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smartpunter
30 Apr 18 14:32
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Date Joined: 17 Jul 01
| Topic/replies: 1,025 | Blogger: smartpunter's blog
Ask Steve Davis he will tell you. Con Man
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Pause Switch to Standard View Barry (make me money) Hearn, on bbc 2. .
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Report Baulkline May 2, 2018 8:47 PM BST
So Barry Hearn wants to punish slow players. Has he ever played snooker? at any level? He does not understand the game. He's only interested in money. This will come back to bite him.
Report tobermory May 7, 2018 10:43 PM BST
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn believes young snooker players are "settling for second best."

Judd Trump, 28, and Ding Junhui, 31, have won many other events, but neither has managed to land the coveted World Championship title in Sheffield.

John Higgins and Mark Williams, with a combined age of 85, contested this year's showpiece.

"Kids today are soft and getting softer because life is sweeter and prize money for failure is better," Hearn said.

"If I was a player who hadn't won the world title I'd be spending a long time looking in the mirror and saying, 'Why?'

"In every other sport it goes younger, and yet we've got a 42-year-old and a 43-year-old in the final in what is the toughest field we've probably assembled."

"If I was a young player now, or a Ding Junhui, I'd be looking in the mirror and asking myself some very pertinent questions about what I'm doing wrong.

"Is it lifestyle? Am I too soft? Has the money in the game, which has gone up phenomenally, spoilt me? Has it taken the edge off my game? Have I settled for being good but not great?

"When Mark Williams says he was teetering on the brink in his semi-final, he was still hard enough to pot the balls.

"So I think it's a question of character more than ability, it's a question of lifestyle more than potting, and they've got to say, 'These guys aren't going to change, maybe I'm the one that needs to change'."
Report thegiggilo May 8, 2018 2:12 AM BST
Talking of cutting back the frames now in the worlds already ruined the uk,if two 40+ can play to that standard in final session then no reason to shorten format,if they'd shortened that final all the best snooker wouldv;'e been missed which masde it so memorable.Shot times as well,that's easily explained now as the tables they're playing on are so easy there's very little safety look at the final today,were going for everything,trying to turn it into darts simply won't work all the real snooker fans aren't youngsters they are people that have been watching for decades.The young aren't interested in snooker anymore that's a dying fanbase..
Report thegiggilo May 8, 2018 2:20 AM BST
It's vey simple hearn must see it these younger players simply don't have the bottle,look at the way Higgins and Williams played tonight in final session it's turned that final into one of the all time greats the players today simply couldn't do what they did they just crumble.Also think the 90s players are showing what real bottle is,hendry was twice as good as that tonight as well that's how good he was,what they were doing he was doing every tournament completely different class.You look at trump,ding,they simply will never have that willpower or strength of mind,when you actually look back at this worlds you now realize these players are just in a different league especially willians ridiculous under pressure.I can't think any of any ypunger players anywhere near this standard when the chips are down,we've been seeing it for iver a decade,bar Mark Selby rest knowhere..
Report gjohn101 May 8, 2018 9:29 AM BST
Pipe down Barry. Can you imagine if the chairman of the FA namechecked certain players and filleted their characters in public. Press would have a field day.
Report thegiggilo May 8, 2018 2:17 PM BST
Hearn must be seething,hard to prtomote big bucket tiurnaments when players of 43 are winning to get newer viewers to watch,think he will have popped his clogs before anything changes can see o'ullivan,higgins,williams and Selby especially being around for a long time absolutely no reason why they won't be winning the worlds over the next 5 years..ShockedShocked
Report trebor May 8, 2018 9:54 PM BST
Talking of cutting back the frames now in the worlds already ruined the uk,

thegiggilo

Where has he said he wants to cut back the frames in the World Championship? I have only seen him saying it will stay the same.

As for the UK Championship, it was not his idea to cut the frames, as far as I know that was down to the BBC wanting a winner in every session rather than having 2 sessions per match?

ITV seem happy to go the other way, showing longer frame matches this coming season.

As for the so say larger pockets, I saw the worst one by far this week, trouble was it was played by Ken Doherty in winning his World Championship in 1997, how big must the pockets have been back then? for that red to drop, and on thicker cloths as well!!
Report gjohn101 May 8, 2018 11:33 PM BST
The chatter about frame reduction was just loose talk from ROS & Selby on Eurosport.

Have often wondered about the bbc collusion in the UK destruction. Is there any documented evidence for it? Thought I read something before but can’t recall where.

Can say with absolute certainty that balls did not bump 4 inches from the pocket and drop. Mark Williams is not suddenly becoming a better long potter in his 40s despite what a certain ‘coach’ might tell you. It’s totally illogical.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 12:19 AM BST
Just this, I knew it was a Clive Everton interview somewhere I heard it, just went through blinking loads to find it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDkzdoQcr5U
Report trebor May 9, 2018 1:17 AM BST
As for the bigger pockets, I am not disputing that it is easier to pot a ball nowadays, I would say tho that I don't really believe that the pockets are bigger or has anything to do with Barry Hearn, just that the cloths are thinner and get changed much more often than they used to do. Can remember the days when the table fitter would come to the club and fit new cloths, was great to play on a brand new cloth, so much more spin on the ball and they went into the pocket so much easier.

Unlike yourself I believe a player can improve his potting at 40 years of age, here is my reasoning behind that. Golf has always my game and I have taught 10,000's of players of all ages and ability's, and some 40 years ago I came discovered a way to practice your putting which would be very similar to the sight rite method that Williams has been using. with this aid I could hole hundreds of 6 foot putts without missing one, the same applied to the many students I showed it too, it really improved your aim and hence grooved your stroke and your confidence soared, so I have little doubt that that is what is happening to Williams and others using the method.

Would love to know how much and what type of practice some of these guys do, are they really trying? am sure they will tell you they are, but best of 19's with a mate is not real practice, it's what you can slip into as real practice can be rather boring.
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 10:36 AM BST
trebor    09 May 18 00:19 
Just this, I knew it was a Clive Everton interview somewhere I heard it, just went through blinking loads to find it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDkzdoQcr5U


Great find, cheers. Maybe there's something about it in Clive's book, was sure I read it somewhere. I disagree with Clive's assessment of the shortened format, though. Commercial pressure is one thing, but even in 2010 or whenever it was, Hearn could not be so desperate as to cave in to the demands of ONE broadcaster, however important that relationship is. The integrity of the second most prestigious tournament on the calendar was at stake. It's absolutely imperative that there are long format tournaments either side of the turn of the year. Problem for players nowadays is they are going into the Worlds cold, totally unprepared for the demands of the two week slog that is the World championships. Which is not a reason btw to reduce frames. The old style UK would at least have helped to address that. In its current state it's not fit for purpose and there you have Ronnie on Eurosport advocating for a golf-style 4 majors. We have barely two that are fit for purpose imo.

Apologies for the rant, world championship hangover still just kicking in!
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 10:39 AM BST
Dont disagree about the pockets, but what's the difference if balls are sliding in all that much easier anyway? Long pots that are even a good fraction off will wobble and drop now, not wobble and stay out as was once the norm. If that technology was so good, then not sure why so few pros seem to be beating a path to the guy's door.

And question from a techno ****, what's the absolute requirement in these thin cloths anyway? Why not increase the thickness if it's making that much of a difference?
Report trebor May 9, 2018 12:05 PM BST
but what's the difference if balls are sliding in all that much easier anyway?

that's how I feel about it as well, doesn't bother me, just don't like to see it all getting blamed on Hearn when it is just improvement in equipment. some may not feel it is an improvement but that is up to each individual I guess. At the end of the day a lot of the people on here putting up "Bucket pocket" every time a ball wobbled and went in said they really enjoyed the tournament and shame it is another 50 weeks till the next one.

