Whilst so many players are fighting for their professional status, Ronnie has been touring with the World Trophy, doing exhibitions and meeting the fans in South England, Cornwall and Wales. In Wales he did 3 nights at Darren Morgan’s club and Darren shared a lot of pictures on Facebook.
Darren’s club is, as you would expect, a great place to play snooker and was looked packed on every of the three nights.
Here are the images… en vrac!
pictures shared on twitter (Jason Francis) and on Facebook (Darren Morgan)
Not much transpired about the ones in Bridgewater although it seems that, on one night Ronnie made 5 centuries. In Wales, he was playing the locals and chasing 147’s and eventually … yes, he made one!
Snooker’s first ever Asia-Oceania Q School, starting on June 1st, gives new opportunities for the most talented players in those regions to graduate to the professional tour. Two tournaments will be staged, with the finalists from both to earn a two-year card to the World Snooker Tour. So in total four players will be awarded a place on the professional circuit for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.
So, that was this morning then. Twitath Warintrakom was conducting the ceremony. The draw was made in Thai and English. Both videos together have about one and a half hour duration. I haven’t worked out the draw yet … and might actually wait for WST to do publish it.
After a complaint made to the WPBSA by WST, Jamie O’Neill was charged with breaches of the WPBSA Members Rules and his Players Contract with WSL as a result of incidents at the Northern Ireland Qualifying Event in Leicester on Monday 23rd August 2021
The allegation was that Mr O’Neill was drunk on the morning of his match and that he made inappropriate comments and gestures toward two female members of staff. He then played his qualifying match whilst under the influence of alcohol.
The case was heard by the independent WPBSA Disciplinary Committee where after a contested hearing Mr O’Neill was found to be in breach of the WPBSA Rules and his Players Contract.
In making their decision on sanction, the Committee took into account that the finding of the Disciplinary Committee puts Mr O’Neill in breach of a suspended penalty imposed by the Disciplinary Committee on 27th May 2021. In addition, Mr O’Neill has breached two previous suspended penalties imposed under the WPBSA Disciplinary process.
Mr O’Neill was suspended from playing or being involved in WST events, effective immediately until 23.59 on 31 July 2022; and to pay a fine of £1,500 and to pay £3,200 towards the costs of the hearings.
Mr O’Neill will be suspended for the Championship League and the European Masters.
WSL Players Contract extracts:
Obligations of the Player
3.1 General Obligations
In consideration for the Player having the opportunity to participate in the WSL Events by WSL entering into this Agreement with the Player, the Player shall:
3.1.5 Behave in a professional and reputable manner befitting a professional sportsperson. 3.1.7 Not be under the influence of alcohol whilst competing in a WSL Event and at all times comply with the WPBSA Anti-Doping rules.
WPBSA Members Rules extract
1.3 A Member shall not make or cause to be made any statement or commit or cause to be committed any act which in the reasonable view of the WPBSA is likely to bring into disrepute the games of snooker and/or billiards.”
The facts are 9 months old… Considering that this is not the first time Jamie O’Neil’s conduct is inappropriate, I find the “punishment” quite light actually. The previous penalties were about inappropriate behaviour towards hotel and WST staff, as well as breach of covid rules.
I’m sure that if it was a top player behaving like this it would be all over the news and social media for days, and calls would be made for harsher punishment as this is not a first offence and it clearly brings the sport into disrepute.
Golden Turkey awards are the ones you don’t really want to get, but, hey! Here they come anyway …
Permanent fixture: the Shoot Out being a ranking event.
No need for an explanation.
Matchroom Golden Turkey: the terrible quality of the streaming
For long periods this season, those who watched the streaming were “treated” to a psychedelic “trip”, interpersed with brief spells of normality and episodes of blackout. That’s when the “service” was actually available … It seems that the cause of this nightmare was the poor quality of service “offered” by the company Matchroom was working with. The problems seem to have been addressed now but it was a really bad “trip” …
Media Golden Turkeys: yes they get two…
Before I deliver the media Golden Turkeys, I want to stress that we had a lot of really excellent media coverage all season, be it in the written press or in the form of podcasts. Special mentions here for Dave Hendon, Hector Nunns, Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe. So, thank you for that guys. Nevertheless here come the Turkeys:
For the constant use of the word “shock” whenever a top player loses. Those who watch snooker for many years will know that the standard of the lower ranked players is much higher than it used to be. There may still be a few weak players on the tour, but not that many. Top players are human. They have bad days. We all do. They may struggle for motivation at times. We all do. At times, the very demanding schedule takes its toll on them. All that is NORMAL, it’s not a “SHOCK”.
