Snooker Shoot-Out: The sassy side of snooker
Michael White won the competition in 2015 (pic: World Snooker)

Think snooker and you assume a skilful, tactical, methodical and slow-paced sport. Whilst the word shoot-out resonates with football's penalties or a John Wayne film, both gripping and nerve-racking. Snooker has merged the two to form a competition intended to reach out to the younger generation.

Fast, fierce and feisty

The format of the competition is simple. The top 64 players in the world rankings are invited to take part in the round robin tournament in Reading. Each game lasts just ten minutes with players taking it in turns to score as many points as possible. To add to the speed of the game, a shot clock of 15 seconds is used for the first five minutes of the match, before dropping to 10 seconds for the final five minutes.

The competition was first introduced in 1990, but a lack of support forced it to be shelved after just one tournament, before being reintroduced and reenergised in 2011. Since then a number of big names have enjoyed the £130,000 prize pot, including Barry Hawkins back in 2012.

Snooker traditionally asks the crowd to watch quietly, yet the shoot-out encourages noise and chants from the crowd to build an atmosphere. Some may argue that the idea makes a mockery of the sport's values, whilst others will suggest it adds to the competition's fun, fast and feisty approach.

Following in the footsteps of other sports

Although the competition clearly represents snooker, it is the sport's closest version to pool, whereby tempo and quick thinking replaces defensive strategies. Whilst watching the shoot-out you could be forgiven for thinking you are watching the Mosconi Cup with different colour balls.

The Mosconi Cup has proved a big hit in the Pool World. (Source: Homeleisuresport)
The Mosconi Cup has proved a big hit in the Pool World. (Source: Homeleisuresport)

Even before the first break is made, the mind will be comparing the competition to another sport. Darts has been 'glammed up' by the introduction of the walk-on girls after the master of ceremonies' introduction. Snooker shoot-out has taken this idea to add to the buzz and the energy before the frame begins.

Some have likened the tournament to cricket's Twenty20 competition. A sport similar to snooker in the way it is traditionally viewed as a  long, tactical and skilled sport, that realised it required a reformation to reach out to a wider audience. Yet the snooker shoot-out has a long way to go if it is going to have the same impact as Twenty20.

A relaxed, fun and different competition to the norm in snooker, the shoot-out reshapes the public's general thoughts on the sport. Rather than having to set aside an hour or two to play a couple of frames down your local snooker club, the shoot-out allows you to squeeze three games into the space of half an hour. 

An innovative approach by the world of snooker, it remains to be seen just how successful the idea has been. With the 2016 edition taking place this weekend, it is well worth tuning in to see what all the fuss is about.

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