Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Snooker: Today vs Yesteryear

I've heard a few people saying the standard of snooker these days doesn't compare to the Hendry and Davis eras. Here's a comment from an earlier post.

"It's tragic that the standard of snooker has gone down so far. Remember when Hendry, Higgins, Williams, O'Sullivan, Doherty, White, were all on top of their game 10 yrs ago, the game is unrecognisable now. Once O'Sullivan goes out, pretty much the standard drops like a stone, and so do the ratings."

Yes O'Sullivan went out early in the Masters, but I still think we saw some great snooker. Stephen Maguire had to play well to beat Ronnie in the first place! It was a great match that went down to the final pink. Look at Doherty's 3 centuries in 4 frames against Murphy. And Murphy himself played well against Ali Carter. Of course, there's also Selby, he played very well in all his matches, and 4 centuries in the final. He even matched Doherty's highest break in the final frame, a 141. It has to be said that that's a pretty awesome display for a relatively young player in his debut Masters, and winning his first ever major!

Domanic Dale played some great fluent snooker to beat Ryan Day in the Shanghai Masters final. And believe me, I never thought I would say "Domanic Dale played some great fluent snooker". That day he was entertaining and great to watch.

Again, Marco Fu played great snooker to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Royal London Watches Grand Prix. Ronnie had a couple of centuries and plenty of 60+ breaks but still lost to Fu.

Maguire finally found his form to win the Northern Ireland Trophy. In that tournament, Ronnie had 5 centuries in a row against Ali Carter in a best of 9 match! Maybe a sign that Ronnie was finally finding his feet (or his brain) again in ranking events.

Ronnie was back in the UK Championship! But it did look like Selby had him in the semis until Ronnie knocked in that magnificent 147 in the final frame. Ronnie went on to destroy Maguire in the final.

And of course Selby, in the Masters.

Professionals these days say the standard is higher than it's ever been. I've heard Davis and Parrott say this on the box! This is what some people are doubting. I remember the Hendry days better than I remember the Davis days, but I've watched many of the Davis victories on tape and he was devastating in his day.

Players were truly afraid of Davis. I've heard people in the past say that if a pro drew Davis in the first round of the tournament, ...they would already be checked out of their hotels before they even played against him! Hendry was incredible, he would just go for everything, and usually get it. He's (I think this is correct) more than 200 centuries in front of his closest rival which is O'Sullivan at the moment with 700+. That's some strike rate. And Jimmy with his flair, some of his shots have been astonishing to watch on TV, he's done things with the cueball that most people didn't think were possible.

I think because the gap was so large between the top ranked players and players ranked 5 and below of yesteryear, the top players were made to look good. Yes, they were good, very good, but didn't get the kind of competition the top ranked players of today get. Last season Robinson was the only player to win more than one ranking event, the rest were won by Ding, Ebdon, Murphy, Dott and Higgins (Ronnie won the Masters).

This year's winner so far are Dale, Fu, Maguire, and Ronnie (Selby won the Masters). The standard is so high these days it's taken Ronnie about 3 years to win a ranking event! I don't think the standard is lower than 10 years ago, I think it's just as high, if not higher. But what is most noticeable from the tournament wins over the last 2 seasons is the competition is fiercer than ever. You won't get only the top 4 players winning tournaments these days, it's players ranked all the way down into the 20s!

I think it's good for the game and long may it continue.

1 comment:

Gwynston said...

Yes, I think the perception is skewed today because the competition is so strong right down the order. This brings it's own pressure in matches, and introduces mistakes.

Remember, every one of these professionals is brilliant in practice. What makes a top player is being able to reproduce that form in tournament play. It's this factor that has changed the perception of whether the standard is higher or not than it used to be.

Undoubtedly it is higher, but conversely this sometimes brings so much pressure in more matches, that you don't often see a player on completely dominant form for long periods of time.

Um, I think I understand what I'm trying to say...!