Congrats to Kyren Wilson on a fantastic win in this week’s Shanghai Masters. He’s a player who’s style on and off the table has always impressed me. On it, he has all the attributes to be a top player – great potter, fluent, attacking, and an exceptional temperament to go with it. Off the table, I’ve been super impressed with the way he carries himself at tournaments. He’s a really nice lad, always well mannered, and does things his own way (but the right way). What I mean by that is he gives the impression that first and foremost he’s there to do a job. What’s so different in that you might ask? Well, I’ll give you an example…..I remember a few years ago at an event in Gloucester. I didn’t know Kyren too well at the time, it was late evening and I was in the practice room having a knock, where a group of young players (mostly amateurs) were standing around laughing and joking. Kyren came in for his 30 min practice slot, pleasantries weren’t exchanged (nor need they be), his cue was out, and he spent the whole time on the table. You could tell it was important that he got his table time in before his match the following morning. The point being, that lots of players would like to be successful, whereas others really want to be, and there’s a huge difference. I remember thinking at the time….oh oh, here’s a lad who’s got a big chance of going places in the game. It’s always good to see hard work and dedication gain just desserts, which brings me to the other main point of this post…..
I said at the top that Kyren will be rewarded, and I mean this in a ranking sense. The fact that we now have a pounds for points ranking structure is a good thing IMO, and World Snooker can be pleased with that decision. His Shanghai win means that Kyren jumps from 54 to 22 in the updated world rankings. This wouldn’t have been near possible under the old points structure, where I’d guess a jump of maybe 15 or 20 spots (at a push) for winning a major would’ve been more the order of the day.
The problem then, was that any time a mid to lower ranked player went deep in a major ranking event, they could follow it up with a couple of early exits in the next two events, thus largely nullifying the good work done in the first place. Not so these days…Kyren will now rightly retain a certain amount of security in the ranking list over the next couple of seasons. Even if a player so wished, they could then miss out on one or two smaller events with no immediate threat to their position, a prerogative that’s been well earned. Obviously the day will come (in 2 years time) when the big pounds for points accrued will fall off, but that comes to all players eventually after a run of success. It’s unavoidable.
Gone are the days when lots of people, both inside and outside the game held the opinion that higher ranked players were “protected” in some way, and I have always concurred that they were to a degree. Mainly in that back then, if a player won most of their first round matches, they’d comfortably hold on to a ranking position, and in some cases even go up a few places without ever getting near the business end. That’s not to say that any players were at fault of course. It was simply a product of the then system.
As ever, there have been good, and not so good ideas implemented in recent seasons (always will be). Kyren’s example this week in the current pounds for points system is largely a positive for me. It would be nice to see others grab a piece of that action.
In my next post, I’ll be covering the question of main tour numbers, the finance involved, and a few other relevant points.
Thanks for reading.
Yours in snooker. Alan McManus