Following on from part one of the results of my recent fan survey on Monday, today I bring you further conclusions, including the views on favourite players, commentators and more…
We begin today with five questions looking at event experience and it was an emphatic result in terms of whether those who have previously attended snooker events in person have enjoyed themselves.
Interestingly, there was also a fairly comprehensive result in terms of ticket prices, with 81.1% of those who answered, indicating that they believe ticket prices to be reasonable.
I was quite surprised by this, not so much because I disagree, but because let’s face it, everyone always likes to save a bit of money and for the World Championship in particular, prices have increased fairly significantly during the past decade.
Then again, with free entry to many qualifying events and plenty of early purchase offers and promotions run by World Snooker, clearly ticket prices are not too much of a concern.
The subject of snooker merchandise is something that has long been a personal bugbear of mine – I’ll be honest I don’t really like what is available and although World Snooker have sought to improve it recently, I still think that it could be better.
My personal view aside however, the majority of you have in fact said that you are happy with what is on offer, albeit with a closer result than the previous two questions. Quite a few people also indicated that in truth they did not really care, which is perhaps another reason why this has not been pushed further.
It was a similar verdict regarding the commentary earpieces on offer at venues, with just over 60% answering that they do enjoy listening to them at venues.
From my experience at venues and from talking to spectators, I have always found them to be fairly divisive, but in particular for those who do not go to events often and are used to hearing the commentary on television, I can see why they would be useful.
In the past at the Crucible I used to use one and turn it to the other table, so I could keep fully up to date with the action on both tables!
There a very interesting result in respect of mid-session intervals, with over 86% of people disagreeing with the suggestion that they would prefer not to have a mid-session interval.
Indeed, personally I share that view as while it might pose a few dilemmas for the television networks in terms of filling the time appropriately, at a venue I find the 15 minute break to be vital and also enjoy the impact that they can have upon matches. It has become a cliché that intervals can change matches, but it is no less true and is something that I see as a positive, not a negative.
Moving on to the subject of players and unsurprisingly, most surveyed answered that they do have a favourite player to follow, in fact I was slightly surprised that the result was not more one-sided than an 85-15 split.
I then asked how people decide upon a favourite player and interestingly it was playing style that came out on top, with close to half of the voters selecting it from their two permitted choices.
Next behind was personality, which is perhaps easier to judge now with players more accessible on social media, while ability and results came out as the third most important criteria.
I then asked for people to name their favourite player currently on the main tour and there are no surprises at the top of the list…
- Ronnie O’Sullivan – 24.97%
- Judd Trump – 9.97%
- Mark Selby – 9.21%
- Shaun Murphy – 8.61%
- Neil Robertson – 4.53%
- Mark Williams – 4.42%
- John Higgins – 3.85%
- Ding Junhui – 2.83%
- Luca Brecel – 2.49%
- Anthony McGill – 2.38%
- Robin Hull – 2.04%
- Stuart Bingham – 1.96%
- Mark Allen – 1.81%
- Jimmy White – 1.36%
- Martin Gould – 1.36%
In addition to the 15 names above, there were a further 64 players to have received at least one vote, while eight people answered that they did not have a favourite player.
As was to be expected, Ronnie O’Sullivan came out well on top, with almost half of the people to have completed the survey having chosen him as one of their two favourite players.
Judd Trump underlined his increasing popularity to finish behind him in second place, while former world champions Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and John Higgins also proved popular.
As well as the established names it was good to see numerous votes for promising young players such as Luca Brecel and Anthony McGill, while Finland’s Robin Hull also received a good number of votes to finish just outside of the top ten.
Moving on to the all-time list, again asking for people to name up to two players…
- Ronnie O’Sullivan – 29.19%
- Stephen Hendry – 13.01%
- Steve Davis – 9.50%
- Jimmy White – 7.97%
- John Higgins – 5.63%
- Alex Higgins – 5.16%
- Mark Williams – 4.10%
- Mark Selby – 3.63%
- Judd Trump – 2.46%
- Neil Robertson – 1.76%
- Ken Doherty – 1.52%
- Paul Hunter – 1.52%
- Shaun Murphy – 1.17%
- None – 1.17%
- Ding Junhui – 0.94%
Again it is Ronnie O’Sullivan who leads the way by some distance, but this time it is multiple world champions Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis closest to him, in fact a large number of entries comprised a combination of those three players. Next up is Jimmy White, as well as both John and Alex Higgins.
