The first staging of the Players Tour Championship is now at an end.

Going purely on player participation and the opportunities at has afforded them it has to be judged a success.

Without the players, the PTC would have been an expensive folly but the vast majority of the circuit has embraced them for what they are: the chance to keep match sharp and earn money and ranking points.

Mindset is crucial going to any tournament and the PTC is no different. Those players who turned up feeling negative about it did not do well; many of those who went into the tournaments relishing the extra opportunities to play and earn money have got the rewards.

It’s amazing how complacent people can become very quickly. Let’s go back to a year ago. There were six ranking events and a series of downmarket, poorly subscribed Pro Challenge Series events played in clubs, one with only six reds, which fizzled out due to player apathy, which was largely due to the fact there were no ranking points available.

Next season World Snooker will stage at least 29 events. The PTC accounts for 13 of these. It represents a huge increase in playing opportunity for professionals and amateurs.

The set up and conditions have not been perfect but this was the first year and mistakes were inevitable. To have got the concept off the ground so quickly was actually a very creditable effort.

Would any player – hand on heart – want snooker to go back to how it was 12 months ago?

The bottom line is this: if you don’t want to play in the PTCs, don’t play in them. Sit at home. Do something else instead.

Barry Hearn has made good on his stated objective which was not to spoon feed players ‘guarantees’ and leave them nicely cosseted in a set ranking position. No, he said he would give them all opportunities and what they did with them was up to them.

For a very small number of players – Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis would fit the bill – the PTCs are a come down. I can well understand why Hendry, for instance, doesn’t like them after the majesty of his career.

But try telling Marcus Campbell they’re a bad idea. Try telling Barry Pinches or Tom Ford or Michael Holt.

Players have previously had months – literally – between matches but now they have the option to play pretty much every week. And, again, if they are successful they are rewarded.

Among the smears and lies spread by Hearn’s coterie of enemies was that he would cut the circuit to 32 players. In fact, far from being an elitist he has set up a series that has mainly benefitted players lower down the rankings.

It’s true that expenses take their toll, particularly when travelling abroad. The other side of that coin, though, is that it’s £10,000 to the winner, so, again, those who do well reap the rewards.

I commend Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby in particular for their attitudes toward these events, including playing in them when it was obvious they had already qualified.

Big names competing will in itself grow the sport because it acts as a spur to amateurs and those junior players in the various European locations. They will have been inspired by the chance to play some of the leading lights of the sport and will be hungry for more in the future.

Hearn and his team can learn from this inaugural staging of the PTC. I think he would accept in hindsight that it was a mistake to stipulate players had to enter at least three PTCs and EPTCs in order to qualify for the grand finals. In the cold light of day it’s crazy that Ding Junhui and John Higgins, who won titles, cannot now go to Dublin next March. I expect next season’s qualification to be based either on, say, the best eight results or purely on the money list.

The set up in Sheffield is not perfect, not least because there is no room for spectators. Hearn has been saddled with this facility by the previous board but it seems unlikely all six British PTCs will be played there next season. The excellent South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester must be a leading contender to host a couple in 2011/12.

The EPTCs were open to spectators and it is these that have the capacity to grow into bigger events in years to come. There may well be some in Asia in the very near future too.

Snooker does not just exist at the very highest level. It doesn’t revolve exclusively around the Crucible and Wembley. Any sport needs a proper structure that runs from the very top right down to the grass roots. The PTC can play its part in this.

Ultimately playing snooker for the 96 main tour players is a profession. There’s a clue there in the job title: professional snooker player.

There is not a market or the finances for dozens more major ranking tournaments but the PTCs have provided much needed matches, money and points.

Fine tuning is required but this innovation is a welcome addition to the calendar.


Anonymous said...

Good piece Dave. Would second this view:

"I commend Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby in particular for their attitudes toward these events, including playing in them when it was obvious they had already qualified."

Good on them.

Monique said...

Good read as always Dave.

