Cueing for the title

By | Sport
World number one Mark Selby entered the event as reigning champion, seeking his fourth triumph. Credit @Livesnooker via Twitter.

With the World Snooker Championships now entering its latter stages, it seems this period may signal the most poignant opportunity to outline which player may be best equipped to claim the title. Of those remaining, all seem to possess the required motivation to succeed, with the status of the tournament perhaps playing a key role in this. Considering the event seems to be regarded as the most established and recognisable on the tour, it may provide a key opportunity for players to both expand their trophy cabinets and advance their careers. The results of the early rounds seem to support this ideology, with several seeded players, including world number one Mark Selby, emerging on the receiving end of the scoreline. Whilst this may indeed impact the quality remaining, it may also highlight the competitiveness of the sport, as all players seem capable of winning versus any opponent. As such, whilst the pre-tournament favourites may win other trophies, having a fresh victor in Sheffield may showcase snooker’s strength in depth, and act as the catalyst in attaining more support.

The tournament itself was originally established in 1927, with Joe Davis winning the first eight editions consecutively. In the following years, multiple players seemed to follow Davis’ example, and earn a position in the record books, with the 1985 final perhaps key in elevating both the tournament and the finalists’ pedigrees. As such, earning eligibility for the tournament may be a prominent focus for players throughout the year, with the necessity to enter the world’s elite intensifying as this enables automatic qualification. This, therefore, suggests the competition might be a showcase of the most proficient players in the world. When also coupled with the qualification process, with 128 competitors originally entering, it seems the best players may solely be competing. With the event broadcast to the masses, ensuring this proficiency may be key in attaining a wider breadth of support.

As such, the tournament’s crowning glory may be its vast history, with this contributing to its status and the high regard in which players may hold it. Yet, the organisers seem to be consistently striving to innovate to retain this position. They seem to be achieving this on the table by extending eligibility to a wider array of players, with advancements in other areas as well. This includes Steve Davis’ mini-games, allowing the viewer to gain a more in-depth understanding of the sport and its players. If the tournament may continue to balance this innovation with retaining the history and credibility of the event, such as with the 35-frame final, it may be held in good stead.

Cueing for the title

Both Leanne Evans, who has triumphed in multiple women’s events, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, a former victor, competed in this year’s edition. Credit @zimena via Twitter.

Another way organisers seem to be  innovating may be by inviting players from a smorgasbord of backgrounds to compete in the tournament. Whilst naturally this provides opportunities for these players to compete, it may, more importantly, create a more practical pathway into the sport for the masses. With representatives from 26 nations invited, alongside champions from both youth and women’s tournaments, the contest seems to be bypassing geographical, age and gender boundaries in enticing all. Thus, it may be a revolutionary competition, potentially laying the foundations for other sports to follow suit.

With the event broadcast on the BBC, an established broadcaster accessible to the masses, it may be increasingly viable for the organisers to attain a wider reach. Considering former victors such as Stephen Hendry seem to also be utilising their social media platforms to extend the reach to their support networks, increased support may be attained. Therefore, the foundations for success seem to have been laid for the Championships, with vast accessibility, monetary incentives and a range of competitors contributing to a larger global reach. Yet, the challenge may now be to continue this, although it seems a situation organisers relish, showcasing innovation in the quest to achieve this goal. As such, whilst the results may be important, the impact of the tournament itself may be worthier of the plaudits, perhaps highlighting the benefits of snooker.

How might the range of players competing in the tournament expand its global reach?

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