I did have something of a problem when it came to the Higgins duo as a number of people simply voted for ‘Higgins’ without stating which, so in that case I allocated half of the results to each player. In any case, there were not enough of those votes to have changed the order so the result is still generally accurate.
Further down the list come more world champions, while the late Paul Hunter also earned a number of votes, appropriately enough ahead of the tournament named in his honour this weekend.
In a way I found the comparison to the current favourites to be an interesting one, with Jimmy White for example receiving far more votes in the all-time list, despite still being a current player. Is it possible to have an all-time favourite who is not necessarily a current favourite? Apparently so.
A further 43 players in addition to those above received at least one vote.
Finally for the players section I addressed the well rehearsed statement that there are not enough characters in snooker compared to the past and note that around two thirds of the vote disagreed with that cliché.
Moving on to another subject and one that is perhaps discussed more than anything else amongst snooker fans – commentators.
And judging by the response to the first question perhaps we can see why, with 87.5% of voters agreeing that high quality commentary was important to them when watching snooker.
Next up I asked whether respondents preferred a more traditional commentary duo of broadcaster and expert (eg ITV, Eurosport), or two of each, as the BBC tend to have these days.
The majority did prefer the more traditional combination, although at roughly 65-35 this was perhaps a bit closer than I had expected.
Another of the questions that I was very interested to see the results of concerned the most desired attributes of a commentator, with up to two options available to those voting.
By some distance it was knowledge of the game that came out on top, something that I would say that pretty much all of the regular commentators do fortunately possess.
Beyond that it was a relatively even vote, except for statistical knowledge, which was some way behind with only 8.9% of the vote.
For what it’s worth, I voted for knowledge and current awareness, the latter being important as I find there to be few more annoying things than when the commentators are not aware of some of the lower ranked players, or other events beyond the majors.
With the regular complaints that we often see on social media I did wonder what the outcome of this question would be, but in truth it seems that fans are generally happy with the standard of commentary in snooker, with nearly 75% of the vote being cast to that effect.
It is only natural that people have their favourites and those who they do not like, it is the same for any sport, but I would agree that generally the standard is pretty good.
Again, I was fascinated to see how the results of this question panned out and generally speaking it was largely as expected, with Stephen Hendry, Clive Everton and Neal Foulds taking the top three spots.
Narrowly behind Neal was John Virgo, whose catchphrases and personality are still clearly very popular (though I did receive a spectacular non-publishable rant about him), while Steve Davis, Alan McManus and Dennis Taylor all pulled in a good number of votes also.
In terms of the Eurosport regulars it was Dave Hendon who comfortably came out on top, ahead of Joe Johnson, Mike Hallett and Philip Studd some distance behind.
There was also a number of votes for ‘other’ with a number of responses unsurprisingly naming Germany’s Rolf Kalb in their emails to me. I was going to name him as a separate choice, however I did not want to potentially discriminate him against other Eurosport commentators who I do not know.
The final category for this section of the results is tournaments and I began by asking whether people would like to see more team events on the calendar.
Every now and again we see the likes of Barry Hearn asked by fans whether there should be more team events on the calendar, to which he replies no as the interest is not there.
This is something that is too reflected in the responses to my question, a response that actually surprised me, though I am not particularly sure why as they are not something that I particularly miss either.
I also enquired as to how people felt about the number of events currently on the calendar and was interested to see that over 70% are happy with the current amount, while just 10% felt that there are now too many.
A couple of years ago I might have been in the ‘too many’ camp, but the reduction in European Tour events, combined with the loss of events such as Wuxi and India have re-introduced a few gaps into the schedule now.
Interesting though was the amount of people to vote for the European Tour events, which I know are popular with a number of people and will be missed if reports that World Snooker are looking to scale these events down are accurate.
In reality I am sure that we will see a few of these events continue to be held in future seasons, effectively as standalone events, without the ‘European Tour’ banner and Order of Merit.
Next up I asked whether fans would like to see a greater variety of tournament formats and this proved to be one of the closer categories, with the yays just about shading the nays.
I had expected this one to be a little more conclusive, certainly I would like to see more of a mix, now that best of sevens have become fairly commonplace.
Finally, I asked whether people felt that there are enough opportunities to watch live snooker and the answer was pretty much in the affirmative, with nearly 70% voting yes.
More results will follow later in the week…