After a long year of snooker, not every top player made the trip to Ravenscraig but Ding Junhui did and he left as the winner of European Tour event 5.

Ding played with great purpose from his first match. He was fluent and determined and made seven centuries during the tournament.

What a lovely player he is to watch in full flow. He is already, at 25, one of the best break-builders the game has ever seen.

The mystery is why he is sometimes flat in matches. Ding stands 11th in the world rankings, lower than many would put him given a free choice.

But he ends 2012 on a high with half of the season still to go.

Much praise must go to the beaten finalist, Anthony McGill, who became snooker’s marathon man with something like nine hours of continuous play on Sunday.

He was 3-0 and 51-0 down to Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon in the quarter-finals but recovered to win 4-3. He got the two snookers he needed in the deciding frame of the semi-finals against Andrew Higginson and won 4-3 on a red-spotted black to reach his first televised final.

The key moment of the final in the end was his failure to get ideally on frame ball in the fifth. He left it awkward, missed and Ding made a great clearance before wrapping up a 4-2 win.

There was a good crowd for the final but the event was otherwise poorly attended. It’s not abundantly clear why this tournament went to Scotland in the first place.

The European Tour has done a very good job of taking tournaments to areas where interest in snooker is growing, with the ultimate goal to produce full ranking events.

Scotland has already had many of these and some may have felt, particularly with the number of high profile stay-aways, that this was a retrograde step.

It also came very quickly after the UK Championship, which felt like a natural break halfway through the season.

However, there is a long tradition of tournaments after the UK Championship and before Christmas, be it the World Doubles, World Matchplay or German Masters. In 1998 there were three events after the UK Championship and before the New Year. Years ago the players would record Pot Black shortly after Christmas and the Mercantile Classic would often start on New Year’s Day.

The Haikou World Open qualifiers are this week and then it all shuts down until January 4, after which it is basically no sleep until May Day.


Anonymous said...

Not an ideal location but, nevertheless, I did go each day. I wasn't able to go for the whole day for the first two days but I did on Sunday. It was on the site of the old Ravenscraig steel works and accessible by car or taxi, unless one fancied a rather long walk. There are no houses in the immediate vicinity.

I was somewhat surprised that the tables were on a sprung floor to be honest and I did see a fitter called to one of the tables in the middle of a match. I think Joe Perry was one of the players and they were seriously not happy.

Anonymous said...

Good to see Ding playing well again. The game needs him at his best, a final with him and Trump at their peak would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

You'd prefer another event in Sheffield or Bristol would you? I wouldn't want snooker to become like golf with only a handful of UK events.

Anonymous said...

It seemed there were a lot more people there than you could see on camera. You'd hear all this applause but couldn't see where it was coming from, presumably some balcony out of shot.

It's the same in China - so many of the venues of there put most of the seating out of view of the camera, and it just gives such a bad impression on TV.

Claus said...

I wonder if promotion has anything to do with the low attendance or it all comes down to dwindling interest and location.

Do they promote it differently in Germany or Belgium to produce those amazing crowds? Or is it down to Scotland having hosted big tournaments previously, thus viewing a PTC as not being worth the time?

Anyway, I haven't seen emptier venues since Bahrain or Brazil. It's not all bad since having more and bigger tournaments in mainland Europe is a pleasure for most snooker fans. The players feed off the crowds and it makes for great atmospheric television. Scotland will be back as well, surely, but now we should focus on feeding the snooker hungry.

Anonymous said...

"The mystery is why he is sometimes flat in matches".

Any ideas why - he is a player I would normally bet on his opponent to win if I were at the venue.

Anonymous said...

Poor end to a generally good half-season.

The Scottish PTC appears to have been put on at low cost, unlike the other EPTCs so far.

With so many good Scottish players it does seem strange that the money isnt there for a proper Scottish tournament.

Anonymous said...

I think generally snooker is probably disliked by the Scottish nationalist establishment, which is why there is so little support for snooker in Scotland these days. Snooker (along with cricket, another sport Scotland has an aversion to) is the product of British imperialism. With Scotland's upcoming independence the nationalists probably see snooker as another cultural shackle and would like to see it die away.