The “Should or stay or should I go” Crucible saga oveshadowing the World Championship at times. This has been a theme since the 2022 Masters. Yes, the Crucible theatre has shortcomings: it’s too small, it’s cramped, it’s not particularly adequate when it comes to hospitality. We know that. But when the World Championship is on, the focus should be on the action, not on the venue. And my feelings of frustration are amplified by the fact that I suspect that all this fuss was somehow artificial, that it was orchestrated with the help of some top players, for a purpose: preparing this announcement.
World Snooker Championship consider plans to build a new 3,000 capacity ‘Crucible 2’
World Snooker Championship organisers are looking into a proposal to build a new 3,000-seat arena to stage the tournament alongside the Crucible.
Jason Ferguson, the chair of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, is in talks with architect James Burland, who has designed a purpose-built venue with a bridge linking it to the event’s existing and iconic home.
Burland’s idea is for the new development to act as a ‘Crucible 2’, with matches spread across there and the old theatre like Wimbledon’s Centre Court and No1 Court.
The plan comes amid recent criticism from a number of high-profile players about the limited capacity and facilities of the 980-seat Crucible, which has hosted the World Championship since 1977 and has a contract until 2027.
‘This is a concept and an idea to try and grow this event in some way,’ Ferguson told Sportsmail.
‘We have no intention of moving from Sheffield. It is our home. But we know we really need to be looking at around 3,000 seats for the World Championship now.
‘Events like the Masters are growing so much and the danger is that the World Championship starts to look smaller, which it really can’t because it’s the crown jewels of what we do.
‘This is not the only route but it is an initial concept that James has come up with. Can the Crucible be a dual site?’
Burland, along with entrepreneur Peter Bainbridge, first proposed a ‘Billiardrome’ almost 20 years ago when Sheffield was fighting off bids to host snooker’s premier event from rival cities.
It is those plans that have been revived and reworked after Ferguson recently renewed contact with Burland, who he invited as a guest to last weekend’s world final.
‘He and I had a discussion a few months ago and we have rekindled the relationship and started discussing what it could look like,’ said Ferguson.
‘He has been up here for a few days and speaking to people, building up a picture of what the perfect outcome looks like. His initial sketch has got some great ideas in it.’
Burland, who designed Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium with a team at Arup, said: ‘When we looked at it years ago, we were thinking it would be the new venue, but this is different now – this is working with the Crucible.
‘The second venue doesn’t have to be a replacement, it can be an adjunct. It makes the whole event easier to run, with more facilities.’
Burland’s proposed site for the building is Sheffield’s old Roxy Disco, which is now the O2 Academy, with a bridge to the Crucible over Arundel Gate.
The main auditorium would be round and divided into three tiers – upper and lower spectator levels, with corporate and media seating in the middle.
Burland’s concept includes a snooker museum at the spiral entrance, a giant screen wrapping round the outside of the building and TV studios on the roof.
The ground floor would be the practice area and could also stage the World Championship qualifiers.
‘I quite like the idea you are scrapping it out to get a position in the colosseum above,’ said Burland. ‘Then the Holy of Holies is to win and go across the bridge to play.’
The 3,000-seat arena could convert to 1,500 seats with folding tables for conferences. The venue could also host music concerts and other sports, such as boxing and table tennis.
During his recent visit to Sheffield, Burland conducted a study of the Crucible atmosphere, speaking to legends including Steve Davis and John Parrott, to feed into his design.
‘These guys have 40 years of experience in the game,’ said Burland. ‘Who am I to say I know what you need because I’m an architect?
‘History is hugely important. You don’t want to lose what the Crucible has got, just make it better.
‘That is why I am looking at it from the point of view of the atmosphere first. I know I have to do my research on atmosphere to get this right.
‘In a pilot study I did, there are three descriptors that come out – drama, history and conviviality. A mixture of these need to be in every part of how this thing works.’
