The Snooker Premier League 2011 - a new way of seeing snooker

12:28:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

We’ve been warned from the very first day that Barry Hearn was named chairman of the World Snooker that things are going to change and until now those changes have brought snooker a certain spark that seemed to be lost. We have new tournaments, new ways of approaching the game, new rules, new prize money and since all these have been gladly accepted by the large public and of course the players, maybe it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the mighty Hearn decided to change the rules of the Premier League competition.

Although for many years the Premier League was the special cherry of the snooker world with events like Power Snooker or the Shoot-Out, its special touch to the game seemed not so special anymore. Something had to be done so the Captain of World Snooker, Barry Hearn took the bull by his horns and made the required adjustments.

Round-robin is history
No more round-robin

The very first thing that is different regarding the Premier League’s structure is that we won’t have the round-robin stage anymore, this meaning that players will no longer all play each other. The Premier League caravan will travel high and low the UK (as usual) for ten marvelous nights of snooker, each player having to play in four of these ten nights.
What’s really interesting is that each night will look like a mini-tournament (with two semis and one final) so we shall have a winner per day.

Different way of getting points

As you all remember, the Premier League allowed players to draw during the round robin stage, but this will no longer apply with the new system of scoring, as the "best of five" rule will take over. Also, the players will receive points for frames won and at the conclusion of the league section, the top four will advance to the play-offs.

Looking forward to a decider

A bit of Shoot-Out didn`t harm anyone :-P
Many of the snooker fans fancy deciders and they really enjoy them. I know I am, although sometimes is bloody hard and I’m biting all my nails at once :-)) With the "best of five" rule and with a tremendous line up this will certainly happen more than once, so to make things even spicier the "Shoot-Out" rules will apply for this last frame.
So, imagine that the scoreline is 2-2 and that the next frame is going to decide the winner. How will that work? Well, the suspense will last no more than 10 minutes with a shot-clock that will allow the players only 20 seconds per shot in the first five minutes and only 15 seconds per shot for the remaining five.
And since we are on the shot-clock subject please note that the time limit has been reduced from 25 seconds per shot to 20 seconds per shot for the first four frames.

Ronnie O`Sullivan is the defending champ
Ball in hand

Another Shoot-Out rule will be implemented for the Premier League: the ball in hand. If a player misses to touch the object ball three times on a row, the ball in hand will be awarded to his opponent and he can place it wherever he chooses on the table. So, no more place the ball in the “D" section. This will surely change the faith of the match.

The line-up

The number of players to take part in the Premier League tournament has been extended to ten and the way they were choose is very different from what we were used to. In the past the first seven players of the Top 16 will automatically receive a place in the Premier League and another one was earning his right to play along after winning the Championship League.
This year, however, the players have been choose considering their achievements from the past season (aka. how many ranking events they’ve won).

So here’s the complete line-up for this year’s Premier League:

1. Ronnie O'Sullivan (Defending Champion)
2. Mark Williams (German Masters Champion)
3. John Higgins (World, UK & Welsh Open Champion)
4. Ding Junhui (Masters Champion)
5. Neil Robertson (World Open Champion)
6. Ali Carter (Shanghai Masters Champion)
7. Shaun Murphy (PTC Champion)
8. Judd Trump (China Open Champion)
9. Matthew Stevens (Championship League Champion)
10. Jimmy White (World Seniors Champion)

It’s easy to see that the current number three, Mark Selby is not on the list, the “Jester from Leicester" failing to win an important ranking event in the last season. Although this seems a bit unfair, the new rules in town are drastic and Barry Hearn made no secret of the fact that the standard these days is pretty high and that the players need to improve their game. Hopefully Mark Selby will start the new season with his right foot.

And now a few words from the Captain himself, Barry Hearn:

A new face in town: Jimmy White at the Premier League
"With the Premier League moving forward with an expanded field, it seemed only right to invite the winners of every major championship last season. With Ronnie attempting to win his tenth League title, he will be facing stiff competition from the likes of Higgins, Williams, Trump, Ding, Robertson and Murphy.

We've even managed to include the World Seniors Champion in the qualifying line-up and I'm sure over the quick fire format, Jimmy will cause a few surprises. I think though, that any one of the ten players is in with a chance which is what makes it such an exciting event"

So things are definitely changing for snooker, even if the Premier League is not a ranking event. The prize money for the winner has been doubled to £60,000, although it won’t be a £1,000 cash prize per frame won anymore. In addition, there is a highest break prize of £1,000 for each night of the League and a similar high break prize at the Play-Offs.

If this will expand people’s interest for snooker is a matter of taste, but let’s take a minute and think this through: the Premier League caravan is travelling the UK in order to bring snooker closer to people’s hearts, in places that this sport is not so popular or where the major tournaments don’t even bother to visit. So the ones that will get a ticket to see the boys will be the perfect judges of this new way of seeing snooker: some of the them will find it a bit difficult to follow as the decider has such a special rule, some of them will find it entertaining for sure, but in the end it’s all about rising the standard and making snooker a sport that’s serious enough as to keep you hocked to it, but also entertaining enough as to put a smile on your face from time to time. :-)

The start date for the Premier League is August 18.