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Ssb - up all night to get wuxi

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  • Ssb - up all night to get wuxi

    The final stages of the Wuxi Classic features a varied field of 64 players: big names, old stagers, new faces and, for the first time, a woman.

    Reanne Evans became the first female player to qualify for a ranking event when she beat Thepchaiya Un Nooh in Gloucester.

    Her reward is to play a wildcard, Zhu Yinghui, rather than a much anticipated first round match against Neil Robertson.

    Even if she beats Zhu, World Snooker have scheduled her match with Robertson for the one time UK and European viewers won’t be able to watch – 10am in China, so the middle of the night back home, with Eurosport covering the afternoon and evening sessions.

    The afternoon match that day on that table is Mark Allen v Peter Lines, which few, perhaps even Allen and Lines, would argue was a bigger deal for the sport, especially given the amount of pre-publicity Evans has got the event, with appearances on television, radio and in newspapers.

    For all the warm words the governing body has spoken about promoting women’s snooker, this was a golden chance to gain some actual exposure and they’ve completely blown it.

    The wildcard situation is a nonsense as well in this bright, shiny new era of ‘fairness.’

    Originally, wildcards were used in China to build local interest and they did do. One of them – Ding Junhui – won the 2005 China Open. With snooker now firmly established in China, the wildcards are being used to give free practice at the top level to Chinese players. This is not what ranking events are for.

    There are nine Chinese qualifiers plus Hong Kong’s Marco Fu: more than enough local representation without four more having to be parachuted in.

    The big names who failed to qualify were Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy. Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew from qualifying due to a family bereavement. Stephen Maguire and Mark Davis didn’t enter.

    The rest of the top 16 are there, with Ricky Walden defending the title. His first round opponent is Jimmy White, one of snooker’s most iconic names. His old rival Steve Davis is also in the draw and faces Andrew Higginson.

    What’s good about this new system is that plenty of players perennially stuck in the qualifying quagmire are now at the venue, experiencing life in the big time, and are guaranteed prize money.

    So step forward the likes of Joel Walker, Scott Donaldson, Adam Duffy, Alex Davies, Liam Highfield and the other young prospects making the trip to Wuxi City.

    With 64 players, plus the wildcards, there will be a lot of matches to get through, obviously many taking away from the TV screens.

    The first prize is now £80,000 - an increase of £5,000 on last season and massively up on what these ranking events far away from British shores used to be worth.

    Eurosport are live from 7.30am UK time on Monday.