I too would rather have these conditions than the conditions of 50 years ago. Golf has probably been hit harder than any sport with equipment improvements, courses in effect been made 25% shorter, imagine snooker balls where made 25% smaller? now that would make a difference, larger rackets in tennis, even better running surfaces and running shoes improve times. There are not many sports where improvements have not made it hard to tell the difference between the ability of todays contestant to those of the past, I would love to be able to compare Ben Hogan with Jack Nicklaus with Tiger Woods, but would not want to be forced to used 1950's equipment or course conditions to find out.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 12:07 PM BST
Forgot to add, theory on here seems to be that Hearn uses bigger pockets to help Ronnie? someone is gonna have to explain to me how that works??
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 12:23 PM BST
No I didnt make myself clear I think. I dont welcome that the game has become easier, when one guy nearly has 2 147s in a match, I'm not so inclined to put that down to his amazing skill. When Stephen Hendry asks "is this 9-ball we're playing?" during a world championship match then I reckon it's time people in influential positions started to sit up and take notice. As for Hearn, I get that he hasn't actually made the pockets bigger, but I'd ask why exactly is it essential that the cloths are so thin and balls so light? Presumably, he can exert some control over that right?
Report trebor May 9, 2018 1:12 PM BST
Its alright I understood what you meant, I was just to lazy to type it out so copy and pasted your bit. the two 147 in one match came about on what was supposed to be some of the tightest pockets of the season according to Ebdon? and in answer to your next question, yes maybe they should but they don't Grin

I know that they rounded the edges of the cushion rubbers at the pocket because of ware on the thinner cloth and think that probably make quite a difference and maybe that should be a sign that the cloths are getting too thin?

In answer to why doesn't Hearn have some control over it, I would just say why would he want to, I personally enjoyed this World Championship more than any for a long time, and I think I have seen just about every session since about 2002 Cry The tickets sales seemed pretty good, and with more and more snooker clubs shutting down every year why revert back to tougher conditions.
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 2:53 PM BST
According to Ebdon? Three words to instantly make me cast my eyes to the heavens. He also, while discussing the pockets, advanced the suggestion that the table fitters somehow pushed the cushions upwards, thus making the corner pockets bigger and the middle ones smaller. Sitting beside him Steve Davis looked utterly bewildered. Ebdon is quite possibly the worst pundit I've ever heard in any sport and that includes Kevin Keegan.

Of course it's fairly obvious that conditions are being manipulated to make high scoring easier and more regular. And maybe your right, given that the average mid to top range snooker pro generally shows himself to have the mental fortitude of a lemming, it would probably be a disaster for the game if they went back to proper, testing conditions. Can almost see the logic of that.

It was a lucky world championships in that you got 2 good, competitive s.fs and the best final for a number of years. Up to that point it was very ordinary indeed.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 3:33 PM BST
So what in your opinion made it very ordinary? I enjoyed the earlier rounds, good to see some good young talent starting to come through, standard getting better every year, yes I will give you that the top players may not be as good as 10 years ago, but the class of 92 imo has been the peak of snooker so far.

The tour is now in place for the next generation to take it on to new and higher levels, 8 years ago that would have been in doubt.

This getting lucky to have two competitive SF? if you have longer matches you are always likely to get more uncompetitive games.
Report GoBallistic May 9, 2018 3:41 PM BST
Given that potting balls is easier, it therefore follows that safety play is more difficult.  That seems to be reflected in the results - the good safety players are prospering and the bad safety players are underachieving.  I'm not sure that is a bad thing
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 3:56 PM BST
A few things trebor: lack of quality matches (imo), dismal failure of fancied players like Ding, Allen etc, too many one sided affairs. Close matches dont automatically indicate quality championships but they can at least compensate for a lack of it. Not saying I didn't enjoy it, just that it didn't properly ignite until the s/fs, from where I was watching anyway.

The standard getting better line is far too BBC for my taste. What younger players do you mean? There were more 40 somethings contesting the q/fs than 20 somethings. And two others are 38 or 39! Lyu Haotian definitely caught my eye, a proper young talent at the age of 20. Not like that Eurosport favourite, "young" Thepchaiya Un Nooh, a name to watch out for at 33!

GB - a fair enough point I would concede. I even thought Trump had come on a good bit in that department, but still a long road to go for him.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 4:51 PM BST
But 3 of the 40+ players are probably 3 of the best 4/5 players to ever play the game,  top players are able to carry on winning to an older age than a average tour player in most sports, was not that long ago that you where not considered to be at your peak in snooker until 40.

You caught me a bit with the number of yongsters to make the Crucible I worked on the Un-Nooh, Haotain and Lisowski matches, a fair few of the others did fail to get through qualifying. But just a side note on the standard, did you know Williams had to beat twice as many World Champions in winning his 3 titles than Hendry beat in the 13 years between his first and last Crucible apperance, just a thought about competitive matches.

I don't follow tennis but are tennis fans complaining about the standard of tennis with Federer winning so much, they may be, I really don't know.
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 6:20 PM BST
Problem for players nowadays is they are going into the Worlds cold, totally unprepared for the demands of the two week slog that is the World championships. Which is not a reason btw to reduce frames. The old style UK would at least have helped to address that. In its current state it's not fit for purpose and there you have Ronnie on Eurosport advocating for a golf-style 4 majors. We have barely two that are fit for purpose imo

^v good post gj, could not agree more
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 6:21 PM BST
the UK is just another 2 bob tournament now imo, a sad state of affairs
Report gjohn101 May 9, 2018 7:55 PM BST

But 3 of the 40+ players are probably 3 of the best 4/5 players to ever play the game,  top players are able to carry on winning to an older age than a average tour player in most sports, was not that long ago that you where not considered to be at your peak in snooker until 40.


Have thought about this a fair but and I cant really accept that a top snooker pro should be at his peak in his 40s. The problem is it's easy to look back at the 60s, 70s and 80s when players played deep into their 40s (and even beyond) and think that's how it should have been. But really, all you got there is a statistical quirk of a sport that simply never bothered to encourage young players and, in many instances, actively barred their development. I think I'm right in saying John Spencer didnt turn pro until into his 30s. The old guard distrusted him at the start because he was playing a game they couldn't hope to live with. The fact is Alex Higgins did 1000 times more for the development of snooker than Joe Davis ever did. Davis, as we know, wanted to keep out the riff raff and maintain the game as a sort of private club for him and his cronies, happy to keep snooker in the dark ages.

