It depends who you ask. This time 10 years ago, there were only 6 ranking events and a very small handful of non-ranking invitational tournaments. Now, in the 2019/20 season there are 19 ranking events and a multitude of non-ranking, variant and senior tournaments. Surely that’s a great thing, right?
Before Barry Hearn took over the reins of World Snooker, it was a very difficult sport to prosper in, even for those at the top. There were weeks between tournaments and players in the Top 64 couldn’t sustain a living as a professional. Imagine being one of the Top 50 or 100 players in the world of a particular sport and not being able to even maintain a living by participating in the activity.
Effectively, those outside the Top 16 (and particularly the Top 64) were having a difficult time. This was only worsened by the few events held in a year and the significant periods of time between each tournament. Fewer events meant fewer opportunities for players to earn money which often led to high level players having to work outside of Snooker in the considerable periods of time between events.
Fast forward to recent years where tournaments are now back-to-back and most take place immediately after one another, the inverse problem seems to have risen. Players complain that there are too many events and there isn’t enough rest time between events for players to recuperate, particularly those that venture deep into a given tournament. I mean, who can remember Mark Allen coming runner up in last year’s UK and then the very next day travelling to Scotland and spending the next week winning the Scottish Open. What an accomplishment.
The increase in the number of tournaments has allowed for flexibility in which players to decide which tournaments they want to compete in. It’s rare that you find players that will compete in every single tournament in a season. But the main concern comes from the fact that because there are so many ranking events, players (especially towards the top) feel they need to compete in all of them in order to remain high in the rankings.
So, are there too many events in the calendar? From the view of an amateur or someone low in the rankings: probably not. There is plenty of opportunity to earn money as well as tremendously improve their game by coming up against the top. From the perspective of the top: maybe. Every player’s views are different. O’Sullivan will have a different view to David Gilbert.
However, I do think there should be a better scheduling of events based on location. A large tiring factor comes from travelling between venues. If frequent back-and-forth travel can be minimised, this will help with fatigue and coping with the increasing number of tournaments. Many have already suggested, but holding all China and India tournaments at a particular time in the year to limit long distance travel, considering most players are UK and Europe based. But obviously, spending a month or two in China will be difficult for those players with family commitments.
So, what do you think is the best compromise? Should a few China and Europe based tournaments be held together but spread throughout the season? Could this save on players travelling thousands of miles for a single tournament? Should there be a week buffer period between each event?