World Snooker have announced more details of the new Challenge Tour which bosses say will rejuvenate the grassroots of snooker – giving amateurs the chance to learn their way towards becoming future stars.
Chairman of World Snooker Barry Hearn first announced details of the Challenge Tour last year and an announcement today has revealed it could start as soon as May this year.
The tour will be made up of ten events giving non-professional players the chance to perform and earn their ticket to the professional World Snooker circuit.
So here’s what we know so far:
- The Challenge Tour will be made of ten events, played over two days, to be staged in the UK and across Europe. The events will be played between May 2018 and March 2019.
- Each event will consist of the top 64 from the 2018 Q School Order of Merit (who have not qualified for the World Snooker Tour) plus a maximum of eight wild cards, giving a maximum field of 72 players.
- Events will be played in a mixture of venues being used by World Snooker for other events, plus selected snooker clubs.
- Players will be allowed to play in both World Snooker Tour and Challenge Tour events if eligible.
- The Top Two from the final Challenge Tour Order of Merit at the end of the season will receive World Snooker Tour cards for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
- Each event will have an entry fee of £50. World Snooker will retain all entry fees and issue draws/formats
- All matches best of five frames.
- The winner of a single event will win £2,000.
- Confirmed dates and venues will be announced in due course.
World Snooker say the launch of the Challenge Tour is “fantastic news” for the amateur game. Only last week during the German Masters five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan criticised the sport for losing its amateur focus because he felt some players were turning professional too early, making them not ready to take on the world’s best.
A World Snooker spokesperson said: “This is fantastic news for the amateur game, providing established and up-and-coming players with opportunities to hone their skills in a competitive environment. The Challenge Tour will be a significant boost to our sport on the amateur side and we expect to see very competitive events as players strive to make the step up to the World Snooker Tour.
“We hope to see a record number of players signing up for Q School and many of them will go on to show their skills on the Challenge Tour. It’s time to chase your dreams!
“In the darts world we have seen Rob Cross come from the Challenge Tour and go on to become World Champion in less than a year. The opportunities are there in snooker for a player to do the same. On our global tour we now have nearly 30 events and prize money of over £13 million.”