Former World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn also revealed last month that initial talks had been held with Sheffield City Council about building a new Crucible. But Burland is the only architect to have so far come up with a design solution.
‘At this stage, it’s very early discussions but we are coming up with a concept of what would be a huge benefit for the city and a true international destination,’ added Ferguson.
‘There is a huge road to go down with this. That would involve what is possible from a planning perspective, how can it be financed, who are the partners in it.
‘We will have a meeting to try and move the discussion on with Sheffield City Council. They are very open-minded about what could be done.
‘I think a feasibility study will throw up the answers and I think that would be the next phase.
‘We are not panicking about moving. We are fixed for the next five years. But the question is, within that period, can we come up with what the future looks like?’
Don’t get me wrong, the idea is interesting and it’s an important topic. It’s the timing that annoys me, and the way it was brought forward.
WST/WPBSA Golden Turkey: the structure of the season’s calendar
This season started with a procession of “low key”, short format events. The Championship League and a number of qualifying events. It really dragged for far too long before it felt like the “proper” season actually started, and then it became hectic for those at the top. The whole feeling was amplified by two factors:
Only four tables were used. There was a positive side to this: they were all streamed, and provided the streaming was actually working, fans were able to watch all matches. But it meant that the action was “diluted”. There was no intensity and it was quite uninspiring at times.
The Home Nations were split into “qualifiers” – without the top 16 players – and event proper. This decision surely pleased the broadcasters but it’s not great for the lower ranked players, and in particular the younger ones. For them it means weeks on of qualifying matches, in front of a spare crowd, if any, follwed, for most, by weeks of inactivity. They don’t meet the top guys, they don’t play in a “proper” arena, there is not much of an atmosphere. It’s not giving them the experience of a “proper” event, with cameras on the floor, a big crowd, the media around. It’s not helping their developement. Stuart Pettman, in his book (*), explained how playing most of their matches in cubicles was putting lower ranked players at a huge disavantage whenever they managed to get to the main venue. In a way, we are heading back to that now. Surely this is going backwards?
You know my views: there should be NO qualifiers, the early round should be played at or near the “main” venue for ALL events. It’s absurd that someone like Simon Lichtenberg – who is from Berlin – had to try to win two matches in England for the right to play at the Tempodrom. He din’t manage. Yet, surely, his presence would have boosted local interest. Whenever this question comes to the fore the answer is that it’s cheaper this way for most of the players … understand: the UK players. This is plain UK bias by WORLD snooker. OK, I won’t start on that again (for now).
This season the calendar looks quite similar, although there are “noises” about a possible event in Hong Kong this summer (the source is Marco Fu, hence reliable). The ongoing absence of the Chinese events is of course problematic and can’t be helped. That’s nobody’s fault. But surely, there is room for some improvements.
(*) IF you can find that book BUY IT, READ IT. It’s one of the best books ever written about snooker. It’s not a self-serving biography, it’s the down-to-earth reality of a snooker journeyman described with a good pinc of bittersweet humour.
Neil Robertson has been named WST’s Player of the Year for the first time, after winning four tournaments during the 2021/22 season.
Australia’s Robertson lifted the trophy at the English Open, the Masters, Players Championship and the Tour Championship during the most prolific season of his career. He was knocked out in the second round of the World Championship but had the consolation of making a 147 at the Crucible.
Ronnie O’Sullivan won the Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year award, voted by media around the world who cover snooker. O’Sullivan won the World Championship as well as the World Grand Prix, and finished the season on top of the world rankings.
O’Sullivan also won the Performance of the Year award for winning the World Championship for the seventh time, beating Judd Trump 18-13 in the final to equal the record of Crucible crowns set by Stephen Hendry.
The Fans’ Player of the Year award, voted by fans on the WST App and on social media platforms in China, went to Zhao Xintong. The Chinese ace landed his first ranking title at the UK Championship and went on to win the German Masters, climbing to number six in the world.
Magic Moment of the Year went to Robertson for his fantastic 147 during his World Championship match against Jack Lisowski as he became only the eighth player to make a maximum at the Crucible.
China’s 18-year-old Wu Yize won Rookie of the Year following a promising debut season which included runs to the last 32 of three ranking events.
