Southport will host a snooker world ranking event for the first time early next year when the Coral Players Championship comes to the town.
The event will run from February 24th to March 1st in 2020 at the Southport Waterfront. Tickets for all three Coral Series events will be on sale soon.
The Coral Players Championship features the leading 16 players on snooker’s one-year ranking list. Ronnie O’Sullivan won the title last season, beating Neil Robertson in the final. The match had a memorable finish as O’Sullivan made the 1,000th century break of his career in the last frame.
Other top stars in the field last season, when the event was staged in Preston, included Judd Trump, John Higgins, Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson and Mark Williams.
The one-year ranking list started at the Riga Masters last July, and the cut-off point for the Coral Players Championship is the Shoot Out which finishes on February 23rd. The top 16 on the list at that point go through to Southport.
The 16 players will start in a seeded draw, with a knockout format. All matches will be best of 11 frames, until the final which is best of 19.
It’s the second of three events in the Coral Series, preceded by the 32-man Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham (February 3-9) and followed by the eight-man Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17-22). The player earning the most money across the series will receive the Coral Cup and a £100,000 bonus. All three events are televised live by ITV.
Total prize money in Southport will be £385,000 with the winner to receive £125,000.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are very excited about bringing this prestigious tournament to Merseyside for the first time. We know there’s a lot of support for snooker in the area so we’re expecting big crowds, and once tickets are on sale fans must get them booked early as many of the sessions will sell out.
“The Southport Waterfront is a fantastic venue in a beautiful location on England’s North West coast. It’s will be a superb stage for snooker’s biggest names.
“The Coral Players Championship will bring together 16 of the best players on the planet. The great thing about the Coral Series is that all 128 tour players begin the season on zero as they start the race to qualify for the three lucrative events. So only those in form make it into the elite field.
“That race is well underway now and it will be fascinating to see whether all of the big names make it to Southport, or whether we get new faces and outsiders earning a place in the line-up.
“For fans in the area it’s fabulous news as it’s a chance to see live sport at its very best, and the value for money is exceptional.”
Emma Lloyd, Head of Creative for Waterfront Southport said: “This is huge for the venue and the town. We are delighted to be working with the team at World Snooker to bring it to the Waterfront and we hope it’s the start of a great working relationship. The North West is known for its love of snooker and Southport is no different!”
Ticket details will be announced as soon as they are available.