The 90s brought the first proper injection of young talent into the sport and that came largely on the back of what Higgins and others had done to popularise snooker in the 80s. But this wouldnt be sustained beyond itself because snooker went into decline almost immediately, largely on the back of administrative negligence and/or incompetence. You had the best ever generation of talent at the top while viewership and the numbers playing in clubs was dwindling to an all time low. So it seems to me whats really happened is that snooker has regressed back to an older era when, for slightly different reasons, few young players made the breakthrough and the veterans enjoyed much longer lifespans at the top than was strictly healthy for the sport. There's no way they are better players now than they were 10-15 years ago, but nor do they have to be.
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 8:40 PM BST
you've only got to look at the way is snooker is viewed now in society

go back through the decades to when snooker was at its height of popularity
snooker clubs in most towns/cities
snooker tables in pubs & working mens clubs

now a lot of clubs & pubs have closed down or those that are open have pool tables in place of snooker tables due to the relative popularity of the 2 games

we are not producing younger (domestic) players in the quantity and quality that we were at the time when ronnie/higgins/mjw's generation were growing up
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 8:43 PM BST
its a complete myth that 40 is peak age for a snooker player
just like all other competitive sports there is something called an aging curve
mid to late 20s is the peak...that's not even up for debate
get through the 30s and into the 40s, eyesights start going, backs start aching etc etc
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 8:47 PM BST
the idea that ronnie/higgins/mjw etc are playing as good if not better than 15 years ago is laughable tbh
and its disrespectful to the standard they were producing 15 years ago
bucket pockets have masked the slide in their games

also people like ding, dudd, wilson, lisowski etc its laughable to suggest that in 10-15 years time they will be at their peak
Report Pandoras May 9, 2018 8:47 PM BST
Hearn just trying to take credit for making snooker players rich! Well maybe 20 or so make a £100,000 a year now in earnings before their expenses. But most of the pros don't make a living wage (after expenses) and he thinks giving them an extra £1,000 for making the 2nd round of the World Championships will allow them to feed their families. Shocking stuff.

I suppose the younger players have failed to make it to the top as they haven't really developed the stamina. They have been brought up on a majority of 4 frames win tournaments and the Worlds catches them out as they haven't the stamina for 2 weeks of intense play. The qualifiers looked excellent as they were match fit in the 1st round but then obliterated in the 2nd Round.

AS for the pockets I can only assume the thinner cloths make it easier to hit the cushions/jaws and then they drop. But to be fair it is the same for all and the same players are still the best. As for Ebdon's comments about the middle pockets being made smaller. That is madness, I have never seen so many tough shots to the middle attempted and pocketed. Standard of players may have improved with pits to the middle but the thinner cloths must make it easier.

AS for Wenbo's 2 147s. Wenbo's performance in the first 2 qualifying rounds was astonishing. He looked like a World Champion, then lost the next round 10-0. I will never understand that! I guess there is no pressure on when you are playing so well and the opposition is not up to it but he never looked like missing.

Nearly all tickets sold for next year's World;s, there is no suggestion that Hearn would change the format. The last session of the Hawkins final was a bit of a toil but generally the tournament was enjoyable and ticket sales suggest that. There have always been uncompetitive games in 2nd Round and Quarter Finals, just happens sometimes.

Other than the low earnings of most pros the thing that upsets me most is his treatment of the ever present fans. He seems to want to get rid of them. Fair enough when they took over they had season tickets at a very low price. If you can sell all the tickets I understand that is not good. But if they want to attend every session and pay the full price I would think being ever present for 20 tears or however long deserves some loyalty. But Hearn is only interested in the rich and that is sad. Loyalty when earned is a valuable trait to offer.
Report wondersobright May 9, 2018 8:50 PM BST
by the time you have paid hotel bills, transport costs, an agent etc even 100k is fack all for a professional sportsman near the top of his profession who is required to graft/travel/be away from home most of the year
Report gobelins May 9, 2018 10:11 PM BST
trebor - I've just checked your stat about M.Williams and S.Hendry, and although it's right - talk about selectively using statistics! Hendry has beaten 13 World Champions in his time at The Crucible. They hadn't all been World Champions when he beat them, but they couldn't be - as he won 7 in 10 years, and unlike now the old guard were demolished during his reign. In the 3 years he didn't win during this period the title was won by 26 year old J.Parrott, 27 year old K.Doherty, and 22 year old J.Higgins with 25 year old M.Williams winning it the following year. That is the standard Hendry was competing with. And, if you can find me a harder route to winning the title, than Hendry's 7th title when he beat P.Hunter, J.Wattana, M.Stevens, R.O'Sullivan and M.Williams then I'd love to see it.

Other than K.Wilson and Yan Bingtao, and now possibly L.Haotian, who is coming through to challenge the established order? This is not meant to happen in top-flight sport, no matter how good O'Sullivan, Higgins and Williams still are.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 10:39 PM BST
At last some comments on here other than "BUCKETS" "MUGFEST" and "All Barry Hearns fault".

wondersobright read what I said again about peaking at 40, I never said these players will peak at 40. I also never said that these over 40's are playing better than they where 15 years previous. An age curve is where my comment about better players generally playing better comes from, trouble is due to the older unfair way tournaments where run up to 8 years ago it is not so easy to produce in snooker as players could stay in the top 16 for years winning 1 match a season. but imo early to mid 30's peak for a snooker player.

the UK is just another 2 bob tournament now imo, a sad state of affairs But the Masters is ok?

There are longer format tournament's in for next March I believe so next year everybody can moan that players are tired rather than not prepared.

gjohn101  agree with all you put there other than first and last line, again I never said present day players peak at 40, and you know that I believe snooker is stronger in depth now than 20 years ago, match up some end of year ratings and see who you would prefer to be on in a match bet at evens each player.

Pandoras I think Hearn deserves to take the credit for the way he has dragged snooker out of the gutter, was down to 7 tournaments and some of those never had a sponsor, and now a full calendar of tournaments, with less and less first to 4's. this is professional sport I see no reason why any player should be guaranteed a living wage, every player has to evaluate himself before starting out. I spent 7 years playing golf for a living, I could get my tour card each year but I was relatively cr@p and never made any money, but I loved every minute of it and would do it all over again if that was possible.

Tickets being put up for sale during the tournament is one thing I think Hearn has got wrong, people having to miss this years play to get next years tournament a bit thoughtless imo  Oh and the World Snooker website must be one of the worst on the net.
Report trebor May 9, 2018 10:52 PM BST
goblins I agree my Hendry Williams post was selective, it was actually 4-2 to Williams I believe as only counted them after they had become champions, and of course the Davis and Hendry era distorts the facts.

Yes Hendry's last win he did have a tuff set of players to beat, but most years he had what I would consider a far weaker bunch than Higgins, O'Sullivan and Williams had to overcome.

Imo Hendey was head and shoulders above all his opposition in the 90's, he knew it and maybe more importantly they knew it, his confidence level must have been sky high, it needed to be for the brand of snooker he played, he had 6 years start on the class of 92 but as soon as they started beating him he crumbled very quickly, he is considered the GOAT by many but he had been a 4th member of the class of 92 would he have got more titles than Higgins, O'Sullivan and Williams?
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 11:09 AM BST
Ok trebor, if you are talking about 20 years ago, then lets see how the top 16 then matches up with top 16 now. Top 16 now is pre-World Champs but not going to make much difference so let's run with it.
So class of 98 v class of now over assumed best of 25:

Hendry v Selby (Hendry warm fav and wins)
Higgins v O'Sullivan (5/6 the pair and Higgins annihilates him)
Doherty v Williams (5/6 the pair and a peak Doherty holds sway)
Williams v Higgins (Higgins fav but Williams with his fearless potting and exuberance round the table wins)
Ebdon v Trump (Trump warm order but we all know what happens here)
Parrott v Ding (Ding warm order and gets through after a struggle)
ROS v Hawkins (ROS 1/5, wins on the bridle)
N Bond v Shaun Murphy (Murphy 1/3 but has spent a career losing to solid pros like Bond, Bond wins)
A Robidoux* v Wilson (Wilson 4/7 and wins comfortably)
Angles v Robbo** (Robbo 4/6 on reputation alone and has simply no semblance of a chance here)
Drago v Carter (Carter warm order. Also a joy to watch Tony play but he just going to play into Ali's hands over and over)
Wattana v Allen (no idea, odds against the pair, two unfulfilled talents. Just call it a draw)
S Davis v Bingham (Davis still a force then, entitled to be 4/7 and would win no question)
A Hamilton v McGill (Good match up, similar type players, goign to be charitable and give this to McGill by a nostril hair)
Dazzler Morgan v Brecel (Brecel will be fav simply on basis that nobody remembers how good a player Morgan was, should have won more. Anyway, Morgan wins)
S Lee v R Day (unfulfilled talents for vastly different reasons. Lee was a good player, entitled to be fav and would win by a couple)

*Must be said concerning Alain Robidoux, he is a weak link in that 98 top 16. Too much weight given to World Champs then and as he reached the world s/f previous year, that catapulted him up the rankings. Still, it's the only glaring anomaly there I can see.