There are two new entries to the Snooker Hall of Fame, for the great players and administrators who have had a significant impact on our sport. They are:
Reanne Evans, the most successful ever player on the women’s tour, having won the World Championship a record 12 times.
Alison Fisher, who won the Women’s World Championship seven times in the 1980s and 1990s and played regularly in televised professional tournaments in that era.
Both Reanne and Alison have made outstanding contributions to the growth of snooker and we are delighted to welcome them into the Hall of Fame.
WST Awards: 2021/22 winners
WST Player of the Year – Neil Robertson
Fans’ Player of the Year – Zhao Xintong
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Ronnie O’Sullivan
Performance of the Year – Ronnie O’Sullivan
Rookie of the Year – Wu Yize
Magic Moment of the Year – Neil Robertson
Hall of Fame: Reanne Evans, Alison Fisher
Player of the Year – former winners
2011: John Higgins
2012: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2013: Mark Selby
2014: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2015: Stuart Bingham
2016: John Higgins
2017: Mark Selby
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019: Judd Trump
2020: Judd Trump
2021: Judd Trump
2022: Neil Robertson
Congratulations to all laureates.
All in all, I agree with those awards.
I’m particularly happy to see Zhao getting the “Fans’ Player of the Year” accolade. Of course, this particular vote is held before the World Championship, but it’s a recognition of Zhao’s achievements and bright personality. He’s young, he’s a breath of fresh air, he’s good looking, talented and dedicated. He plays attacking snooker. What’s not to like?
I’d like to add a few more to this list though…
The “Class of 92” certainly deserves a collective award of sorts. I’m not sure how to name it. “Longevity award”? Not sure. Think about this though: all three were born in 1975, all three turned pro 30 years ago, all three won at least one event this season, all three are still in the top 8 of the rankings and all three reached the semi-finals of the World Championship. If this isn’t extraordinary, I don’t know what is.
The “Best match of the season” goes to the World Championship semi-final between Judd Trump and Mark Williams. Do I need to explain? It had everything. Mark’s calamitous start followed by a heroic but vain come-back, a tense decider, high scoring from both, a clash of styles, a gap in generations…
The “Frame of the season” has to frame 22 in the Yan Bingtao v Mark Selby last 16 match at the Crucible. It was a fascinating 84 min 41 seconds affair – the longest frame ever at the Crucible so far. Yan Bingtao won it by 63-49, truly “out-selbying” Mark Selby himself. And then he finished the match off with a 112 in the next frame!
Mark Selby for the brave and honest way he spoke about his mental health issues, came to defend his World title despite not feeling great and truly gave it his all.
Fan Zhengyi who arrived on the tour at 17 in 2018, the youngest professional at the time, who struggled terribly but decided to stay in the UK when covid-19 hit. He wanted to give himself a chance to earn another two years card via the Q-School, succeeded in that endeavour, and this year won his first ranking title, beating Ronnie in the final of the European Masters
Victoria Shi whose academy is home to so many promising young player. She is a manager, a supporting presence, an advisor and, at times a mother figure. The successes of Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao, Fan Zhengyi, Ashley Huggil and more are testimony of the excellence of her academy.
World Snooker Tour Extends BBC Broadcast Deal To 2027
Snooker’s biggest tournaments will continue to be broadcast by BBC for another five years following an extension to the current agreement with WST.
The World Championship, UK Championship and the Masters will receive comprehensive live BBC television coverage and online streaming until 2027, bringing the sport to many millions of fans across the UK.
The current agreement originally ran until the end of the 2023/24 season but has been extended by a further three years.
The World Championship, snooker’s biggest event, is currently underway at the famous Crucible in Sheffield and runs for 17 days each Spring. Last year’s final attracted a peak audience of 4 million. The UK Championship takes place in York in November while the Masters, with an elite 16-man field, is staged at Alexandra Palace, London in January. Collectively the three events are known as the Triple Crown Series.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “Extending this partnership demonstrates what a successful relationship we have built with the BBC over a period of more than 50 years. Our relationship allows us to tap into the huge reach that only the BBC can deliver while providing world class sporting drama to BBC audiences. Snooker belongs on the BBC and it’s important for our sport to be seen by a massive audience throughout the UK. Millions of people enjoy snooker’s biggest events on the BBC and the quality of their production is outstanding. BBC’s coverage is an integral part of the rich history which surrounds our Triple Crown tournaments.”
