The WPBSA and WST have today jointly announced the provisional tour structure for the 2021/22 World Snooker Tour.
As in previous seasons, the top 64 players on the official world ranking list following the Betfred World Championship will retain their tour cards. They will be joined by players who are currently on the first year of a two-year tour card, as well as the top eight players on the one-year ranking list, not already qualified for next season.
Three-time ranking event winner Marco Fu will be offered an invitational tour card
The tour will be completed by players who are able to successfully qualify through recognised tour qualification pathways, including WST Q School, the World Women’s Snooker Tour, the CBSA China Tour and the Regional Federations recognised by the World Snooker Federation (WSF).
Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which has meant that events such as the WSF Open and WPBSA Q Tour have not been staged this season, a minimum of two additional places will be added to Q School as an interim measure for next season.
Current European champion Andrew Pagett is also set to join the main tour after his tour card for the 2020/21 season was deferred on medical grounds.
Marco Fu will be offered an Invitational Tour Card due to his outstanding achievements in the sport. The Hong Kong player has missed a number of events over the past year due to travel restrictions.
The full qualification list is set out below:
Top 64 from the two-year Prize Money World Rankings after the 2021 World Championship: 64
Players awarded a two-year Tour card for the 2020/2021 season (not already qualified): 28*
Top 8 players from 2020/2021 one-year ranking list following the 2021 World Championship (not already qualified)** 8
CBSA China Tour** 4
Q School** 14
World Women’s Snooker Qualifiers** 2
EBSA European Qualifiers** 2
APBSF Asia Pacific Qualifier** 1
PABSA Americas Qualifier** 1
ABSC Africas Qualifier** 1
Deferred Tour Place** 1
Invitational Tour Cards** up to 2
*Final total subject to change if any of these players finish inside of the top 64 of the two-year prize money rankings after the 2021 World Championship
**Players will receive a two-year tour card
In addition to these confirmed places, any players who qualify for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card, will also receive a two-year tour card, as was the case last season.
The last paragraph suggests that the Q-school might be held during the World Championship, although there is no reason for that if the World is held at it’s usual spot in the calendar, which is very likely to be the case. That said, I wouldn’t be against automatically giving a new tour card in the future, to any player qualifying for the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card or stay on tour. This is a massive effort and a true test.
Jason Ferguson talks World Championship crowds, qualifiers, tour cards and mental health
Phil Haigh – Wednesday 10 Mar 2021
The 2021 World Snooker Championship gets underway next month and it is a very busy time of year for the sport’s administrators, no more so than WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson.
We caught up with Jason to talk through a range of issues going on in the snooker world and his plans for the coming days, weeks and months as the sport hopes to edge back to normality.
World Championship qualifiers
Last year’s qualifiers were shortened to best of 11-frame matches until the final round which extended to a best of 19 and we are likely to see that format return this time round (7-14 April).
Ferguson explained: ‘It’s likely to be the same format as last year. Obviously the best of 19s is the best format we can do in the World Championships.
‘With things as they are, we’re still not out of the woods in this country, we’ve got to be sensible about times, dates, travel, everybody’s commitments. It may be the case that we end up with the qualifiers like we did last year. We haven’t finalised it yet, so I can’t give a firm yes or no on that.
‘The qualifiers will be in Sheffield. We’ve always used our best endeavours for them to be in Sheffield. It isn’t the one event with 32 players, it’s the whole event with 144 players in it, it’s a real story from start to finish and, for me, it has to be in the same place.
‘Sheffield is the ideal place because of the Crucible, but also the Institute of Sport, all the hotels and infrastructure. It’s such a cosmopolitan city now, and we’ve partly been responsible for that, so many players coming from overseas.’
Crowds at the World Championship
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has said the Crucible could welcome a crowd back, with the World Championship (17 Apr – 3 May) used as a pilot event.
‘We have spoken to the government about it, we are extremely positive about it,’ said Ferguson. ‘I’ve personally written to the Sports Minister about it and we have a track record of running safe events now.