**Fck me, just checked and Robbo is 36. Chap is ancient! And gone at the game. Or, alternatively, he has 4 more years left till he reaches his peak and can start winning world titles again!

Other interesting comparisons:
1998 - 10 of the top 16 aged in their 20s. 2018 - this is down to 4.
1998 - Only one over 40, just two over 38. 2018 - four over 40, 7 over 38.

Last thing I will say: the question of strength in depth doesn't depend on the top 16, though the top 16 should be reflective of it. But if you look outside the top 16 in 1998, you will see the likes of Stevens, Hunter, Dott, Carter, guys who came through to achieve a lot of success in the game. I look at the 2018 list and wonder where the next guys are coming from. A lot of guys still hanging around since 98, it must be said. The real promising guys, imo, are all Chinese - Lyu, Yan, Zhou etc - and that's where the future is taking us because it simply has nowhere else to go.

Of course, you can interpret all that in another way if you want, and I'm not saying it's definitive. But you presented the challenge and I believe I have responded to it.
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 11:13 AM BST
Actually, seeing that you were offering evens the pair, I would be massively disappointed if I wasn't a minimum of 500 ahead betting blindly on the class of 98 to a 100 stake.
Report trebor May 10, 2018 11:46 AM BST
I believe snooker is stronger in depth now than 20 years ago, match up some end of year ratings and see who you would prefer to be on in a match bet at evens each player.

Ok so quickly trying to change the rules, I did say 20 but as you can see from other things I have wrote I firmly believe that the class of 92 was the strongest era for snooker, so 20 years ago is when they were beginning to come through and Hendry soon to go downhill. and the wording "some end of year rankings" means try some more going further back rather than forward. Time goes so quick and 20 years ago to me seems a bit further back Sad and you should have realised that when I typed it Laugh

Strangely after I posted it I realised I had given an advantage to the older rankings because we know now how good they went on to be, and we might credit a 45 year old player with his peak form.

But just for the hell of it ( before the golf starts) I gonna copy and past your list and see what I make it giving it my bias.
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 12:24 PM BST
I doubt many would disagree with how strong that period was. From around 1997 when the class of 92 were beginning to take over and the likes of Hendry, Davis and even White were still competitive, up to  around 2004 were the peak years in terms of strength at the top. But if you take things from then, you can list the number of young players that have come through and made a significant impact on the fingers of one hand: Maguire, Murphy, Allen, Ding. Maybe one or two others at most. Thats the real nub of the issue that we're talking about.

Of course the further you go back, the more shallow the pool is going to be in terms of strength in depth. How many pros were there in 1980 for example. Still, take any top 16 from the 80s and it would not compare all that unfavourably with the current bunch imo. The difference is that they did not have the conditions or mentality to score century after century and they tended to turn pro much later so they had extended careers on account of it. For me the standard of snooker does not depend on centuries scored. In that case the standard of golf is off the charts because guys batter the ball 400 yards down the fairway, yet are the current top players superior to the Faldo, Seve, Woosnam, Langer, T Watson etc era. You're an accomplished golfer so I'd be curious about your opinion on that? But in terms of how they cope with pressure and how they fare over the long matches, I would have a fairly dim view of the current bunch.
Report trebor May 10, 2018 1:24 PM BST
Hendry v Selby (Hendry warm fav and wins)  No contest this one 98 was a disaster for Hendry, Selby win
Higgins v O'Sullivan (5/6 the pair and Higgins annihilates him)  close one this 4 wins for Higgins, 5 for Ronnie, am I allowed to use Ronnies extra 20 years experience? any films with time travel always confuse me, draw
Doherty v Williams (5/6 the pair and a peak Doherty holds sway) 3 wins each, both make the world final, I favour Williams but will go with draw
Williams v Higgins (Higgins fav but Williams with his fearless potting and exuberance round the table wins) A Masters win and 2 semis for Williams but a lot of early exits, Higgins win
Ebdon v Trump (Trump warm order but we all know what happens here) was going to agree with you on this one, but just the one semi for Ebdon this year, Trump Win
Parrott v Ding (Ding warm order and gets through after a struggle) Parrott past his best, only ever gets one more win in career, Ding win
ROS v Hawkins (ROS 1/5, wins on the bridle)  Ronnie win
N Bond v Shaun Murphy (Murphy 1/3 but has spent a career losing to solid pros like Bond, Bond wins) Bond wins Scottish Open, but just a 8 man field, only one win for Murphy as well but was the Champion of Champions, plus 4 other finals,  Murphy win
A Robidoux* v Wilson (Wilson 4/7 and wins comfortably)This one shows what I mean, first round exits all the way for Robidoux except a quarter final appearance in Malta, until on inspection there was only 8 players in the tournament, so a 1005 winless season.  Wilson win
Angles v Robbo** (Robbo 4/6 on reputation alone and has simply no semblance of a chance here) Bad year for both players, Angles never to win again, mind you Robbo may not either, Robbo win
Drago v Carter (Carter warm order. Also a joy to watch Tony play but he just going to play into Ali's hands over and over) Not even gonna bother checking what Drago did, Carter win Ok I had to check as this was pretty much drago's peak of career he made a semi in a 8 man event
Wattana v Allen (no idea, odds against the pair, two unfulfilled talents. Just call it a draw) A draw are you joking, Wattana never won more than one match in any tournament this year well most years actually, Masters winn for Allen. Allen win
S Davis v Bingham (Davis still a force then, entitled to be 4/7 and would win no question) Close one this 40 year old Davis against a 41 year old Bingham, instinct told me this would go to Davis, but on inspection of both players seasons I have to give it to Bingham, Bingham win
A Hamilton v McGill (Good match up, similar type players, goign to be charitable and give this to McGill by a nostril hair) Thought this one might be closer, but again inspection of seasons has to be McGill, McGill win
Dazzler Morgan v Brecel (Brecel will be fav simply on basis that nobody remembers how good a player Morgan was, should have won more. Anyway, Morgan wins) Morgan the better play imo, but check the seasons records one final for Morgan in a poor season, only had to win 2 matches to reach that final as well, Brecel win
S Lee v R Day (unfulfilled talents for vastly different reasons. Lee was a good player, entitled to be fav and would win by a couple) Oh joy was thinking I was gonna have to give this one to the cheat, but 98 was before he had ever won a tournament and was on the way up, Best season ever Day gets it, Day win


I make that 13 to 2018. 1 to 1998 and 2 drawn,  what I think it really shows is that new players not coming through and players on the downgrade able to stay in the top 16  when winning so few games in a season.
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 2:23 PM BST
No contest this one 98 was a disaster for Hendry, Selby win

Oh my, what are we to make of this? Looks like you've got off to the worst possible start trebor. 98 a disaster for Hendry? On what basis? By his own huge standards maybe? Won Scottish Open, finalist at Uk, Masters and British Open. How is Selby's 2018 any better than that? Because he won twice? I wont even bother adding up how many more events he played.

