When it comes to the popular pastime of snooker, the pinnacle of the sport is undoubtedly the world championship and for those who have ever aspired to play at such a level, only a handful are talented to appear at such a stage.
A stage which can be found at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre and although this venue is synonymous with the tournament itself, there is a sense that this northern powerhouse has now started to lose some of its lustre.
That’s because snooker is one of the many sports which operates under the Matchroom banner and with owner Eddie Hearn transforming darts to an entertainment juggernaut, there is a feeling that snooker has perhaps been left behind.
That is not to say there is a clamour for snooker to be a raucous affair all of a sudden, it is more the attendance figures which are desired instead and with a number of key players bemoaning the Crucible itself, the winds of change are currently swirling far stronger than they were before.
Because there is a belief that snooker is perhaps selling itself short by just opening it out to 1,000 lucky Crucible ticket holders and although sight lines are still of importance, there is perhaps room for the stage to be bigger than currently is.
Something that would be music to the ears of Judd Trump and with the 2019 champion recently going public with his own displeasure of the current venue, it is a noise that Matchroom owner Barry Hearn will at least be aware of.
Whether Hearn acts on one noise alone remains to be seen and for those who know how the former Leyton Orient chairman operates, you get the feeling that will not be the case. However, a second high-profile voice could perhaps persuade him to make a change or two.
Change that has also been voiced by Neil Robertson and with the Australian suggesting that the format of the championship itself is something that should be changed for the 2022 edition, it can only be considered another voice of relative dissention.
A voice that may not have necessarily been heard within the US online gambling community, as the sport does not necessarily have the same stature over the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Then again, for those who follow snooker stateside, such comments will certainly have been of interest.
Comments that stem from the length of key matches within the world championship itself and with the Semi-final and final being played across a maximum 33 and 35 frames respectively, it is nothing less than a war of attrition.
A war that usually goes the distance, as the final four men involved are no slouches and with a whitewash not on the cards, each of those 33 or 35 frames are usually called upon to find the men who advance or the world champion himself. Of course, if these two rounds of the championships are to be trimmed, then it would mean each of the rounds before them would also need to be slimmed down and in doing so, a leaner championship schedule would be created
One that would be more vibrant in terms of pacing and although purists will argue that the format is fine as it already is, snooker is in a constant battle for eyeballs and one that it is not necessarily winning.
Something that Barry Hearn is only all too aware of and although fans of other sports are also partial to a portion of annual baize, it is the other aspects of entertainment and more importantly, shorter attention spans in general, which are also fighting for snooker’s attention.
Therefore, the comments that Neil Robertson made regarding the slimming of the championship format is certainly not without merit and if you were to combine a diet in terms of frames to go alongside a new venue, it could give the sport a genuine shot in the arm.
Whether it could ever return to the loopy heyday of the 1980’s is something that is unlikely – if only because of the advent of multichannel television. However, there is still a love affair for this game and if it can evolve with the times, it is not a love that will diminish anytime soon.