World snooker chairman Barry Hearn has announced major changes to the snooker tour that will come into effect next season.
Next season will see twelve ranking events in the calendar, with five set to take place in China and one in India. The tour will also see the players return to Australia for a revamped Australian Open.
However the main change to the tour is that in nine of the top 16 players in the world will no longer have a large advantage over everyone else by entering the events later on. All players will have to start in the very first round of events.
The world championship for now will remain seeded which will guarantee the top 16 players taking part. The Masters will also keep its format with just the top 16 being invited to the event.
This change has divided many players opinions, some players believe that they have earned their place to be considered elite players and that the fans want to see the best players at the end of events but others claiming if you cannot beat the lower ranked players then you don’t deserve to be at the latter stages of events.
One of the most outspoken players on the tour Mark Allen has criticised the decision to have so many events in china, his main concern is the cost of travelling to the events: “There are just so many outlays, especially if we’re going to China six or seven times a year. The expenses have probably tripled or quadrupled since Barry took over, when we started going to China we used to get our flights paid for but when Barry came in he stopped that, so that’s probably another £10,000-£15,000 a year we have to pay out.”
Also this week, qualifiers for the upcoming world championship have been taking place. Young Belgian sensation Luca Brecel will not be at the crucible this year, the UK Championship quarter finalist lost 10-6 to Scottish amateur Fraser Patrick in the first round of qualifiers.
There are a number of older but familiar faces who still have a chance to qualify Jimmy White, Joe Swail, Alan Mcmanus and Tony Drago are all still in contention to make the event.
Also six time world champion Steve Davis will have to beat 2002 champion Peter Ebdon if he wants to appear at the crucible. However he still has to win one more match to set up the tie.
This year’s World Championship takes place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield between April 20 – May 6