World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says he is giving amateurs their best opportunity of making it to the big time with the introduction of a new Challenge Tour – but warned them they will be no sympathy for losers.
The new Challenge Tour will launch some time next year and will give amateurs the chance to compete in a series of events across the UK and Europe in order to win a place on the main snooker tour.
Currently amateurs can only compete in Q School and selected tournaments if they wish to earn themselves the title of being a professional snooker player.
But from 2018 more snooker wannabes will get more of a opportunity by taking part in a number of events aimed at improving their game with regular action and showing on a longer term basis that they have the ability needed to take on the best.
The winner of the Challenge Tour and the runner-up will secure places on snooker’s main tour.
Below is a video from World Snooker Twitter’s feed summarising Hearn’s big announcements which he revealed during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Details of where the events will take place have yet to be announced but it will begin for the 2018/19 season so the first ever winner and runner-up will secure a tour card for the 2019/2020 campaign.
Entrants will be of players who have shown dedication in wanting to play snooker by taking part in Q School.
So what were Mr Hearn’s other announcements?
MORE AND MORE PRIZE MONEY
As expected in yesterday’s piece, Hearn has revealed an increase in prize money for the coming season – going from £10m to £12m.
A big chunk of that £2m boost will go to the winner of next year’s World Championship who will win £425,000 – a 50 per cent increase from this year’s biggest cash prize.
Hearn said it was with great pride to see the prize money in the professional game almost quadrupled in a seven-year period. He said in 2010 the total prize money was £3.5m.
And snooker’s chief general said he hoped prize money could reach £15m ‘quite quickly’.
NO MORE ENTRY FEES – A SNOOKER FIRST!
Hearn has decided to abolish entry fees for professional players to give those lower down the rankings struggling to financially make it in the game more of a level playing field.
This is the first time this has been done in snooker’s history.
Hearn said World Snooker would write off a sum of £500,000 it gets from entry fees as it’s no longer needed as part of World Snooker’s income.
CHANGE OF PRIZE MONEY STRUCTURE FOR CHINA EVENTS
Winning a ranking event in China could become more luxurious than ever before as the nation looks to develop its snooker potential to higher grounds.
Hearn has said China’s five ranking tournaments – World Open, Shanghai Masters, China Championship, International Championship and China Open – could have a significant new prize money structure after confirming a new ten-year-deal with one of the country’s TV channels – CCTV.
“The changes to prize money structure have come as a result of people asking if the World Championship should move to China, and we kept it in Sheffield because of the history at the Crucible. But China can create history, and we will support that,” Hearn said.