This always used to be the height of the season but there has been such a long lay-off for the top players that they must feel as if the campaign is already over.

John Higgins won the totesport.com Welsh Open on January 31. By the time he starts out in the winners’ group of the Championship League next week it will have been seven and a half weeks since he last hit a ball.

It will be interesting to see if this has halted the momentum he had in the early part of the season. Higgins has appeared in the last six ranking event semi-finals. If he gets that far at the China Open and Betfred.com World Championship he will equal the record held jointly by Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry.

But I doubt he’s done much practising in recent weeks – what’s the point? – and may find it hard to pick up where he left off.

We are now entering the final furlong of what has been a disappointingly disjointed season. The Championship League returns on Monday, the China Open starts the following week and then the drama of the Crucible gets underway on April 17.

For some players – Ricky Walden among them – the season is already over. There’s nothing worse for a player than knowing the World Championship is on the TV when you’re not in it.

Even going abroad on holiday doesn’t make much difference these days because the championship is shown around the world.

The Championship League will be a help for the players involved next week in terms of fine tuning their games for a very important month ahead.

Group seven features the returning Peter Ebdon, Jamie Cope, Mark Williams and Joe Swail along with Ding Junhui, Steve Davis and Michael Holt.

The winners’ group features the group seven winner plus Higgins, Stephen Maguire, Judd Trump, Marco Fu, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen.


jamie brannon said...

It is silly these breaks. I mean O'Sullivan will be waiting even longer than Higgins for some competitive action.

It feels like you have been posting less, but in some ways what is there to talk about?

Thought you might have posted about Hearn's comments last week regarding mediocrity. Also a lot of people want the podcasts back- which I echo- but I would like to see a return for cuetube as you only did about two posts. The series was useful in alerting in me to one or two things that I had not discovered myself on YouTube.

Dave H said...

I said pretty much the same as Barry in an article for the 110sport website nine years ago, saying the circuit had to change

Nobody listened then and I suspect nobody will listen now

This, after all, is a sport that rejected a massive financial investment from Altium

Chris said...

"By the time he starts out in the winners’ group of the Championship League next week it will have been seven and a half weeks since he last hit a ball."

Has he not practised Dave?

Dave H said...

I meant in a match

jamie brannon said...

I agree with the circuit changing and that Altium thing was a joke (the rejection of it) but I felt the lazy comments were made just to get it in the papers.

Dave H said...

Yeah they were. Barry knows exactly what to say to cause a bit of a fuss but if it gets snooker in the papers then it's all to the good.

CHRISK5 said...

Indeed - Not many sports would have a 'comatose' seven week break heading towards what should be the most crucial part of the season.

However,it's been like that since 2005/2006 (the loss of tobacco sponsorship) & the reduction to 6 or 7 rank events & the longer periods of inactivity.

At least,2010/2011 onwards,the seasons should get packed again, with major events taking place every two weeks (on average).

So,I guess the players have made the most of their 'extended holiday' on this occasion.

Especially,knowing of the increased workload to come!

RichP said...

When are we expecting Hearn's announcement about next season Dave, is it soon?

Anonymous said...

Until the match fixing nonsense is cleared up we will be left without sponsors.

Still, never mind, Mr Ho Hum will be on here soon to plug his ground breaking technique that world champions have rejected. Over to you, Mr Ho Hum...

Dave H said...

He said he would unveil his plans to the players before the World Championship

Anonymous said...

You are entirely delusional when you write:

"...doesn’t make much difference these days because the championship is shown around the world."

Dave H said...

Thank you very much

However, the World Championship is broadcast live in over 60 countries, which is quite a lot of the world

CHRISK5 said...

At present,the Championship League will be a useful tool for the players to finetune their games & prepare for the China Open.

However,if the main ranking tour scheduele were to increase to 15 events or so - added to that - in terms of the major non-rank events - The more established Masters & Premier League being very likely to remain.

The Championship League & it's lack of 'brand status' in comparison to the many other bigger events - I struggle to see how the C.L format can continue & be productive when the tour expands it's scheduele.

stuartfanning said...

Does the 60 countries broadcasting the World Championship include those that get it via Eurosport?

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Fart Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
How are you lad! Please note Dave the number of bloggers who think i'm a total lunatic who wastes everyone's times with meaningless drivel about sod all in particular.
If snooker bloggers were as observant as the great Joe Davis, even if he only had one eye, they would point out my krap spelling. It's because there weren't any schools in 19-23 when i waz born. I also throw in an odd capital Letter were there was no need to use one Just to Keep those Lads on their toes.

