“Time for the deadwood to go, new generation coming through,” was how one young player put it on Twitter last night.

This may appear somewhat tactless but seems to encapsulate a gathering feeling that something is changing in snooker and that younger faces have every right to fancy their chance to establish themselves.

The reason is quite simple: greater opportunity. With more tournaments there is more chance to play your way into the circuit.

This opportunity also exists for those players who have been on the tour for two decades or longer but these old stagers know that they also have their cards marked by the younger generation.

As players get older they tend to lose consistency and, indeed, some of the hunger they had when they were starting out.

This is inevitable. Do any job for 20 years and, however exciting it may seem to an outsider, it becomes just that: a job.

That’s why you have to admire Jimmy White, who still seems to love snooker as much now as when he started out on the circuit 30 years ago.

But there is an army of young talent now believing that this time is theirs. They take strength in numbers and are full of determination.

There’s Liam Highfield, a black ball winner over Xiao Guodong in the Australian Open qualifiers last night, Jack Lisowski, Anthony McGill, Daniel Wells and Adam Duffy for starters.

And, of course, it’s not just the Brits who are hungry. Young players from China are staking their claim. There’s Luca Brecel, too, from Belgium and Poland’s Kacper Filipiak, both of whom are just 16.

Behind them in the amateur ranks there are players who look now at snooker and feel it could be a career.

And right at the head of this army is its 21 year-old general: Judd Trump, a snooker protégé who has inspired so many to dream that they too can share the limelight in the sport’s showpiece occasions.

We’ve been here before. As the 1980s gave way to the 1990s, many of the much loved cast of characters that had built snooker’s reputation in the television age were one by one forced off the stage by new, younger players who had watched spellbound in living rooms far and wide, ambitious and determined.

In the 1980s, as now, snooker looked like a game going places, something worth being part of.

Stephen Hendry summed up the fearless new brand of player, unconcerned by reputation or the supposed way to play.

James Wattana, Alan McManus, Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon were among those to follow. Each are still on the circuit but now desperate to keep their feet above the surface as the young pretenders snap at their heels.

The biggest agent for bringing through young blood was opening the game up to anyone with a cue and the money to enter tournaments.

So it was in 1992 that the outstanding trinity of teenagers John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams began their professional careers.

Others came through, too, including Stephen Lee and, a few years later, Graeme Dott, Matthew Stevens and Paul Hunter.

Since then the intake of new talent has slowed. We’ve had some brilliant young players reach the top – Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson for instance – but not all in a rush.

Maybe the environment is now better suited to this being rectified than at any time since the open era.

There are more playing opportunities and a chance for young players to learn on the job as it were, playing the big boys in the PTCs and gaining experience and confidence in the process.

It’s impossible to say just how many of the young hopefuls playing in the qualifiers and PTCs right now will become top players but it stands to reason that several will.

All sports renew themselves. That’s how they survive.

How many of the current top 16 will be there ten years from now?

A glance back a decade reveals that seven of the top 16 from the 2001/02 season are in the elite group as the 2011/12 campaign begins: Hendry, Williams, Higgins, O’Sullivan, Ebdon, Stevens and Dott.

Of these, only Hendry, Higgins and O’Sullivan have had unbroken spells in the top 16 in this ten year period.

As good as they may be, are we to suppose Higgins, Williams and O’Sullivan will all still be there ten years from now, in their mid 40s?

Maybe they will be, but there will also be players who are now teenagers, perhaps some yet to even turn professional.

It’s good news. We need new faces and we need new rivalries too.

But, as ever, it will be a survival of the fittest. For every young talent who makes it, there are always those promising players who never quite did.

As to which of the new generation break through, only time - and results - will tell.


wild said...

Great Times ahead and whats interesting is some of these new generation that aren't even pros yet are increasing their fan-base already through twitter.

Betty Logan said...

Maybe someone should point out to "deadwood" Jimmy White he's moving in the wrong direction in the rankings! Actually, if you look at the change in rankings over the last season, with the exception of Trump all the major advances were made by seasoned pros: Williams back up to number 1, Stevens back in the top 16; the rest who moved up more than ten places: Bingham, Marcus Campbell, Dominic Dale, O'Brien, Barry Pinches, Mark Joyce, Gould and Joe Jogia (both up 22 places!), and Liu Song. All those are well into their 30s apart from Gould, Song and Joyce, and they are mid-late 20s.

Obviously Higgins and Ronnie aren't going to be winning world titles ten years from now, but on the face of it, it doesn't look like the old guard is going anywhere soon.

Anonymous said...