By rigidly adhering to a strict 1998 and 2018 formline, I think you've tried to skewer the argument in favour of the latter, a neat conjuring trick it has to be said. But it backfires on the No.1 match up and probably elsewhere as well. But I think the comparison only works to give us a general framework anyway. It's not strictly about what they were doing in those years, any player can have an off year or a few barren months here and there. That goes for 1998 and 2018 and every other year too.

One example, take Wattana and Allen. So what if Wattana had a poor 1998? The key distinction between these players is the fact that Allen - a player I like btw but a chronic underachiever nonetheless - has 4 ranking titles to his name as well as a Masters. Wattana had achieved more than that by the age of 25. His subsequent decline was most unfortunate, but probably undisclosed reasons behind that. For several years he played a standard of snooker that Allen has yet to show me he can match.

Ebdon v Trump. I dont care how poor Ebdons form was that year and it's not that he was all that unbeatable at the World Champs, but from what I know of that Ebdon and this Trump, I would have that Ebdon to beat this Trump over a best of 25 any day of the week.

It's also noteworthy that you'd have the 42 year old Higgins beating the 23 year old Williams even though he couldn't cope with the 43 year old version last week.

To be honest I think that just about sums it up. No need to go through them all. Probably a limited enough exercise anyway.
Report trebor May 10, 2018 3:08 PM BST
I was jesting a bit with the "no contest" as I thought I am going to have to be very biased with the first few, but 97/98 season was probably his worst during his dominance,  and with the players Hendry lost to that year even an out of form Selby would have tied him up I reckon, but I did not really expect the rest to be so easy although I knew the lower ones would favour me.  Lets be honest when you got a guy batting for you at number 9 who has not won a game all season you know you are in trouble Devil

I don't see how you can compare the end of season ranking unless you do it on results that year, as I said otherwise you rate a player on past or future form because you know how good they became, take your belief that Davis was still a force until 2004 as an example.

PS. I know you checked the lower ones  Laugh
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 4:36 PM BST
No, I already acknowledged Robidoux as a glitch. That's exactly what it is. It's a flaw of the system in that the World Champs carried double ranking points which gave it far too much weight when there were very few ranking events. He pretty much disappeared from the top 10 and 16 as soon as he'd arrived. You occasionally got those anomalies back then, but they were never reflective of the rankings as a whole. And to be fair to him, if you gave him 20 events and threw in a few numpties for him to beat in rounds of 128, I'm fairly certain he'd have won a fair few matches.

I'd concede the point that we are, in a sense, looking back on the old period with the gift of hindsight while having to apply foresight to the current era. And I guess I dont rate guys like McGill and Brecel that highly so I can freely admit to a certain bias against them. But I never claimed this was a rigorous exercise. That said, I really can't see any value at all in the form approach you advocate for the reasons I outlined above. As for the lower down ones, take R Day v S Lee. An interesting one because there's not a huge amount between them in age so you can compare them career-wise. Winning a few tin pot ranking events as he trundles towards 40 doesnt impress me much about Day. Lee had a good 9-10 years of solid achievement before he pretty much checked out. He's just the better player and Day hasn't enough time left to catch up in terms of achievement. Pretty much all your assessments above I would disagree with, maybe 10 of them vehemently so.

What's wrong with saying Steve Davis was "a force" until 2004? Wasnt he a finalist in the UK the season after? Not to mention what he did at the worlds in 2010. Note: this doesnt imply that he was the force of old, just that he was still a force of sorts in the game. Not a long term contender, but still very much capable on his day. Not even saying a 40 year old Steve Davis would comfortably dispatch a 40 year old Stuart Bingham, but by your formline strategy, Davis -China Open winner, Masters s/f - would clearly hold sway.
Report trebor May 10, 2018 6:43 PM BST
Don't hold sway for me, semi in Masters is 2 wins, and China Open was a field of 6 pros and 6 amateurs.
Report gjohn101 May 10, 2018 9:06 PM BST
Ok that's a fair enough point. At the same time I think the Davis-Bingham comparison is striking in a different way. Davis was 41 in 1998 which coincidentally is the same age Bingham is now. And yet Davis, who would probably be somewhere between 3 and 5 in most people's GOAT list, won very little after turning 40 while Bingham went from being a humble journeyman to world champion as he hurtled towards his 40s. Nor would it be much of a shock if he was to add another tournament win or two over the next couple of years. So what does all that mean? Does Bingham, after two decades of mediocrity, suddenly find a magic formula that turns him into a winner at 38? Or is it simply that he was nowhere near good enough to compete at a time there was very stiff competition and then starts becoming competitive when the going becomes significantly less taxing? I dont want to be uncharitable to him here. His world title was well deserved and he'd obviously worked hard on his game and made some changes to improve it. Fair enough, but could you still seriously argue that he ever had the ability to win a world title in his 20s or early 30s when the game was stacked with talent? And how would the 40-something, peak Bingham have fared in that climate? Well, if one of the GOATs could barely hack it against the cream of that crop - to say nothing of Hendry - then what hope for a lesser talent like Bingham?

I think Bingham is the apex of a trend that also includes the likes of Mark King and Joe Perry, decent journeymen who started to relish the less demanding terrain to become winners on tour. Hawkins and Fu to a lesser extent as well, though in their defence, I would say they were always solid pros and definitely a step above the likes of King or Perry.
Report gobelins May 10, 2018 9:58 PM BST
It has been a fascinating discussion, but trebor you ask if S.Hendry would have won as many world titles had he also been in the class of 92. I'll concede that the answer would be no, but I'd also say that O'Sullivan would not have 5, J.Higgins would not have 4 and M.Williams may not have 3. Equally, given that Hendry would not have had 10 full years of almost total dominance, there is every chance his career would have extended in a similar way to these 3 players. And, using today's barometer of excellence that is measured by the number of centuries a player has made - how many would Hendry now be on?

There are now 21 ranking events, and let's not forget that the snooker shout-out is one despite it actually not using the rules of snooker! Therefore, it is not surprising that more players in today's top 16 are having extended runs in more events than their equivalents of 20 years ago. You hear players like S.Murphy and N.Robertson claiming that it is an achievement to win 1 ranking event these days, and it takes the pressure off when they do. I'm sorry, but when that is the mentality of these "great" players it is no wonder that older players like S.Bingham, J.Perry, M.King and R.Day have no fear of them. They would get nowhere near a ranking event title win in the cut-throat world of 9 ranking events of 1998. The ranking event winners that season were: S.Lee, J.Higgins (2), M.Williams(3), S.Hendry (2), and F.O'Brien Surprised

To some extent I can accept that R.O'Sullivan, J.Higgins and M.Williams are still winning events and are contenders for the majors given just how good they are, but surely they should not be as dominant as they currently are after 25 years in the game. The lack of new talent in today's game is really worrying, so much so that it is conceivable that 3 years from now one of these 3 will still be able to reach a World final.

