26.10.12

CHINA'S BIG ONE

China calls this week, as it so often does these days.

Europe has a growing legion of snooker fans but China has the money, lots of it. The forthcoming International Championship in Chengdu carries a top prize of £125,000, easily the highest ever awarded outside the UK.

China is such a vast place that its cities are like countries within countries – Chengdu has a population of around 14m – and they compete against each other.

This is how Barry Hearn has been able to ink deals not just for five ranking events there but also steadily increase the prize funds: none of the cities want to be seen to be lagging behind.

We live in a world of instant comment, much of it negative, but few could fault the concept of this event. Aside from the prize fund it is being played over a longer format in an era in which the mania is for shortening things.

Best of elevens will be the order of the day in Chengdu with best of 17 semi-finals.

So what to look out for?

Ronnie O’Sullivan, the top seed, will play his first televised match in a ranking event since he won his fourth world title last May.

Mark Selby, hoping to remain world no.1, has a tough first round encounter in the form of Ali Carter, who is close to returning to the top 16, with Masters places up for grabs at the seedings revision which follows the tournament.

John Higgins, who won the last full ranking event in Shanghai, will hope to reproduce that form.

Ding Junhui, whose China form is generally not too promising outside of Beijing, will again be trying to shut out the expectations of a nation.

Mark Allen, so brilliant in Belgium last week, reached Amsterdam with the wrong passport and had to go back to Antrim to get the one which matched his visa. Allen isn’t a fan of travelling but neither was John Parrott and he won tournaments in all sorts of foreign climes.

Judd Trump was beaten on the line by Higgins in Shanghai but can console himself that he didn’t throw it away.

One player due a win, if indeed anyone can be said to be, is Stephen Maguire.

He came up just short in both the German Masters and China Open finals last season and was a semi-finalist at the Crucible. Maguire has had success in PTCs and has won in China before, in fact the 2008 China Open is his last full ranking title.

Chengdu is home to the giant panda. There are just 1,500 of these living in the world and 80% are said to be in the Sichuan Province.

Snooker was once a rarity in this part of the world. All that has changed. For European viewers it means some early mornings but it also means another week of world class action.

26 comments:

Richie Segal said...

Great article Dave,

I thought that Ronnie was seeded no 2 in all tourneys due to him winning the world champs, how is he top seed here ?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else slightly concerned by the Irish man with more than one passport?

Dave H said...

The world champion is top seed for new tournaments

Anonymous said...

IMHO there are just too many tournaments in China now -just becauce money and advertising. Public inetrest is not great compared to Germany, Belgium, Poland tournaments with full house. There should be more full ranking events in Europe outside UK.

Richie Segal said...

Thanks

Graeme said...

Opportune time to say what a fantastic performance by Stuart Bingham in the PL last night. 12 straight frames and four centuries along the way, fantastic.

That said, I keep going on about it but, the camera work in the PL last night was surely the worst ever. Switching mid shot, wrongly second guessing which pocket the player is aiming for, on several occasions focussing in on Higgins' complexion missing Trump's shot.
Zooming in on the player at the table then cutting to the object ball falling in to the pocket...even in to the ball tray. We know where the balls go after they are potted. It's not a mystery !
David (or anyone), do the players or commentators not have any input when it comes to how best to reflect the game on tv ?
The only worthwhile view is the full shot view. It shows every aspect of every shot.
There has to be a red button option for this soon, please god, because what we have now is pathetic. I would doubt if the producer plays snooker.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:32 on both counts.

The money is in China but none of the local players are consistently challenging at the top level. There is just one Chinese player in the Top 32 - Ding is number 12.

If 8 of the top 32 were local then it would be a no brainer.

My head says go to China 5 times a year for the money, my snooker heart says build on Europe and restrict China to just 2 tournaments a year.

Anonymous said...

It must be very frustrating for Stephen Lee not to be able to play - after all he may be completely exonerated and yet will have lost the chance of ranking points and prize money.

Anonymous said...

Hard to argue with the numbers at the moment (5 cities in China where promoters can arrange a hall, tv coverage and a prize fund of between£400k and £600k).

My thinking is that with the exception of Shanghai and Beijing these are pretty pony cities and a world ranking event is a prestigious gig for them, but I do question how sustainable it is - I think there should definitely be a bit more focus on developing other markets and making some of the EPTCs into ranking events.

Anonymous said...

Looks like our much beloved World Champion isn't turning up. I'm sure everyone is very surprised.

Also 12:29, if you exclude the UK Europe has even less players able to challenge top players. The best they can offer are Tony Drago and Luca Brecel, both of them not even in the top64.

Johan said...

Just in. Ronnie: “I’m very sorry that I had to officially withdraw from the International Championship, due to ongoing health problems. I would have loved to be fit to compete in Chengdu but I have been advised by my doctor not to travel.I want to sincerely apologise to Worldsnooker, the sponsors and the fans for the disappointment caused. I look forward to see you all soon.”

Hmmm....

Randall Morrison said...

Love the non sequitur about the giant panda. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

any pro sport with room on the schedule for events would be daft to turn down offers when sponsers and prize money are on the table- well done China for recognising a quality product. Lets have even more tournaments there until other countries decide they want to join in with sponsorship of this wonderful game.

trevorp said...

ronnie has pulled out 24 hours after complaining he was sorry he had agreed to enter any events this season.medical reasons is the excuse again.im a massive ronnie fan but im really sick of his bulls**t he should just quit the game if this is the way he is going to continue.

Claus said...

Ronnie's business strategy: "meh, I think I'll skip this one"

Anonymous said...

Looked alright to me last night at the Legends event in Liverpool...

Anonymous said...

Ronnie's earned the right to pick and choose which tournaments he plays in, he can do what he likes and if he does it too often he knows his ranking will slip for next season. We'll see him at the UK all being well and I'm sure he will be back in top form. Noone from the UK watches the China events anyway, players like Ronnie only care about the big three BBC tournaments.

Anonymous said...

Get well soon Ronnie!

Anonymous said...

What a shame .. A missed chance for fans to see him play in a full ranking event.

Also a missed chance for himself to gain some ranking points.

He would have had an easy run, at least untill he'd have run into Robbo in the quarters.

Now it's Trump for the title I think.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Hearn say that each event was going to have its own unique identity? This format mirrors the already dumbed-down UK, which alomst mirrors The Masters. How long before Hearn butchers the World Championship? Probably only a few years before that becomes best of elevens in China.

Anonymous said...

just gtf ronnie. even your "fans" are sick of you!

Anonymous said...

Not funny at all.

Anonymous said...

"no one from the UK watches the China events anyway"

I do so that's one

Anonymous said...

Bullshit O'Sullivan apologising to WS and fans for withdrawing. There's nothing wrong with you. Just go. Snooker will still be here when you are six feet under. I notice Grove Snooker aren't throwing any excuses out to defend you this time.

Anonymous said...

2.20pm

Short sigteness strikes again

sod the BBC Their days are numbered if they dont pull their socks up and Sharpish.

china is the future ronnie if he don't jump on the bandwagon will sink.

Graeme said...

What ever happened to conceding a frame only when it's your turn.
Has this aspect of etiquette disappeared ?