I would suggest that EPTCs are rewarded financially no less than PTCs which was the case this season (Euros vs Pounds) . It doesn't make sense and those are probably the events that cost more to the players when you count travel, accomodations etc...

Setting up streaming for the final day at least would be a big bonus if feasible.

and yes, defo, all praise to Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy: not only did they play in all of them, but they tried their in all of them ... something that can't be said of everyone.

Matt said...

I suppose that it is giving the lesser known players a chance to move up the rankings and become well known, Well done to Michael Holt for winning EPTC 6 it would be nice if ITV4 got another tournment as I felt they did well with Power Snooker and the Grand Slam Of Darts as no-one would really complain about wall-to-wall snooker on that channel. Any news on who would televise the World Open next year?

Anonymous said...

My only comment is that these tournaments being played behind closed doors doesn't make them feel real. I am sure the points are real and the prize money is. But they are like Sunday afternoon pro-am's. This would have been the ideal opportunity for some cheap and cheerful OB, webcast, streaming, internet TV. Then people would have been able to see what is going on in what to be honest, is now the bulk of the professional season

southerner said...

Does anyone know what has happened to Global Snooker?
If Global Snooker have packed it in, where else can I follow the UK qualifiers results?

Anonymous said...

" in hindsight that it was a mistake to stipulate players had to enter at least three PTCs and EPTCs in order to qualify for the grand finals. "

no that was a Good idea However i would have made it 2 British and 4 Europe.

you need players to commit to them to get the benefit.

John Higgins missing out because of Punishment and thats Right he is.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone know what has happened to Global Snooker?
If Global Snooker have packed it in, where else can I follow the UK qualifiers results?"

Snooker Island will have all the Results and ROS Site will be covering it also

kildare cueman said...

The PTC's have been a success and were a great idea.

Hendry was moaning that he was forced to play because of the ranking points at stake.

I can sympathise but would not change the points structure.

Next year will see more ranking tournaments and hopefully more the year after.

The players that perform well in the rankers will receive invitations to play in lucrative small field tournaments and will have the option of entering the PTC's or not.

Those who aren't performing will have to enter to hold their position.

The situation with Hendry is that he has not been a top player for several years now, but was able to maintain his position in the game as a result of the protective ranking system and lack of tournaments under the old regime.

Last year it would have been virtually impossible for players like McGill, Highfield, Lisowski etc. to break through. At least now they have a chance.

MaximumSnooker said...

Really enjoyed attending the EPTC at the South West Snooker Academy, staff were friendly, the facilities are excellent. Hope they get at least 2 events next season, and more preferably: the PTC finals in the arena!

TazMania said...

I think have 2 Ptc in sheffield and 2 in glouster and 2 in prestytn. That will differentiate the tournaments.
Mabye have to IPTC(International PTC) One in Thailand and One in Australia. Why not even japan? They love non-contact sport there. If China is into snooker why not japan? Hold 1 EPTC in russia is a must. They are crazy for snooker. Mabye hold another EPTC in Ukraine or somthing! So in My Plan 6PTC,
6 EPTC and 2 IPTC Total of 14 PTC events!

Anonymous said...

its made us realise that rules are rules and ronnies fans dont agree with them AFTER they realise their hero is affected by them too

Anonymous said...

The rule with the 3 PTC/3 EPTC was important. How many pros would have booked their flights to Germany if they had nearly enough points for the final after the first events in Sheffield and were able to made their points on home soil? And a strong field of pros is a very important point for a unknown tournament if you want to sell tickets. I hope this rule will not be changed.

Anonymous said...

Very well written, Dave!
If all these tournaments are shown on television, especially to us in Eastern Europe would have been interesting to watch it.

Wolfgang said...

I know I'm repeating myself but if the ticket prices for the EPTCs, at least in Germany, stay where they are, Snooker won't grow outside the UK. 32 € for a Saturday in Rüsselsheim and 48 € for a Sunday in Hamm are far too much or like someone over at the prosnookerblog said: "bloody outrageous!". And the fact that there where no posters to be found in either city didn't exactly help to draw the masses.