On the theoretical match-ups I would generally favour the 1998 players, and I'm sorry no version of J.Trump beats Ebbo at The Crucible, least of all the one that struggled to put away C.Wakelin and R.Walden.
Report thegiggilo May 10, 2018 10:41 PM BST
I reckon even reardon would've given most of these a hiding even without the scoring and i'm being serious..Shocked
Report trebor May 11, 2018 1:24 AM BST
gjohn101..  Why did Bingham start winning? How did Davis get to the 2005 UK final 9 years after his last ranking win? Bingham says it is down to starting to use SightRight, Davis started using SightRight in 2005. Just a thought.
Report gjohn101 May 11, 2018 10:58 AM BST
So thats Binghams magic formula? Never knew Davis used it, interesting i guess. How many top players use it then, given its obvious magic powers? Is Bingham using it now? If not, why not?

As gobe rightly points out, it's the lack of young talent coming through that is the heart of the issue. All you have to do is look as who's emerged since the 90s explosion:

1. The mid-30s guys: Selby, Murphy, Robertson, Allen. A disappointing bunch, for all Selby's achievements.
2. Ding in 2005.
3. Judd Trump in 2010.

That's about it. Watching Ding and Trump emerge was great, it added a much needed injection of excitement to the game, the prospect of something new. But they haven't sustained initial expectations. Since then we've had the likes of Brecel, Wilson, McGill, Lisowski. Wilson looks by far the best of this rather uninspiring bunch to me. Already solid top 10 material, but hardly a talent to put you on the edge of your seat. If this is what we're relying on to secure the future, then I'd say we're in deep trouble.

Compare this to other sports. Golf - a sport in which age is surmountable, as Phil Mickelson has notably proved, but the overwhelming make-up of the top players is 20s and early 30s. There has been a rich influx of new talent into the game over hte past 5 years and yet I hear commentators say how much the sport is struggling with declining playing populations and audience figures. Go figure. Tennis - the top 4 domination has been the narrative for the past 10 or more years but there are a whole host of young players waiting to fill the void when they depart. Zverev probably the best of them. He's just 21 and looks a star in the making. Darts - another sport with an older profile but the past 5 years have seen the emergence of the insanely talented Michael Van Gerwen and new blood this year in the shape of Rob Cross. That's the way it should be, of course.

Gobe is right, the lack of young talent in snooker is worrying. In fact, it's more than that. It's alarming and a bit of a scandal. Ronnie mentioned it on EUrosport last week, in his opinion not enough is being done to help the grassroots game in the UK. The BBC don't seem to be aware of this. They seem to be under the impression snooker is in the middle of some golden age. Meanwhile, the refrain of GLOBAL EXPANSION keeps ringing in our ears. Over and over. Next stop: the Middle East! More money than ever before for the top players (those outside the top 40 still won't make a living, though). So shut your beaks and get on with it. The real fun will start, of course, when they pull the plug on gambling sponsorship in about 10 years time I'd reckon. That's if the game hasn't been sold out by then, of course.
Report trebor May 11, 2018 12:40 PM BST
I see the same happening in Snooker as happened in Golf, it takes time to grow, and snooker is starting from a deeper hole than golf probably had too. there are so few people playing snooker now compared to in the 80's. when I played in snooker leagues in the 80's there was one league, over the next 4 or 5 years it grew to 4 divisions, and that was in a fairly small town, working mens clubs, factory teams and 2 snooker halls, now it is down to 1 league again, all from the same snooker hall playing each other multiple times to make up a long enough season, and it is similar in all the larger towns and city's in the area. The 2nd snooker club is now a pool and skittles club.

So that is what Hearn has got to work with, lets say Hearn had not taken over do you really think the situation would be better, if so in what way?

We all know that the UK snooker market is in decline, but what is happening world wide is similar to what was happening in the UK in the 80's, was it Alex, or maybe the 85 Final that had big positive effects on UK snooker, lets say the latter because even that happened 13 years before the class of 92 started winning, you don't get new talent coming through over night, maybe not at all from the UK

Youth now seem to want to play pool, it is quicker and easier to play, they don't want to play a harder game that takes forever, but hey no worrys just keep rallying for tighter pockets and longer matches??

So Golf, Darts and Tennis all have youngsters coming through? well when the European Golf Tour started in 72 probably 80% of the tournaments where in the UK, and the season was  about 6 months long, now over 80% are not in the UK the season is 12 months long and travels all over the world. Golf had no Golf Academy's in the 70's they came along as the tour grew. There was no chance of snooker growing to that level 8 years ago, now it is well on the way.

As for lower end players getting more pay, next season sees an increase for 2nd and 3rd round users, and longer matches, I am not the only one to have heard that last week, but interesting how no one wants to comment on positve news on here.
Report trebor May 11, 2018 12:44 PM BST
'users' should say 'losers'
Report BornToWin May 11, 2018 2:59 PM BST
I have wibbled on a fair bit about declining standards myself, there is no doubt in my mind the game is much weaker than 20 years ago however you try to statistically snapshot otherwise.

The top 16 in 10 years will be mainly weak minded Asians, with 'MUGGERY' being an unstoppable plague.

As an aside, I think in terms of players improving themselves snooker is still in the dark ages. You have MJ WIlliams who has 10+ years of coasting before taking some action on his stroke. Bang, he's world champion again.

Its all very well having Terry Griffiths fetch your colours, but real technical support appears to be out there now.
Report gjohn101 May 11, 2018 5:10 PM BST
trebor, i will give you some credit here because i know you've been dealt a poor hand, but you're still not playing many trumps.

Golf is a hundred years ahead of snooker and that's how it will always be. It doesnt matter where the tournaments are held because the backbone of the game is still its old USA and UK stomping grounds. The global spread has been impressive, i'll give you that, but the USA and UK still provide the majority of the top players and the sport would be nothing without its heartland. You seem to imply that even though snooker is slowly dying in the UK - and glad we can agree on at least that much - it'll be ok because it's growing in other parts of the world. For passionate snooker fans here, what exactly is the consolation of that?

I can relate to the picture of decline you draw. I'm Irish and the snooker scene here is pretty decimated. The Irish national championships draw to a conclusion this weekend and i dont want to be uncharitable about any of the players left in it but there isnt one among them you'd put in the category of young promising individual using this as a stepping stone to bigger and brighter things. They've all pretty much had their chance at one time or another. Things might be a small bit rosier north of the border, but theres nothing coming through here. It's actually depressing.

Btw it was Alex and Jimmy who spawned the mass popular appeal of snooker in the 80s. The 85 final audience was a by product of that and added fresh impetus to it. Refresh my memory but I think Hearn was at the helm when all that opportunity was there to be exploited. And I mean opportunity to take the game to the next level, not to enrich himself and a chosen select few players. Then the tobacco guys upped sticks and exit Hearn stage left to his next money making project.

As for Hearn's second coming - well, sorry to mix metaphors but this is the myth of the messiah riding in on his white steed to save a game that would have expired otherwise. Of course this isn't the truth. Because there was actually a rival bid in place when the game was coming up for renewal. Only the players, in their collective wisdom, opted to vote for the devil they knew and so back came Baz to rule the roost for a second time. HOw would snooker have fared if they'd gone for the other deal? We'll never know basically.

And as for giving Hearn credit? For what? Doing the job he's supposed to be doing? You'd swear the way some folk go on that he's gone out and created all this global interest out of thin air himself, a magic trick. He didn't. He's just mining raw material that's already there. And in doing so, he's neglecting the heartland of the sport without which there'll always be a bleak future. Not that I'd admit to having any great solutions myself, but that isn't the point. The point is they dont even acknowledge a problem. Everything's rosy in the garden over here, apparently. We've just had the best final ever, the standard at the top has never been better, etc etc, all the usual rubbish. I wonder deep down if those guys truly believe half the rubbish they come out with.

