Is Snooker Truly Becoming an International Sport?

Published Date: 27 Apr, 2022 Updated date: 27 Apr, 2022 By Phil

Snooker has traditionally been a game played by men from all corners of the United Kingdom, especially at the highest level of the sport.

Snooker has traditionally been a game played by men from all corners of the United Kingdom, especially at the highest level of the sport. Since the World Snooker Championship began in 1927 and since the competition became a knockout tournament in 1969, there have only been three winners of the top crown that have emerged from countries outside of the UK.

Canada’s Cliff Thorburn was the first overseas champion in 1980 and has been followed by Ireland’s Ken Doherty and Australia’s Neil Robertson, who was the last man to win the World Snooker Championship before the 2022 competition when he triumphed in 2010.

The best players in the game have not changed a great deal over the last 10 years. Ronnie O’Sullivan is still at the top of the world ranking as he has been throughout his career, while Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, and Neil Robertson have been consistent.

O’Sullivan was considered the favorite in the Betfair snooker betting odds before the start of the competition to win the World Snooker Championship and maintains his position with odds of 7/4. There were suggestions in the snooker betting predictions that Robertson could rise to the occasion to win his second world title, but he was beaten in the second round of the competition by Jack Lisowski.

Although a large contingent of players from the United Kingdom was present in the final stages of the tournament, it was refreshing to see a number of nations represented in the opening round. Hossein Vafaei’s qualification for the tournament after defeating China’s Lei Peifan resulted in Iran becoming the 20th nation to be represented in the 95 years of the World Snooker Championship.

Vafaei was eliminated in the first round by Trump, but his presence alone in the tournament speaks volumes about how the sport is becoming a greater spectacle internationally rather than just for a niche audience.

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Vafaei was ranked 18th in the world ahead of the tournament, and he was not alone in the top 20 from countries outside of the UK. Robertson led the way in third, but there were also spots for Zhao Xintong in seventh, Belgium’s Luca Brecel in 11th, and China’s Yan Bingtao in 16th. There could one day be a time when a player overseas can sit on top of the world rankings for a sustained period and win tournaments with regularity. That could come from China given the number of high-quality players that are emerging on a regular basis.

Ding Junhui was the trend-setter for Chinese players, winning The Masters in 2011 and becoming the first Asian player to reach the final of the World Snooker Championship in 2016, only to lose out to Selby at the Crucible Theatre. For the good of the game, it would be a great sign to see an Asian player win the World Snooker Championship, which could pose a very interesting question about the future of snooker.

There have already been comments made by leading players regarding the venue of the World Snooker Championship. For the game to become truly international, it should be an option considered by the sport’s governing body to make the World Snooker Championship a global event.

Category: Sports