New Format For Premier League Snooker In 2012

The news has come thick and fast from World Snooker today as they have announced a new format for the Premier League in 2012 and one that at first glance, appears much-improved compared to that in operation last season…

With an unchanged format between 2005-2010, last season saw World Snooker make major changes to the format of the long-running Premier League competition, introducing best of fives, ball-in-hand and a 20 second shot clock amongst other changes.

In truth however, the format for me at least did not work, and it is little surprise that for 2012 there will again be a new format, one that is far closer to the previous system, with a few important differences.

The key changes to note are as follows:-

  • There will be ten players in the competition, split into two groups of five
  • The five players in each group will play each other once, with the top two in each group progressing to the play-offs at the end of the league stage
  • Each league match is played over the best of six frames, with one point for a draw, two points for a win available
  • The semi-finals will be played over the best of nine frames, the final over the best of 13 frames
  • There will be a 25 second shot clock in operation, with two time extensions permitted per frame
  • The eventual champion will receive £50,000. There will be £1,000 available for each frame won, with an additional £1,000 for each century break

As far as the selection criteria for players is concerned, the places will be filled as follows:-

Defending Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
UK Champion: Judd Trump
Masters Champion: Neil Robertson
Shanghai Masters Champion: Mark Selby
Australian Goldfields Open Champion: Stuart Bingham
Championship League Winner: Ding Junhui
World Champion: 7th May 2012
China Open Champion: Peter Ebdon
World Open Champion: Mark Allen
PTC Grand Final Champion: Stephen Lee

In the event of a player winning more than one qualifying event, places will be taken by invited players.

On paper at least, for me the changes look to be positive and while not quite addressing the biggest complaint of last year (that all of the players did not play each other in the league phase), it does ensure that the players in each of the two groups will play each other.

The decision to extend the shot clock to 25 seconds is a sensible one as while I still feel it is unnecessary, it is better than the 20 seconds allowed last year which was plainly too short, while the removal of the ‘Shootout’ deciders (which did not fit the competition) also receives a thumbs up from me.

EDIT: There is in fact some debate as to how the miss rule will actually work given the ambiguous wording of the official press release. Does ‘current’ mean last season’s league rule, or does it mean the traditional miss rule?

I asked referee Paul Collier on Twitter who said:

“I assume 3 misses from the same position will trigger the option of ball in hand again but haven’t discussed it formally yet”

Confirmation of the dates for the competition will follow in due course.