Time was when the World Championship would end and snooker wouldn’t bother you again for at least three months.
The calendar is now much, much busier, although if you listen to some it’s as if slavery has been re-introduced. There may be snooker now for 50 weeks of the year but there aren’t 50 tournaments.
Furthermore, nobody has to play in everything if they don’t want to. They never have done.
Snooker players are now freer than ever to pick and choose which events to play in. Most will play in all or very nearly all because they need ranking points to protect their various positions. Also, it's their profession. It's what they do.
Further up the list, the top players can afford to be choosier. Two top 16 players – believed to be Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins – have not entered the Wuxi Classic. I understand seven have not entered the Australian Open.
The Aussie Open would have felt like a God-send just three years ago. However, the problem with it is that there is a 46% local tax rate levied on prize money. With the cost of getting there and hotels, players would probably need to reach the quarter-finals to break even.
Some would argue that if players want the tournament to become a big money event then they should support it in its early years but it’s easy to say that when it’s not you that’s losing money.
Barry Pinches, among others, came up with a pretty sound solution: play the last 32 in the UK (barring Neil Robertson’s match and one or two others) and take 16 players to Bendigo. This has happened in the past for non-British tournaments.
Anyway, personally I enjoy watching snooker played well. Who specifically is playing is less important to me. With several top players missing it’s a chance for some of the others to shine.
The Wuxi Classic and Australian Open will be live on Eurosport. As a bonus, so too will be the last three days of the Six Reds World Championship in Thailand, which takes place in between the two ranking events.
What have the players been doing for holidays? Some have been up before the WPBSA’s disciplinary beak for various misdemeanours.
The big one here is Mark Allen, whose case has been heard with a verdict pending legal representations.
Joe Jogia has been suspended until late July before his case is held, pertaining to suspicious betting patterns on his match at the Shootout (which never took place because he withdrew).
Jogia did his cause no good – far from it in fact – by telling the Leicester Mercury that he had been suspended because the WPBSA is racist. The governing body has been many things down the years but racist is not one of them.
Mark Williams was fined £3,000 plus £1,000 in legal costs for his derogatory remarks about the Crucible on Twitter before the World Championship.
The fine seems excessive. It was, basically, a joke, albeit an unfunny one which backfired.
I think Williams’s fine was as heavy as it was because he had been warned previously about his behaviour on the social networking site.
However, the disciplinary committee’s comments that Williams’s remarks “were unacceptable and potentially highly damaging to snooker’s long relationship with Sheffield and the Crucible Theatre” seem to me pompous in the extreme.
Williams is entitled not to like the Crucible. The idea that because he holds this view the Sheffield contract hangs by a thread is laughable.
There have been far worse things written on Twitter. Where are the fines for those?
There may have been some, but this is the other issue I have with the entire process: the selective reporting by the WPBSA of punishments.
Apparently Ding Junhui has been fined £250 for swearing at his press conference after losing to Ryan Day in the World Championship (having been 9-6 up, he was understandably gutted).
If this is the case then the fine should be made public, just as all disciplinary cases should be. All players should be treated equally. If Williams’s fine is deemed worthy of being made public then so should all the others.
Meanwhile, Q School has been and gone. Well done to the 12 qualifiers for the main tour, particularly to those who will make their debuts as professionals.
So good luck to Chen Zhe, Ian Burns, Sean O’Sullivan, Michael Wasley, Martin O’Donnell, Joel Walker and Robbie Williams, whose participation will no doubt please journalists looking for easy headlines.
Walker was identified as a star of the future by (Ronnie) O’Sullivan in the original Riley Futurestars programme and now has the chance to play as a professional himself. Most significantly, these guys will have two-year tour cards and this gives them more of a chance to settle in without having to worry about dropping straight off.
They all enter the fray tomorrow when the Wuxi Classic qualifiers begin, live on liveworldsnooker.tv and affiliated betting sites.
Snooker in June still feels like a novelty but the times they have a-changed. Stand by for another season of drama on the green baize.