"Its a great time to be a snooker player,Its not a great time to be an idiot" The words of World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn today addressing the Mark Allen and Mark Williams comments of recent days.He went on to elaborate by saying both had been referred to the sports disciplinary committee and that there would be no tolerance of players not adhering to their contracts.
That out of the way he went on to outline some major changes on the way in the coming season.\these include changes to the Welsh Open and German Masters that will see players ranked 33-96 play one match before reaching the last 64 where they will play a top 32 player,Increased prize money for those tournaments as well as the PTC Grand finals,.a 5 year extension to the eurosport contract,Two yr wildcards for Tony Drago and Luca Brecel and a move over the next two seasons to change the ranking system to one based on prizemoney,
All very exciting stuff then and proof if proof were needed that Hearn has no intention of merely sitting back and admiring the work of the last two seasons.Great time to be a snooker player indeed!
On the table Stephen Maguire secured a 10-5 victory over Luca Brecel to book his place in Round 2. That doesn't tell the whole story however as the young Belgian briefly threatened to mount a comeback winning the opening frame of the session to reduce the deficit to 6-4.Indeed if he had converted his chances in the next the match could have taken on a different complexion,but as it was Maguire won it and the result was never in doubt from then on.This was a highly promising debut from Brecel though and lets hope he can kick on from this next season.
On the other side of the curtain we had the opening session of a match that many expected to be a close affair as Matthew Stevens faced Marco Fu.Well it just goes to show how wrong we can be as Stevens raced into a n 8-1 first session lead against a badly out of sorts Fu.The two times former world finalist completed his 10-3 victory in the evening session.
The afternoon session saw the beginning of the much anticipated showdown between Ronnie O Sullivan and recent China Open winner Peter Ebdon,Their first crucible meeting since the infamous 2005 match.As often happens on these occasions though the match didn't live up to the hype as Ebdon struggled to recapture his recent good form and O Sullivan finished the session leading 7-2 without having to move out of second gear.
The real drama of the afternoon was taking place on the other table as 2005 Champ Shaun Murphy battled Crucible debutant Jamie Jones.Murphy looked to be pulling away as he extended his 5-4 overnight lead to 7-5.Jones was not finished yet though and battled back to 7-7 before a superb 136 put him 8-7 ahead.He then secured a long and scrappy 16th frame to move within one of victory.He looked for all the world like clinching the match in the next but missed an easy red to allow Murphy close within one again.The young man was not to be denied though as he held his nerve to record a famous 10-8 win.There have been many in the game talking bout Jones for a long time and he may now be realising that potential.
In tonights action player of 2012 so far Stephen Lee started his crucible campaign against Andrew Higginson.PTC Grand final winner Lee will have known however that Higginson has had a pretty good season himself and this match has all the potential to go the distance as they come back tomorrow with Higginson leading by the odd frame 5-4.
Tuesday see's Judd Trump,Ding Junhui and Mark Selby start their Crucible campaigns,This championship just gets better and better!