‘We are aware that the government are looking at pilot projects, so it would seem to us a perfect time for that to be a pilot event. Nothing is fixed or confirmed, but we are having positive discussions about it and I’m very hopeful we’ll be able to do that.
‘How we would do that will be working with the government in order to make sure we’re delivering a safe event. It’s early days but talks are going on, directly with the sports minister and DCMS as well.
‘Last time it got cut short because things were escalating. We’re in different times now, things seem to be going in the right direction, there’s also mass testing now which wasn’t there before. We’ve got the ability to mass test as well because we’ve been doing it since day one of the season. We’re testing all the players and officials all the time, which has been a key element to running a safe tour.
‘But at the same time we’re subject to independent advice, medical advisors, who we abide by 100%. The decision will not be ours, we’ll put forward what we can deliver and then the decision will be out of our hands but we are thinking positively about it.’
Three-time ranking event winner has not been able to play this year due to travel restrictions from Hong Kong and is set to lose his tour card, but that situation looks likely to be resolved for him.
‘There is a problem with travel out of Hong Kong at the moment, it’s extremely complicated and it’s purely down to safety measures,’ said Jason. ‘That’s why we’ve not had Marco Fu coming over who we’ve dearly missed, a great guy and a great player.
‘[On a possible invitational tour card] ‘That’s an easy one to answer. Marco couldn’t travel, he was prevented from competing and I think our recommendation there is that an invitational tour card will be put in place for Marco.
‘There will be one or probably two invitational cards next season and, for my money, we can safely say Marco will likely be getting one.’
Tour cards for Reanne Evans and Ng On-Yee
Two-year tour cards were awarded to the top two players in the women’s world rankings, Reanne Evans and Ng On-Yee earlier this week.
‘The women’s decision is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, in my view, I think we’ve got this bang right,’ said Ferguson.
‘The message from me is clear, I think women have been at a distinct disadvantage in this sport for many years. Not because they’ve not been allowed to play, but the environment has predominantly been a men’s environment and many of the clubs have not been places they would want to go to.
‘That disadvantage has been taken into consideration in this decision, there are less women playing snooker than men, by a mile, and that needs to change.
‘This is how to change it. Inspire the next generation. There’s overwhelming support for it worldwide and it’s only going to take this sport further forward.’
Early plans for next season
Nothing is confirmed about next season’s calendar yet, but the WPBSA chairman is extremely positive about a return to China for big events again.
‘China is easing a little bit. We are talking to China at length about when we can start again and the mood is very good for the sport out there,’ he said.
‘The numbers have been brilliant, Yan [Bingtao] winning the Masters was massive.
‘It’s looking great, it’s just a case of what comes first. Do we pull a China event in early or push it later into the season?
‘We’re in good shape, we’ve got options to choose from, but it’s more about international travel than anything else at the moment.
‘But we’re in a fortunate situation where we can move events, subject to broadcasters’ approval, but it’s looking good.’
The mental health of players
Many players have struggled in the last year with mental health issues of varying degrees and the WPBSA has systems in place to help anyone struggling.
Jason explains: ‘Part of a major constitutional change at the WPBSA last year was to improve player services, we’ve really stepped that up during lockdown. Its very important to us that we take care of our player membership.
‘If there’s one thing I’m proud of, it’s to serve our snooker players. I was once one of those and I know what it’s like. To give them what I need is something I really take seriously.
‘The restructuring has seen us form the new Players’ Board, which Ken Doherty is chair of, and that engages with player services. There’s been a few calls [on mental health] and I believe we’ve helped a few players.
‘It’s been a difficult year, sport is difficult at the best of time, mentally. The highs and lows are extreme, the ups and downs are difficult to manage. I do hope that we’ve been able to help people through a difficult time and we’ve tried our best to take care of our own people.
