So we have seen how you voted in respect of a number of categories already in parts one and two of my PSB survey, but today’s concluding section is perhaps the most interesting of all, as we look at the tour structure and the suggestion of other fundamental changes to the sport…
We begin with a look at the rules and probably the most emphatic response in the whole survey, as over 98% indicated that they had a good understanding of the rules of snooker.
Perhaps a rules quiz is in order to put that to the test…
But what if you have a query that you do not know the answer to? Do you know where to look or who to ask? The answer was not quite as emphatic, but still there was a general consensus that most would know where to go.
In reality, the easiest way for me to clarify something would be to ask one of the professional refs on Twitter, while the rules of the game can be found at WPBSA.com.
My next question was perhaps a tricky one to give a yes or no answer to, but the nonetheless the majority agreed that the rules of snooker do not require changing.
Still, over 20% did dsagree, so what sort of changes might they be referring to? If you did vote no, perhaps you could let us know in the comments section below.
A similar, but more provocative question followed and interestingly the response flipped over for this one, with over 75% of you disagreeing that the rules should be changed for the purpose of entertainment.
This is reflected in some of the more specific questions further down…
Concluding this section, it is no surprise to see that snooker’s most divisive tournament split opinion almost 50-50, with just over half of those answering agreeing that they like the ‘Shoot Out’ rules.
In hindsight, this question could have been better worded, as some agreed that they like the tournament and the rules once a year, but would not like to see it introduced into further events.
That said though, this is still an interesting result for me, one far more balanced than some of the other more ‘non-traditionalist’ questions in this survey…
Next up is the rankings section and with these questions it is probably easier to talk about them together as most of the results are fairly similar.
In terms of the system currently in place, around 75% of you agreed that the current system is easy to understand, as well as agreeing that the move to a prize money based system has been a positive change.
Again, most also agreed that the ranking list is important, but it was interesting to note that a greater amount disagreed as to whether the current ranking list was an accurate measure of the current field.
Is it that because of players who should be on the tour are not, or perhaps that players are significantly higher or lower than they should be? In general I would say that the list is broadly accurate, so further feedback on this point would be interesting.
Finally, there was however disagreement as to whether more information would welcome on world rankings, though a number indicated that this was because of the coverage already provided by this and other sites.
From my own point of view, I would like to think that most of the important permutations and ranking changes are covered here at PSB, but there is of course always room for improvement and if anyone has any specific suggestions, do let me know.
Away from rankings, but related to one of the points raised above was my first question concerning the overall tour structure, with barely 50% agreeing that the current 128 players on tour accurately reflect the 128 best players in the world.
Why is that and how could this be addressed? Who is the tour currently missing who ‘should’ be on there? Obvious names to spring to mind include Zhao Xintong and Jamie Clarke, but in general I wouldn’t say that the current field is too far off.
I then asked whether perhaps 128 players on tour are too many and the response was clearly negative, with over 75% disagreeing with that statement.
Personally I am a little bit on the fence with this one as in some ways I do think that there are a few too many, but at the same time the current tour structure is now based around flat 128 events and clearly it would not be logical to make a u-turn on that at this stage.
Rather than too few many players, perhaps there are too few, as nearly 70% of responses agreed with the statement that there should be more opportunities for amateurs to earn a main tour card.
Given the tease of international Q Schools by Barry Hearn at the Crucible a few months ago, I expect to see a notable change in the qualification criteria during the course of the next few years, so it will be interesting to see whether that does in reality give the amateurs more opportunities to get onto the tour.
One of the most decisive answers of the survey concerned the introduction of two-year tour cards for new professionals, with nearly 95% agreeing that this has been a good move.
The result comes as no surprise as I can’t remember any real complaints from players or fans since the two-year cards were introduced, a most unusual situation in the snooker world!
Another emphatic result concerned the question of whether professional players have enough chances to stay on tour, with the vast majority agreeing that they do.
When looked at together with the result to question three above, would it be fair to say that those who answered would prefer to see a more significant turnover of professional players on the tour? Or should the tour simply be looking to expand beyond 128 someday?
They might be a controversial subject with some, but the inclusion of amateur players as top ups to events with fewer than 128 entrants has been given the thumbs up by those completing the survey, with over 85% in agreement.
