Wilson wins in Sheffield

The 2024 World Snooker Championship was won on Monday evening by England’s Kyren Wilson, who beat Welshman Jak Jones 18-14 in the final. The 2023 world champion Luca Brecel didn’t even make it to the final eight after falling victim to the Crucible Curse. Neither did the sport’s biggest star Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was beaten in the quarterfinals by Stuart Bingham.

Wilson was the value bet from the get go, having started the tournament as a +2000 outsider, while O’Sullivan’s early exit will have provided a welcome boost for the bookies. The Londoner was hot favorite to win the title at just +350.      

But, as ever with snooker, there was more at play than just a winner’s check and a trophy. The politics of snooker ensure that it’s never just about what is happening on the green baize.

This time the unrest stemmed from the Championship’s venue rather than the snooker itself. The Crucible Theater has been the tournament’s home since 1977 and is, of course, synonymous with the sport. Despite it being a theater built in the traditional sense – for plays, musicals etc. – its unique three-sided design lends itself perfectly to snooker. No audience member is more than 22 yards from the action and so its intimate nature has, over the years, created a unique atmosphere.

the building itself looks tired and dated

But the Crucible is showing its age. While the quality of the snooker remains unaffected by its surroundings, the building itself looks tired and dated. This is especially stark when compared to some of the modern venues that form part of the world tour, such as the Boulevard Arena in Riyadh, where the ‘golden ball’ tournament is played.

Crucible under fire

Crucially, the Sheffield venue is also small by comparison. It houses a maximum of 980 spectators, considerably fewer than most of the sport’s other top-level venues. As a result of its condition and size it has come under fire from some of snooker’s big names, including O’Sullivan.

The seven-time world champion told Eurosport: “I don’t actually like the Crucible to be honest. I’d much rather it go anywhere than the Crucible.

“I know it’s a great venue but I don’t like playing there for 17 days. For me if it goes anywhere but the Crucible it would be brilliant.”

Others have been even more emphatic in their criticism of The Crucible. Following his first-round defeat by Judd Trump, Hossein Vafaei was more blunt than O’Sullivan.

You walk round the Crucible and it smells really bad”

“Forget the history, you want to go somewhere really nice as a player. You walk round the Crucible and it smells really bad. You go to other countries, and everything is shiny. But here it’s completely different.”

The Iranian also heavily criticized the venue’s practice facilities, which he likened to playing in a garage.

The Sheffield venue, which is owned by the local council, is contracted to host the event until 2027 but pressure is being exerted on both Sheffield City Council and the World Snooker Association to either modernize it or risk losing it.

In an interview with the BBC, the tournament’s promoter Barry Hearn spoke of his desire to keep the event in Sheffield but also of the need for its capacity to be increased. With the eye-watering sums on offer in Asia, the temptation is to take the event further afield, but he recognized the history of the event and its ties to South Yorkshire.

New venue in Sheffield?

An ideal scenario for all parties, or at least most of them, would be for a new purpose-built venue, either adjacent to the existing one or even in place of it. Back in 2022, plans were mooted of a 3000-seater venue that would be attached to the existing Crucible via a bridge, but so far this has got no further than the drawing board.

a huge loss to both the sport and for Sheffield itself

In reality, as things stand, either those plans come to fruition or Sheffield will lose the right to host an event that’s formed a huge part of its heritage for the last five decades. For many, that would be a huge loss to both the sport and for Sheffield itself.

But money talks, and with the Middle East eying a massive opportunity, the fight for the right to host snooker’s blue riband event is about to begin. The opening shots have been fired but there’s not a cue ball in sight.

The post No More Crucible? World Snooker Championships Set for World Tour appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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