Barnsley is not necessarily the world’s best known sporting mecca but will this week become the latest in a long line of World Snooker qualifying venues.

The Metrodome has previously been associated with ten-pin bowling but from tomorrow will play host to the International Championship qualifiers, where the field of 128 will be reduced to 64.

Qualifying venues are rarely popular with players, often precisely because they are qualifying venues.

Blackpool, Newport, Stoke, Hereford, Prestatyn, Burton-on-Trent…not destinations for a Michael Palin travelogue series but former qualifying venues, hosts to thousands of matches, the vast majority now long forgotten.

Qualifiers are no fun for anyone. It’s all about getting through to the main venue, in this case many thousands of miles away in Chengdu. Defeat means few people recognise you were ever in the tournament to start with.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s qualifier is against Joel Walker, a young lad he mentored three years ago on the Riley Futurestars programme.

Judd Trump, who pocketed £125,000 for winning the inaugural staging of the event last year, faces Cao Xinlong.

World no.1 Neil Robertson takes on Li Hang of China. Mark Selby, second in the world rankings, meets Londoner Martin O’Donnell.

Where might the shocks come?

Stephen Maguire could be vulnerable against Davy Morris, a quarter-finalist in the season-opening Wuxi Classic.

Mark Allen faces China’s Chen Zhe, known as ‘Sleepy’ but looking to give the Northern Irishman a wake-up call.

Shaun Murphy has so far suffered defeat in the last 128 of the first two ranking events to adopt the ‘flat’ system so will be looking to avoid an unwelcome hat-trick against Chris Keogan.

Matches are best of 11 frames. The International Championship was a prestigious innovation last season and a welcome addition to the calendar.

Not everyone can get to Barnsley on a Tuesday afternoon to watch snooker but, for those who can, entry is free.

And on Thursday it’s the qualifiers for the World Seniors Championship with a chance to glimpse some stars of yesteryear – Mike Hallett, Patsy Fagan and Dean Reynolds among them.

1 comment:

ANON said...

You've said before that it's a long tradition that qualifying venues are rotten, but the thoughts I had on watching the stream are:

- Can they not lay the carpet as a single roll rather than having little bits stuck together with duck tape;

- Can they not afford to put up some boards rather than having the blackout curtains from the sports hall (looks terrible on the stream)

- Given that they've got a massive sports hall why are the tables so close together (can see the players and refs moving around the table on the stream)

- Given that they've got a sports hall why are the table so close together.

I'm normally a bit of a traditionalist on the dress code, but when they are playing in conditions like this in a sports hall in Barnsley the requirement for dress suits seems daft.