While I can see the arguments against, that they come into events under less pressure than professionals who are fighting for tour places, I have to also agree with their inclusion. It might not be ideal, but I would far rather see amateurs involved than several matches simply providing first round walkovers, as there are just no events these days contested by 128 main tour players.
Whether the result of visa, financial or other issues, events always seem to be short of the magical 128 and so the most obvious answer is to invite amateurs as is currently the case.
Far more controversial still over the course of the past decade has been the inclusion of wildcards at international events and this is reflected in what is a relatively split vote.
That said, the result is a surprise one to me, with just over 60% agreeing that wildcards are important to the development of the sport, notwithstanding accusations of unfairness to the professionals involved.
If I were to ask whether wildcards are unfair, I would expect that the answer would be in the affirmative also, but the result does demonstrate that the positives aspects of their inclusion have not been overlooked either.
Last year we saw three ‘legends’ handed invitational tour cards, namely Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and James Wattana, but would you want to see more players given a similar opportunity to enter main tour events as top-up players?
The result was not conclusive, but nearly 60% of voters indicated that they would not be in agreement with this. Is this because they would prefer to see younger, up and coming players on the tour, or maybe a reflection on the fact that players should have to earn their way onto the circuit on the back of their recent results, rather than former glories?
It was a different answer in terms of the ladies world champion however, with just over 70% indicating that they would like to see the winner of the the ladies World Championship awarded a tour card.
The question has been subject to a fair bit of debate in recent months, though I don’t think it is something that will happen any time soon, but in terms of the fans at least, it would appear to be something that would be welcomed.
Finally in terms of tour structure, another conclusive answer, with just shy of 95% agreeing that it is important that international players are given the opportunity to earn tour cards.
Of course perhaps the key question is as to how this should happen, either by nominations or international Q Schools? Again, this is something that we may see shift during the coming years.
And we now hit the home straight with the final eight questions of my survey, looking at potential future changes and prepare to see a lot more red than blue, unlike we have seen so far!
That is the case in terms of the miss rule, with nearly 70% disagreeing that the rule should be modified or amended. As a fan who has grown up with the rule, I would tend to agree, with perhaps the only change that I would like to see coming in terms of interpretation, with referees perhaps more willing to not call a miss in circumstances where clearly the player has made a genuine attempt to hit the ball in question.
That said, that would perhaps open up another can of worms and I can see why the ‘miss’ call has become almost automatic over the years.
A more emphatic result still comes in response to the suggestion of a shot clock in ranking events, with nearly 80% disagreeing with the suggestion.
While I always like to see both sides of any argument, it is fair to say that I am very much in the disagreement camp here too and so pleased by the confirmation that I am not the only one here, though it is not unanimous either.
More provocative still was the idea of a ball in hand rule and again this is something that was dismissed by the majority, over 85% on this occasion…
…while the suggestion of noisy darts crowds was even less popular still, with only 7.4% indicating that they would like to see them in snooker.
Despite the negative responses to change so far however, there was interestingly a more positive answer to the suggestion most notably put forward by Shaun Murphy, that players should be allowed to practice on the match table prior to the start of play.
It is certainly an interesting one, for example footballers have a warm-up, Formula One drivers are able to drive to the grid and darts, tennis and other athletes are allowed to warm up, so why not in snooker?
There was a similar level of agreement that table conditions should be improved at professional events, though it should also be pointed out that a number answered that they did not feel qualified to answer this question, which I can understand.
Certainly conditions seem to be a far more prominent issue than they were when I grew up watching snooker, but I wonder how much of that is because given the introduction of social media, we now hear a lot more of the complaints that have in fact always been there.
No doubt the debate as to how conditions might be improved will continue this season though as the governing body looks to provide the best conditions possible.
And so to finish, the last couple of questions, the responses to which are perhaps no surprise in light of some of the previous answers suggested.
Roughly 80% of you agree that the game of snooker is great as it is and that gimmicks do not need to be improved to improve the show, a positive note on which to end and a reminder to those in charge perhaps that snooker is not broken, so there is no need for a significant overhaul of the game that we currently have.
On the whole then some very interesting results, some of which were predictable, but certainly not all and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete it (particularly before I put the fancy interactive version up), as it was not a particularly quick task!
Certainly a number of results have been quite thought provoking for me on a personal level and so expect to see a few related follow-up articles in the coming weeks and months.
Any big surprises for you? Let me know in the comments section below…