Dott: playing in Milton Keynes unfair on Scottish players

·3 min read
Dott was crowned king of the Crucible in 2006 and says he's struggling to adapt to the lack of atmosphere at the Marshall Arena
Dott was crowned king of the Crucible in 2006 and says he's struggling to adapt to the lack of atmosphere at the Marshall Arena

Graeme Dott believes behind closed doors snooker being held in Milton Keynes is disadvantaging Scottish players, writes Will Jennings.

The 2006 world champion slipped to a 4-2 defeat against Igor Figueiredo in the first round of the Northern Ireland Open at the Marshall Arena, six hours south of his hometown of Glasgow.

All major events are being held in Milton Keynes as the snooker circuit continues to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.

World No.22 Dott says the system works unfairly for players north of the border and six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who lives in Essex, would resent the prospect of the equivalent journey in the opposite direction.

“I think the further north you go it’s harder to deal with as it’s a long drive. It’s tough,” said Dott, 43.

“It’s hard going to the same place, and it’s quite a long drive. It takes six hours in the car just to get there, then you’re playing the next day, so it’s quite monotonous.

“I can’t imagine the Londoners, or Ronnie, would enjoy travelling to Glasgow two or three times a week driving a car. We can’t even get the train because of the Covid.

“It’s tough and there’s not anything you can really complain about, it just so happens that that’s where the venue is.

“It’s definitely tough, because you’re driving there and you’re driving back and you’ve got to go back down three days later. It takes a lot out of you.

“I would think so [hindering my performance]. I would think it’s probably hindering most performances. You’re seeing some strange results quite a lot because you’re playing in a backroom with nobody there. It’s hard to motivate yourself.”

Dott hit breaks of 58 and 54 against Brazilian opponent Figueiredo but was dumped out of the second Home Nations event of the season by the world No.84.

Next up for the two-time ranking event winner is a tilt at the UK Championship, usually held at the York Barbican but this year being hosted in Milton Keynes owing to coronavirus restrictions.

Dott will face teenager Zhao Jianbo in his first round match on Monday and will be looking to replicate his run to the semi-final of the event, one of snooker’s Triple Crown tournaments, back in 2006.

The Scot bemoaned the change of venue and hopes every tournament feeling the same will not affect his performance against the Chinese.

“[York’s] a great venue and we all enjoy playing there and there are always crowds,” he added.

“We’re all in the same boat and are just happy that we’re playing. You can’t really complain too much, and we appreciate the good job that they’re doing to put tournament on but it is tough.

“Whether it’s the UK or the Northern Ireland or whatever it doesn’t feel like that, because every tournament is the exact same.”

Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+