The final stages of the Wuxi Classic features a varied field of 64 players: big names, old stagers, new faces and, for the first time, a woman.

Reanne Evans became the first female player to qualify for a ranking event when she beat Thepchaiya Un Nooh in Gloucester.

Her reward is to play a wildcard, Zhu Yinghui, rather than a much anticipated first round match against Neil Robertson.

Even if she beats Zhu, World Snooker have scheduled her match with Robertson for the one time UK and European viewers won’t be able to watch – 10am in China, so the middle of the night back home, with Eurosport covering the afternoon and evening sessions.

The afternoon match that day on that table is Mark Allen v Peter Lines, which few, perhaps even Allen and Lines, would argue was a bigger deal for the sport, especially given the amount of pre-publicity Evans has got the event, with appearances on television, radio and in newspapers.

For all the warm words the governing body has spoken about promoting women’s snooker, this was a golden chance to gain some actual exposure and they’ve completely blown it.

The wildcard situation is a nonsense as well in this bright, shiny new era of ‘fairness.’

Originally, wildcards were used in China to build local interest and they did do. One of them – Ding Junhui – won the 2005 China Open. With snooker now firmly established in China, the wildcards are being used to give free practice at the top level to Chinese players. This is not what ranking events are for.

There are nine Chinese qualifiers plus Hong Kong’s Marco Fu: more than enough local representation without four more having to be parachuted in.

The big names who failed to qualify were Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy. Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew from qualifying due to a family bereavement. Stephen Maguire and Mark Davis didn’t enter.

The rest of the top 16 are there, with Ricky Walden defending the title. His first round opponent is Jimmy White, one of snooker’s most iconic names. His old rival Steve Davis is also in the draw and faces Andrew Higginson.

What’s good about this new system is that plenty of players perennially stuck in the qualifying quagmire are now at the venue, experiencing life in the big time, and are guaranteed prize money.

So step forward the likes of Joel Walker, Scott Donaldson, Adam Duffy, Alex Davies, Liam Highfield and the other young prospects making the trip to Wuxi City.

With 64 players, plus the wildcards, there will be a lot of matches to get through, obviously many taking away from the TV screens.

The first prize is now £80,000 - an increase of £5,000 on last season and massively up on what these ranking events far away from British shores used to be worth.

Eurosport are live from 7.30am UK time on Monday.


JIMO96 said...

Why all the fuss about Evans playing a wildcard? I'm sure all Reanne wants is to be treated on equal terms with the male players, and the lack of special treatment is exactly that.

I find it really hypocritical that so many people get up in arms about the presence of wildcards, yet not one of these people acknowledge that, despite the vast majority of ranking events taking place nowadays in the eastern hemisphere, qualifying is STILL held in the UK. This alone justifies wildcards, and anyone who ignores this is....well, ignorant.

If Reanne is good enough, she will get past her opponent, then Robertson, and then maybe might justify her moment in the spotlight on a TV table. That's about as high as any 'top up pro' (which is what she is, remember) can aim for, and good luck to her in that respect.

Snooker has made WAY too many compromises for 'commercial reasons' down the years.

Dave H said...

I didn't say Reanne shouldn't have to play a wildcard, I said nobody should.

Wildcards are a commercial compromise, something you seem to be against.

JIMO96 said...

Yes Dave, I know wildcards are a commercial compromise, but they've been toned down this season, as should all commercial compromises.....the most annoying one of all being the UK qualifying structure, which is in place because 'it would cost too much' for UK players to travel 10000 miles (something Chinese players have to endure when coming here, without a word of anger raised).

In fact, UK qualifying is so much of a joke, that it can't even be called a 'compromise'.

Monique said...

I agree with JIM. Wildcards are "unfair", and there is always someone to stress that "they have no right to be there". Well have amateurs who failed to qualify for the Main Tour a "right" to be shoed in in ranking events? I don't think so. Yet because of that they have opportunities to hone their skills against top opposition - the "free practice" you mentioned and that indeed CBSA wants for their players. They are putting the money on the table, so why wouldn't they also insist for these opportunities to be given to their players. Because, lets face it, with this being granted to Q-School participants, and Q-Schoool being held in UK, it's mainly the UK players who benefit.
YES, the Q-School is open to all, but ask yourself how many UK players would enter if they had to expose the expenses to go to China to play in it. Ask yourself how they would perform in an alien environment, having to cope with time difference. That's what the Chinese lads face. Not to mention the visa problems that did actually stop some Chinese players who had entered it.
YES, the Q-School amateurs enter in round one. But would they travel to China if round one was played there, supposing they would be invited? Probably not for most of them. Actually that the seven Chinese players, including Ding, who made it to Wuxi had to come back to UK to qualify for a home tournament is not exactly fair neither.
There are more opportunity now for Chinese amateurs to play the top boys than before, but it's still a long way before one can speak of "equal opportunities". And it's not just the Chinese, it's all Asian players.
The correct answer to the wildcard problem would be to have all tournaments played from round one at the final location (not necessarily in the same venue) AND to have an Asian leg of the Q-School as well.
Of course this would be difficult to sustain financially for many players, in particular, the rookies. That's why - without "rewarding" mediocrity - I would be in favor of having first round losers getting the basic flights expenses covered. After all it takes two to play a match of snooker. By turning up they contribute to the tournament, hence they bring value to the sport, the organisers and the sponsors. They deserve something for it.
And it can be done, without spending more in prize money. It's a matter on how it's spread through the rounds. If anyone isn't convinced about this, I'm ready to show them, with concrete examples, based on actual prize money … and a spreadsheet software ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave. Seeding Reanne Evans (a 9 time world champion remember) straight through to the last 64 and having her match on at a reasonable hour in the UK (an insult to Robertson as well btw) would do a lot more for ladies snooker then a meaningless Crucible ladies day PR stunt.