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport said: “It’s wonderful news for snooker fans across the UK that the Triple Crown events will remain free-to-air. We’re proud of our longstanding partnership with WST and delighted to see it continue to 2027.”
Cazoo, Europe’s leading online car retailer, which makes ordering a car as simple and seamless as buying any other product online today, is expanding its snooker partnership with the World Snooker Tour to become the main sponsor of the British Open for the first time.
The 2022 Cazoo British Open will run from September 26th to October 2nd at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes and will see prominent Cazoo branding on the main set, players’ waistcoats and interview and media conference backdrops and will have extensive live coverage on ITV and a range of broadcasters across the globe.
This deal extends Cazoo’s portfolio of prestigious snooker sponsorships, which also includes the Cazoo Masters, Cazoo UK Championship, Cazoo Champion of Champions and the trio of Cazoo Series events.
Cazoo is now one of the biggest sports sponsors in the UK with a portfolio that includes football (Everton, Aston Villa & the EFL), cricket (The Hundred), rugby (Welsh Rugby Union & 2021 Rugby League World Cup), golf (European Tour), horse racing (Epsom Derby & St Leger) and darts (PDC). Cazoo will also sponsor Spanish LaLiga football teams Real Sociedad and Valencia FC and French Ligue 1 side Olympique de Marseille, from the start of next season.
Cazoo was founded in 2018 by renowned British entrepreneur Alex Chesterman and has already sold over 60,000 cars in the UK since its launch as consumers have embraced the selection, value, transparency and convenience of buying and selling used cars fully online. Cazoo has grown its team to over 4,250 across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Snooker’s British Open was first staged in 1985 and remained on the calendar until 2004, then returned in 2021 after a 17-year gap. Mark Williams is the defending champion having beaten Gary Wilson 6-4 in the final in Leicester.
It’s the only tournament on the WST circuit to include a random ‘FA Cup style’ draw for each round. Last year, matches in the early rounds were the best of five frames, but this year that has been increased to best of seven for the early rounds, best of nine for the quarter-finals, best of 11 for the semis and best of 19 for the showpiece final on Sunday October 2nd.
Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO of Cazoo said: “We’re excited to extend our partnership with WST and Matchroom to include the 2022 Cazoo British Open. This deal will grow our audience as we continue to build Cazoo into a household brand and deliver the best car buying and selling experience across the UK and Europe.”
Steve Dawson, Chairman of WST said: “We are thrilled to join forces once again with Cazoo for the fantastic British Open which proved a great success when we brought it back on to the calendar last season. Cazoo have an outstanding set of snooker properties across the season, bringing massive global exposure for their brand. With extensive free to air coverage on ITV and the best players in the world competing for the title, the Cazoo British Open will once again reach a vast audience of snooker fans. We are excited to work with the Cazoo team on building this far-reaching partnership.”
It’s good to see another tournament getting out of the “bookies sphere”. It’s also great to se that the matches will be slightly longer next season. I hope this is only the start of a trend. The 2022 World Championship has amply demonstrated the value of longer matches when it comes to tension, drama and spectacle, and the fans have responded very positively.
Asia-Oceania Q School 2022 will take place in Bangkok, starting on June 1st . Two tournaments will be staged, with the finalists from both to earn a two-year card to the World Snooker Tour. So in total four players will be awarded a place on the professional circuit for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.
The event will be open to anyone who is resident in Asia and Oceania, with an entry fee of £400.
Meanwhile, a separate Q School event will be staged at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, open to anyone in the world. There will be three tournaments, with the four semi-finalists in each to receive tour cards, so 12 players will graduate to the main circuit.
It will run from May 16th to June 5th (subject to the number of entries) with an entry fee of £1,000.
Closing date: Wednesday 13 April 2022, at 12 noon. Please enter via the tournament online entry system and by logging on using your unique username and password.
Players cannot enter both Q School events. Details of how to enter the Asia-Oceania Q School will follow soon.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “This is a very significant moment in terms of providing opportunities for the best talent in key growth regions to qualify for the elite World Snooker Tour.
