Neil Robertson would like see a change to the “dated and stale” format of the World Snooker Championship, including shorter matches and potentially a new venue.
The World Championship at the Crucible Theatre features the longest matches on tour, with the semi-finals played over best of 33 frames and the final a best-of-35 match.
Robertson has won the tournament once in 2010 but has only been back to the semi-finals once since then. He believes most fans are not interested in watching the longest matches from start to finish.
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“I’ve got a little bit of an issue with the World Championship, with the length of the format,” Robertson told the Talking Balls podcast. “I feel that matches can drag on a bit and I’ve been sucker-punched into getting bogged down too much and getting involved in longer, scrappier frames. Which is my fault and it happened again this year, even though I said it wasn’t going to happen.
“Personally I don’t really like the format, I think it’s pretty dated and it can be very stale.
“I’ve never watched a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. You’ll never get the general public watching a best of 35 from start to finish, ever. They’ll watch the final of the Masters or UK [Championship], they’ll dip in and out of the World Championship but they’ll never be engaged in the whole match.
From an entertainment point of view, the World Championship is a struggle for me to watch and I’m a top snooker player in the game.
The first-round matches at the World Championship are best of 19 frames, with the next two rounds best of 25, before the semi-finals and final.
“I think best of 19 is great, best of 25 is really intriguing but you should just cut it off at that,” added Robertson. “You don’t need to play best of 33 or 35.
“For me personally as a sports fan I’d never tune in to watch it, I just wouldn’t, it’s like the equivalent of an eight-day Test match in cricket, it’s far too long. I feel as though we’re going to lose a lot of potential fans of the sport unless we change it up.
“I feel as though the UK Championship has benefitted a lot from going from best of 17 to best of 11. The players have adjusted, we’re not concerned about playing these long formats anymore, we just want to play the matches and for people to see good entertainment quickly.”
Robertson has made the quarter-finals at the Crucible the last three years but has sometimes struggled when longer matches have turned scrappy. He believes he would have had more success at the tournament if the format was different.
“I don’t enjoy playing a best of 33 or 35. It’s me personally, and I’ve probably lost a bit of focus during some matches and that’s on me. I need to change that, while this event is as long as it is then I need to adjust to that.
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“I’d love it to be a shorter format and I’d probably have won it a few more times since I did, but that’s up to me to change that.”
The World Championship has been staged at the Crucible in Sheffield every year since 1977 and is regarded as the highlight of the season for many snooker fans.
But Robertson is not a fan of the two-table set-up used at the venue until the semi-finals.
That’s where the Crucible is pretty terrible, really. It’s an amazing place to play when you’re in the semi-finals, one of the best venues you could ever play at. But when it’s that small, compact environment, it’s not a great venue to play at from a player’s point of view. Even though you appreciate all the history that’s gone on there.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing a change in venue and then bringing it back for the semi-finals and final at the Crucible. I can’t see that happening but that’s probably something I’d look to do.”
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