Neil Robertson believes it has been a ‘poor overall season’ in terms of standard on the snooker tour and Mark Allen reckons that might be down to the table-fitters.
It has certainly been an unusual season, with the likes of Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and John Higgins all yet to win a ranking event.
Allen has picked up three big titles himself but does neither he nor Robertson thinks he has had to be at his best to do so.
The Australian thinks it has only really been Shaun Murphy who has hit the heights, when the Magician produced some magic to reach the final of the Welsh Open followed by winning the Players Championship the following week.
‘This year has been so strange,’ said Robertson. ‘I don’t think anyone’s played to a really, really, ultra elite standard.
‘Mark Allen’s had a sensational year, but he would admit himself, but he would admit himself he hasn’t played very well.
‘He’s battled unbelievably hard and he’s got over the line, done amazingly well, especially in a couple of the finals when he was well behind. Won a decider with Judd at the Grand Prix, battled through that really well, but I really don’t think anyone’s played well, to be honest.
‘Apart from Shaun in the Players Championship, that was good stuff, that was good standard. Everything else, I wouldn’t say it’s been rubbish but I think it’s been a poor overall season from everyone, Higgins, myself, Ronnie…’
Allen has had the best season of his career, winning the UK Championship, Northern Ireland Open and World Grand Prix but he agrees, saying his best stuff came at the British Open where he lost in the final to Ryan Day.
‘I think I played some really good stuff in the British Open up until the final, but I’d probably agree with him,’ said Allen of Robertson’s comments.
‘There’s been spells, matches where people have played really good, but Shaun showed the last two weeks that’s probably the most sustained high level snooker anyone’s shown this year.’
The Northern Irishman thinks there’s a reason that the top players haven’t been hitting the heights consistently and that is the conditions they are playing in.
The Pistol believes tables have been playing very poorly and inconsistently, which he says is down to the people who put them together.
‘I can only speak for myself but the conditions this year have been nothing short of shocking. The playing conditions have been terrible,’ he said.
‘I’ll probably get fined for that but they’ve been dreadful and sometimes that reflects in how people play. Every session they can play different and I think overall this season they’ve been really poor.
‘It’s no coincidence that the old table-fitters that used to be here for years and years are no longer here, now we’re getting really bad conditions. Make of that what you will.’
World Snooker Tour have dismissed the criticism of the table-fitters, with a statement reading: ‘Our table-fitters are the best in the world. The team includes fitters with extensive experience who have worked on snooker for many years.
‘We have taken this team fully in-house in recent times and have set up our own warehouse and workshop. This is to ensure we have greater control over conditions.
‘Playing conditions have improved dramatically in recent years, particularly with innovations such as the anti-static cloth which has helped to virtually eliminate kicks.
‘There has been some outstanding snooker played this season, for example at the Masters there were 30 centuries in 15 matches, and there have already been nine maximum breaks this season
‘There has been no change this season in terms of the equipment from our suppliers. Our outstanding tables, cloth and snooker balls help provide the best possible conditions.’
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