WORLD Snooker chief Barry Hearn has today announced key changes to two of the sport’s ranking competitions.
From next season both the German Masters and Welsh Open will see new formats. Players ranked from 33-96 will play one qualifying match against each other with the winner facing an opponent ranked in the top 32.
The number of players to make the venue stage and exact formats of both competitions are yet to be confirmed but the changes have been made to put players on a level-playing field.
Hearn told the world’s media today: “This year we are going to start to move towards an out-and-out level playing surface.
“Both tournaments this year, first round matches will be last 64 seeds, 33-96 that will play one game, but then play a second game against the top 32 players in the world, taking away the rather onerous task for the lower players of having to play four matches to reach the TV stages.
“If you are a top player, then you should be prepared to prove that you are a top player every time you take to the table.
“The German Masters and the Welsh Open are just the beginning. Mindful of our BBC contract, we will be looking to bring the UK Championship into a more open mode for the following season.”
Hearn also announced a revamp in the allocated prize money for tournaments. The German Masters total prize money will increase to 300,000 Euros with a top prize of 60,000 Euros (compared to 50,000 Euros this year).
The Welsh Open increases its total prize fund by £250,000 with the winner to get £50,000 (compared to £30,000 this year). Ranking points for both events will be similarly upgraded.