THE WUXI Classic will become a world ranking event from next season it has been announced.
The tournament, held in China, has been played as an invitational event since its launch in 2008 but has now been upgraded to full ranking status following a new five-year agreement.
Running between June 25 and July 1, the tournament will be the first world ranking event of the 2012/13 season and will be one of five ranking events to be held in China throughout the campaign.
Total prize money for the event will be £400,000 which increases to £425,000 next year and then £450,000 for the following three years.
As in previous seasons, the tournament will be located in Wuxi in the Jiangsu Province, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in China and is the home town of the country’s top player Ding Junhui.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to welcome the Wuxi Classic to our family of world ranking events in China. This is a wonderful example of an invitation event attended by the top players, opening the door for a full ranking event.
“We have built an excellent relationship with the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) and that has been fundamental to our success. China is a rapidly expanding market and we are going where the demand is because this game belongs to the world. There were five Chinese in the World Championship this year and there are many more waiting in the wings.”
The qualifying rounds of the tournament will run from June 5 to 8 at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.