Anonymous said...

I would really have liked to watch her match, so from my perspective WS have made an error here.

Perhaps Eurosport could get the on duty security guard to press record on "VCR" at 1am so we could see some of the match later that day.

Anonymous said...

In my view qualifiers should be in the country where the tournament is, i.e. part of the tournament per se.

ronniesunibrow said...

Robbo's match is scheduled at 10am becuse if it i indeed against Reanne it will be a 5-0 drubbing. Not an interesting match to watch.

Anonymous said...

Monique makes some good points.


If snooker is a global sport then stop playing the qualifiers in England for non English events.

This result of this might mean the emergence two unofficial circuits (Europe & Far East) for smaller events, simply because of the travel costs.

That wouldn't matter, as long as they come together for the big 3 or 4 "Wimbledon" events.

And anybody could still enter any tournament if they could afford to do so.

Anonymous said...

The wildcards are only in place because the CBSA are forcing it to happen and want their young amateurs to get the vital experience to make it onto the main tour one day.
I like the new rule that each main tour qualifier can only play a wildcard once all year, thats a much fairer rule put in place.

I think there should be at least one Q School event staged in China purely for Chinese players as so many of them cant get visas to play in the UK ones and its unfair!

Anonymous said...

In truth the CBSA could just as easily establish its own circuit for its own players and just invite the top 16 to play in their events, effectively pulling the plug on UK based professionals, so it's probably better to just let them have wildcards if that's what they want.

Anonymous said...

Surely it would be sexual discrimination for Reanne to play at a favoured time for a television slot.
What about the other players who are not female?
Is it the "come see the freaks show scenario" the amazing non bearded lady who plays snooker so well.
Roll up roll up etc.
Either she has played in the tournament and qualified and regrettably drawn a wild card to play Neil Robertson or she hasn't.
If she is any good she'll appear in the last 32 after beating Robbo and then we'll get the full story instead of the gimmick she seems to be.
The event will run & run after Reanne Evans is knocked out and someone will lift the trophy and it won't be her.
We are not all snooker media, some of us want to see the game played properly and don't wish to hear a patronising commentary about how good she is (for a women).
Blah blah.

Dave H said...

Strange name, Blah Blah.

Meanwhile, nice story about Reanne here in the Sindy, including how she has had to put up with misogynist insults: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/serena-williams-inspires-reanne-evans-to-storm-male-bastion-8660561.html

Monique said...

Unwelcoming behaviours from fellow players in clubs, including patronising, misogynist, sexist and sexually loaded remarks are among the reasons why not many girls try themselves at snooker, or persist at it, and why some parents hesitate to bring them to clubs. The situation is particularly hard to cope with for girls in their early teens which is precisely the period in life where many skills develop.

Anonymous said...

I'm a player and my opinion is that people who haven't earnt the right to get on the main tour don't deserve the right to play in any MAJOR ranking events what so ever. If they want experience, that's what the PTC's are there for, that's a chance much more than I ever had to gain experience against top professionals. There should be NO wild cards & certainly NO top ups!

Anonymous said...

Reanne Evans did NOT qualify for the main tour but got into the Wuxi pro ranking tournament finals because of "top ups". That is clearly wrong.
It is like a Conference League football club being given the chance to play in the Champions League because it has beaten Arsenal in the first round of the FA cup.

Anonymous said...

Wild Card round
Zhu Yinghui 5 v Reanne Evans 2

It is not going to happen that we will ever see a woman qualify for the actual finals or televised ranking event.

I echo what some have said, wild cards and top ups are unfair and unprofessional. If you think about it an also rank amateur player who don't make the cut in the main tour can play lots of matches against many inferior players of their calibre, win enough matches and enough top ups to get a foot in for a ranking tournament finals. That is not right.

Anonymous said...

It appears Reanne Evans was a casualty of a wild card and instead of a chance to play Neil Robertson in 1st round she ended up playing in the wild card round

The irony is as an amateur Evans was only able to compete at the Wuxi Classic because of a "top ups" a kind of wild card in many ways. Also not forgetting that she was allow to play on the Main Tour in the 2010-11 season on a wild card. So Reanne Evans are perfectly happy to embrace wild cards with both hands only when its suited her but is now unhappy that she is a victim of a wild card.
My only suggestion for you, Reanne, is World Snooker treated you a whole lot better for being a woman and frequently bend the rules so you can get some in roads amongst the sport's elite. If you want to be fair don't ask or embrace special treatment and answer your critics on the green baize on equal terms.