‘It’s painful. I remember playing [Stephen] Hendry at the Crucible and I put so much effort into winning that match and I lost. It was such a high being in the match, but I went home, closed the curtains and just couldn’t speak to anyone. The lows are so low. It’s something I’m always conscious of, especially in these circumstances of locking players in hotel rooms as they wait for Covid test results.
‘It’s been an unbelievable year. Let’s hope we can get our players back out in front of an audience again so they feel good about themselves. I’m amazed how well everyone’s performed in empty rooms, despite all the problems and how they feel is unbelievable.’
Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters
The big-money tournament in Riyadh was due to be held for the first time in October 2020.
‘We’re pushing, it will depend on international travel,’ said Jason. ‘We’ve got an agreement to go there, we’re very excited about doing it. It was the last overseas trip I did before lockdown, then it all came to a standstill.
‘It’s still in place, though, we’re just talking about dates so if it’s not next season it will certainly be the one after. It’s moving forward quite nicely.’
So here you go…
At the risk of being crucified, I do hope
that the World qualifiers will be best of 19 in all rounds
that there will be NO crowds at the Crucible or if there is, no more than 150, all tested, with glass isolating the players from the crowd
that if the World qualifiers are held in Sheffield because “it’s ONE tournament” and “ONE story”, that will apply to all events in the future. No more qualifiers for Chinese events in the UK, or same, for the European/German Masters in the UK.
that the event in Saudi Arabia will collapse. No sport with a moral compass should go there, and it’s likely to be a short format event for an obcene amount of money.
WPBSA and WST are delighted to announce a historic agreement which will see leading World Women’s Snooker (WWS) stars Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee offered the chance to turn professional from the start of the 2021/22 season with two-year tour cards.
The announcement forms part of a wider commitment which today reinforces the role of the WPBSA’s World Women’s Snooker Tour as a major development tour within our sport’s elite pathway. In addition to the two tour cards, it has also been confirmed that places at professional tournaments such as the Betfred World Championship and Champion of Champions will continue to be offered each season.
England’s Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee of Hong Kong have been the flagbearers for women’s snooker for over 15 years, having between them dominated the sport’s major competitions.
Evans is the most successful women’s snooker player ever, having won the World Championship on a record 12 occasions since 2005. In 2020 she was awarded an MBE for her services to our sport and previously spent one season on the professional tour in 2010/2011.
For Ng, the Asian star is set to enjoy her first spell on the professional tour, having emerged as the greatest threat to Evans’ dominance during the past decade. A three-time winner of the World Championship since 2015 and a former world number one, Ng is also a two-time winner of the prestigious ‘Best of the Best’ award at the Samsung Sports Awards in Hong Kong and has been widely celebrated in her home country.
A Sport for All
Since becoming a subsidiary development tour of the WPBSA in December 2015, the World Women’s Snooker Tour has seen significant growth, with player participation having more than doubled during that time with over 150 ranked players from 29 countries currently represented.
Historically based within the UK, WWS has since staged prestigious ranking events in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Malta, Germany and Belgium, having become a truly international sport for all.
Alongside the World Women’s Snooker Tour itself, the WPBSA has also remained committed to providing opportunities for women to compete alongside the best professional players in the world, including at the World Championship, Champion of Champions and Shoot Out competitions.
Snooker is a rare example of a sport that can place men and women on the same field of play to compete equally and both the WPBSA and WWS are delighted that today’s announcement marks another significant milestone in helping elite female talent to compete at the very highest level of our sport.
“A Huge Moment for Women’s Snooker”
Mandy Fisher, WWS President, said: “I am thrilled that from next season two of our leading women’s snooker stars will be able to take their place on the professional circuit.
“World Women’s Snooker celebrates its 40th anniversary later this year and I can honestly say that today’s announcement marks one of the most significant days in our history so far. With the support of Jason Ferguson and the WPBSA, we have taken significant strides in recent seasons and for our tour and most importantly our players to be recognised in this way represents a huge moment for women in snooker.”
Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman, said: “For many years we have championed the role of women in our sport, from offering opportunities for our women to compete at major professional events, to our development of the WPBSA’s World Women’s Snooker Tour.
“We firmly believe that there is no reason why a woman cannot compete equally with a man and today’s announcement underlines our commitment to women’s snooker both now and in the future.
“Through seeing our leading female players compete on television on a regular basis, we are confident that more women and girls from across the club will be inspired to pick up a cue and look to emulate their achievements in the future.”
Women’s Snooker Opportunities – 2021/22 season
World Snooker Tour cards (2) – determined by WWS rankings
World Championship Qualifiers (2) – determined by WWS rankings
Champion of Champions (1) – reigning World Women’s Snooker Championship winner
Of the two, On Yee Ng is probably the one with the better chance to do well right from the start of next season as she has now some time to prepare with Wayne Griffiths and Marco Fu at the academy in Hong Kong. She is a very hard worker
Reanne Evans has Jason Francis in her corner and she’s done well in the World qualifiers, beating Robin Hull by 10-8 in the first round in 2017 and running Ken Doherty very close in the same round in 2015. She has been on the main tour before, without success, but, back then the rookies had only one year to prove themselves and the tour structure was different.
This announcement will also bring joy and pride to Mandy Fisher who, for many years, single-handedly fought to keep women snooker going, when nobody believed it could go anywhere.
John Higgins has soared to fourth place on the one-year ranking list following his outstanding victory at the Cazoo Players Championship.
Higgins beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-3 in the final on Sunday and won the tournament for the loss of just four frames, landing his first ranking title in three years.
The £125,000 top prize sees him leap from tenth to fourth, and guarantee a spot at the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month. Only the top eight players on the list (as it stands at the end of the WST Pro Series) will head to the Celtic Manor Resort for that event which runs from March 22 to 28.
O’Sullivan is overtaken by Higgins and drops from fourth to fifth, despite taking the £50,000 runner-up prize. Barry Hawkins reached the semi-finals and climbs into eighth spot with £110,500, ahead of Jordan Brown who has £100,000 in ninth.
There are just two counting events to go before the field is set for the Cazoo Tour Championship: this week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open and the WST Pro Series. A top prize of £50,000 is up for grabs this week so all players down to Ding Junhui in 14th could potentially jump above Hawkins into the top eight.
As is stands, Hawkins and Jack Lisowski are the only players inside the top eight of the one-year list who are outside the top eight of the official two-year list.
Higgins climbs to fifth on the two-year list while O’Sullivan remains second, closing the gap slightly on runaway leader Judd Trump. Higgins also tops the Cazoo Series rankings with £132,500.
This week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open is the sixth and final event in the BetVictor European Series. The leader of that ranking list come Sunday night will earn a huge £150,000 bonus. Judd Trump leads the way with £124,500, followed by Mark Selby on £118,000. Selby must at least reach the final to have a chance of the bonus. The only other player in the running is Jordan Brown on £87,500 – he must win the title to have a chance.
Prize money for the BetVictor Gibraltar Open is:
Last 16: £4,000
Last 32: £3,000
Last 64: £2,000
High break: £5,000
There are just three counting events remaining in the Race to the Crucible. Hawkins’ run last week moved him up from 16th to 13th and he now looks safe.
Lisowski reached the quarter-finals last week and the £15,000 pay day crucially moves him up from 17th to 16th, with Zhou Yuelong edged down to 17th. Both of those players could go ahead of 15th-placed Anthony McGill in the second phase of the WST Pro Series, as McGill has already been knocked out of that event.
For several players in the chasing pack, this week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open is a vital opportunity to gain ground.
As it stands Ronnie is set to face John Higgins in the first round of the 2021 Tour Championship. John hasn’t entered the WST Pro Series, so his tally of points will not change before the start of that tournament.
Also, whatever happens, Judd Trump will be ranked number one, with Mark Selby and Neil Robertson ranked two and three but not necessarily in that order.
