The promoter of World snooker Barry Hearn stated Power Snooker is "designed to be faster and more exciting" than the traditional format of snooker. Players compete in time-limited matches based on total points scored, instead of number of frames won. Power Snooker uses nine red balls, which are continually re-racked at the end of each frame until the end of the match. Total match play lasts for a fixed 30 minutes, with the winner being the player who has scored the most points overall, irrespective of frames. A 20 second shot clock is imposed on each shot, while additional variants also include power plays, balls and zones, awarding bonus points.
The first tournament using the Power Snooker format was played at The O2 in London on 30 October 2010. Eight players competed for a first prize of £35,000. The format has been sanctioned by, but organised and promoted independently from the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) which organises the traditional format of snooker. Barry Hearn stated the hope "that Power Snooker will emulate the success of Twenty20 cricket as a new, alternative form, of a well established traditional game". Four-time World Snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan won the inaugural tournament.
A second invitational tournament was played in 2011. No professional competitions of Power Snooker are currently organised.
Power Snooker was created by Rod Gunner and Ed Simons, both producers with backgrounds in the entertainment industry. Gunner had been involved with Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance, while Simons was co-producer of the film The Lawnmower Man. Boxing promoter Frank Warren, a longtime business partner of Simons, also has a non-controlling stake in Power Snooker.
According to Simons, the pair had "come to the conclusion that snooker is in need of a huge transformation". Gunner stated "It had struck me for some time that the game of snooker needed a new and exciting transfusion", and that he took his inspiration from "seeing how Twenty20 cricket had revitalised cricket".
Power Snooker officially launched on 22 July 2010 with former World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan as the main snooker player endorsement . O'Sullivan said of the new format that "crowd will love it and the public will enjoy it." and that this was "the future of snooker".
Relationship to World Snooker
Power Snooker is independent of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, organisers of the World Snooker Championship and other ranking tournaments, and regulators of the professional game. The format has however been officially sanctioned by the WPBSA's chief shareholder, Barry Hearn. Simons has stated that he sees Power Snooker as simply another format of the game, it being one of many new experimental formats and several new tournaments introduced since Hearn took control of World Snooker, rather than a threat to the established format of the traditional game or a competitor to WPBSA tournaments. Power Snooker advertises itself as part of the World Snooker Calendar of events.
According to The Guardian, Hearn sees Power Snooker as "an element of [the WPBSA's] ongoing attempt to overhaul the sport and introduce it to new audiences". Hearn stated on the launch that "We are 100% behind Power Snooker. In this new time for World Snooker, it is important for us to embrace new formats and new ideas", stating that he believed it would bring new audiences and fans to snooker.The Guardian also stated that Hearn believes these new formats will hopefully draw new fans into the traditional form of the sport, and that he compared it to the Prizefighter series he had recently introduced to boxing, and his recent revamp of the Professional Darts Corporation. Hearn has not invested financially in the format, with Simons stating that "Our feeling is that he'll [Hearn] take a look at the [first tournament], see how it goes, and then we'll have another conversation".
Power Snooker is played on traditional size snooker tables, but with a "modern design and a bespoke Power Snooker baize". Unlike traditional snooker, in which matches are played as the best of a set odd number of frames irrespective of time taken, Power Snooker matches are played for a fixed 30 minute game play period, with the balls being continually re-racked. The winner is the player who has scored more cumulative points by the end of the fixed game play period, with ties settled with a single re-spotted black. The 30 minute game clock is halted between frames. Also unlike traditional Snooker, which uses 15 red balls racked in a triangle shape, Power Snooker matches use just nine red balls in a diamond shape.
Scoring and shot clock
Basic play in Power Snooker is scored in the same way as traditional snooker. On the break-off shot however, the starting player keeps his turn at the table as long as two reds hit a cushion. Power Snooker play is kept to a quick pace through the use of a shot clock with all shots having a twenty second limit. If the player exceeds the shot clock the player is penalised 20 points, and their opponent can resume play, or can elect to let the other player play on. A century break is rewarded with 50 bonus points, and if the player can repeat this in the second consecutive frame, this doubles to 100 points, and in a third consecutive frame, to 200 points. This reward for century breaks was, however, removed in 2011. After a foul shot, the opponent gets a "ball in hand" and can resume play from anywhere in the baulk area.
