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Wildcards. Have they outlived their use in China?

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  • Wildcards. Have they outlived their use in China?

    In the present game, China seems to be the only region in the sport that seems to have guaranteed, almost ritual awarding of wildcards in the Chinese hosted events. In effect this means that we have fields of 40 for the Chinese tournaments rather than the 32 that nearly every other event.

    The standard of the Chinese game is much much higher than it was a decade or more ago when the wild cards were first brought in to the Asian tournaments. There is no doubt that back then that they obviously managed to help the game and the tournament in the locality, and that they have worked in creating an environment full of keen snooker enthusiasts where the game is hugely popular. However, that these have become the norm rather than the exception. It can't be fun to win four games but still not advance to the last 32 of the tournament because of the parachuting local players. As one person put it, the Chinese amateurs get more tournament finals exposure than those Chinese pros who are further down the rankings.

    The pedigree of the Chinese professional game is without question in granting eight places directly to amateurs. At the Crucible, four Chinese qualified to play, (including Ding who was seeded)

    There are some circumstances where inviting a local wild card to play in the finals of a tournament can be a good thing, look at Lu, World U21 Champion at the age of fourteen. He backed his wildcard up with a terrific win over Fu, but still no one suggested Michael White should have had a Wild Card to the 2007 Welsh Open as IBSF Grand Prix champion.

    I understand the idea behind the Wild cards and I agree that in certain areas, where the game needs development, i.e. India for an example that they can be of great benefit. E.g. Igor in the Brazil Masters, the German Masters too but in China, where there the game is well developed, and is pretty successful, I don't see how they are valuable.

  • #2
    I'm sure everyone knows my opinion on this subject by now...

    A couple of years ago I said they will have outlived their use when the qualifiers for the Chinese events are held in China, and when the qualifying channels for the Main Tour are not so heavily biased in favour of European players.

    The game may be "established" in China in many ways, but the amateur scene is still pretty isolated. A large percentage of the world's best amateur players still come from the UK and play their snooker there, as do most professional players who can potentially provide good opposition for these players. At the moment, the only way to have a professional career is to move to the UK, and the most realistic way to get a Main Tour spot also requires traveling to the UK, which puts the Asian players at a big disadvantage.

    Having the best Chinese amateurs playing in a ranking event at what is basically the last48 stage is certainly not an ideal situation, but it is a good reward for them, and it gives them a reference of how competitive they are and whether a professional career is something they could realistically pursue at that point in their lives. It also gives the snooker authorities a reference of what the Chinese amateur standard is like at any point in time, and whether more qualifying opportunities should be opened up for them. I know it annoys some viewers when they have to watch wildcard matches for a couple of sessions, but even that doesn't bother me personally. There is usually something interesting to be seen. When they actually show it of course, unfortunately we couldn't see the Jones-Lu match this week.

    It will be interesting to see how the Asian PTC events develop in the next couple of years. At best, I'm guessing they will be a better version of the Chinese amateur ranking circuit, hopefully with a healthy number of professionals coming over to play and giving the amateurs some crucial experience. What I would do in future, when it's more realistic to hold the entire qualifiers for the five Chinese events in China, is to basically have massive PTC-like pre-rounds and include as many local amateurs as possible. I think that would be the point when the wildcards would obviously become completely redundant. As for now, I vote to keep them.

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    • #3
      There should always be wild cards, some players are worth giving the opportunity. It's like anything, it's how they are used.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cazmac1 View Post
        There should always be wild cards, some players are worth giving the opportunity. It's like anything, it's how they are used.
        But the problem is how they are also exclusively reserved for the Chinese events with exception to the German Masters. If Wild cards should become the rule then why don't we give the eight strongest British amateurs spots in the UK Championship for instance. Now if I called for it in real life I'd be dismissed as being daft and rightly so.

        If anything grant the wildcards into the qualifying draw, then the players have to earn their spots at the tournament.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by PaddyLowson View Post
          If Wild cards should become the rule then why don't we give the eight strongest British amateurs spots in the UK Championship for instance.
          Well, I guess the strongest British amateurs always have a decent shot at a Main Tour spot, so there are not likely to be many players who are on the level of the players already in the event. And even if there were, it would be quite easy to have them start at the first qualifying round, so no real need to include them later on.

          I guess if the situation was reversed, with the qualifiers for the UK Championship played in China and the majority of the players coming from Asia, there would be a case for the wildcard round. But hopefully that will never happen.

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          • #6
            I don't really see the need for them, but at the same time the sponsors for the Chinese events do. And those are the opinions that will get listened to.

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            • #7
              I'm with Odrl on this one, the sheer number of full time players in China or even just Shanghai dwarfs the numbers of full time players in the rest of the world but they don't have many tournament opportunities and if it's good for the sport in the biggest growing market it's a no brainer in my opinion.

              Anybody in or near the UK on this forum can enter all the comps where qualifying is held in the UK for the cost of a new custom cue and they'd still have change for B+B and travel, that option doesn't exist in China yet, does it?

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