What came flooding back for me is that all these tournaments had longer formats. The Classic had best-of-17 semi-finals and a best-of-25 final. The British Open had best-of-17 semi-finals and a best-of-23 final. The Grand Prix had best-of-17 semi-finals and a best-of-19 final. The Irish Masters format changed quite a few times, but at one point it had best-of-17 semi-finals and a best-of-19 final. The UK Championship, aside from the World Championship, was by far the longest, with best-of-17s leading up to the final and, for many years, a best-of-31 final. This was changed in 1993 to the best-of-19 finals we still have today.
The game seemed to be moving irreversibly towards shorter and shorter formats. The UK Championship infamously changed its best-of-17s to best-of-11s, a change which has held through to today. A few years back, it seemed as though the best-of-9s that had been standard for most tournaments were being phased out in favour of best-of-7s. Some tournaments still have one-session finals today, a hangover from that era of 'cut everything'.
But the last few years, there has been what I see as a very positive move in the opposite direction – almost if not entirely when it comes to ITV events and Chinese events.
The Shanghai Masters and China Open both have best-of-19 semi-finals and best-of-21 finals. The Players Championship, which started out as one of those events with best-of-7s throughout, is now a much longer tournament, with best-of-11s up until the semi-finals and a best-of-19 final. The Tour Championship is the most noteworthy tournament introduced in years, with best-of-17 quarter-finals, best-of-19 semi-finals, and a best-of-25 final.
While I for one am delighted at this, why exactly did it happen? Was any reason given at all? Have TV companies noticed that they've been getting it wrong and that longer formats are more attractive? Or does this have nothing to do with it?