Power Ball, Power Play, and Power Zone
Power Snooker uses the concepts of the Power Ball, Power Play, and Power Zone. The Power Ball is dark red and is placed in the centre of the diamond rack, identified by a special logo, and is worth two points. When the Power Ball is potted, a two-minute Power Play period starts, where all points values are doubled. If a shot is missed however, the opponent can also benefit from the remaining Power Play time. The Power Ball changed in 2011 to a red striped ball. On the Power Snooker table, the baulk area is known as the Power Zone. Any colour ball potted from a shot originating in the Power Zone counts for double, and if potted during a Power Play, quadrupled. In 2011 this was extended to the red balls as well. If a player fouls during a Power Play or in the Power Zone, their points penalty doubles, and if the foul shot originated in a Power Zone and during a Power Play, the penalty quadruples.
Tournament presentation and audience interaction
In contrast to traditional snooker, in which play occurs in quiet surroundings, with an audience expected to remain silent during shots, Power Snooker aims "to encourage audience interaction with the players", loud music and 'spectacular' theatrical lighting are also a feature. Players will also have the option to wear a live microphone during play; "to facilitate and encourage audience interaction". According to the creators, the Power Snooker format "isn't about sitting quietly watching, it's about noise and interaction; we want the audience to feel a part of it and enjoy themselves.".
In order to "add glamour" to the Power Snooker tournaments, players are encouraged to wear designer outfits, while the referees will be exclusively female and will be "dressed to impress". Tournaments will also feature "Power Girls". According to the organisers, "It was important the girls matched the Power Snooker brand criteria; Power Girls are sexy, sassy and very elegant".
Venue, entrants and prize money
Power Snooker's inaugural tournament was a one-day event hosted at The O2 in London, held on 30 October 2010. Two thousand spectators watched the eight hours of tournament play in the indigO2 sub-venue. The players in the inaugural tournament competed for a £35,000 first prize.
O'Sullivan was the first player to be confirmed as participating in the inaugural tournament, which was announced during the official launch. It was stated during the launch that the inaugural tournament would feature the four top ranked players in the world, alongside four wild card entrants. The other seven entrants were confirmed on 24 September, matching the players who were mooted by the organisers during the launch as possible entrants. The tournament draw took place on 12 October, with O'Sullivan facing Brecel in the opening game.
Play occurred over two sessions in a knock-out format. The first round of eight games took place in an afternoon session, producing four semi-finalists. The semi-finals, third place play off and final then took place in an evening session.
|30 October 2010, afternoon session|
|Ding Junhui||263||Third place|
|Shaun Murphy||132||Evening session|
The tournament was refereed by two female professional cue-sport referees, Michaela Tabb from Scotland and Patricia Murphy from Ireland. Tabb was head-referee at most Matchroom Sport pool events (including the World Pool Championship and Mosconi Cup), and the first woman to referee a world ranking match and, in 2009, a World Snooker Championship final; while Murphy began refereeing professional snooker matches at the 2005 UK Championships.
Tabb said on the eve of the tournament that "Power Snooker is an entirely new game with a totally new set of rules and will provide many exciting challenges to both the referees and the players. The game will be played at a faster pace than the traditional game, it's going to be very exciting to watch", while Murphy said "It'll be great to see how the audience react and join in with the action".
The 2010 tournament was broadcast live in the United Kingdom on ITV4 for the whole eight hours of play.Talksport provided radio coverage. In addition to ITV4, the tournament was broadcast to 25 other countries in Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, China, Latin America and Oceana.
|2010||Ronnie O'Sullivan||Ding Junhui||572–258|
|2011||Martin Gould||Ronnie O'Sullivan||286–258|
The Guardian, while reserving judgement on whether the revamped Power Snooker could emulate the success of Twenty20 cricket, pointed out that on the eve of the inaugural tournament the format had yet to find a bookmaker partner, and also drew an unfavourable comparison with the failure of PowerPlay Golf to generate much money. They also described Ronnie O'Sullivan's comments on launching the format, that the current WPBSA organised World Championship was "really boring", as being "not quite a Gerald Ratner moment", referring to the time when Ratner inadvertently devalued his jewellery business after he publicly criticised his product's value.
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