Theoretically, Ronnie, Kyren Wilson or Jack Lisowski could still overcome John Higgins in the “race to the Tour Championship” but it’s unlikely. Ronnie having pulled out of the Gibraltar Open, would basically need to make the final of the WST Pro Series. Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski would need to win the Gibraltar Open and do well, very well in Lisowki case, in the WST Pro Series. However, Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski would overtake Ronnie if they were to win this week. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind that.
WST also announced that this season there will be 8 tour cards availbale through the one year list.Here is the announcement:
WST, in consultation with WPBSA, has decided that the following players will receive two-year tour cards, for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons:
• Players finishing the 2020/21 season in the top eight of the one-year ranking list, who do not otherwise keep their tour card by finishing in the top 64 of the two-year rankings. This is a change from the current structure where only the top four on the one-year list earn a new tour card.
• Players who qualify for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card. This rule was introduced for the first time last season.
This is as an interim measure due to the exceptional circumstances in the current season. Further details on the tour structure for 2021/22 will be announced in due course.
Cazoo Launches Partnership With World Snooker Tour
CAZOO LAUNCHES PARTNERSHIP WITH WORLD SNOOKER TOUR Sponsorship of new Cazoo Series to cover 3 major tournaments
Cazoo, the UK’s leading online car retailer, which makes ordering a car as simple and seamless as buying any other product online today, announces that it has signed a multi-year deal with the World Snooker Tour (WST) as the main sponsor of the Players Championship, Tour Championship and World Grand Prix.
This trio of prestigious events on the snooker calendar will be known as the Cazoo Series 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.
The Cazoo Players Championship will take place from February 22 to 28, contested by the leading 16 players on the one-year ranking list, followed by the Cazoo Tour Championship which will run from March 22 to 28, featuring an elite field of the world’s top eight.
During the 2021/22 season, the Cazoo Series will start with the Cazoo World Grand Prix, scheduled for early December.
This latest deal with WST adds snooker to Cazoo’s impressive portfolio of major sports sponsorships announced over the past year which includes principal sponsorship of the Rugby League World Cup, The Hundred cricket tournament as well as Premier League football teams Everton and Aston Villa.
Cazoo owns and fully reconditions all its cars before offering them on its website. Cazoo has thousands of cars available at any time for either delivery or collection in as little as 72 hours. Every Cazoo car comes with a full 7-day money back guarantee and a comprehensive 90-day warranty.
Cazoo is pioneering the shift to online car buying in the UK and, since its launch just over one year ago, has already delivered over 15,000 cars to consumers across the UK who have embraced the selection, transparency and convenience of buying high quality used cars entirely online.
Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO of Cazoo said: “We are delighted to partner with Barry and his team at the World Snooker Tour to launch the Cazoo Series. This partnership will help to further grow our audience as we continue to build Cazoo into a household brand and we look forward to engaging with and delivering the best car buying experience to snooker fans across the UK.”
Barry Hearn OBE, Chairman of WST said: “We are excited to welcome Cazoo to the snooker family and are looking forward to introducing our significant global audience to the Cazoo brand. The events in the Cazoo Series are some of the highest quality tournaments on the calendar because they bring together the cream of the crop and only the players in form earn a place in the draw.”
And, yes, you read it correctly, this NOT a bookie, it’s a company selling cars online.
Betting sponsorship: sport’s next financial crisis
Football and darts will be hit hard by shake up of gambling advertising laws
Britain’s sports industry – already on its knees due to the impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – is bracing for another financial crisis.
In what is described by The Sunday Times as the “biggest shake-up of advertising in professional sport since tobacco promotion was outlawed”, the paper reports that gambling logos are set to be banned from all kits.
Football is one of the biggest beneficiaries of sponsorship by gambling companies with £110m a year alone generated for clubs in the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) Championship.
In the Premier League, eight of the 20 clubs are sponsored by betting firms – Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds, Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham and Wolves – while in the Championship, which is title sponsored by SkyBet, it’s 12 clubs.
