Brazil Masters 2011: First Round Wrap

Stuart Bingham’s view in Brazil yesterday

Two days down in Brazil and the identity of the last eight is now known. Click below for a summary of the first two days and my two cents worth on the much widely debated topic of the ticket prices and the affect that these have had on crowd levels…

Round One Results

Mark Selby 4-3 Stuart Bingham
Peter Ebdon 4-1 Stephen Lee
Jamie Cope 2-4 Igor Figueiredo
Graeme Dott 4-1 Mark Davis
Shaun Murphy 4-0 Sobradinho de Dues
Martin Gould 1-4 Ricky Walden
Stephen Hendry 4-1 Noel Rodrigues
Ali Carter 4-2 Steve Davis

Quarter-Final Fixtures

Mark Selby v Peter Ebdon
Igor Figueiredo v Graeme Dott
Shaun Murphy v Ricky Walden
Stephen Hendry v Ali Carter

Getting the tournament underway on Thursday evening were the last two ranking event winners in what proved to be the closest match of the round between Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham. Both had their chances but from 2-0 down it was Shanghai Master Mark Selby who came through with a top break of 82. Next up for him will be Peter Ebdon who without playing at his best, dominated a scrappy affair with old foe Stephen Lee to progress.

There were mixed fortunes for the three Brazilian players involved as wildcards Noel Rodrigues and Sobradinho de Dues were able to take just one frame between them against Stephen Hendry and Shaun Murphy respectively. While Hendry’s performance was relatively unspectacular, there was drama in frame five as from an early stage it was apparent that Stephen was in with a real chance of what would have been his 11th career maximum break. Unfortunately however he was not able to come nicely on the 15th red which meant that he could not leave himself nicely on the following black which proved to be one shot too far.

The only other century break of the round came from Brazil’s third home player Igor Figueiredo as the main tour player upset former ranking event finalist Jamie Cope to move into the quarter-finals. It is a shame for Igor that he has not been able to finance his place on the professional circuit this season but hopefully a good run here will help him to secure a potential sponsor so that he may be able to enter a few events later in the season.

Elsewhere Graeme Dott defeated Mark Davis 4-1 to round off the opening day while Ricky Walden and Ali Carter were also winners at the expense of Martin Gould and Steve Davis respectively.

Aside from the results, the main talking point of the week thus far has been of the crowds in Brazil, or as was the case during the opening match between Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham, the lack of one. The internet reaction appears to have been fairly divided, some citing this as proof that the tournament was a bad idea and others urging caution.

One thing that most seem to agree on though is that the ticket prices have been prohibitive, with talk of the cheapest first-round tickets being priced at £44 with a season ticket for the weekend weighing in at £475. The venue was changed from Sao Paulo to the isolated resort of Santa Catarina which may not have helped either and it has been suggested by some that perhaps the purpose of the tournament is perhaps more to promote the resort than to promote snooker.

That said however, from what I have seen the crowds have certainly picked up as the tournament has progressed and with big names like Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis in action yesterday, Stuart Bingham who was in the arena watching stated that there were probably 150-200 people in there which for a new market is more than respectable.

It is fair to say that it does not send out a positive message to those at home to see snooker being played before empty arenas (Bahrain anyone?), but when taking the game to new areas snooker has to start somewhere. While I would prefer to see lower ticket prices and larger crowds, there are positives to be taken and hopefully the event will capture the imagination of those watching both in the crowd and at home on their televisions in Brazil.