The Shanghai Masters, now in its fifth year, starts tomorrow at the Grand Stage, doubtlessly after the usual fevered opening ceremony.

Unlike tournaments in the UK, where players schlep to the venues often unnoticed, in China they like to make a bit of a fuss and treat them like the top sportsmen they are.

Players are often bemused by this because they aren’t used to it, but the Chinese like to make their events stand out.

Given this, it’s a shame they feel the need to persevere with the dreaded wildcard round, in which the eight lowest ranked qualifiers, who have already had to perform strongly just to make Shanghai, have to play invited players for no extra reward, with a genuine chance of losing.

By and large, Chinese fans are the same as snooker fans anywhere: they’d rather see the top players, those who can afford tickets anyway.

At the China Open, common sense prevailed to an extent as a couple of last 32 matches were at least scheduled for the first day so that big names were available for TV coverage.

That hasn’t happened in Shanghai and the knock-on effect means attractive matches have been shunted to the outside tables, including, ludicrously, Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham.

So that’ll be the China Open champion and World Championship runner-up against the winner of the last major ranking event on table three, then.

Eurosport’s coverage starts on Tuesday, after the wildcard round is over.

The eight qualifiers required to play in this round are an intriguing bunch, mainly experienced players plus young Jack Lisowski.

They include Dominic Dale, winner of the inaugural Shanghai Masters in 2007, and the archly determined Fergal O’Brien.

But the two players who may have problems are Anthony Hamilton, whose dodgy back will hardly have been helped by a long flight to Shanghai and who faces Li Hang, and Nigel Bond, who didn’t lose a frame in his two qualifying matches but who has to play the newly crowned world under 21 champion, Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon.

The top prize this week is £65,000 and Ali Carter will be defending the title he won a year ago.

And with the new seedings list looming at the end of the month, players will be looking for valuable ranking points as the various machinations of the list determine who falls into which bracket, and indeed who is world no.1.

There is no big favourite, but Mark Williams looks to me to be in the easiest quarter, if there is such a thing.


Anonymous said...

What kind of viewing figures do these wildcard rounds get, does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Barry Hearn should swing his massive axe at these wildcard rounds once and for all and lay down the law. I'm sure even the chinese fans would like the Mickey Mouse factor to be taken out of their events and make them proper tournaments.

And as for the title? Put your money on Stephen Hendry. This is it (everything crossed).

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether Ronnie will turn up or not but what I am certain of is if he does we'll get the same come-day-go-day,couldn't-care-less attitude at the table. It seems par for the course for Ronnie in the Far East these days.

Witz78 said...

who actually dictates there should be wildcard rounds in these foreign events Dave?

if, as you say the Chinese fans would rather see the big names, plus the fact it screws up the schedule / tv games etc, then what is the real point of this. It seems to be a way of giving exposure to the Asian guys who have dropped off tour as much as anything else.

On another note, having just seen the cobbled together shambles of a calendar issued with the ranking cut offs overlapping qualifiers etc and the crazy situation that the World Champs seedings are determined when theres still 4 ranking events before Sheffield, it seems someone at the WPSBA has a wish to make things as complicated as possible, when in reality the rolling rankings should be made as simple as possible. No excuse not to have a great climax to the season with the pre-Sheffield tournaments being extra significant.

In theory someone could win all 4 ranking events before the Crucible and be provisionally in the top 4 or 5 but still have to qualify for Sheffield thanks to these rolling rankings having ground to a halt instead of rolling at the critical stage of the season.

Dave H said...

The Chinese decide, it's their tournament

And if a calendar this full is a 'shambles' then I for one hope things continue to be shambolic

Anonymous said...

Basically the Chinese Snooker Association organises the Chinese events doesn't it? On that basis you can't complain if they want to provide some opportunities for Chinese players, no different to us sticking in a load of naff players at Wimbledon. Still, maybe it would be better if they had an extra full round with 16 wildcards to make it fairer (or more equally unfair). Failing that we can just pretend the tournament starts a day later...

Witz78 said...

fair enough then if thats what the Chinese want, our hands are tied i guess.

tuh, believe me im far happier with this calendar than the previous regime, i was championing the Hearn cause donkeys years ago.