A shame really, since World Snooker has seemingly recognized Scotland's independence by allocating the PTC to the European leg rather than the UK one...

Anonymous said...

I was at this event for all 3 days and id like to comment on the following....

"There was a good crowd for the final but the event was otherwise poorly attended"

WRONG - The aggregate venue crowd on Sunday night for the final was actually smaller than it had been all weekend, including Friday.

You didnt surely think that come 9pm on a Sunday night a couple of busloads of fans suddenly appeared from nowhere to fill up the main arena?

The bulk of people chose to watch the 10 table arena over the weekend where they were free to move about rather than be "trapped" at the main arena, where tbh a lot of the games were less appealing.

The stands were quite high too so a lot of the people further up wouldnt have been picked up on camera, plus a lot chose to sit up the top so they could also peer over onto the other 10 tables.

As for the Sunday, the bulk of people chose to watch McGills (and other games) in the non-tv arena.

With the final starting so late had McGill not been involved, i suspect a lot of people would have left though as it was a long tiring day, just for the fans, let alone the players.

The arena was the wrong choice location wise as was in middle of nowhere with no public transport access, plus the timing (after UK, before Xmas) didnt help, but to suggest Scotland should have a tournament because snookers already established here is laughable.

What next? Move the Worlds from Sheffield because snookers already established in England and play it in say, Mexico so snooker can develop there.....?

Anonymous said...

4:50 - they also paid the prize money in € - so I'd say its a done deal:)

Anonymous said...

450, wtf are you talking about?

im Scottish, always have been ;), and I think what you typed is utter rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Do you feel it is right to oppress John Higgins, by forbidding him from playing in a kilt without underwear? Rory McLeod gets away with sexual discrimination by virtue of his religious rights, but when it comes to the poor old Scotsman no such tolerance there; he is banned outright from indecently exposing himself on Eurosport in accordance with his cultural values.

Anonymous said...

no underwear ... don't you remember Keith Chegwin's appearance on a game show with no underwear ...

Ray said...

On another subject,when Barry Hearn took up the reins of World Snooker he made a point of saying it would be a meritocracy. Do the business on the table and you will be rewarded accordingly.
Now we find that some players are becoming professionals through being given a wild card. It is totally iniquitous when every player is treated equally .... but some are treated more equal than others. You can just imagine how all the other hardworking, aspiring professionals must feel.
I would value your and others views on the subject.
Thanks for a most informative and entertaining blog - Merry Christmas to one and all at Snooker Scene.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the players are deep rooted in their disaffection of referees and officials. I blame football and golf.

jamie brannon said...

Nice to see Ding back in the winner's enclosure. Undoubtedly better than eleven in the world.

He's a bit like van Barneveld in the darts, in the sense that he lets his head drop when things start to go wrong. However, like the Dutchman, he is capable of being a world-beater when his A-game is brought to the table.

There's an amusing typo in the article. Sounds like they are trying to spice up the game for TV by putting spots on the black!

Anonymous said...

I just assumed Ding had skipped a few PTCs and had a few first round exits, which really damage your ranking. Interestingly though, he is even lower on the money list, which suggest his problem isn't just consistency; he obviously is just going through a dry spell. It's a mystery how Maguire stays in the top 8, he seems to always lose early on but somehow stays near the top. Kind of like McManus in the late 90s.

NewsfoxSport said...

Ludicrous that Scotland cannot be host to a top event. All Barry Hearn has done is correct all the dreadful mistakes and negligence caused by idiotic players and their managers. New blood needed to tap into UK market - it's clear this event was not marketed or put somwehere with easy access.

Anonymous said...

I went on a Friday and as an earlier commenter said it made much more sense to stay on the floor where you could watch far more games at once than to be stuck in the televised area looking away from the other tables.

Re: the poor attendance at previous Scottish ranking events I was under the impression that the last torunament held in Glasgow (the one with the shorter matches, shown on the beeb) was quite successful and fairly well attended (particularly when compared to the Welsh Open). However, it was dumped because (despite the insistence of the commentators about how exciting it was in its first year under the new format) the beeb jumped ship.

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