You see Dave my lad, writing is all about technique and a one time investment in the Fine Fart writing course is also an investment in yourself. When my good friend Clive finally leaves us for the great snooker club in the sky, it'll be you Dave my boy, that these lads will be relying on to take over the reins.
Remember not to abuse the method or to use it for commercial use otherwise my good friends at Carter-Ruck will be having strong words with you. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

In an ideal world, we would have a World Ranking tournament every fortnight, in-between we would have qualifying for the event. Maybe at the venue itself.

Whilst qualifying is going on, we would have a round of Thursday night Premier League games/World series events (but i assume with Berlin going on next season, the world series and possibly PL are going to be introduced to calendar - ie endored and approved by the WSA.) If this happened the Championship League would have to go due to outside 16 players possibly qualifying.

This is all circumspect, but we have to head up, because the game is rock solid bottom at the moment.

BTW surely the Players snooker association can't exist now. We have Pat Mooney as Barry Hearn's assistant on the WSA board - another conflict of interests. What is happening with his body now?

Thanks, joe

Anonymous said...

Absolutly top draw post from Mr Hey You, i salute you sir, many of these young uns today don't understand the differance between the top cushion and the baulk cushion ;) keep posting lad!!

Anonymous said...

I did a piece on some of Hearns other comments at snookerbacker.com if anyone is interested. A bit more is revealed there about next season.

Dave H said...

There certainly won't be 15 ranking events next season. I'd be surprised if there were more than seven.

However, I'd expect there to be more invitation tournaments.

Anonymous said...

good post joe,what do you think about the conflict dave,or will you defend barry as usual ?

Dave H said...

I think a lot of people have it in for Pat Mooney

However, I agree the SPA should be an independent body

Anonymous said...

well said dave !!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
How are you lad! I apologise to you and fellow blog members Dave for the supercilious person that has posted a note (8:15PM) in the “Fine Art” name.
In turn Thanks sincerely to mister 12:01AM for there generous support. Your few kind words Sir easily out balances the sad pointless insults of the inadequate and a persistent few.

To me Dave that was a very “Back Handed” compliment that you are the future Clive the “Voice of Snooker”. The “Fine Art” posts have never experienced any form of Discrimination in the Dave Hendon blogs.

In turn the “Fine Art “method has repeatedly been refused the sale of advertising space by Mr Clive Everton the editor of Snooker Scene! Really Mr X your well meaning remark is at least misplaced.

Barry’s Pledge of “Transparency” and “Complete Honesty” was a guarantee too far. It seemed a Slogan against someone or things as opposed to please vote for change. Mr hey you

PS The “Game” of snookers is in good hands and will never die but the professional side of the game has gone wrong since the 19-90s. DM

CHRISK5 said...

It's a decent concept to have 2 or 3 major-invitational events per season - As an extra endorsement for the elite Top 8/16 being at the top of their games & all that.

However,too many invitationals would make it harder for the ranking structure to expand in years to come.

Having MANY more invitationals ISN'T the solution at all - Just Barry Hearn 'protecting' the top players so they can 'feather their nest' & be best buddies with him more like.

It's those outside the top 32 that desperately need more (ranking) events - As they are very unlikely to be 'invited' to the others.

I never suggested it was an absolute guarantee that there would be 15 rank events next season (though it might still increase to that level within afew years)

However,if the number didn't increase moderately to at least 10 rank events for 2010/2011 - then that would be surprising,dissapointing for those who want the game to properly rebuild & quite lamentable too.

Dave H said...

They cost a lot of money to stage

Who is going to pay for them?

Anonymous said...

If people expect ranking events to suddenly fall from the skies then they are out of their minds. It'll take at least five years to build snooker back up IMO. It certainly won't happen overnight.

CHRISK5 said...

If it's true that 60 countries screen the World Championships,then getting more events shouldn't be as difficult as suggested.

Anyway,it's the lack of ambition that has contributed to snooker getting into this stale mess in the first place.

The game needs people with a 'can do' attitude to get things done.

Where will the money come from ? - ALL money is recycled debt & an I.O.U anyway - it's just numbers on a screen that delusionally controls people who think it's the be all & end all.

The WPBSA has subsidised many rank events in the last 15-20 years that have not had sponsorship.

It would be ideal if all events had sponsorship & plenty of backing - But,it's NOT always been done that way!

Some top football teams are hundreds of millions in 'debt' - But,you know the clubs can carry on regardless - because many sports serve the divison/duality purpose & a bit of 'debt' or lack of funding DOESN'T get in the way of that & it never will.

Snooker shouldn't let it do so either!

Anonymous said...

'The WPBSA has subsidised many rank events in the last 15-20 years that have not had sponsorship.'

Which is why they almost went completely skint a few years ago!

jamie brannon said...

In a way yes it is good, but in effect is Hearn not just lying to get snooker in the papers? If he feels the players are lazy then it is fair comment, but otherwise then perhaps best to leave it.