“Time for the deadwood to go, new generation coming through,”
This was indeed a crass and insensitive comment made by a young player who has as yet done nothing. He does not have the right to belittle those who worked hard to make the game what it is. If the likes of Judd Trump or one of the youngsters who have actually beaten some of these old guard had said it , well then, it's still crass but fair enough. Our young commenter needs to learn some respect I think.

jamie brannon said...

Any sport should have the right balance between veterans and newcomers.

One of the great sporting narratives is when an old stager is cutting a swathe through a field when many believe him to be washed up.

However, likewise it is exciting when a new talent emerges to shake up the old order in the way Judd Trump has.

If we just old stagers or entirely a young generation it wouldn't make the sport as compelling.

I would like you to hear which player said this, as his comments were lacking a little tact.

wild said...

Respect is for Losers young players has to be more forceful and sod reputations.....

Stephen Hendry was very Disrespectful in his time he had one goal to eliminate has beens and take over.

Respects gets you nowhere.

Anonymous said...

There is no real difference between breaking through in late 20's and later. If you have made snooker your main focus from youth and have never taken a different career path then by the time you reach your mid 20s, you have probably reached your level. If you only made it up to the top 32, or top 48, then it is unlikely without players dropping off that you are going to make another leap up. O'sullivan, hendry, williams, stevens, doherty, hunter all rose sharply through the qualification ranks and into the top 16. The real talents are those players that cut through the qualifiers like a knife. If you cant do that within the space of 3-4 yrs then you are destined to become a journeyman and should seriously consider another occupation as all the money is at the top. A well paid regular job will give you at least a top 32 income if not the lifestyle. Probably the players just mentioned have the overall game to stay at the top till mid 40's. Personally I have yet to see a complete player in Trump, hype 'n' all.. I haven't seen any players from the current young crop that have a complete game.. remember Higgins at 19? a machine, that was the standard...

Gini said...

So, who was the player who said that? I'm not following all of them on Twitter... No need to beat about the bush if it was a public comment, I think.

On a different note: Does anyone know why Steve Davis has pulled out of the qualifiers?

Anonymous said...

So Ben Harrison writes on Twitter “Time for the deadwood to go" a comment he may well regret saying. Has someone else said a young player who has done nothing yet!

Witz78 said...

If the new players on tour werent lumbered with Figueridos points from last season as starter points then more might have a chance of tour survival.

The fact is he was 80th in the end of season rankings, with only the PTC keeping him on tour (though hes quit pro snooker by all accounts anyway) so to lumber these newcomers to the tour with starter points that someone who was only 80th last season earned is a joke.

Remember only the top 64 survive, so these newcomers have a mountain to climb to reach that holy grail, let alone aim any higher.

It seems to me that survival via the PTC the best hope for tour newcomers. Yes someone will cite McGill, Jones, Lisowski and Burden from last season but thats 4 exceptions to the rule, plus last season the initial points gulf from tour newcomers to 64th place, points wise wasnt as severe.

I still dont understand why a system where tour newcomers points for the season are double to truly reflect what there results and form have been, cant be used. Yes, its trickier now with rolling rankings but ultimately would be fairer.

wild said...


your like a broken record.

explain how come during this season Jamie Jones has a genuine chance of being a top 32 player ? if they have a mountain to climb.

it can be done and it is being done.

Betty Logan said...

He's not saying it can't be done Wild, he's asking why they have to overcome an unfair disadvantage to do it. Starter points were unfair to begin with, but now that 1 year points don't even factor into tour survival they are nonsensical. Doing away with starter points and awarding double points is the best solution, but if you are going to award starter points then award the 64th ranked points on the one year list so the rookies at least have a shot at the 2 year list.

wild said...


point is if jamie can do it all of them can do it....nobody has the right to get higher you have to win matches to do it just turning pro is not enough.

Anonymous said...

I suggested doubling rookie pros points five years ago . It was done that way for a season and then dropped , starter points are a joke .
However I also think its a joke that some players who played all tournaments last season and only gained 5000 points ate now given 8000 plus just because they regained their tour card .

Anonymous said...

I think there is a huge dofference between last and starting season.
In a two year ranking Ants, Jack, Alfie and all the other newcomers 2010 had a whole season with about 20 events to close the gap built up by the starter points based on 6 ranking events. They played 80% of the events counting themthelves. This year the starter ponits are based on 20 Tournaments, too.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the oppurtunity the ptcs present , a top 16 player gets 3000 points for winning one match in the UK championship . To get that many points in a ptc would require about a dozen victories .

Betty Logan said...

FFS wild, if player A wins more matches than player B in a season, do you think it's fair if player A is relegated when player B stays on the tour?

wild said...

yes no matter what business your in when your at the bottom you have to work twice as hard to get promotion its life.

