“Barry’s just there to make money for himself; it doesn’t really matter about the players. The whole tradition of the game is going to pot. ”
“I’m far too busy to worry about silly little boys making silly little comments.”
Jaysus, snooker’s getting a little bit hairy, isn’t it? All too often fans of the sport are too reliant on sound bites or knob jokes from Ronnie O’Sullivan in order to make snooker a little more interesting. Right Ronnie, we get it, you’re going to retire sometime in the next 50 years. However, at the UK Championships Mark Allen and Barry Hearn certainly made people sit up and pay attention to the sport again. Their rather public tête-à-tête about the direction of the game led to many column inches and raised the profile of the sport above even Balotelli’s antics or tiddlywinks.
Those who regard Hearn as some kind of business genius may even suggest that he engineered the whole fiasco as a PR stunt. It’s not that far-fetched. We’re going to payout on the world ending in 2012 shortly. In December Hearn also patted himself on the back when he told the BBC; “I’ve done an amazing job with snooker.”
Allen’s point is one that should be rightly dismissed; perhaps not in such a belittling manner. Trying to retain the “tradition” of the game is the anchor that will keep it weighted in the past. The sport needs to evolve. While the good old days meant we could stay up till 2am on a school night, time is precious to people and they seek to be entertained. Whether that’s walk-on girls or someone semi-naked walking around the table holding up a card with the frame number, we don’t know. [plug] What does add to the experience is that you can now watch snooker live streaming during this year’s Masters on PaddyPower.com. Whether you’re at work or the latest episode of Glee is occupying your primary TV, drop on by to Paddy and you won’t miss a second of the action. [unplug]
Getting in on the ‘I’m so bored to tears, I’m going to hang up my waistcoat’ buzz, Ali Carter has admitted this season could be his last. Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan have been thrown in Twitter jail by the governing body. And John Virgo is still repeating himself during commentary. So, while most things that are happening off the baize is interesting, is it the same old sh*t on it?
With no one player dominating the game akin to the Davis or Hendry epochs, the Masters opens with four players vying for favouritism in sport’s elite competition. Ronnie’s inconsistency and ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude suggests supporting the now world number 16 would be a fruitless endeavour. He faces Ding Junhui in the opening round. Despite the psychological gamesmanship of the past between the two, the 24 year old claims to be mentally stronger and capable of beating the Englishman. In the opening match at the Ally Pally, Ding at 6/4 is definitely worth backing.
Judd Trump is the game’s shining light. His victory in the UK Championship capped of a highly successful 2011 and his meteoric rise through the rankings has seen him heralded, along with Mark Allen, as the ‘Future of the Game’. So, no more Jimmy White Wild Cards into events then. If Allen and Trump get over their first round matches, a repeat of the UK Championship final is on the cards in the quarter-final. That’s certainly a match to look forward to [plug] and it will be live on Paddypower.com. Did we mention that? [unplug]
As for the tournament outright; arguably, John Higgins is on the easier side of the draw. With three of the joint 6/1 favourites in the top half of the draw, the Scot is 13/5 to reach the final. For patriotic reasons and to strengthen the case for Scottish independence, Alex Salmond could be tempted by that.
So long as Higgins hasn’t been to the Ukraine lately.