THE Dafabet World Championship starts on Saturday – so what can we expect in the way of media coverage over the 17 days?
First and foremost the blue-riband tournament will be covered on television by broadcasters the BBC and Eurosport, both staunch supporters of snooker.
The BBC line-up will feature presenters Hazel Irvine, back from Augusta and the Masters, and Jason Mohammed who is proving an excellent addition to the team. Backing them up will be the usual array of former world champions on the sofa and in the commentary box, including Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Parrott, Dennis Taylor, Ken Doherty and the 1979 UK winner John Virgo. MC Rob Walker is often also involved in features for the BBC during the event.
Eurosport’s commitment of course extends beyond the UK-based ‘Majors’, bringing fans a year-round diet of top-class snooker from all over the world, notably China. British Eurosport’s usual commentary line-up of Dave Hendon, Joe Johnson, Phil Studd and Mike Hallett will be joined by Neal Foulds and Phil Yates for the Sheffield event this year.
It should be said that as well as these faces in front of the cameras there is an army of people making it happen behind the scenes. From the floor managers to the lighting crew, the producers and editors to the cameramen and women, they are all part of the effort.
BBC Radio Five Live have coped well with the loss of Studd with Jamie Broughton covering many of the home tournaments for the national station, regional stations and the World Service with the increasing global interest in the game. But Five Live will welcome back presenter George Riley this year to the Crucible to head up the operation, also a huge supporter of snooker as well as his beloved rugby league in his television and radio work.
talkSPORT remain a station that carry a high degree of snooker content, in no small part through the efforts of presenter Andy Goldstein whose 10pm-1am show lends itself to getting hold of players after a late finish. Snooker players are night owls at heart. Goldstein knows many of the players through presenting the Premier League and Shootout on Sky, and is also involved in the current ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan Show’ on Eurosport. talkSPORT will have no presence though at the Crucible itself, though expect updates and interviews.
This correspondent will be involved in the thousands of written words put out by the written press for national and regional newspapers, some of which use their own staff or freelance reporters and some of which rely solely on agency copy.
The newspapers that devote the most space to snooker, in approximate order of commitment to the sport, are: Daily Star, The Times, Daily Mirror, The Sun, Daily Express, Independent, Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. They may or may not be your preference for other news, but that’s the reality.
Among the Sundays those newspapers most regularly devoting space to snooker are the People, Daily Star Sunday, Sunday Express, Sun on Sunday, Sunday Mirror and Mail on Sunday with the broadsheets very hit-and-miss in their coverage, although they occasionally come out to play for the Crucible action. I’m afraid when it comes to snooker, snobbery is still strong in certain quarters
Sadly the Guardian, for so long a must-read when Clive Everton was the correspondent, has all but abandoned serious coverage of snooker, relying solely on the dwindling resources devoted to it by the Press Association, and throwing in the annual ‘brilliance of Ronnie O’Sullivan’ feature. I’m afraid that doesn’t amount to covering a sport.
Most newspapers have deadlines for first edition around 10pm, so depending on where you live in the country for printing and distribution you may not get to read about matches that finish later than that the following morning. There is than a later edition around midnight for the London area. Online versions tend to be the first edition stories but at some papers are updated later.
Other names to look for include Neil Goulding, Andy Dillon, Darren Lewis, Ivan Speck, John Skilbeck and Adrian Humphries in the Racing Post. Neil Squires is a talented sports writer and usually does a couple of nice pieces for the Daily Express, and Jonathan Liew does the same job for the Daily Telegraph.
BBC Sport web site writers Frank Keogh, Ben Dirs, Owen Phillips and Shamoon Hafez are all also likely to get involved during the 17 days.
There are many excellent blogs and social media presences (including www.snookerbacker.com, www.prosnookerblog.com, www.cuetracker.net and www.snooker.org covering snooker very well for die-hard fans and those within the game, not to mention a few punters. However it does still fall upon more traditional media to broaden the net to large audiences (editors permitting), generate momentum as the tournament progresses and get followers of other sports and even non-sports lovers interested in and talking about what is going on at the Crucible.
And of course in addition to the UK and European media described above, there will be a huge contingent of Chinese reporters and television crews in the Crucible press room, scrutinising the performances of Ding Junhui, Marco Fu and Xiao Guodong. Many of these are now regular visitors to the Crucible and it is not uncommon for the Chinese players to go out for a meal with 10 or more journalists in the evening. The British players should think themselves lucky!
Photographs by Monique Limbos