Witz78 said...


your the stuck record who cant take the blinkers off to see heow unfair it is at present.

Yes Jamie Jones and others have rose the rankings by winning, but the bulk of newcomers have no chance of survival on tour - certainly by getting into the top 64 because of the points differntials and the teired rankings / qualifying set up too to an extent.

As Betty and others say, the fact the players have points for last season which were the equivalent to 80th place as half of their total end of season total come the end of this season, then in reality to make the top 64 they need to finish 48 or higher on this years one year list.

(80+48)= 128/2 = 64th

wild said...

so in a word any system that means new pros cant reach the top 32 in a season isnt fair.....come on wake up.

win matches get there jesus you like a nurse maid wanting players reach the top without doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Steve Davis has pulled out for "personal reasons". ??? Hope all is well.

Witz78 said...

wild said...
so in a word any system that means new pros cant reach the top 32 in a season isnt fair.....come on wake up.

win matches get there jesus you like a nurse maid wanting players reach the top without doing nothing.


Doh! read what i said, there in a struggle to even get into the top 64 let alone any higher in their first season.

Betty Logan said...

Anthony Hamilton has pulled out as well apparently. Anyone know the score there? I hope he hasn't been injured fighting crime again.

An Cat Dubh said...

If you are going to have a Tour Card with promotion and relegation each season then there should be a One Year Ranking. It doesn't make sense any other way. In Golf the Rankings cover two years but they don't determine places on the tour. That's done by each tours Order of Merit which just covers one season.

kildare cueman said...

To 11.04am at the top of the post, I think you might be over reacting a bit. A new young player talking of "clearing the deadwood" isn't necessarily "crass and insensitive". More likely he is excitedly referring to the new look/new generation that is currently happening in the game.

Regarding the debate about the difficulty of new pros breaking through, there are a couple of changes that could be made to ease the burden a bit.

1. Guarantee a modest income for a pros first year, maybe 5 or 10K. This could come from the Q school profits, which should normally be used for prizemoney anyway.

2. Introduce a safety net for first year pros. That is, the first time you win a place on the tour, you cannot fall off until your second year. This would mean increasing the size of the tour in year one, but would balance itself out eventually.

3. Reduce the points for the PTCs that are held in the academy by 40% and play them at the same time as invitation tournaments or during the final stage of ranking tournaments. Its clear that the top players don't like playing in these conditions and a lower points tariff would not only make it less punishing for the top players not to play but it would give the lower ranked pros a chance to catch up a little.

At the moment, things are certainly better than a couple of years ago, but if we get an exceptional year of talented pros, at least half of them wont make it, because by definition they'll be knocking each other out in the first couple of rounds.

Anonymous said...

To the guy who thinks Hendry was disrespectful in his time....i'd imagine you would have to treble the scale for Ronald O'Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

some good thoughts there KC

Anonymous said...

The archaic draw structure dictates the whole unfairness of the ranking system . Every tournament 80 players beat each other up for 16 spots to play the no longer 'elite ' top 16 . Players 17 - 32 usually win about 9 of their 16 matches so the players ranked 33-96 are scrapping for about 7 spots per tournament. This is the reason that it took Judd Trump so long to break through and the young players now will find it even tougher as the standard gets higher each year, remember they have to play 4 tough matches just to face a top 16 player . In tennis and golf it is not uncommon for players to reach the top 16 within a couple of years of turning pro . This is down purely to those sports having a level playing field for newcomers. Could you imagine the top 16 in golf being exempt from the cut or Nadal being seeded through to the last 32 at Wimbledon? At least now there may be a chance of change as the ptcs are a step in the right direcion as far as equal oppourtunity is concerned .

Anonymous said...


in your opinion the standard gets higher each year...your opinion!

Betty Logan said...

A flatter structure would be better. I think the format for the German Masters qualifiers should become the norm with a 64 berth field for the first qualifier; that reduces the number of qualification matches to three.

ben harrison!! said...

i love the way these people jump to conclusion who deadwood is.. dave harold was in a ranking final under 3 years ago. it was a light-hearted comment about the way the games going and its been completely blown out of proportion! i have massive respect for all the professional players and they are there for a reason, and have been on the tour for many years for a reason. the only reason i made the comment is due to the players that are starting to show themselves in a new 'modern day' style of snooker. judd trump, ding jun hui, and the players coming through these days are all attacking players now! it was just an opinion on what i thought. and fair play to dave harold he played bloody well against me in the last two frames after nickin the first two on the pink. so to sum up, im not a disrespectful lil **** lol ! i made a comment about the new players coming through and there is a new generation coming :)