“Better than Power Snooker” was my view of the new Caesarscasino.com Shootout after Friday’s evening session – not exactly the biggest compliment you could pay.

By this afternoon my opinion had been upgraded to “better than expected” but tonight’s session won me over. There was some genuine drama at a rocking Tower Circus in Blackpool.

Mike Dunn displayed a steely nerve to see off Alfie Burden on the black. Rory McLeod outrageously fluked the black to beat Tony Drago in the dying seconds. And then Neil Robertson, with one second to spare, struck the cue ball to pot the black and beat Alan McManus.

What we’ve also seen is how good these players are. I thought the super-fast shot clock may result in farce but, in fact, the players have adapted.

I’d argue it’s done the slow players a favour: there is no time to look for what can go wrong.

Ball in hand has cut out rolling up behind colours but it also puts pressure on the player who receives it: it’s up to them to make the most of it and not all have.

The Shootout has not replaced a tournament. It is a new addition to the circuit, designed to give Sky a distinct event.

Once upon a time they bid tens of millions for the World Championship but were turned down (the fact that the then WPBSA board included several BBC commentators was surely a coincidence).

Sky doesn’t want the scraps of the circuit and so it’s entirely understandable that if they are to show anything then they desire something out of leftfield, which Barry Hearn has dreamt up.

Sky’s first rate production values and varied commentary team have done a great job of bringing across the atmosphere.

And the venue is superb. It’s a bear-pit similar to Goffs, the long time venue of the Irish Masters and would make an ideal home for a tournament like the Masters.

There are elements of the Shootout I don’t like. By and large, the crowd add to the atmosphere but there are inevitably a few ‘comedians’ who, emboldened by drink, shout out all manner of boorish witticisms that add nothing whatsoever to the viewing experience. Hats off to referee Michaela Tabb for asking for a bit of decorum tonight.

I could quite cheerfully never hear that American voiceover guy again and the whole thing probably went on too long.

So I’ve enjoyed the Shootout on the whole but the one thing I hope is that there isn’t a kneejerk reaction from people within the game – particularly players – that this format should be flogged to death or even introduced for ranking events.

It works as a one off, a piece of entertainment to enjoy once a year, but that’s as far as it goes.

Naturally it’s not for everyone, although a number of those who took against the Shootout have nevertheless kept watching it, presumably so that they can be mortally offended all weekend.

There is a new ranking event starting on Wednesday and two new ones next season, so those lamenting the death of the game are well wide of the mark.

Opinions will differ, but Hearn looks like he’s unearthed another winner.

As Ali Carter put it: “It’s a bit of fun, that’s how the players are treating it.”

Bearing in mind what else is going on in the world, what is really wrong with that?


Leon in Kaunas said...

Bestest tournament I see for many year. The venue remind me of the bull fight ring in Benidorm I visit.

I like the girls. The sport of great snooker need glamor and (dare I say it) sex.

Sorry match was fix and many people win monies.

I lose my Litas on Scottish boy McCullochs

David Caulfield said...

Tonight's session was amazing, thoroughly entertaining snooker played at a surprisingly high quality.

I agree with most of your criticisms, particularly about length. They could possibly stretch it out to four days or at least use the friday afternoon for the opening session.

All in all, though, loving it! Come on Ken and Fergal

Anonymous said...

i agree entirely dave.
good bloggin'

Jonathan said...

I'm ashamed to say I love it. And it can come back next year as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

loved it, great fun and exciting, dramatic and high quality snooker to boot!
One thing i would like to see next time is 4 wildcards entries, with the 61st to 64th ranked players to play the 4 wildcards in a preliminary round.

The wildcards could include legends who havent been seen on tv for years like Kirk Stevens, tony meo and alain robidoux and maybe one amateur qualifier, just to bring another dimension to the tournament.

Anonymous said...

Didn't think I would,but Ive really enjoyed the format.exciting and fun to watch.excellent idea

Witz78 said...

Been a brilliant couple of days action so far with more fireworks to come tomorrow im sure.

My only regret is that i didnt go down to this event now, wont be making that mistake next year. Looks great banter backstage too and the players seems to be enjoying themselves.

For me, this event is 2 fingers stuck firmly up at all those purists and sceptics, many of whom have relucatntly warmed to this now and accepted its far better than they imagined.

The drama has been excellent, tonight especially with the McLeod, Lines, Robertson and Dunn wins.

The crowd have been rowdy and vocal but that was the whole point, so i thought Michaela was out of order warning the guys shouting out. Talk about killing the atmosphere.

And also ive found Jimmy to be a breath of fresh air commentating and on analysis at this event. He speaks from the heart and adds wit and second to none knowledge and pearls of wisdom to the commentary.

Witz78 said...

As an extension of the Shootout format to fully fledged ranker on the main tour, this is what i propose.

Frames played under same 10 minute rule and shotclock time constraints.

A week long event played at Blackpool with ALL 96 main tour players.

32 groups of 3 with the groups based on rankings
ie. group 1, number 1 seed, a random seed from 33-64 and a random seed from 65-96 etc etc

play each other once in group round robin. morning sessions to accomodate the schedule.

match 1 - 33-64 v 65-96 seed
match 2 - match 1 loser v 1-32 seed
match 3 - 1-32 seed v match 1 winner

this way there is no dead rubber 3rd match in the group as its impossible for someone to have won the first 2 frames.

the winners of each group progress to the last 32 where the seedings will be projected on the basis that the number 1 seed would have won group 1, down to the 32nd seed winning group 32 so 1v32 in last 32 etc

the tournament continues on as normal through to and including the final still on the one frame 10 minute basis.

id offer the following ranking points tariffs for this event.

winner 5,000
runner up 4,300
semi finals 3,600
quarter finals 2,900
last 16 2,200
last 32 1,500
2nd place in group 1,000
3rd place in group 500

I think theres definetly scope for a format like this to work based on the success of this event weve all seen. Darts has multiple identity format events on its main calendar and snooker should do the same.

