The China Open in April will become the only snooker event other than the World Championship to hit the £1 million prize money mark, thanks to a new four-year agreement between World Snooker and joint promoters Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua Culture Tourism Development Ltd. Co.
Mark Selby beat Mark Williams in the final in Beijing last year
The world ranking event will run from April 1 to 8 in Beijing with a top prize of £225,000 and a total prize fund of £1 million. That’s almost double last year’s China Open total of £510,000, when the top prize was £85,000. The £225,000 winner’s cheque will only be topped only by the World Championship first prize of £425,000.
The final of the tournament will be best of 21 frames for the first time. It will be televised by CCTV, Eurosport and various other broadcasters worldwide.
The China Open has been staged in the country’s capital every year since 2005. Ding Junhui won the title that year as an 18-year-old, helping to spark a surge of interest in snooker in China. Since then top stars including Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and defending champion Mark Selby have lifted the trophy.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua for the first time on what will be a truly magnificent China Open event. For many years the Gan family and their organisation Star Xing Pai have shared our vision to bring our sport to a new dimension, and they have been outstanding supporters of snooker over the past decade.
Ding with his mother after winning the 2005 China Open
“This is a fantastic announcement which establishes the China Open in Beijing as the flagship tournament in Asia. It’s remarkable to think that back in 2005 when this event was first staged, the total prize fund was only £200,000 and the top prize £30,000 – that shows how far we have come in the past 13 years in terms of the growth of snooker in China.
“This is a great deal for the players whose earning opportunities have never been better, and the fans who have this superb event secured for the next four years. We look forward to working with the Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua teams for many years to come.
“Of course we would like to show our sincere gratitude to our strongest partner CBSA, this latest Agreement demonstrates the significant contribution to the global development of our sport. We thank Mr. Wang Liwei and Ms. Wang Tao together with their excellent team in CBSA for their long term vision.”
There will be a qualifying round from January 27 to 30 in Barnsley, with players needing to win one match to get through to the final stages.