Every time there’s an event in China they always have a wildcard round and of course
the professionals hate that, but it sounds like if there’s a ranking event in India there
NEEDS to be a wildcard round.
There’s going to have to be yeah. Obviously like I’ve said the level is not as high as
China. I don’t think the professionals are going to have to be too worried right now!
It was the same in China wasn’t it when they started about 10 years ago? The
wildcards were considered a walkover.
Yes exactly. That’s how the game grows up isn’t it, and snooker needs China and
maybe in 5 years’ time they’ll need India. I think it’s to the benefit of the players in
the long run that they play that wildcard round and help promote the game in that country.
Whatever you think of the wildcard round at ranking events the fact is that if snooker enters new territory it is essential to have a wildcard round if snooker is to grow in that country.
In China the wildcard round saw Ding burst onto the scene when he won the China Open beating Hendry in the final. Still probably the biggest event in Chinese snooker history, and it wouldn't have happened without the wildcard round. When you go back a few years before that, the wildcards were easy meat for the professionals. Fast forward to today and they are a potential banana skin and a lot of professionals do fall at the wildcard stage. What this proves essentially is that the wildcard round works. Without the wildcard round, the interest in snooker and the standard of snooker in China would not have grown to be what it is today.
The problem (if there is one) now lies in the fact there are so many events in China and they ALL have wildcard rounds. Maybe the best scenario today would be for only one or two of the biggest events, like the China Open, to have a wildcard round, and then really go to town on it, get 16 of them involved.
Of course the fact is that Chinese sponsors who put on these events insist on a wildcard round and because of that World Snooker are contractually obliged to have a wildcard round, otherwise the event wouldn't take place. There have been many moaners and groaners about this with some calling for them to be banned, which is frankly ridiculous.
However it is slightly unfair on those qualifiers who have won several matches to qualify for the venue only to be knocked out before they get a chance to play a top 16 player on TV. I'm afraid that's just the way it is though, and if you're good enough you should beat the wildcards and if your outlook is positive you'll see this as a chance to get some match practice under tournament conditions and therefore get a head start (or unfair advantage depending on your viewpoint) on your seeded opponent in round 1 proper. At the very worst, the qualifier who has to play the wildcard doesn't lose any ranking points or money for going out at this stage, so there isn't that much to grumble about.
India could be the next hot bed of snooker. However firstly they need to host a big ranking event, and secondly they need to have some of their own players involved in order to generate the interest and try and kick start something big, and whether you like it or not, this means wildcards.
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