August 17, 2010

Born to be Wild?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:02 pm

Wildcard Tian beat Ronnie in China. Fair and Square, it was all there in black and white...

Next month sees the first ‘proper’ ranking event get under way in the shape of the annual season curtain raiser the Roewe Shanghai Masters.

Despite the widespread assumption that Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t like playing over in China this is actually the last event, ranking or otherwise that he managed to win, when he defeated Liang Wenbo last year in the final.

Regular readers on here will know that for an age now I have been moaning and whingeing about the Chinese habit of introducing wildcards into ranking events that are held on home soil, after the qualifiers have taken place. Non professionals who tend to steal the TV limelight from frankly, better and more entertaining players by virtue of their nationality.

OK, in recent tournaments they have extended these free rides to Thai and Indian players, but let’s make no mistake, this is about Chinese wildcards and to me, it is totally unfair and always has been. But in a country not exactly known for it’s squeaky clean strive for fairness and equality this is hardly surprising. Oooo a bit of politics there.

Players scrap it out in the qualifiers in the hope of moving up the rankings only to be met with the news that they must qualify again against someone who is acclimatised and used to the different way of things in Chinese snooker arenas. Let them enter the qualifiers by all means, but not at this late stage when players much more deserving of their place have worked hard to get here.

Luck of the Draw? Crucible hotshot Gould faces a wildcard.

These guys are no pushovers either, Tian Pengfei in particular is a very dangerous opponent and I do wonder how or indeed why he isn’t a professional now anyway. He is drawn to take on Jamie Burnett in the first match of this year’s event and will doubtless give old Jay Bee a bit of a game and he’s only trying to make a living here. Other players affected by this include Ken Doherty, Rob Milkins and Martin Gould.

The other wildcards are  Li Yan, Yu Delu, Li Hang, Jin Long, Rouzi Maimaiti (who World Snooker describe as Chinese, but with that name I can’t confirm that) and Mei Xiwen. The eighth wild card is to be announced shortly but if he is also Chinese and Rouzi is too, then this time they aren’t even giving the Thai or Indian guys a chance.

I know the sport has a market there, but tell me, who are the audiences turning up to watch? Neil Robertson or Li Hang? Ding and Liang are there anyhow, by all means let them take centre stage but why or why let this continue?

The draw for the event is here.

If you are tired of my moaning about the wildcards, listen to the all together more jovial thoughts of the Jester, Mark Selby here. At least someone’s happy….

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