....on the other hand, the "positive news." Well, i've only heard snippets to be honest. So hard to say. Are the best of 7s gone then? Players getting more prize money. Well, maybe a few more of them might be able to switch to the more expensive chalk now, but I doubt they'll go crazy. I did hear something about a long format event, but seems to be merely confined to the top 8. Well, whoopee!! You want me to give Hearn some credit? Well how about restoring the UK Champs to its former glory and making it a major again. He'd be my hero for life.

This thing about players now moaning because they're tired, as if they just need any old excuse to complain. This is more abject nonsense. You cant put all these new tournaments in place that depend on the rankings and then expect playres to pick and choose events. Thats fine if you're Selby or OSullivan. But how is the guy who ends up 17 in the rankings at the cut off point for the Masters going to feel if he'd sat out a ranking event the previous month? They'll play every event because they have to or they'll feel they are being left behind. Thats just how it is.
Report trebor May 11, 2018 7:35 PM BST
I certainly don't feel I have been dealt a bad hand as I am not the one unhappy with the way things are going, I was before Hearn took over as snooker had been mishandled for years, am sure you know that before Hearn snooker was either ran by businessmen who new nothing about snooker, or snooker players who new nothing about business. Except in the case of the snooker players they new full well what they where doing, they where lining their own pockets by making it incredibly hard for players outside the top 16 to get into the top 16, and you complain about how unfair it is on the lower plays now?? A player could win 5 qualifying matches to get into the tournament and get less points than a top 16 player would get for losing his first game.

To answer your question, 58 of the top 250 golfers on the European Tour are from the UK, and there are more snooker tournaments in the UK than golf tournaments, in its 8th year the European Tour had 24 events, snooker has 27 plus some minor events, hardly starting a hundred years behind.

You know I have no sympathy for tiered snooker players or worry if they struggle to make a living if they are not good enough, but if a lazy player just wants to play just UK events next season he can pocket himself over 50k just for winning 2 games in each tournament against the "numpties in the round of 128" I believe you put it.
But the way I see it in professional sport you take the risk to have a shot at the big prize.

Other points as I am working.  I don't think this is Hearn's 2nd coming, he was a snooker club owner and had 8 or so players he managed, there was some Matchroom tournaments I believe, but don't think he had anything to do with the running of events on the tour.

Cant agree with any of your paragraph starting "As for giving Hearn credit" except for the bit "you don't have any solutions yourself".  sorry couldn't resist Devil

Yes as we discussed a year or two back best of 7's are getting fewer as the new and bigger sponsors at found.

Everyone of the 128 can get into the new longer tournament events as it is a level playing field now, not all top8, I think there is a top 16 and a top 32 as well? but they are all on money earned from start of current season.

UK Champs is still a Triple Crown event, just made fairer than it used to be.

And again as discussed two years ago players will pick and choose events and miss some to take a break, has always worked well in Golf and Tennis, and Snooker will be no different, someone will always come 17th Sad
Report thegiggilo May 12, 2018 3:15 AM BST
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEbCGJJAJlI

In at 9.47 Shocked
Report gobelins May 12, 2018 12:31 PM BST
R.O'Sullivan, M.Williams and J.Higgins are now 2,3 and 4 in the end of season rankings. They are also in the top 4 in the one-year rankings - and had Higgins won an extra £7,000 they would have been 1,2 and 3. If the strength in depth in the game was anything like what is claimed then this should never happen.

The format of the UK may be fairer, but when the biggest attraction in the game has to get changed in a pub outside the venue, because there are 128 players at the venue, and there are no changing or practice facilities - there is something badly wrong. The tournament has been hugely devalued since it became best of 11, and the reason it has had to become best of 11 was to accommodate 128 players at the venue! Fairer - maybe, better - no. I've accepted that this is how it is now, and best of 7s with no intervals is par for the course now for so many of these tournaments. If anything it makes the anticipation of all things Crucible even greater, and that's never a bad thing!
Report Blackrock May 12, 2018 7:59 PM BST
Would prefer qualifiers for all tournaments so the 128 becomes 32 when tournament starts. Then we could have best of 11 1st rnd.
Report gjohn101 May 12, 2018 8:07 PM BST
Humblest apologies to Bazza, he didn't of course have a front row seat in the initial wrecking of snooker, that was a brainfade by me in my dotage i'm afraid. All he did was line his pockets and those of a select chosen few, largely on the back of the exploits of Alex and Jimmy of course, which is fine really, apart from those sickening, mealy mouthed tributes he subsequently lavished on Alex in those posthumous documentaries, almost ruining what were otherwise fine programmes. Should also point out that iirc a reformed Jimmy was at least offered a small share of the matchroom pie later on.

Golf is 150 years ahead of snooker. Have to say these selective stats seem to be becoming a nasty habit of yours. Golfs spiritual home may well be in the UK, but its beating heart lies in the US where all the top players go to play and where 3/4 of the majors take place. The European Tour is basically a secondary tour and, even then, a cursory glance at the list of sponsors will reveal banks, insurance companies, big motoring manufacturers, airlines, tech firms etc etc, not a sniff of a gambling company among them. No sport worth its salt puts all its eggs in the gambling basket anyway. The FA dropped its betting partners this year, the biggest sport in Ireland recently outlawed all gambling sponsorship - an early glimpse of the train thats hurtling down the track. Thats even without mentioning the moral bankruptcy of a sport which sanctions players heavily for betting infringements while plastering betting logos all over its venues. More galling hypocrisy.

And why should it be up to me to have solutions anyway? The point is unless the people actually running the game face up to the chronic decline of UK snooker, which we can all agree upon, nothing can ever be done about it, unless you call adding some pointless tin pot event to an already saturated calendar constitutes doing something about it. Try to raise valid concerns and you're dismissed as a begrudger, because things have never been better apparently. If things stay as they are, UK snooker will be virtually dead in...how long? 10 years? Maybe 20. If that seems alarmist, just have a check at the last 10 World u-21 and WOrld amateur finals which have always been a reliable guide as to what talent is coming through. Have a look at how few UK players win these events, or even get to a final. They've had a world under-18 championship for a few years now and guess what? No UK-born player has ever reached the final. But sure dont worry your socks off about it. Things have never been better.

Where have I mentioned anything about unfairness to lower ranked players? I said they cant earn a living which is not quite the same thing. Its just a statement of fact. 50k is a figure you quote. Do you think a snooker player can make a living on 50k a year? Less than 60 players made more than 50k last year. How are they surviving? I've no idea, just hope too many of them dont have large families.

From what i've read the only added long form tournament next season is the Tour final with 8 players. Could be wrong, though. No idea where to go to get information like this.

"New and bigger sponsors" found? More gambling companies, bigger gambling companies. Great stuff.