“Q School has been running since 2011 but for the first time now we are staging a Q School event in Asia. Snooker is not a UK sport, it is a completely inclusive sport which belongs to the world, and it is so important to provide development pathways for all young players.
“We are thrilled to be working with our partners in Thailand on Asia-Oceania Q School, especially as they have a long history of hosting successful tournaments. Snooker has huge popularity in this region, and while we already have many successful players from China, Thailand and Australia competing on the pro tour, there is undoubtedly a vast talent pool of cueists who will welcome this opportunity. I am sure that the standard of play at the Q School event in Bangkok will be incredibly high.
“Equally, we are delighted to stage Q School in the UK for the 12th consecutive year as it is the best and fairest route to qualification for the tour. Over the years we have seen many players come through that system and go on to reach the world’s top 16 and win tournaments.
“This a fantastic time for young player to turn professional as our sport looks towards an exciting future. Wherever you are in the world, it’s time to prepare for Q School 2022!”
Mr. Suntorn Jarumon, President of Billiard Sports Association of Thailand, said: “We are absolutely delighted that WST and WPBSA have given us the opportunity to be the host country for this first ever Asia-Oceania Q School Event. This will enhance the chance of young players in these regions to earn the spots for the main tour without having to travel all the way to UK and can also save a lot of expenses in doing so. I strongly encourage players who have always dreamed of becoming professional to take this golden opportunity to earn their tour card right here in Thailand for the next two seasons. We will be looking forward to seeing you soon.”
The 2021/22 WPBSA Q Tour Play-Offs will run from 10-11 May 2022 at the Q House Snooker Academy in Darlington, with the winner to earn a two-year card on the World Snooker Tour.
The event will see the 16 highest ranked players, excluding already qualified World Snooker Federation Champion Si Jiahui and Sean O’Sullivan, compete for the right to turn professional from the start of next season.
Matches will be played on eight Xing Pai tables at the fantastic Q House Snooker Academy, which will host a WPBSA sanctioned tournament for the first time.
Two rounds will be played during each day, with session times provisionally scheduled for 10:00am and 1:00pm. All matches up to and including the semi-finals will be the best of seven frames, with the final played over the best of nine.
The draw will be fully seeded, based upon the final Q Tour Rankings. For the avoidance of doubt, the final position has been won by Hamim Hussain on countback following his run to the quarter-finals of Event 4 earlier this month.
All qualified players have already been contacted via their registered email address and are required to confirm their participation in the play-offs by no later than 4:30pm on Friday 15th April.
Texting Carrie Lam: how Marco Fu raised snooker’s multimillion-dollar question with Hong Kong leader
Quarantined ace opts for a direct approach to grab the attention of the city’s chief executive, who acknowledges Fu’s message in Facebook post
Cue sports could lose 80 per cent of their funding from 2023, with grants to players halved, governing body says
Carrie Lam posted a photo of herself with Marco Fu on Facebook as she discussed sports funding. Photo: Facebook
Not many people can claim to have a head of government’s digits in their phone contacts, but Marco Fu Ka-chun is one.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said she was alerted to a financial crisis for snooker when she received a text message about it from the city’s most famous player.
Cue sports face losing most of their public funding from next year, slashing support to players including three-time ranking event winner Fu and three-time women’s world champion Ng On-yee – a point made to Hong Kong’s leader when Fu contacted her personally.
“I received a text message from Marco Fu,” Lam said in a Facebook post that discussed funding of Hong Kong sports.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam (centre) meets Hong Kong’s leading snooker players Marcu Fu and Ng On-yee. Photo: Facebook
Fu was in quarantine at a hotel in Hong Kong after travelling to the UK to take part in the World Championship, in which he has twice been a semi-finalist. He bowed out in the qualifying stages, but has returned home to arguably a sterner test, with cue sports in danger of losing Tier A status under the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI).
It hinges on whether they can gain readmission to the Asian Games in 2026. After last featuring in 2010, they will return in 2030 in Doha, but are not included, as yet, in the 2026 edition in Nagoya, Japan.
The rules state that, to avoid demotion to Tier B next April, a sport must have featured in, or expect to feature in, at least three Asian or Olympic Games between 2010 and 2030.
The Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council (HKBSCC) sent a letter on April 8 to the Home Affairs Bureau’s Sports Commission, copied to Lam, urging it to reconsider or extend until 2026 billiard sports’ Tier A status, held since 2009.
