There were two main pieces of news worth noticing over the last days
The calendar of events for the 2019-20 Challenge Tour season is now available.
As previously announced the 2019-20 Challenge Tour will comprise ten events, followed by a play-off. The dates are:
- Event 1: August 31-September 1. Germany – Nuremberg (Ballroom Nürnberg)
- Event 2: September 21-22. England – Newbury (The Crucible Sports & Social Club)
- Event 3: October 5-6. England – Leeds (Northern Snooker Centre)
- Event 4: Oct 19-20 Belgium – Bruges (The Trickshot)
- Event 5: Nov 2-3 England – Brighton (Castle Snooker and Sports Bar)
- Event 6: Nov 16-17 Hungary – Budapest (Hungary Snooker Academy)
- Event 7: Dec 14-15 Belgium – Neerpelt (De Maxx Snooker, Pool en Café)
- Event 8: Jan 18-19 England – Tamworth (Tamworth Sports Bar)
- Event 9: Feb 15-16 Wales – Llanelli (Terry Griffiths Matchroom)
- Event 10: Feb 29-Mar 1 England – Leicester (The Winchester)
- Playoff: Mar 28-29 TBC
World Snooker director Jason Ferguson said: “We are delighted to announce a range of high quality venues for this season’s Challenge Tour. This tour is an important breeding ground for talent, giving players below professional level the chance to improve their skills and gain competitive experience.
“The final play off in March will be awarded to a suitably prestigious venue and host nation. We have ongoing discussions and the venue will be announced in due course.”
The player who finishes top of the Challenge Tour rankings after ten events will be awarded a Tour Card. The next eight players in the rankings with go into a play-off event, with the winner of that event to receive the second Tour Card. The draw for the play-off will be seeded with the player highest in the Challenge Tour rankings drawn against the eighth highest, and so on. The prize money for each event will be £10,000.
The field for events will be made up as follows:
- The top 56 players from the 2019 Q School ranking list
- Eight Wildcards, to be selected with the intention to promote the development of grassroots talent
- If necessary, the last-64 round will then be topped up with players on the Q School ranking list
- The top 56 players from the 2019 Q School ranking list. All 56 will be directly entered into the last 64.
- Eight Wildcards, to be selected with the intention to promote the development of grassroots talent.
- An unlimited number of further entrants will compete in pre-qualifying stages, playing down to the available places in the last 64.
The two available World Snooker Tour Cards will be for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.
The part in blue (coloring by me) is interesting. Last season a lot of those events outside UK were poorly attended and this is an attempt to secure a full field. The venue in Germany and both venues in Belgium are excellent, this from my own experience. The Ballroom in Nuremberg has hosted amateur rounds of the PHC, before the PHC was ruined, the Trickshot has hosted Seniors qualifying events, and “the Maxx” is run by no other than Wendy Jans , and has hosted Women Snooker events.
The World Seniors Championship has been added to the qualification list for snooker’s ManBetX Champion of Champions, which will take place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry from November 4-10.
Jimmy White won the Seniors title at The Crucible on Sunday, beating Darren Morgan in the final. The World Seniors Championship will be added to the bottom of the ManBetX Champion of Champions Qualification List, meaning White is not yet assured a place at the Ricoh Arena.
The Qualifying List comprises 28 spots, which are split into seven sections. Tournaments within each of the seven sections are listed chronologically. The first 16 different players on the list will form the line-up for the 2019 ManBetX Champion of Champions. The World Women’s Snooker Championship is listed 27th on the list, with the World Seniors to be listed 28th.
With twelve players having already been assured of their place at the ManBetX Champion of Champions, if the five remaining events yield three repeat winners then White will receive his invite to play at the Ricoh Arena in November, live on ITV4.
Tickets for the 2019 ManBetX Champion of Champions are on sale now. Prices start from just £11 per session with Premium and VIP packages also available. The draw and schedule for the event will be announced during the week prior to the tournament.
Featuring tournament winners from the previous 12 months, the ManBetX Champion of Champions is broadcast live on ITV4 and has become one of snooker’s biggest tournaments since launching at Ricoh Arena in 2013. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy have all lifted the trophy.
The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 4 until Thursday, November 7. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 8 and the other on Saturday, November 9. The final on Sunday, November 10 will be over 19 frames.
Now, there is no doubt that this is a commercially driven move. Like it or not, Jimmy White is still hugely popular, still driving fans to events. That’s a hard fact and we saw it again last week in Sheffield.
The decision isn’t popular with eveyone. Clearly some people close to former seniors Champions feel this is favouritism and, indeed, I’m not sure the same decision would have been made had Darren Morgan won last Sunday.
There are however a few things to consider:
- Every season it seems, we have serial winners (ROS, Trump notably this time) and the field isn’t filling. Jimmy White only will get there if there are three more “repeating” winners from five remaining events. Should that happen, would it be better to shoe in players who have won nothing at all? I’m not sure and I remember people moaning when this happened in past years.
- The same decision was made a few weeks back regarding Reanne Evans. It didn’t cause an upheaval. Yet it’s the same situation. Only now, do we see people complaining and citing favoritism because it wasn’t done in previous years for On Yee.
- The decision to include the World Championship runner-up was made a few years back and it was blatantly done because of Ding. That was IMO a much worse decision because a runner-up is NOT a winner. That was right up there with the decision that was made about held-over matches to guarantee that Ding would be in the field in Chinese tournaments. Commercially it was the right decision, ethically it was plain wrong because Ding clearly wasn’t trying his best in qualifiers and, ultimately, he was rewarded for it.