The Wyldecrest Welsh Open is now the third longest running ranking event on the circuit but despite its heritage has ended up the poor relation of the circuit.

Its top prize of £30,000 is the lowest of any of the seven ranking events and there are only 5,000 ranking points available to the winner.

But Wales is a snooker hotbed and has produced a number of world beating players down the years – Reardon, Mountjoy, Griffiths and, of course, Williams.

One of the problems with the perception of the Welsh Open is Newport itself, particularly in recent years with all the building work going on outside.

To walk into a venue and have to trek past a swimming pool full of kids and pensioners doesn’t exactly scream ‘classy.’

The Cardiff International Arena was a better venue but much more expensive. I used to enjoy it there when it was played over just five days because it gave the event great momentum, although this was only because a caravan exhibition had been booked into the venue earlier in the week.

But if you’re watching on TV, who cares where it’s held? And it’s all the same star names in this tournament as all the others.

There are two important changes that affect the profile of this year’s Welsh Open.

The first is due to the new ranking system. Newport represents a last chance for players to get in the top 16/32/48/64 ahead of the next revision of the list, which will decide the seedings for the China Open and, of course, the World Championship.

The other is the introduction of best of sevens in the first two rounds. This will mean that every match will be played on a televised table.

We saw at the World Open that, despite dire predictions to the contrary, the best players win regardless of the format.

Why? Because it’s still the same game with the same pressures and the best players handle them the best.

My only concern with the best of sevens is that the public may feel short changed in the evening session, which features just one match on each table.

These things are usually dictated by broadcasters but a couple of 4-0 results could mean just an hour’s play.

What is interesting about the best of sevens at the qualifiers is that it was veterans and old war horses that made it through, not young guns, with the exception of Jack Lisowski.

So we have Rod Lawler, Dave Harold, Marcus Campbell, Nigel Bond et al taking their places in the main draw.

The draw contains a brutal top quarter featuring John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy, as well as Ricky Walden, Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day and, to the delight of many fans, Jimmy White.

Mark Williams is the man of the moment having just won the German Masters but Marco Fu, who he beat in the semi-finals in Berlin, is a tough first round opponent brimming with extra determination as he can secure his top 16 place in Newport this week.

Welsh players invariably falter on home turf, with the exception of the two years Williams won the title.

Hopefully Neil Robertson will avoid calamity and make it to Wales unscathed.

BBC Wales are host broadcasters and Eurosport have extensive coverage, at times of both tables.

The Welsh Open trophy - a piece of slate - is not the most aesthetically pleasing but this is a tournament with history and deserves respect.

It's true that snooker is now looking to new markets in Europe and beyond but Wales has an established base of players and fans, who will hopefully turn out to support their home event.


The Snooker Oracle said...

Really looking forward to it but I just know that the crowds will be dire, at least until the weekend, and all people will do is compare it to Germany.

It's tough to say but places that cannot attract good crowds do not deserve to have tournaments.

Anonymous said...

Wales must keep the event but a change of venue is an absolute MUST ! Newport is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Will it definitely be on the BBC Website?

snooker147 said...

Just a thought 25 years since 'Snooker Loopy' we could try and get that back to the Top10 come the World Championship What do you think?

Anonymous said...

When did Rod Lawler last appear on terrestival TV

Anonymous said...

12.12, on a BBC2 documentary on insomnia remedies

Anonymous said...

i was not a fan of the CIA From a spectator perspective.

the stewards wasent fan friendly even have to que out in the rain for the evening session despite being there all afternoon

reason i had to leave was to get food because couldn't get anything on site and when i returned i was locked out and it was raining cats and dogs.

i prefer the set up at Newport however it looks bad from a onlooker point of view.

it needs to get another venue and if it does move to the CIA people there needs to pick up their socks from my experience with the venue.

Anonymous said...

As it's my local tournament I've been attending the Welsh Open since the mid 90's and my perception is that attendances have always been pretty good, even in the early rounds. TV might distort this, since if you're not sitting in the first six rows then the cameras don't pick you up, and many prefer to sit higher up to be able to view multiple tables.

