What is the World Snooker Shoot-Out?
In a similar vein to Power Snooker, we have a new non-ranking event added to the snooker calendar this year in hope of bringing new fans to the sport.
Power Snooker was regarded as a big success and World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn, while realising this event may not be to the liking of all snooker purists, has come up with a new format to draw a whole new crowd.
With a massive £32,000 prize to the winner, all of the top 64 are set to be involved from Friday 28th-Sunday 30th January.
So what exactly are the rules of this new game, I hear you cry. Well they are as follows;
- It is a one-frame shootout format.
- Each frame lasts just ten minutes, the highest score wins.
- There will be a 20 second shot-clock for the first 5 minutes of a frame and a 15 second shot-clock for the last five minutes.
- A ball must hit a cushion OR be potted with EVERY shot.
- Players will "lag*" to decide who breaks
- In the event of scores being tied, there will be a blue ball shoot-out.
*Lagging means shooting the ball from the baulk area, against the end cushion and back to the head of the table. The player with the ball closest to the innermost edge of the head cushions wins.
With rules like these, the matches are meant to be quick, free-flowing and more fun. There will be no arduous walks around the table, no snookers and no defensive shots.
With the crowd at The Blackpool Tower surely adding to the atmosphere it should be a welcome change from the usual events on the calendar.
With player's prize money doubling after each round, and the loser having to exit via the "walk of shame" - nobody will want to fall at the first hurdle.
The draw has already occurred for the first round of matches and there are some potential corkers to look forward to already.
'The Rocket' Ronnie O'Sullivan is 4/6 to beat The Masters runner-up Marco Fu who is 11/10 to add to Ronnie's recent poor form.
Fan's favourite 'Whirlwind' Jimmy White (10/11) will take on Ali Carter (4/5) in what could be a thrilling clash.
Two former World Champions will also meet in the first round as John Higgins (4/5) will take on Mark Williams (10/11).
The beauty of this tournament from a betting point of view, especially on a match-to-match basis, anyone really can beat anyone. With the matches so short and shot-clocks in force, a decent break can win you a match - and on the other hand, nobody is ever really out of a match until very late on.
In the outright market, it is no shock to see Ronnie O'Sullivan at the top at 10/1, despite his recent poor run of form he is a massive fan of Barry Hearn's initiatives. He showed when he won the inaugural Power Snooker event that he can get himself motivated for these new events and it is always hard to back against him.
As we have already established though, shocks are set to be on the cards in this tournament and we could quite easily see a massive outsider manage some decent breaks and find himself far along. You can back players each-way at 1/4 odds place 1,2,3,4.
Players like Jimmy White, who built a career on playing quickly, could be worth an each-way punt - especially at 66/1. When have you seen a tournament with players like Mark Williams at 25/1 and Marco Fu at 33/1! There has to be some value in there somewhere.
It should be a really good event, it is non-ranking and it isn't going to replace normal snooker so let's embrace it and it should be one to remember.