It’s not just football finances that will be affected. Sports such as darts, snooker and boxing will also be dealt a blow if the ban comes into play.
Every player in the top ten of the Professional Darts Corporation wears gambling logos during big tournaments, the Sunday Times reports. While in snooker, many top players, including Ronnie O’Sullivan, wear waistcoats which feature the logos of betting sites.
When would the ban start?
A huge rise in “problem gamblers” has led to the review of Britain’s gambling laws and the advertising that surrounds the sector. According to The Telegraph there is a “rising unease” in the government over betting addiction and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “increasingly likely” to ban gambling sponsors on football shirts by the autumn.
In what would be the most extensive review of the sector since 2005, sources close to talks with Downing Street say there is “determination at the top” of the government to “press ahead with reform”.
In August 2017 a study by the Gambling Commission found that 430,000 people in the UK were described as “problem gamblers” and there were concerns that the volume of TV adverts helped to fuel under-age betting.
Research published in May last year suggested that levels of gambling addiction could be “even higher than was previously thought and half of those with a problem are not getting the help they need”. A YouGov survey of 16,000 people commissioned by GambleAware estimated that up to 2.7% of adults in Britain were “problem gamblers”.
‘Worst possible timing’
With sports seeking alternative revenue streams amid the Covid-19 crisis, senior Whitehall figures say they are conscious of “the worst possible timing” of the review into gambling advertising.
Clubs face “unprecedented financial chaos”, the Telegraph says, but according to campaigners the British public want to see a shake-up of laws. A Survation poll for Clean Up Gambling found that 51% back the banning of all advertising, sponsorship and promotion for gambling firms. Just 21% disagreed while the rest gave no opinion either way.
Campaigning Labour MP Carolyn Harris told the Daily Mirror a blanket ban on sports sponsorship by gambling firms has “got to happen”. She has also urged the government to go further, with further affordability checks and a complete end to newly-reformed “VIP schemes”.
Harris said: “It’s such a wide-ranging issue they can’t just put a sticking plaster on one thing and hope the rest will go away.”
Every time I’ve raised this issue on this blog I’ve had to face a lot of negative reactions from scorn to border-line insults, and a lot of those who reacted that way, wanted to negate or minimise the negative impact of betting on peoples’ live. I won’t have it: I have known personally two men who took their own life because they couldn’t see any other way out of their debts and shame over betting/gambling … leaving their family – in both case wife with kids – to deal with the aftermath of their addiction. And that was in Belgium. years ago, in a time and place where gambling was seen as a shady business at best and certainly not advertised. Betting/gambling kills.
Mark King has been very open about his own addiction and it’s consequences.
Barry Hearn has often hinted that, if snooker doesn’t grow as much as it could in mainland Europe, it’s because the lack of sponsors. The thing is, most potential sponsors in mainland Europe would not want to be associated with anything to do with betting or gambling. If snooker manages to distance itself from what is perceived here as “unethical” sponsors, it will strongly increase its chances to find good sponsors on the Continent.
Michael Holt will begin the defence of his title against Jamie Jones, at the world ranking event which runs from February 4 to 7 in Milton Keynes.
Reanne Evans will face China’s Si Jiahui while the other woman in the field, debutant Rebecca Kenna, will be up against Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg.
Former World Champions Ken Doherty and Graeme Dott will go head to head while John Higgins will face a tartan tussle againt Scott Donaldson.
Other notable first round ties include Mark Williams against Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy taking on Luca Brecel.
The popular tournament, which was first staged in 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.
Televised live by Eurosport, the event is part of the BetVictor European Series.
No Ronnie, no Judd Trump, no Neil Robertson, no Ding Junhui, no Stephen Maguire, but Reanne Evans and Bex Kenna will fly the flag for the ladies.
I would be highly amused if Reanne or Bex went on to win it. They have as good a chance as anyone… or maybe Amine Amiri, or Brian Ochoiski?