Friday, 10 June 2011

Ready to rumble

We said it last year, and we can say it again.

This is going to be the biggest season snooker has ever seen.

With just a week to go until the new action-packed season kicks off, my excitement is close to bursting point.

Long gone are the days when there would be as long as a four-month break between the end of the World Championship and the start of a new campaign.

With supremo Barry Hearn continuing to wave his magic wand at the game, we continue to go more global and snooker is fast becoming an all-year calendar.

This is thanks largely to the creation of the new PTC series. These 12 events are now a cornerstone of the event schedule for the players.

With 2,000 ranking points available for the winner of each of them and a whopping £70,000 up for grabs to the eventual Grand Finals champion, players can't afford to miss out.

Snooker players have harped on about wanting a full-time job for years. Now, they've got it. And if they don't take the chance to play in all or at least most of them, they only have themselves to blame when they go tumbling down the rankings.

The harsh reality is that you cannot survive at the top end of the professional game anymore without applying yourself to these competitions.

No-one found this out more than legend of the game Stephen Hendry. He had no interest in them, and because of this, he only held onto his top 16 status by the skin of his teeth last season.

If he doesn't change his attitude, he could find himself watching next season's Masters from the comfort of his own sofa.

For players like Hendry, and other who have families and partners, it's a tough ask. On the road most weekend, often living out of a suitcase. But it seems you can't afford to not do it these days.

For all professional players, snooker is their livelihood. But instead of hours on hours at the club, they must play competitively. It's great for the fans, and indeed, for younger players.

With not as many commitments as the older players, this is a fantastic opportunity which players in the past have simply been starved of. They get the chance to play the top guns week-in-week-out, and climb the rankings as quickly as others fall.

This all fits into Hearn's vision of making the sport as a level playing field. No-one is protected. It's a dog eat dog world (well circuit), and after last season's maiden run, the players are ready to rumble.

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