I’ll admit that it was all too easy to criticise in the aftermath of the faux pas made during the live streaming of tuesday’s International Championship draw. Now that the dust has settled, maybe it’s appropriate to cut WS some slack on this one!
Although you could argue, and plenty did, that mistakes of a routine nature were made, i’m sure we all know that it was an honest one, and let’s face it, the damage isn’t terminal. I could tell by quite a few of the Twitterati comments that most who tuned in regard it a good initiative. It’s something that a lot of players have long requested (myself included) now that we’re more or less all ensconced in this age of social media. I know the players enjoy tuning in to watch over lunch or whatever, it aids transparency, which we all like to see, and I’ve no doubt it adds to the snooker fan’s tournament experience in getting to feel being a part, however small, of the draw process. So let’s not panic, or clamour to ditch the idea. I’ve no doubt WS will iron out any problems soon enough. I have offered myself to assist in any way going forward, but really, pretty much any player would be of value, considering these draws / formats are second nature to us, as a part of all our snooker upbringing. They / we will get it right for sure. On a lighter note, the silver lining is that it was nice to see Nigel and Ivan twitching on live tv almost as much as I do.
I consider it worth a mention that credit should go to Simon Brownell for the way he engaged the players on social media following the draw. In assuming full responsibility for the errors made, it was good of him to field questions from numerous players etc, and give quick and reassuring answers. I can think of many a time down the years under previous governing bodies, when you’d have struggled for any reasonable response, so for that, the players are appreciative i’m sure.
Now, i know i’m not exactly splitting the atom here, but this would be my thinking as to how a flat 128 seeded draw should pan out, whether it’s live tv or not!
Initially, only the top 32 seeded balls should be drawn out. These will all be drawn randomly, but still separated by seeding. Before drawing any of these – only two are to be ‘placed’ in the draw. These are obviously the number 1 at the top, and 2 at the bottom.
Now put balls 3 and 4 in the bag, and whichever of these is picked out first will be in the top half, seeded to meet seed 1 in the semi’s. The other will go in the bottom half with seed 2.
Then seeds 5-8 go in a bag, to be drawn at random and placed as they come out in descending order from the top of the draw in the only four slots available for a top 8 seed.
Follow the same process with seeds 9-16 in the bag, and place again in descending order as they come out, going in the eight slots available for these seeds.
Do the same for seeds 17-32, again descending from the top as they’re randomly picked out, filling the sixteen slots available for this batch.
Now you have the top 32 randomly picked and placed in the draw, effectively having one top 32 player for each mini section of four spaces.
The remaining 96 balls are then picked from two separate bags. One containing seeds 33-64, the other with seeds 65-128. Starting from the top again, you fill each mini section of four by drawing two balls from the big bag (65-128), then one from the small bag (33-64) and place in descending order as they come out.
The initial drawing of the top 32 may be tedious to begin with, but it really should only take 5 minutes or so, and at least the full draw can then be executed without fear of any mix up. I’m sorry for the long winded explanation, but it’s not easy to write it down in just a sentence or two.
As i’ve said, let’s show some patience, as i’m sure the mistakes made will be rectified soon enough, and hopefully we can all enjoy watching, and being part of the live draws in the future. To be honest, i can’t think of many one on one sports that conduct draws so openly. This has to be a good thing, and long may it continue.
Yours in snooker. Alan McManus