Fu, who had knowledge of the letter, followed up with a personal message to Lam to ensure she had received it. He and Lam have met a number of times, and one of Lam’s sons is a fan of Fu who has watched him play on many occasions in the UK.
“We are very grateful to Marco – it’s mainly because of Marco’s message that Carrie Lam found out about billiard sports,” said Vincent Law Wing-chung, the HKBSCC chairman. “We didn’t ask Marco to talk to her.”
Law said Lam had replied saying that she would speak to the bureau.
In the meantime, the HKBSCC is to campaign for inclusion in the Nagoya Games, including a “rescue coalition” on social media to appeal to cue sports aficionados across Asia.
Billiards and snooker were part of the Asian Games four times in a row from 1998 to 2010, with Fu leading Hong Kong’s haul of four gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
“I hope we get as much attention as possible,” Law said of the campaign. “If cue sports are downgraded to Tier B, we will lose 80 per cent of our funding, which amounts to millions of dollars, while players will lose 50 to 60 per cent of their training grants, in addition to training and logistical support.”
Marco Fu has returned to the professional tour after a two-year absence because of the pandemic. Photo: World Snooker Tour
The HKSI’s 20 Tier A sports are entitled to financial support and use of the world-class facilities at its Fo Tan campus.
There are 39 funded players in cue sports, in elite and junior categories. Including Fu and Ng, 13 players receive elite monthly funding of HK$32,700 to HK$38,540 (US$4,000 to US$5,000). Demotion to Tier B would roughly halve this.
Law described Lam’s Facebook post, in which she said she hoped to see cue sports return to the Asian Games, as “a positive response as well as a hint to push us to act as quickly as feasible”.
“It’s an issue of urgency, like a tough fight on the baize,” he said. “We can’t control the outcome, but we’ll do everything we can to win this battle.”
From another Hong Kong source, I understand that snooker is relatively safe for another four years, but solving such issues may take time. It also shows why, although IMO, cue sports are not particularly suitable for the Olympic games ans similar competitions, having them in those events is important, and not just in Hong Kong. In Belgium, snooker is not considered to be a sport, but would be if it was included in the Olympics. This would have huge implications regarding funding, but also regarding the support athletes can get, in particular, the younger ones who are still under “mandatory education” status and often find it difficult to fulfill their school duties AND their sports’ training.
Yesterday Steve Dawson made a number of announcements:
Steve Dawson Announcements
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.
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.
I have mixed feelings about the UK Championship change of format.
On one hand it gives lower ranked players more winnable first matches, and an better opportunity to earn some good money and ranking points whilst gaining experience. On the other hand, this is another event where they won’t be at the main venue nor mix with the biggest stars and experience the biggest venues’ atmosphere.
It’s not “protecting” the top players, who will come cold in the last 32, and won’t get any ranking points shoud they lose.
The change is obviously driven by a number of commercial factors; the broadcasters – in this case the BBC – and the venues’ managements and the sponsors want to have the big names at the latter stage. Also, less players at the main venue makes it easier to organise hospitality.
I also have mixed feelings about the invitational tour cards, Hendry’s one in particular. Of course he’s one of the greatest players in our sport, but he has got one already and barely used it.
Today is the last day of this season Q-Tour Event 4. At the time of writing the best-of-7 quarter-finals have just started.
Si Jiahui is currently at the top of the Order of Merit. However, because he has already secured a 2 years Tour card starting next season, it will be the scond in this Order of Merit list who will get the first of this season’s Q-Tour tour cards. As it stands, this person is Sean O’Sullivan.
Sean went out early in Event 4 and that means that his tour card is not yet secured. However, only one player still in the draw, Simon Bedford could deny him … just. Indeed Simon needs to win the event to “tie” Sean on points and, should he do so, he would be awarded the coveted tour card. Simom is currently in action against Michael Georgiou.
The players ranked 3 to 18 in the Order of Merit will have the opportunity to play the “play-off” event, carrying a secong Tour card for its winner.
As it stands the list of players who will compete in the play-off event is almost known as all the players still currently competing are already in the top 18 of the Order of Merit.
The 16 are:
Sean O’Sullivan or Simon Bedford
Liam James Davies