Matt’s big season preview

The new season starts in two days with the qualifiers of the Indian Open, World Open (in China) and Riga Masters. Matt Huart (@prosnookerblog) explains what changes in the tour structure and the seeding system in the new season. He also points to us a few topics of interest for the fans to follow as the season unfolds.

This is the link to his article.

The Big 2016/17 Season Preview

23rd May 2016 – 5:04pm

Just 26 days after Mark Selby’s victory at the 2016 World Championship, the snooker circus rolls back into town with start of the 2016/17 season at the Guild Hall in Preston on Saturday.


With a number of key changes in store over the coming months, today I take a look at some of the most significant for players and fans alike and try to highlight the key themes to follow this season.

View the full calendar for next season at

The Home Series

The most significant change this season is the introduction of the new Home Nations Series, which will see events in England, Scotland and Ireland join the existing Welsh Open to form a new four-event series.

Cardiff’s Welsh Open will retain its long-standing February date in the calendar, but the three new tournaments will all be held prior to Christmas, beginning with the English Open in October.

New overseas events

There are also significant additions to the calendar outside of the UK, including the European Open in Cluj, Romania, the Indian Open in Hyderabad and the World Open in China.

The Indian Open was held most recently in 2013 and 2015, while Shaun Murphy won the previous staging of the World Open against Mark Selby back in 2014.

European Tour

Making way for these events will be the European Tour, which had run under different monikers for six seasons since 2010. Notwithstanding this change, three of the events staged last season which formed part of the European Tour, specifically the Riga Masters, Paul Hunter Classic and Gibraltar Open will continue to be held this season.

New seeding structures

First announced back in February, the new season will also see significant changes to the seeding structures employed at various tournaments. These changes are set out in full here, but the key points to note are as follows:

  • The formats for the World Championship, UK Championship and Shanghai Masters will remain as they were during last season.
  • The formats for the International Championship, China Open, Indian Open and World Open will be played under the existing format first introduced mid-way through last season
  • The Home Nations Series (Welsh Open, English Open, Scottish Open and Irish Open) will adopt a new format, with the top 16 seeded and placed in the draw, but the other 112 players drawn at random
  • The German Masters and European Open will adopt a similar new format as above, but with 32 players seeded rather than 16.
  • The Paul Hunter Classic, Riga Masters and Gibraltar Open will be completely unseeded.

For the first time there will be just two events held (World Championship and Shanghai Masters), which will not have an entirely flat structure.

In respect of the new formats for the Home Nations Series, German Masters and European Open events, at face value these appear to be similar to seeding structures seen in the ATP tennis tour, with a set number of players seeded and the remainder being drawn at random.

Some have argued in recent seasons that the importance of being in the top 16 has been eroded and there will be some debate as to the impact of this change upon that.

On the one hand, this change goes some way to restore that benefit as players up inside the top 16 will be guaranteed to avoid the others in that bracket until the last 16 stage at the Home Nations Series events. The unlucky player in 17th place though could draw one of the top ranked players from round one.

The other side of the coin however is that with the top seed now able to draw 17th from the very first round, they have lost out in comparison with the alternative system, under which they are guaranteed to play somebody seeded outside of the top 64 in the first round.

As ever, opinions are likely to differ on this change, but from a viewer perspective and in particular as someone very familiar with such a system from the tennis side, I await with interest to see how it is received in snooker.

New Players

A new season of course means new players and with the conclusion of Q School on Sunday we now know who most of those players will be. As ever, there is a mix of returning ex-pros and tour rookies, looking to emulate the progress of Zhou Yuelong and Oliver Lines in recent seasons.

A full breakdown of where all of the new players will come from can be found in my previous blog, but notable stories include:

  • Hammad Miah and Leo Fernandez re-qualified for the tour via the European and Asian Order of Merits respectively as amateurs
  • Cao Yupeng, Michael Georgiou and Craig Steadman successfully re-qualified for the tour at the first attempt having dropped off at the end of last season
  • Seven players from China have secured new two-year tour cards from the start of this season, five joining the tour for the first time
  • James Wattana will receive a new invitational tour card, but those previously issued for Steve Davis (retired) and Stephen Hendry have not been renewed
  • There will be no fewer than ten rookies joining the World Snooker Tour next season

World Grand Prix, Players Championship

Both the World Grand Prix and Players Championship will have new homes next season, with the venues switching to the Preston Guild Hall and Llandudno respectively.