Having said that I have defended Ronnie on occasions when he has said silly things, that it is still good for the game as it creates interest like he did against Hendry in 2002.

CHRISK5 said...

As much as I would love to carry on this detailed debate.

I am self-employed & am about to go work - Because I choose to.

The rebuilding of snooker ISN'T totally dependant on the WPBSA,Barry Hearn etc - But,those further up the pyramid.

Anonymous said...

Surely Mr Hey You Ho Hum should be the one taking over the running of snooker. In between ranking events I would think Eurosport and the BBC will be delighted to produce a ground breaking series called "Hey You - Improve Your Snooker With Mr Ho Hum". I'm sure they could even go for the retro 70's look and feel of programmes of a similar vintage like "Improve your Badminton" and "Improve your Golf."

jamie brannon said...

I am little confused as to the poll the blog is running, it seems pointless, of course some polls would be rigged. Surely it would better to ask if you think the majority are.

Anonymous said...

Jamie you just defend Ronnie cuase you cant help yourself.

I used to think you had the hots for him.

Dave H said...

It's a joke, Jamie

It probably won't win a British Comedy award I accept but something has to fill the void until the Championship League

Anonymous said...

Bwhahahahahaha oh dear Jamie... lmao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Barry Hearn's plans are to fill the calendar with two-bit weekend tournaments

CHRISK5 said...

Anon @ 7.30pm

That's a relief

And there was me thinking there was a serious effort underway to revitalise snooker.

Weekend tournaments hey ? - Should be adequate enough - for those who love Simon Cowell & have the attention span of Goldfish types!

It takes dumbing down to a new level & if correct - would put snooker in a worse position than it is already (if that were possible)

Snooker matches & tournaments are SUPPOSED to tell a long,complex story of endurance,mental stamina & the clear will to win after the Champion has won many matches over the course of several days. (the Hendry/White rivalry being a perfect example of that logic)

So,Six reds & nursery ryhmes anyone ?!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

I would only go down the road of more invitational tournaments if more world ranking tournaments came to fruition. It was good before with Irish, Scottish and Wembley masters - and briefly - the Champions Cup. That was more than enough to supplement the plethora of world ranking tournaments on offer.

Priority must be based first and foremost on getting more world ranking tournaments. Then get the invites prepared.

Also, the WSA must have some finances. Let's go back 12 months, when world championship backers - 888.com - pulled out. As the tournament got closer, and no sponsor was found, Sir Rodney said that if necessary they had the funds for x amount of years to support it.

Where are these funds? Given to WSA employees with there P45 i suppose?

Thanks, Joe

IanW said...

They'll only be 'two-bit' tornos in comparison to what you see on tv at the moment.
Simple economics dictate that without fresh, long-term sponsorship agreements for multiple tornos, the WPBSA can't sustain putting on tournaments without outside investment. That is why a great deal of players outside the top 32 have other jobs.

At this moment in time only the 'elite' players are an attractive proposition to potential sponsors (look to the Masters' 30 plus years success).
If the number of players who could call themselves professional (ie actually earn their money from snooker earnings alone)is cut to say 32 or 48 then it is vital that the sluggish amateur scene is given a shake-up.

But that brings us back to the realities of economics in so far as true 'amateurs' will only be available to play on weekends because they'll be working during the week.

We would all like there to be 12 ranking tornos a year with 128 pros playing, allied with a prosperous amateur game but just answer the question...who's gonna pay for it????

He may not have said it in the right way, but Hearn is right; let the quality elite earn the big money (as they are the ones that attract the sponsors money) but at the same time also create an environment for those 'up and comers' to replace the elite who fail to perform.
I can't see where the problem is?

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the mediocrities have the votes and they'll vote to stop anything that threatens their continued existence regardless of how it causes snooker to further stagnate and punch well below its weight

Anonymous said...

the problem with snooker is that there are some fans of it who cant even tell when an obvious poll joke is a joke.

Anonymous said...

IanW is the voice of reason. I guess most players outside the top 32 spend all their time in Pontin's cubicles, so two-bit weekend tourneys would be an improvement from their point of view.

Another problem is that there are fans who don't understand when to use apostrophes.

jamie brannon said...

I thought it was a wind-up, you never know it might win, didn't My Family win something once. Surely nothing unfunnier than that on television.

A good poll would actually be what is your favourite rivalry of all time, now that Dave has declared his favourite.

My personal favourite is the burgeoning rivalry between Selby and O'Sullivan.

I don't always defend what Ronnie does, but there is an argument that even his bad stuff still gets the game much needed publicity.

Anonymous said...

his bad stuff just shows how much of an idiot he can be

and sure, yeah, you thought it was a wind up. i believe you, honest!

Anonymous said...

If you click on Jamie's name it does say hes honest bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....

He also wants to become the big player :O