The Shootout in Blackpool was great fun last year and there is every reason to expect more high jinks when it returns tomorrow, sponsored by Partypoker.com.
Tickets have gone like hot cakes (should that be hotpots?), indeed more have been released, and players are looking forward to another three days of frenetic and, with a top prize of £32,000, potentially lucrative speed snooker.
Unlike six reds (anyone remember that?) and Power Snooker, nobody is spinning that this is the future of the game. Nobody is cueing an imaginary revolution. It is what it is: three days of rapid fire snooker-based entertainment.
One of the great plus points is that you get to see so many players, including those down the rankings not used to a crowd and an atmosphere. Nobody outstays their welcome. Each match lasts just ten minutes.
Last year there was some genuine drama, including Neil Roberton’s last gasp win over Alan McManus and Rory McLeod outrageously fluking the final black against Tony Drago.
Blackpool Tower Circus is a terrific venue, although in time a bigger one may be required to meet demand.
Sky Sports, the great innovators of TV sport, are host broadcasters.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has not entered and Joe Jogia has reportedly withdrawn after sustaining a knee injury which he believes sparked the flurry of bets on him to lose to Matt Selt being investigated by the WPBSA disciplinary committee.
Frankly, the personalities involved are less important than the entertainment they provide. Anyone could win this event, although a cool head is required and was demonstrated last year by Nigel Bond.
The Shootout is about fun outside of all the serious tournaments. It’s about showcasing the game and its players in a different way.
It was a success last year and I have every expectation it will be this season too.
Good luck everyone!