WST Chairman Steve Dawson was at the Crucible today making a range of announcements about the tour. These were:
Cazoo UK Championship
We’re delighted to announce a very significant format change for the Cazoo UK Championship which will have huge benefits for the players, fans and broadcasters. For more on this story, click here.
The event will exactly mirror the format for the Betfred World Championship. So the top 16 players will be seeded through to the final stages in York. All other players will compete in a qualifying event with 16 going through to the venue.
The strength of the top 16 has never been greater and we are seeing this in our biggest events such as the World Championship and the Masters. For television viewers, this format guarantees the biggest names at the final stages.
There will be 128 players in the qualifying rounds – 112 tour players and 16 invited amateurs. This will create its own drama and storylines, just as we see at the World Championship.
We have a mixture of formats on the tour, with some flat draws of 128 players, and others where the top players are seeded through.
We have also increased the prize money from £1,009,000 to £1,205,000, with the first prize up from £200,000 to £250,000.
The event will remain at the York Barbican, its home since 2011, with the televised stages running from November 12 to 20. This will be immediately preceded by the qualifying event.
Matches will remain best of 11 frames up until the final.
The Cazoo UK Championship is a fabulous event, one of our Triple Crown, and this innovation will help it to grow and evolve into a bigger and better tournament.
Invitational Tour Cards
We have decided to offer Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry invitational tour cards for the next two seasons. They are both great ambassadors for our sport and they have both done a huge amount to grow snooker around the world over many years.
Both Ken and Stephen continue to generate interest from fans, television and media. We wish them all the best for the next two seasons. We will review this invitation at the end of the two-year period.
Star Xing Pai
In a hugely momentous new agreement for our sport, we have signed a ten-year extension to our current deal with Star Xing Pai to be our official table supplier.
There is no question that Star make the best snooker tables in the world, and they are an integral part of our ambition to provide the best possible playing conditions. The quality of play, the number of centuries and 147s and the positive feedback we have from players is testament to the excellence of Star Xing Pai products.
Star has been our official supplier since 2007 so we have worked them for 15 years and we had no hesitation in joining forces for another ten years. This has been one of our sport’s most successful long terms partnerships of recent times. As well as providing official tables, Star has promoted events in China, and worked with the WPBSA in producing ‘Little Star’ small tables to help more school children to play our sport.
We look forward to building this relationship for many years to come.
Finally, an important announcement for our fantastic charity partner Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home as we have agreed to continue to support them for another three years. The financial support we provide includes donations for century breaks from our sponsors, including an incredibly generous donation from Betfred year upon year, of £200 for every century which is always rounded up to £25,000. The work done by the Jessie May Nurses for terminally ill children and their families is extraordinary. They rely very much on private donations and we are pleased to help for a further three years.