By Nick Harris
30 October 2010
Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed tonight that snooker “has finally entered the 21st century” after winning the inaugural event under the Power Snooker format, beating China’s Ding Junhui in the final after a day of thrills, spills, confusion, jeers, cheers and beers.
‘The Rocket’ picked up a winner’s cheque of £35,000 for his day’s work after winning 527-258; points not frames are what counts in the equivalent of the 20-20 format of the game, unveiled today at the Indigo2 (within the O2 at the former Millennium Dome). A crowd of 1,700 turned up to an event promoted by the music promoter and former Bee Gees manager, Rod Gunner.
Power Snooker is a radical departure from the normal game. There are only nine reds, not 15, and one is the ‘power ball’, which when potted triggers a two-minute “powerplay” when points count double, or quadruple if the white is within the “powerzone” (in baulk) when struck. There is a 20-second time limit on shots, and matches last for 30 minutes, and for however many “racks” (frames) can be fitted into that time.
If it took the players – and spectators – a bit of time to adapt, then the format had pluses in being a quicker, funkier take on the old sport. The crowd was vocal, booing safety play at times, yelling countdowns within powerplay periods, and getting raucously behind O’Sullivan as he knocked in two powerplay-assisted tons in the final.
The eight players in this first event dressed in bright, casual clothes, and entered the arena accompanied by music and ”Power Girls’ before playing on an elevated stage.
“Snooker has finally entered the 21st century,” O’Sullivan said. “I’ve won a lot of trophies but this is the one I have enjoyed the most. I loved every minute of it. The crowd got involved and there were some interesting matches.”
O’Sullivan beat Belgium’s Luca Brecel and fellow Essex man Ali Carter to reach the final. Ding beat Jimmy White and Shaun Murphy. Mark Selby and world champion Neil Robertson, first-round losers to Carter and Murphy respectively, made up the eight-man field.
As is often the case, O’Sullivan attracted some controversy, albeit only by using the word “shit” in an interview, when expressing a “holy shit, man”-esque sentiment to describe the swiftness of the scoring.
Purists will have hated the day. Everyone else is likely to welcome it as a breath of fresh air on the basis that variety is the spice of life.