Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Grand Finals for a grand series

Snooker's first ever Partycasino.com PTC Grand Finals event kicks off in Dublin tomorrow - and it marks the end of an extremely successful maiden run on the circuit.

The first half of the new-look snooker calendar under Barry Hearn was largely dominated  by the 12 PTC events.

With six PTC events played in Sheffield and six EPTC events hosted at various locations across Europe, the season got off to a flying start because of them.

The players were in support of these.

With extra ranking points and money up for grabs, snooker became a full-time job for the players, just like they wanted.

Although the set up of the six tournaments in Sheffield wAS far from ideal with no crowds allowed into the arena to watch, the match sharpness gained by the players has made for one of the most exciting seasons on record for the sport.

Seeing snooker played across Europe is helping build support for the game more and more, and some of the sport's lower ranked players have been given a real fighting chance of climbing the pecking order, gaining experience playing the top players and earning good money.

Young Jack Liswoski has been one player to really profit from the series, and alongside him at the finals are the likes of Barry Pinches and Joe Jogia. It's good to see their commitment to turning out every weekend has been rewarded.

Ireland's snooker fans definitely won't be complaining either, that's for sure with the first ranking event being held in the country for six years.

While there are many positives, I can't help but look at the draw and see too many top players missing. While it's probably right that the likes of Ali Carter, Neil Robertson, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O'Sullivan are absent because they didn't invest enough effort into the series and didn't play in enough to force their way into the top 24 Order of Merit, I still can't help but feel Ding Junhui and John Higgins have been robbed.

Hearn stated when he created the series that you could only qualify by playing in a minimum of three PTC and three EPTC events. Ding and Higgins failed to do that, but they did each win an event. I think that's unfair and all 12 winners should have earned a place.

But Hearn has already said he regrets that rule, and he's never been the kind of person to be too stubborn to change his mind. He's always been very good at learning from his mistakes. With a few minor tweaks, such as the one suggested above, the PTC series is sure to be a successful series that is here to stay.

All the action from Ireland can be watched on Eurosport. In the meantime, here's the draw courtesy of World Snooker:


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