But no wonder so many fans (and players) are critical and confused with the rolling rankings and calendar when the closing stages of the season are a bit congested.

Slightly veering off topic, but going forward in future seasons, surely the 3 month gap between full rankers (Shanghai in Sep, UK in Dec) will be a thing of the past.

Of course i appreciate that until we get the tour fully up to speed its going to be a bit "shambolic" but in future seasons, i see the Premier League being a bit of a nuisance given the number of weeks it takes up, perhaps a Sky ranker will emerge instead. And the Championship Leagues days surley are numbered given the vast increase in events, since it was brought in 3 years ago to fill some of the gaping holes.

Ideally id like to see the PTCs and main rankers spread more evenly throughout the season, or even better ultimately fewer PTCs and more full rankers.

Will be an interesting journey seeing where snooker is in say, 5 years though and seeing how the tour and calendar has evolved from now.

Anonymous said...

Well, no we can't complain if the chinese association wants to provide opportunities for chinese players. But we can't have it be a ranking event at the same time then. You don't get to open someone else's presents at christmas.

Dave H said...

I sincerely hope the Championship League doesn't fall by the wayside

Their breakfasts are extraordinary

wild said...


what witz mean and i agree with him why have seeding cut off for the worlds almost 2 months before the qualifiers with 4 counting ranking events between cut off and qualifiers....its bizare.

snooker has to get with it and embrace the Rolling Rankings it just looks so stupid having that situation.

i understand if you have qualifiers played before other Ranking events you have to cut off seeding for the Qualifiers at that point.

it just seems exitement wasted for that final few spots in each stage of the Draw for the WC like this.

Anonymous said...

Do we know yet if the Grand Prix points come off at this cut off point? There still seems to be confusion over what is happening on the provisional charts. Surely they won't leave them on until the World Open later in the season, which is actually what the World Snooker site says!

Anonymous said...

I think you'll find the Chinese want to see more of their own players , there was talk at one point of having 64 players in China to give the Chinese pros more chance of qualifying for their own event .

Matt said...

The Grand Prix points will come off at the first cut-off anon, definitely.

Anonymous said...

Still, if that's what they want it's perplexing that they didn't hold over Fu and Wenbo, and they also had the option of holding over Liu Song too since he made the final qualifier. If they want more Chinese players on TV, why not have the top ones?

wild said...

who are these people who wants wild cards ?

im possitive the ticket paying viewing pubic of china dont.

they have their own superstar in Ding and second string in Liang then theres Ronnie and Trump.

Anonymous said...

And keeping on with the wild card talk about providing opportunities for the chinese players: one of the players is iranian? What is going on?

Doolse said...

Dave, any idea why liveworldsnooker.tv is restricting access to the Shanghai Open in Australia? Surely there's no live coverage of that on any channel here?

Anonymous said...

who are these people who wants wild cards ?

I can name eight of them.

Richie Segal said...

ronnieo147 Ronnie O'Sullivan
What's good to eat at terminal 3 thiefrow ? I'm hungry

Looks like the rocket is up for this

jamie brannon said...

I think O'Sullivan has a peach of a quarter. He is in a section with veteran players on the way down, and Ali Carter, who he has an unbeaten record against in major matches.

My tip is for O'Sullivan to beat Williams in the final.

For a bit of each-way value, you couldn't go far wrong and have a punt on the stylish Jack Lisowski, who is priced at 150-1.

Talkig of Lisowski, it is good to see Matthew Syed get a piece on snooker in the Times, especially at this time of year.

Anonymous said...

none of those two will win jamie...
williams or dott to win

Anonymous said...

It looks like Williams is in the tougher half of the draw if you ask me, with Ding is his quarter. Selby and Ronnie are in the weaker half, so you would have to fancy one of them, or possibly Murphy. The bad news for Selby is that he won't be playing Ronnie in the final, which means he won't win it.

Anonymous said...

@4:53 Selby beat Ronnie in 2010 World Championship. At 13-11,it wasn't even a decider for once!

Anonymous said...

hi jamie

your two picks were out early on

one of mine is still in and has only lost 1 frame....

just wondering why youd forgot this post