Hendry gives ‘FA Cup’ format thumbs up

Four-times Grand Prix winner Stephen Hendry has been speaking about this year’s tournament which will be staged in Glasgow for the first time next month. What is also interesting however is that for the first time in a number of years there will be a random draw following each round to decide who will play each other next. There have been a number of different views on this, click below to see what Stephen has had to say:

Stephen on the format:

“I think it’s a great idea,” added the world number six.

“We used to have a random draw for the British Open in the early 1990s. It was a breath of fresh air, great fun to be involved in and it creates a bit of excitement.

“You have to beat everyone to win it so you may as well do it this way. It’s a great idea for snooker.”

Stephen on Scottish hopes:

“We’ve got Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, myself, Graeme Dott and Jamie Burnett, so there are enough Scottish players to give the home support a reason to come out and watch, which is important for a local tournament.”

Personally I agree with him that the random draw format is a good one although I can see that there are legitimate arguments against it. Some have argued that it is unfair on the seeded players who have earned the right to avoid the other the stronger players in the earlier rounds, an advantage lost under this format where anyone can draw anyone else. Also the effect on the rankings if one player were to receive a number of easier draws while another draws someone like O’Sullivan in the second round is arguably unfair. Finally there is also the problem that it makes it impossible for fans to book tickets in advance to see their favourite player which I think is a bit of an issue, though hopefully enough will be happy just to see the best players in the world in action.

Ultimately though I think that despite these concerns it is at least a much better idea than that of the round robins that have been almost universally panned during the last two years. The excitement of each draw as well as the unpredictability of it will hopefully capture people’s interest and keep people guessing right until the final. This is what the BBC will be hoping for as they try to raise the profile of the Grand Prix which is low in comparison to the other events that they cover such as the Masters and the World Championship.

Yes the implications on the seedings and the rankings are not perfect but ultimately the best players should rise to the top and win against whoever they are paired against. Even if a lower ranked player were to come through to win, it’s not as if the traditional draw format is immune to a surprise result as Marco Fu proved at this tournament last year.

Click here to view the draw for the last 32.