European Series Announced

This was announced by Worldsnooker today

London/Gibraltar, 26 September 2019

BetVictor, a leading global gambling company, is sponsoring four world ranking events on snooker’s global tour this season, creating the brand-new BetVictor European Series. The new series sees the World Snooker Tour’s overall prize money increase to a record level of approximately £15 million.

The four tournaments are:

• 2020 BetVictor European Masters, January 20-26, Austria
• 2020 BetVictor German Masters, January 29 to February 2, Berlin, Germany
• 2020 BetVictor Shoot Out – February 20-23, Watford, England
• 2020 BetVictor Gibraltar Open – March 13-15, Gibraltar

A unique ranking list will run throughout these events, with the player earning the most money across the BetVictor European Series receiving a bonus of £150,000.

Top prizes have also been increased:

• BetVictor European Masters: £80,000 to the winner (up from last season’s £75,000)
• BetVictor Shoot Out: £50,000 to the winner and £20,000 to the runner-up (up from last season’s £32,000 and £16,000)
• BetVictor Gibraltar Open: £50,000 to the winner and £20,000 to the runner-up (up from last season’s £25,000 and £12,000)

These additions bring the total prize money for the 2019-20 season to £14,641,000.

Barry HearnWorld Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to announce the new BetVictor European Series, a fabulous addition to our tour. The race to win the series and earn a huge bonus of £150,000 adds an extra element of intrigue throughout the four events. Each event is superb in its own right, but the support BetVictor brings takes it all to a new level and ties them together into a distinctive series.

“I would love to see a few players in the mix with the chance to win the bonus going into the last tournament in Gibraltar, that would bring a thrilling conclusion to the series. For the players it’s an extra incentive to get their name down for these events and make sure they have the chance to boost their prize money in dramatic fashion.”

Director of Sportsbook at BetVictor, Matt Scarrott, added: “We have a strong relationship with World Snooker having partnered with them on a number of events and I’m confident that this brand-new series will add to World Snooker’s international success.

“The global growth in the sport’s popularity is a testament of the fantastic work World Snooker have been developing over recent years, and we’re delighted to be part of this successful journey. We’re particularly proud to see the last of the European Series tournament take place in Gibraltar – home to BetVictor.”

I have very mixed feelings about this.

The positives are:

  • The European Masters will definitely take place with decent albeit not outstanding prize money. It will be in Austria, a new place for a ranking event.
  • The Gibraltar Open profile is raised offering a better opportunity to low ranked players to get some earning.

The negatives are:

  • Two of those “European” venues are in fact British territory: Watfort and Gibraltar.
  • Raising the profile and money of the Shootout is just an attempt to force more top players to enter an event that mainly suits the bookies.
  • The sponsor is again a bookie. I think I’ve expressed my sentiment about that situation often enough. They have only be reinforced by this very recent article. This will backfire badly and sooner than most expect.
  • The £150 000 bonus is another way to try to force top players to enter events they wouldn’t normally enter. It’s also a way to artificially raise the profile of the sport by claiming that there is a lot of money to be made in it. That’s again a major theme of the article above. Yes, there is decent money … for a very small group of players. Most struggle badly to make a living out of it. Compared to other sports, snooker is nowhere. Ronnie has won about £11000000 in his 27+ years of career. Djokovic has earned over $135000000 in his 16 years of career. Lewis Hamilton season’s salary in £40000000, salary means guaranteed money win or lose. The “top 10” best paid NBA  players all have a salary over $33000000 … and I’m not even mentioning the personal sponsors.

Snooker is better now than it was under Sir Rodney, no question, but it’s relying way too much – in fact almost exclusively – on an industry that is at best very questionable and may well collapse if stricter legislation comes into force.

More money for snooker is of course a good thing, but this money is – again – going to the ones who already earn the most of it. If the sport wants to attract young talents – and the support of their parents –  it needs to show that players can make a living out of the sport and not just the very top ones. No sport can rely on just a handful of exponents, who, BTW, won’t be there forever. The players further down must be able to earn enough to live decently. It’s not “rewarding mediocracy”, it’s investing in development for the future. Showing off about how much the very top earn may get young people dreaming, but that’s just the start. If they pursue their dream, they must be able to put bread on the table and pay their bills otherwise their dreams will be shortlived. That’s the reality of life.

If REALLY Barry Hearn wants to develop snooker in Europe, he will need to distance himself a bit from the betting companies and invest time, money and efforts into a market that is different from both the UK one and the Asian one. If 3-cushions in 2012 managed to get the backing of the Diamond industry in Antwerp for their World Championship, surely finding European sponsors isn’t impossible provided the right image is built?