The qualification criteria for the World Grand Prix remains the same as last season, ie a one-year ranking list from the start of the season, running through to the conclusion of the German Masters on 5 February 2017.

The criteria for the Players Championship however has seen a change, with the event adopting a similar process to above, but also counting prize money earned at the World Grand Prix, Welsh Open, Shoot Out and Gibraltar. Further, the event will only see 16 players qualify, compared to 32 in previous seasons.

Shoot Out

Yes you did just read that right, from this season the Shoot Out tournament will become a ranking event for the first time, with its field increasing from 64 to 128 players.

A controversial decision which has provided a big talking point in recent days, it does now mean that the event will form part of the crucial Race to the Crucible as the season approaches its traditional May climax.

Ranking themes to follow

A year ago I looked to predict some of the themes to follow during the season and two in particular ran right through to the end of the season, with Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham involved in very different ranking battles. But what stands out for this season at this stage?

A key theme will be the progress of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who with over £180,000 of his ranking total of £296,250 to be removed prior to the cut-off for the 2017 World Championship, is currently forecast to drop to 16th position in the (very) early race to the Crucible.

Of course there is a long way to go before we get to that point, but of course many likely said the same about Ding Junhui around this time last year. O’Sullivan can at least relax as far as Masters qualification is concerned, the six-time London winner guaranteed to be present as defending champion.

Former world champion Stuart Bingham is another with a significant amount of money to defend this season, following his victories at the Crucible and the Shanghai Masters a couple of seasons ago. In fact, £497,045 of his full ranking total of £586,720 is due to fall this season, although the majority will not be until the end of the season following the World Championship.

Elsewhere, Kyren Wilson is another to watch, as with barely £20,000 to defend during the entire season from his 2014/15 season, the only way is likely to be up for the newest member of the world’s top 16. With even an ‘average’ season, it would be no surprise to see him pushing for a top eight place, but following his quarter-final run at the World Championship this season, expect to see him climb even higher over the coming months.

Also look for Ali Carter to climb the rankings now with little to defend a couple of years on from his battle with lung cancer, while the man who beat him on the way to the last four of this year’s World Championship, Alan McManus, could make a return to the top 16 for the first time in a decade with a strong season.

These are just a few of the main themes and facts about the new season that stand out, but what will you be keeping an eye on over the coming months? Let me know @prosnookerblog on Twitter.

The new season gets underway with the Indian Open qualifiers this Saturday at the Preston Guild Hall.

Ronnie has not entered any of the three first events, and as he hinted in his radio show, will probably not play competitively before September or about. He will need some good results when he decides to play … but we have been there before.

Remember the 2011/12 season anyone? 1f602

May 22, 2016: Ronnie, Michaela and Steve in Munich

Ronnie has been touring for 10 days, across Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany, and Munich, today, was the last stop.

The exhibition was promoted by Snookerstars, and hosted by Rolf Kalb, Mrs snooker in Germany himself,  a legend. It followed the same structure as yesterday’s event in Hamm.

Buffet, meet and greet, and the event proper in the Krohne Circus. This time Ronnie won 4-2; there was no century.

The Krohne Circus is a very special venue: it’s a real Circus, “old fashioned”, with a round stage, adorned balconies, plush seats, velvet and golden banisters and columns.

Ronnie, on Facebook, expressed his appreciation of both venues, in Hamm and Munich

Two great venues in Germany, huge crowds

Whilst Michaela praised the promoters and the German fans on twitter:

A great 2 days in Germany, the German crowds take some beating! Thank you @Snookerstars you put on amazing events!! Xxx

There were also a lot of happy fans tweets (too many to try and start quoting them all): everyone, it seems had a great time.

Here are a few pictures, posted on twitter, by Jason Francis, Snookerstars and fans.

And here is a video of Ronnie taking on Fabian Haken, 13 years, Bavarian U17 Snooker Champion

Meanwhile  Ronnie shared this article about yesterday’s exhibition in Hamm. It’s all in German but, even if you don’t read German, check it out: it contains some great pictures.


