The World Open, in truth, is the first time we'll see Hearn tackling what he's here to do: rejvenate the game. How is he going to do this? By introducing new formats, giving each tournament it's own identity, and drawing in fans.
The World Open isn't going to be for everyone. The best-of-5 format will fling significantly more surprise results, we know that. Will the cream rise to the top? I think so. Ultimately, better players will win tighter games, and I firmly believe the winner of this tournament will be a man who has established himself in the game prior to this.
Is a best-of-9 final too short? Is 7,000 too much for a tournament like this? The answer for me, to both questions, is yes. However, lest we forget the tournament that preceded this initiative. The Grand Prix summed up everything that had gone wrong with the game. It had the same format as all the other ranking events, had a dull venue, the BBC showed no love for it and were more than content to drop it.
The World Open, although not perfect, will be a very exciting and different event. I don't think I've ever looked forward to a non-major tournament as much as this one. And no, I am no fan of shorter formats. Random draw, roll-on/roll-off action, tv exposure to many players who have long deserved the chance (Davy Morris for example)... this will be a very exciting tournament, and the £100,000 winner's prize will tell you how much Hearn wants this one to to lead the way in snooker's road to redemption.
It's last chance saloon for the fourth BBC event to hold onto that status. I'm not hoping. I'm very optimistic.
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