And dont compare players taking breaks in snooker to tennis. Tennis is a physical game where overplaying means injuries and loss of status and earnings. They have to plan a schedule, otherwise they burn out. Golf to a lesser extent. Snooker players will not do this, especially when ranking points are so critical to all these extra tournaments. Let's try to be realistic about this much at least.
Report The Bhoys May 12, 2018 8:43 PM BST
Some very interesting points made in the posts above, must say the match ups suggested in 1 post would consider todays generation to be stronger than previous but i dont think they are and thats been proven  by this season with osullivan dominating at 43 with higgins and williams also doing very well all year, the tables are deffinatly easier, the balls dropping are shocking to say the least and if anyone listened to hendry in commentary would have heard him saying they are playing like 9 ball tables
Report gobelins May 13, 2018 10:45 AM BST
I'm not a big fan of B.Hearn, and I'm not happy with a lot of the things he's done to snooker. The dumbing down of the game is the biggest one for a lot of the reasons outlined above. The staple diet of best of 7s is solely to accommodate 128 at the majority of these tournaments, but given that his stated aim was to make it a level playing field for all professionals then I can understand his reasoning. The old protection of the top 16 was clearly wrong, but if Hearn's objective was to give everyone an equal chance then why did he give J.White and K.Doherty discretionary 2 year tour cards at the end of last season when they should have been relegated? Also, why do the Chinese events still have wild-cards? In the recent China Open - S.Carrington had his 1st round match held over from the qualifiers in Barnsley, in order to play a Chinese wild-card winner. Carrington lost, and he picked up no ranking points and no prize money. How on earth can this be right? The answer, in both cases, is that the decisions are money driven. I'd have more respect for Hearn if he applied this supposed equality across the board for every player and in every event.

gj - regarding your point about betting/gambling companies sponsoring snooker events. I honestly cannot remember the last event held in the UK which was not sponsored by one of these companies. A few years ago Hearn ended Fred Done's sponsorship of the World Championship as his stated aim was to have a blue-chip company sponsoring the championship - to give the sport a more prestigious feel to it. No-one blue chip company came in for it and the tournament was sponsored by Betfair, before returning to Betfred. And, in a nutshell perhaps that's evidence in itself that the game in the UK has declined to such an extent that it is only gambling firms who want to be associated with it. In China, the hosting of a ranking event is hugely prestigious, and it is why the prize money keeps going up over there, as each of them try to out-do one another. So, it's possible that in the UK we have matches of smaller duration, and China will be place were tournaments of a longer distance prevail.

In fairness to Hearn (who has now been inducted into snooker's hall of fame) he has delivered on a lot of the promises he made when he took over the sport, and he has increased the number of tournaments and prize money to levels above and beyond those he himself envisaged - and he has generally done what he was elected to do. As fans of the game, I think we do forget sometimes that the sport is also a business and some of the decisions he makes are as a result of this. And, let's be honest under the previous regimes - the sport was being run into the ground. Perhaps the rival bidder to Hearn in 2010/11 would have produced a tour as good, or better, than the one we now have, but maybe they wouldn't. Hearn has been able to exploit the Chinese explosion to it's maximum effect, and has taken advantage of Eurosport's willingness to show virtually every snooker tournament on the calendar (which should act as a vehicle to promote the game on mainland Europe). Hearn must be right to look at other markets elsewhere, but the lack of anything tangible for re-invigorating the amateur game in the UK is really concerning for the future of the game here.
Report trebor May 13, 2018 3:29 PM BST
gjohn101....I was not going to bother replying because it seems we are just so far apart in what is happening in the snooker world, but I just could not sleep last night thinking about you worrying about these overworked poor snooker players and how they can possibly survive.

You said... Do you think a snooker player can make a living on 50k a year? Less than 60 players made more than 50k last year. How are they surviving? I've no idea, just hope too many of them dont have large families.

So let's take the 60th player, He won £59,100 in official prize money,  He was thinking of giving up the game last year, no not because he could not make a living, he was suffering from Crones disease, so was not at his best at the start of the season. Fortunately he had a fair bit of time for rest and recuperation, because no matter how I look at it I can not get him out of the house working for more than 68 days in the season. He played competitive snooker on 32 days (36 matches) in the 17/18 season, I have given 4 extra days for any overseas events, he only went to China once and I have allowed 7 days for that one, and included all the days he had to stay at an event between matches.

That gives him nearly 10 months practice time, actually I think that is the real work any way, the tournaments are really the fun bit. But anyway I don't see the worn out snooker player that you where worried about.

Just leave the financial bit then. £59,100 in official money, but there are still other tournaments to play in, pronbably not as many as there used to be, but I know of two in my area. Many players find sponsors themselfs, all the top players have them, Burger King for example (Judds worth 9m now apparently) this player number 60 has them as well, his management team Beswicks have sorted some for him, around 1 to 1.5k for wearing these waistcote lables each tournament for a player of this ranking, and not limited to just one sponsor, although I think there is a limit to how many can be used at one time,  pays the air fares and a few hotel bills.

I think the reason you may have got confused about Hearn running snooker before was because the UK championship did not have a sponsor in 1989, (the year after a 46 year old Doug Mountjoy won it) at the last moment Hearn got Storm Seal in as a sponsor, 2 years later Storm Seal went bust not long before the 1991 event and Hearn covered the players prize fund.
Report gjohn101 May 13, 2018 7:39 PM BST
Thats fair enough trebor, i'm certainly not going to fall over what is just a robust exchange of views, we'll just agree to disagree. None of this is very important in the larger scheme of things anyway.

I will just say fair play to that 60th guy, he is one of the lucky ones if all that is correct (actually I think he's a bit higher than 60 but wont split hairs). "1 to 1.5k per tournament" for a waistcoat logo. Really? For a guy ranked 60th or thereabouts? That could be up to 5-6k per tournament, depending on how many logos he wears. Must say sounds like utter pie in the sky to me, but anyway....

I dont base my suppositions about tour life on rough calculations, though, rather on testimony i hear from players themselves. The BBC, for once, did some service when they included an item on financial struggles during one of the televised events (UK maybe) last season. I remember Fergal O'Brien very eloquently explaining how hard it was getting for him to scratch a living and he was ranked in the 30s at the time I believe. Michael Wasley is another who has documented the grim economic realities that drove him out of the professional game. There's lots of testimony out there. Was it Robbo who suggested some of them would be better off flipping burgers? Thought that was a bit off myself, but the basic sentiment is certainly one that a lot of the players would share.

Of course some of them are lucky in that they have other irons in the fire apart from playing, they might run clubs, do a bit of coaching, maybe other stuff on the side as well. But the thing about this is, how much energy and focus are you putting into making it as a pro if you are distracted by having to do other stuff at the same time, simply in order to stay alive? Thats a question each player can only answer individually. It can be a bit of a vicious circle and I did have an interesting discussion a while back with a guy who spent a few years on tour and narrated a grim tale of ferries, long bus journeys, sh!thole b & bs, cheap cr@p food, constant visa and a thousand other unforseen problems, a happy go lucky chap who grew depressed for the first time in his life and lost his love for the game. Of course, thats by no means a representative story of young aspiring pros, but its not that uncommon all the same. And, sure, I have some empathy for these guys who struggle to make it and mostly fail. Why on earth shouldn't i have?

Fair play to Hearn for stepping up in 1989 all the same. Fair play to him.
Report gjohn101 May 13, 2018 7:54 PM BST
Gobelins, we'll never know, of course, how things would have gone had they accepted the rival bid. The real tragedy, of course, happened in the early 2000s when the same guys offered the players a stack of cash and were turned down because those idiot players were basically bribed by the WPBSA and hoodwinked into believing that Ian Doyle was moving in for the takeover. God knows how far along the sport could have been if such casual stupidity hadn't reigned.

Your last line is spot on, though. I guess Hearn could turn around and say the amateur game isnt his concern, but that of the home unions who administer it, but then again it's hardly in his interests to see the grassroots game wither and die as is happening. This new Challenge tour is going to give the amateur game a boost apparently, though seems to me a lot of hassle and expense for players without the promise of a whole lot of rewards. We shall see, I guess.
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