So then, this best of fives business…

As day one of the World Open 2010 is into its final match, here are a few of my early observations of the tournament, regarding the format, as well as of the TV coverage and other aspects…

So then, there has been a lot of talk about the new format for the World Open, is it too short? Will it attract fans? Is it a long overdue development? Will the world ever be the same again?

As those of you following me on Twitter will be aware, my personal view is that the short format is not the best and that it does make it hard to really get involved with matches. I have always preferred the longer matches, the various momentum swings and the tension that comes with a multi-session match. The slow-burn drama that comes with other tournaments and all that comes with it I feel is sadly missed.

On the positive side however, there are some benefits that come with this system, for example the fact that all of the matches are played on the one table and the fact that it is a new venture that some fans who are less traditional than myself may appreciate. I am not saying that it is a bad watch, just that I can’t take it quite as seriously as the other TV tournaments, much in the same way as I feel with the Premier League.

I think that ultimately my main problem with the tournament is the fact that it carries the same amount of ranking points as the Shanghai Masters and China Open, and only marginally fewer than the UK and World Championship despite requiring far fewer frames to win it. If the event were to offer for example 5,000 points to the winner as the Welsh Open does, it would not be such a problem. I do understand though that the BBC were insistent that the event did carry such a high amount of ranking points and at a time when the WPBSA are trying to persuade them to continue to broadcast four tournaments in the future, they had little room to argue.

On a related note, I was just wondering to myself earlier, with the subject of shorter formats up for discussion, what of six-reds, the much-derided format that Barry Hearn seems to have no interest in pursuing. What is ‘better’, a greater number of six-red frames or a smaller number of the full 15-red game? On balance although I think that neither format is ideal, they have probably got it right as quality is always better than quantity. Still, I would be interested to hear what readers think.

As well as the new tournament (bizarrely using the old Grand Prix trophy, though admittedly it is a lovely piece of kit), this week also sees the new livescoring system come into effect and I am pleased to report that so far it appears to be working fine, updating regularly and showing the amount of points remaining on the table. My only quibble would be that it could be made clearer as to who is at the table, perhaps a red border around the player’s photo would suffice? That is though a very minor point and hopefully the system will continue to function at the PTC events where it is far more important than at a televised event such as this. Has anyone else had any issues?

On a similar note, the new set looks very nice indeed, complete with monitors behind the players heads (though are these obstructing the views of the people in the crowd?), lit up panels and fetching carpet. The only downside I have noticed so far is the music that is played between frames, something that works in darts when you have thousands of intoxicated fans singing and dancing but not in snooker with about 30 people sat in the crowd as there are tonight. It doesn’t quite work somehow. I’m also not sure that the arena scoreboards are quite as clear as they were in the past, although not being at the venue I am not best placed to judge that point.

Finally, the other issue that I would like to mention at this point is the television commentary provided by the BBC which has for me been rather frustrating today. Perhaps I am being picky but the constant references to this being the start of the season, as if there haven’t been seven events previously that have carried ranking points is a little irritating.

Willie Thorne referring to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh as a young Taiwanese player summed things up to an extent as while they are second to none when calling the shots and with their knowledge of the game, perhaps their awareness of the sport off-camera is not quite up there. Clive Everton would of course be an exception to this but unfortunately he is once again not present at the event. The Eurosport commentary team do not have the best reputation with all fans but as far as that aspect of the sport is concerned, they can’t be faulted and the BBC could learn something from them in terms of knowing what is going on away from the biggest events.

Anyway that’s my thoughts off my chest, what have you made of the World Open so far?