his lesson.
Mita copiers and Black&Decker probably let some heads roll.

TazMania said...

Snooker fans seem to dislike changes. However we all need to accept that some changes have to happen. If shorter formats bring in more tickets, more sponsors, that what we need. Look at the Naughties decade, nothing changed, tournaments dropped off.!!!!! EVEN traditional fans are dropping off. IN 1998 6 MIL viewers of the worldfinal. 2010 1.5 MIL. With out change at this rate 2020 37,000 Viewers.

Betty Logan said...

Surely this change is just a quick fix to stem TV audience drop-offs during intervals. If it works it's a good idea, if it doesn't then it isn't. You could try and take the interval out of best-of-9s, but if the match goes on for 4+ hours it will test the attention span for just one sitting, so a best-of-7 seems like the middle ground. Loads of people on this blog were saying they should scrap the interval but are whining about it now it's happened.

Dave H said...

To the person who asked about the roll on/roll off for the quarter-finals - no, and neither should it be used, it's a recipe for disaster which they found a couple of years ago when the last quarter-final went on at 10.30pm. Marco Fu had to be woken up in the players room to go and play.

I also recall the time in Malta when fans were kept waiting until around 10pm to see Tony Drago because of this format, a number of whom simply went home because it was far too late.

Thankfully sanity has prevailed and they are playing two in the afternoon and two in the evening.

jamie brannon said...

You will be disappointed I guess Dave, that the UK Championship has kept it's format roll-on and roll-off.

I actually like this as it gives an opportunity for fans to have more choice of games, plus a night owl, I enjoyed it when play finished at 12.30am in 2007 on the Monday, there was something beautifully relaxing about it.

I understand though, that players and journalists like yourself are not that enamoured with late finishes.

The Civic is a class venue, especially for gigs. In Birmingham we have the ICC, LG Arena and the Nec to host snooker.

Dave H said...

They're starting an hour earlier at 12.30pm so it shouldn't be too bad this year