Sunday, 26 May 2013

Let's do it all again

Welcome back snooker fans!

The new snooker season kicks off on this second May bank holiday weekend with the Wuxi Classic qualifiers in Gloucester.

It feels like a lifetime ago but it's actually only been three weeks since the bank holiday weekend earlier in the month when Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Barry Hawkins at the Crucible to claim a fifth world title.

Time on the beach is a premium these days for the players. For many years the game has had months of hibernation between the World Championships and the first ranking event of the new season - but that's all change now Barry Hearn is at the helm.

In fact, arguably Barry's biggest modofication to the snooker regime kicks off now.

When the first cue ball of the season is struck in the morning, it will be under a brand new system. 128 players will gather at the South West Academy hoping to win one match to make it the main venue in Wuxi.

At all bar three ranking events this season, there will be a flat draw. Everyone is in from round one. This is the level-playing field Hearn has been pining for.

For the new professionals and the lower-ranked players, it is a land of opportunity. If you're good enough, you can prove it straight away. There is the added difficult of having to beat a player up in the top 64. But there's no longer three or even four matches separating you and the venue. Success is now closer to your fingertips.

For the higher-ranked players, there is nowhere to hide. Protection has been wiped away. You have to prove you're still good enough to be competing at the venues, instead of being gifted your place.

If you win matches, you will succeed. There's no fairer system than that.

Click here for the draw and format of the Wuxi Classic qualifiers.

There are some fascinating ties here. World champion O'Sullivan begins his season against Michael Wasley. Six-time Crucible king Steve Davis locks horns with Stephen Hedry's nephew James Cahill. Ding Junhui is tryig to qualify for his true home evet agaist Aditya Mehta. There are plety more.

It will be interesting to see which players are still on vacation and those who are ready and raring to go. Players will arrive with all different levels of practice under their belts. Keep your eyes on these matches. We could be in store for a few shocks.

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