The cop out of the World Open, Welsh Open best of 5s and best of 7s arent radical enough for me, there half hearted measures to try and appease both the purists and the young and new fans.

Anonymous said...

"Dott, you are through to the next round" was the highlight of the tournament so far.

Anonymous said...

Good idea about the wildcards.
I think we all feel that the inclusion of Robidoux and Meo would make all the difference.
It would surely be the icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Michaela Tabb, some of the things that were shouted out were unnecessary, and the general noise level was a bit excessive. It's supposed to be fun, the crowd are supposed to get involved, but there has to be a limit.


porridge said...

Witz78, somehow I don't think this one-frame-format should ever be introduced for a ranking event. As a very modern and controversial man, I'm all for different identities, but this one wouldn't work. Or to put it differently; let's not ruin this format by converting it to any ranking events.

On the subject of identities, snooker table and balls offer all kinds of opportunities for different formats without having to go over-the-top about the rules. I do believe that even Power Snooker in its core taught us (if nothing else) that snooker would do with some kind of a point-based game format as well. Like "first to 500" (or how about 501?). Or why not bring 6-reds into a ranking event? "6-reds with super frustrating tight pockets". Oh yes. People want a missfest? Let's give them that. Maybe the point-based game could have a ball-in-hand rule, but even that would be optional and otherwise it'd be just like traditional snooker.

In a way, I think the ONLY mistake Hearn has done so far is with Welsh Open. Plain best-of-7 format doesn't really give me that new identity feel to it as it could have gone through more radical changes. But as there are couple of new ranking events planned for the next season, I'd go radical with them.

Anonymous said...

i dont care much for wildcards
i think the tournament has worked well
i think only small tweaks should be introduced next year
i think jimmy white has been ok in the box
i dont think jimmy white is the best at anything (other than being jimmy white) and so "second to none" is rubbish.
i think barry should come out and say power snooker was bollox
i think this blog is very good and relays more how the public feel about snooker than the bbc or ws think they do.

Ray said...

Surprisingly I'm enjoying it immensely for what it is - a bit of fun. Just like 1 day cricket and 20/20 will never replace the real deal of Test Cricket, Snooker Shootout and it's ilk will never replace the beautiful game of snooker. I agree with you Dave regarding the circus arena in Blackpool. It should be used for the Masters next year. BH should start arranging next years' calendar post haste to secure this wonderful venue for the Masters. In fact it's a no brainer!

Anonymous said...

Love the idea of wildcards entries, bring back Kirk Stevens and Doug Mountjoy, would love like everyone else to see these legends back on tv, if only for one frame..

Anonymous said...

The man who loses any given match should be placed in a Noel's House Party style vat of gunk.
This would liven up the "knowledgeable crowd" to the point of franzied chanting.

Anonymous said...

yeah, bring them back for ten minutes, some of them 4000 miles away. good idea *rolleyes

Anonymous said...

crowds are knowledgeable cos theyre (lots of) listening to the commentary.

not all are stupid, but theyre being spoon fed whats good and not and end up following the comments made

Anonymous said...

4000 miles?? (rolleyes) you do realize we live in the 21st century, unless they moved canada to Mars, then there might be a problem!

Have another little think about it and get back to me...thanks ;)

Anonymous said...

kirk stevens lives in canada

unless canada has moved, then....

*rolleyes @ 626

Anonymous said...

nigel bond (groan)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:26 PM (groan)

jamie brannon said...

I think there would be some who would miss the Masters not being synonymous with Wembley, however, the Wembley Arena doesn't compare with the Conference Centre.

The sixth last paragraph is the vital one, that must be read by anyone thinking it is wise to milk this format.

Sky should create it's own events, not nick the BBC events. Sky have their place, but the BBC still cover sport better, even if it's unfashionable to say that thse days. Plus the exposure the sport gets from the BBC is vital to the game's prosperity in the mainstream.

Anonymous said...

JB - I thought you said you didn't have Sky?

Anonymous said...

youve just got to "love" the way brannon posts as if its his blog and everyone hangs on what he says.

for the record jamie, your OPINION about the bbc covering sports better is opinion.. my opinion is that sky do more sports better than the bbc.

jamie brannon said...

With the level of vitriol posted at me, you would think a few people are hanging on my word. I just come on here for constructive snooker discussion.

I have watched a fair amount of Sky down the years and it does certain sports well, particularly darts and cricket, however, their coverage in general is a little sensationalist and afraid to tell it how it is, especially on football, where they purport the myth of the Premier League being the best in the world.

Sky has it's place, as you need to have specialist sport channels, but as an organisation and a broadcaster I will always have more respect for the BBC.

It's not gospel, just an opinion that I'm sure many who think Sky is brilliant would disagree with.

Anonymous said...

which is what i said, really!

Nathan Jones said...

pure rubbish snooker !! in fact thats an insult to the game!!

Nathan Jones said...

this is not snooker !!its a nonsense !!!