With only two tables now, that shouldn't be an issue and with the building work outside finally completed,, there's ample parking right next door.

Over the years I've been lucky to see many fantastic matches and although it's sad to see so little love for the event, I hope that it will continue. Raising the prize money and ranking points wouldn't hurt!

Betty Logan said...

Robertson will probably end up in New South Wales.

Anonymous said...

I expect a shock winner this week, either Joe "Gentleman" Perry or Rory "the highlander" McLeod.

MaximumSnooker said...

I don't know Dave. I like the Welsh Open trophy because it's got a unique style to it and because it's Welsh slate it actually has some form of connection to the tournament, instead of being just another trophy. It's why I like the China Open trophy also!

Anonymous said...

1.46, keep taking the tablets, maybe you could do a million to one double with one of the above and Nigel Bond to draw more than 20 spectators. Ah Nigel, what a character

Anonymous said...

The Newport Centre is not bad at all compared to some of the venues they have held snooker tournaments in over the years, it's one of the better ones. It has a bit of atmosphere and is a nice Centre.

Anonymous said...

If the draw allows it, I predict a Williams - Hendry final.

And I do hope the supporters will be there. It is a shame that economics decide the quality of the venue but that's part of the game I suppose.

kildare cueman said...

The Welsh will probably last another year or two.

Hopefully by then, there will be so many events on the calendar that sparsely attended events like the Welsh will be squeezed out, to facilitate more exotic, or lucrative overseas tournaments.

In the meantime, its way better than no snooker at all, so I'm certainly glad its on this week

Anonymous said...

lets get rid of the UK As well.

ive been to both events and there was more at the welsh in Newport than the UK in telford.

we should be looking to add to the portfolio not saying little old wales supported snooker for 20 years with a ranking tournament we dont want you no more.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

The Welsh Open is my home tournament and has long been one of the highlights of my sporting year.

I agree that the event needs to leave the Newport Centre. Everything David has written about it is accurate. I remember attending a Premier League Darts night there in 2006 and the bar staff were absolutely atrocious. I went to get a drink at the end of the first match, and by the time I finally got served and back to my seat, the second match was all but finished.

The CIA in Cardiff too has its problems. I attended the venue regularly as a kid when the Welsh Open was staged there. The main issue was that it was just too big- three quarters of the arena simply wasn't used.
I also remember one year, (I must've been about 14 at the time), my mates and I booked our tickets for the final well in advance. Due to traffic problems, we only arrived in the arena a few minutes before the start and were lobbed in the corner by security people, where the TV cameras blocked our view. I know we were only kids at the time, but they were heavy-handed and rude to us, and a number of other people. Fortunately, my more recent experiences of the venue at other events has been much more positive.

Nevertheless, the Cardiff era had many positives. For the first couple of years, Sky Sports covered the event. They had a presentation booth overlooking the arena, with Jeff Stelling, and later Jonathan Green, hosting the broadcasts. The BBC Wales booth (with David Vine presenting at the time) was elsewhere in the arena.

I know Barry Hearn is keen to move the event back to Cardiff in the long run, and indeed it seemed possible it could happen for 2011 as recently as a few months ago. However, I'd advise against a return to the CIA due to the sheer size of it.

More recently, the Welsh Open had become something of the poor relation on the circuit. It was a bit drab, and lacked purpose, identity and prestige. These changes in the format have gone a long way towards putting that right.

I haven't looked forward to the Welsh Open this much for many years!


Anonymous said...

12.38 anon

i believe the uk will possibly be being moved around the country.

have you heard that too dave?

Dave H said...

My crystal ball tells me it could be back in York...

Anonymous said...

ive heard that too dave (i was 822am), but also heard a loose plan to perhaps tour it year on year....

Rachel said...

Dave, if that is true that the UK may be back in York that is brilliant news. York is by far one of the best venues used for Snooker in my opinion (assuming it will be back in the Barbican) I have enjoyed many a match there. Perfect arena to view multiple matches and a nice city to stay in! Looking forward to that if it happens.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why they don't move the Welsh back to Cardiff or the UK back to Preston, where it should never have left.