More pictures have now be posted on Facebook by the “Just like Pictures” media website

May 21, 2016 – Ronnie, Steve and Michaela in Hamm

Ronnie, Michaela Tabb and Steve Davis played in Hamm, Germany, this afternoon, in an exhibition promoted by Snookerstars.

It’s not the first time that they play in Hamm and it was packed as always.

The German crowd is very enthusiast, yet very respectful and knowledgeable. The hospitality is always great as well – there was a buffet with the VIPs – so the players love it.

Ronnie won the match by 5-1, despite Steve starting strongly;  he took the first frame. As far I as know there were no centuries; Ronnie had a 82 in frame 2,  that much was tweeted by Jason Francis.

Steve also entertained the crowd with trickshots. He’s always very funny.

Going by the reactions on twitter, notably by Michaela, it was a great afternoon, with lots of laugher.

Here are a few pictures, posted on twitter by Jason, Snookerstars and fans, notably by Andrea Kitzing who is attending most exhibitions in Germany and a long time Ronnie fan.

No rest for the wicked though … the exhibition was barely over and they all were already on their way to the airport and Munich bound.

May 19, 2016 – Club night Birmingham


Yesterday night, Ronnie was in Birmingham for another great club night. It was a bit special as Eric Bristow, five times a darts World Champion was there. So that made it 10 World titles in the room. Here is Eric with host and compère John Virgo.



Ronnie won all 8 frames he played and had a century.

Here is John Byrne, a fan, reaction on twitter; it sums it up.

If you have a club – hire @Snookerlegends @ronnieo147 – What an amazing night! Ronnie was just superb with everyone! What a top chap! Thanks

@ronnieo147 Thank you so much! Amazing night – Eric & Bex Bristow, John Virgo & Jason Francis! Fantastic night with @Snookerlegends – WOW!

Bex Bristow, Eric’s wife was there also but apparently didn’t manage to get a selfie with Ronnie … nevermind! There is always a solution! She tweeted this:

The only selfie with @ronnieo147 I got tonight 1f602

with these …

Today Ronnie is traveling to Germany, where he will play Steve Davis in Hamm, today, and in Munich, tomorrow. Rolf Kalb will be their host there.

They are getting ready!


Snooker Legends in Telford

A1 Ronnie Reanne Telford

It was another great Legends night in Telford yesterday, with Ronnie and Reanne Evans, 11th time Ladies World Champion, “supervised” by Michaela Tabb, with John Virgo, replacing Dennis Taylor, as host and compère.

Before the show the Legends made themselves available to sign goods and give autographs. Ronnie must have taken a zillion selfies with the fans as well.

The show started, as often, with John Virgo executing a few trick shots and entertaining the crowd with funny snooker annecdotes.

Then came the match between Reanne and Ronnie, a best of 7.

Ronnie ran to a 3-0 lead before the interval, with breaks of 77, 56 and 134, that proved to be the highest break of the night. After the interval, he added a fourth frame to his tally, with another sizeable break, to effectively win the match. At 4-0 down, Reanne hadn’t settled to be fair, she hadn’t got much table time. But a blotched safety from Ronnie gave her the opportunity she needed. She made the most of it: a great 103,  the second ton of the evening. She then won the last frame  with an excellent 88, whilst Ronnie was showing his appreciation from the comfort of his seat…


To conclude the event, the winners of the raffle, Matt and Carlos, won a signed cue and had the opportunity to play a double with the Legends. Matt and Ronnie won the match but Carlos and Reanne played their part. It was a lot of fun and laughter, spiced by John Virgo’s commentary and impersonation of hawkeye …


Next show, tonight, club night in Birmingham!


Third Irish stop: Drogheda

ireland Drogheda18th may

Basically yesterday in Drogheda saw a repeat of the previous day in Mitshelstown.

It was packed. Both Ronnie and Jimmy played two one frame matches agaist amateurs and won them all. They then played each other over a best of five and Ronnie won 3-2… only this time there was no century for Jimmy. Instead Ronnie wobbled the 12th red whilst he was en course for a 147, leaving it at 88.

As always there were a few pictures on twitter, by Jason Francis and fans.

Tonight it’s back to England, in Telford, with Reanne Evans.

And I will be there too with my trustworthy camera…