There needs to be a WSA-budget not only for the price money but for promotion and the events themselves, so that tickets sell for far less money. Especially the event in Hamm was very well organised and the players seemed to enjoy it but with so few people watching the final it didn't feel, well, real.

Anonymous said...

If it is not the 3 PTC/3 EPTC rule, someone who win the first will be no need to play in all the others. I don't know why this rule is "stupid" according to some people.

Anonymous said...

The PTC/EPTC series has already surpassed expectations and is here to stay.

Increasing prize money will be too difficult in short term.

If any tweaks were to be made then modify the minimum Finals entry to 2 PTC & 4 EPTC.

As another incentive to enter them increase the points tariffs to
3000 for winners & 5000 for Finals.

Credit to Murphy and Selby for their hard working proffesionalism.
These events were very useful for John Higgins as he's won 13 out of 14 matches since returning.

More than anything the series has benefitted those outside the Top 32
who didn't use to get the invites.

Betty Logan said...

Those are ridiculous prices, that's more than what tickets to proper televised tournaments cost. Why is snooker trying to charge Premiership prices? I would only pay those amounts for the Crucible and possibly Wembley.

The PTC has been a great success overall. I agree that the requirement to enter six of these events is silly, competitive sport shouldn't be rewarding mediocrity over excellence. Most of the top players with the exception of Ronnie, Hendry and Ding (two of which wouldn't have qualified anyway) have far exceeded the requirement as it is, so I don't buy the argument that participation would drop off.

MaximumSnooker said...

Possibly for the international events, have a slightly larger prize fund to entice the players. At the moment for winning a EPTC they actually got less than a PTC cos the prize was in Euro's. Possibly an extra 5-10,000 euro's for the winner?
Maybe even adding an extra 500 ranking points to the winner and 200 for the runner up might help.

jamie brannon said...

I personally don't think Hendry should think these events are beneath him.

It is time he accepted facts that his pomp is long gone and that playing in these lesser events is what he needs to do, or otherwise he will find himself in retirement. I don't hear Phil Taylor complaining about playing in the darts equivalent of this tour.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure everyone thinks these PTC's are a success. Certainly the European promoters are not that happy today as they count their losses over the six events. The crowd in Prague was sparse to say the least, the cost of staging the event would have been many times that in revenues.

Certainly not some of the players. Many lost money. Two players who played in all six events estimated they spent nearly £6000 in costs. This is made up from everything from entry fees, flights, hotels, petrol and parking, food and drink.

Ceratinly not the majority of players that think it is disgraceful they are not allowed a practice knock before they play. We are not talking 30 minutes, nor 5 minutes. There are no facilities for them to get they arm going for even one shot prior to them starting their match. This is actually laughable. Seeing 16 pro's yesterday morning all waiting to go on to play standing about in their coats and gloves seconds before having to play their first shot. Is there any other sport where a professional is not permitted to warm up. This has to be addressed somehow. It would be interesting to see how many darts players would turn up without being allowed to throw some practice darts, I have no doubt this facility is offered back stage, and most definately when they get on stage. Farcical.

Certainly not the tv company who have offered to cover the final stages from Dublin next year. There is no World Champion nor World number one. The World number two, three and four are also absent. In fact, Selby, Murphy, Maguire and Williams will also have the responsibility of filling the arena. With the Irish economy in such a state, no easy task.

Changes for next year need to be made or they wont survive. Whatever those who have qualified think, the tournament needs the bigger names to get the money in. Without them, it has no future.

Betty Logan said...

Maybe the EPTC leg needs a rethink, if players are incurring costs of that magnitude. I suppose the idea was to combine promotion of the sport with playing opportunities for lower ranked players. It's possibly a mistake to mix the two. Perhaps next year they should cut the PTC down to eight events and hold them all in this country, and take the money from the four remaining EPTCs (£240k) and hold two 12-man invitationals instead. The PTC was conceived to provide lower ranked pros with an income, so it must not move away from its core objective.