Snooker legend Steve Davis has hit back at criticism of the go-slow 888.com World Championship final between Graeme Dott and Peter Ebdon and insisted: “I don’t think it has damaged the game.”
Dott did not clinch his first world crown until 12.50 this morning, the latest ever finish to a final, and the 32-frame contest spanned nearly 14 hours, an average of 25 minutes per frame.
The final also featured the longest frame in the 29 years of world snooker at the Crucible Theatre, with the 27th spanning 74 minutes.
But six-time champion Davis believes such a match is appealing to the public in a different way to the super-quick play of a Ronnie O’Sullivan-type player.
He said: “We have been blessed with so many exciting finals and not just in the world championships. In a way it is the law of averages that somewhere down the line there was going to be a flat one, which was the case after day one.
“But what is strange is the viewing figures from the start of the evening session on the Sunday to the end never changed. If it was that bad, why did they not deteriorate?
“Even though it wasn’t the best snooker in the world, there was a fascination with watching how people cope under pressure.
“That is one of the fascinations of snooker. That is why it has got such a following. You can be engrossed in a person’s endeavour in trying to cope with himself, cope with the balls, cope with the situation.
“People got locked in, even though at times it was poor snooker, to see how they coped with it.
"They lived the story during the evening.
“It is easy to sit on the outside and criticise but once you watch the story unfold you can find different types of sporting fascinating in different ways.
“People look at it and think: ‘He’s under pressure. He’s shot. He’s gone. Will he come back?’ There is a story to be told whatever.”
Davis added: “I don’t think it was damaging to the game. It wasn’t brilliant stuff but it was still gripping in its own way. It was a like a Rocky film. Both of them are out on the floor and can they come back?
“Snooker has never had to be brilliant to be exciting. In the 1970s and 1980s the standard was nowhere near as good as it is today. It has improved so much.
“But the snooker we used to watch still gripped people the same way because it is one bloke against another fighting it out to the death.”
Another former world champion in John Parrott said: “You have different types of players and sometimes you will get players who play a similar type of game and they can cancel each other out.
“Sunday’s session was not the prettiest to watch but there were extenuating circumstances. It was at the end of a long and gruelling 16/17 days and players can’t expect to be as fresh at the end of it as they were starting off.
“But they have got there on merit. They have beaten good match players along the way. Peter was exceptionally fluid in the second and third sessions against Marco Fu and against Shaun Murphy.
“Is it bad for the game? Everyone plays the game differently.”