Snooker’s celebrated World Seniors Championship has a brand new qualifying criteria this season, with the age limit reduced from 45 to 40.
The tournament will take place at the Blackpool Tower Circus Arena for the first time, on March 2nd and 3rd, 2015, and televised live on Sky Sports. The changes to the criteria, which could see new faces join the stellar line-up, are as follows:
– All current or former professionals aged 40 or above at the end of the 2015 World Championship (May 4th, 2015) will be eligible to enter the event.
– All past World Seniors Champions who enter will be seeded through to the final stages in Blackpool (last 16).
– All past World Champions who enter will also be seeded through to the final stages
– The remainder of the 16 spots in Blackpool will be decided by a qualifying event.
The change in age limit means that former World Champions Mark Williams and Peter Ebdon will be able to enter the event.
They could join the likes of defending champion Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn, Joe Johnson and Stephen Hendry, who all played in the tournament last year, as well as Ken Doherty who turns 45 this year.
Two-time World Champion Williams said: “You know you’re getting old when you’re able to play in a seniors event! But I’m looking forward to it and it will be a lot of fun and very competitive with so many great names.”
Doherty, the 1997 Crucible king, added: “It will be a fabulous atmosphere at a brilliant venue. It’s a title I’d love to win and I’ll be giving it everything.”
Leading professionals such as Joe Perry, Mark Davis, Dominic Dale, Alan McManus, Mark King and Fergal O’Brien – all currently within the world’s top 32 – could enter the qualifiers for the first time and chase the £18,000 top prize.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “The success of the World Seniors Championship has grown year after year and we have decided to lower the age limit to give more top stars and fans’ favourites the chance to enter. It will be fascinating to see who takes up the challenge and it seems sure we will have the strongest ever line-up for the tournament.
“That means that fans will see top quality snooker while enjoying the fun atmosphere. For the players, it’s often about catching up with old friends and enjoying some banter out there in the arena, but they remain fiercely competitive when there’s a trophy at stake.
“Blackpool is a stunning venue and we’re delighted to give snooker’s supporters in the north west region the chance to come to this wonderful two-day event.”