Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Crondon critics

The Championship League is quick to be criticised.

For the past three years when the snooker roadshow has arrived at Crondon Park, in Essex, people have done their level best to belittle it.

There is no denying that since its launch back in 2008, its value has diminished, fuelled mainly by the vast changes to the sport and increased playing opportunities engineered by Barry Hearn.

There is so much snooker for the fans to watch and the players to compete in that the Championship League has been left behind a little - but let's not bash the event completely out of sight, because it still has many positives.

The series of two-day events run from January through until March.

The players couldn't be happier.

Next week, the top 16 will be playing for a £175,000 top prize at the Masters. This prepares them with great match practice against top class opposition.

And with the calendar packed until the very end of the season, these chances will keep on coming before other major events. Players don't get much time these days to practice on their game without the pressure of ranking points. The Championship League gives them this chance.

The positives don't stop there. The players are well paid for winning matches, can select which group the begin in and also have the chance to win a place in next season's prestigious Premier League.

This blog post is in no way groundbreaking. None of these arguments are new. But I thought it was worth writing a reminder, as the event has been subject to the same old negative press.

Group one concluded today. John Higgins emerged the winner and is first to qualify for the winners' group.

Ali Carter finished as runner-up. Martin Gould and Mark Davis were knocked out in the semi-finals and Judd Trump ended the group in 5th place. Those four come back tomorrow to compete in group two.

Stephen Maguire, Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham will join up with the group, while Shaun Murphy and Matthew Stevens finished sixth and seventh in group one, and were eliminated.

Click here to see the the full format of the Championship League.

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