The debate – Should the Snooker Shoot Out be a ranking event?

It’s been fun, chaotic and hectic and we’ve only completed round one of this year’s Snooker Shoot Out.

The controversial tournament which sees snooker played in the shortest and most wacky form yet is loved by some fans and also despised by others

As snooker writer David Caulfield brilliantly put this week on Snooker HQ, the Snooker Shoot Out represents snooker’s spread of Marmite – either you love it or you hate it.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the rules – one frame matches played in 10 minutes, players must play within a 15 and 10 seconds shot clock, either cueball or object ball must hit at least one cushion and if a player commits a foul his opponent gets ball in hand.

At first it was considered a bit of a novelty event allowing players lower down the rankings list to gain some valuable prize money but then World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn upgraded the fun event to a ranking event.

Barry Hearn

This meant it all suddenly became serious. For the past few years, not just prize money has been on offer but all important ranking points. This decision has become

Here Snooker Chat writers Elliott West and Annette Lord have their say on why the event should be a ranking event and why it should not be.

‘Opportunity engulfs the Watford Colosseum’- Elliott West

Perhaps this may not be snooker as we know it as it definitely lends its ear to a pantomime style but for some reason it is infectious and rather like an episode of Love Island, you can’t stop watching it.

The main thing to say about the Snooker Shoot Out is that it is light hearted and fun and it promotes a message that everyone gets a chance and any player can win, providing you take part. This may not be an atmosphere that suits all players and some may be left literally standing as their opponent dominates the baize. This may be a two second appearance for one player and their longest run for another.

Opportunity engulfs the Watford Colosseum and for past winners such as Michael Georgiou and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, this has been vital in boosting their stature and potential earnings in the sport.

Michael Georgiou. Picture: ITV Sport

The Shoot Out in my opinion is vital because it provides all of the players on the tour the opportunity to showcase their skills and if they win it, they receive probably their biggest pay cheque and the opportunity to play in the Champion of Champions. Unlike other events on the tour, you don’t have to go through the arduous task of having to qualify to play in the Shoot Out and it definitely provides a welcoming break (no pun intended) to the traditional form of snooker played throughout the year.

With added quirks of a shot clock, the task of becoming the overall winner is no mean feat with a player having to win seven matches to win the tittle and lift the trophy.

The Shoot Out has surged since its creation in 2011 and has now reached a larger European audience with its transfer from ITV4 to Eurosport. I believe Eurosport does command the voice of snooker now and the Shootout is in good hands as it progresses forward in future years. My campaign to bring back Pot Black fell on deaf ears but the Shootout does retain a small piece of this bygone snooker challenge. Perhaps not my intended event at first, this fast and furious has grown on slowly but I must admit, I do find it hard to concentrate with the baying darts’ style audience that attend the matches with the volume definitely increasing as the final approaches.

Yes to all the fun but, seriously, a ranking event? – Annette Lord

Of course the Shoot Out is great fun, a chance for the audience to let their collective hair down, shout for their favourite player and do a Mexican wave… but even Barry Hearn has failed to put up a convincing argument for why it should carry ranking points.

The elephant in the room remains – this ranking tournament is not played to snooker rules, so why should it be given such elevated status? There are more inventive ways to ensure the participation of the top pros and thus maximise the tournament’s commercial viability.

Yes, 72% of tour players agreed for it to remain a ranking event when the issue was put to the vote in 2017 but the only other option on the ballot paper was to scrap the event altogether. I wager that if removing its ranking status had been a third option, it would have been the winner by a landslide. And if most of the pros object to it, haven’t they got a point?

Among the high profile objectors was Stuart Bingham, who said: “It’s an absolute joke. This could lose a player a spot at the Masters or even the World Championship for something as silly as not hitting a cushion” (which is a foul under Shoot Out rules). 

Stuart Bingham. Picture by Monique Limbos

Stuart’s point may hit home this year, as cash earned from the Shoot Out will for the first time play a part in how many matches players outside the top 16 face in trying to reach the Crucible.

The WPBSA has announced that a tiered qualifying system for the World Championships has been brought back for 2020. The cutoffs are at 80, 48 and 16. With just £3,000 (at the time of writing) separating Lee Walker in 80th from Ian Burns in 81st and less than £2,000 between Anthony Hamilton in 48th place and Chris Wakelin in 49th, any ranking points gained (or not) from the Shoot Out could make a big difference. 

Surely a novelty event should not affect players’ livelihoods this much?

What do you think? Let us know.

One thought on “The debate – Should the Snooker Shoot Out be a ranking event?

  1. I find myself understanding both sides to be honest. To be clear I don’t think the shoot out should be a ranking event, but I’m finding all the possibilities pretty intriguing and for me it makes it interesting and exciting to watch. I don’t think I could watch this event otherwise with the god awful loud men who think they’re hilarious. You’ll find these clowns in any local pub.

    In terms of fairness, I understand the point but every player has the same chance for success and failure. It’s not decided by the shoot out, it’s decided by every single ranking tournament. Players can’t blame the shoot out if they end up 65th in the rankings at the end of the season.

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