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Hearn Announces Asian PTCs

Barry Hearn made a wave of announcements for the second week in a row after another exciting press conference at the World Championship in Sheffield today.

Last week, the European market was discussed as well as alterations made to the format of the Welsh Open and German Masters – not to mention the confirmation that the rankings system will be devised primarily on prize money earned by 2014.

At the forefront of today’s matter was the Asian market and the revelation of a ┬ánew Players Tour Championship series in China, consisting of three events similar to those staged in the UK and continental Europe.

The best of seven tournaments, which will coincide with three ranking events already in the Far East – notably the Wuxi Classic, Shanghai Masters and the new International Championship – continues the growing efforts by World Snooker to develop the Asian scene.

Like the rest of the PTCs, the trio of tournaments will be opened up to both professional and amateur players alike, which will undoubtedly be a positive aspect for young, aspiring players trying to pave their way on the other side of the world.

However, the likelihood of established pros making the long, arduous journey halfway around the globe for events offering minimal prize money is small at best.

Those who have already qualified for Wuxi, Shanghai and the International will obviously stay on as they are already in the country but that only makes up 32 of the 99 professionals on the Tour for next season – 128 for the campaign after.

This will surely throw up some interesting connotations in the world rankings as there is no doubt that those with little or no financial backing will ultimately lose out.

In the short-term, this will simultaneously, and arguably unfairly, aid the top 16 players who are guaranteed to be playing in the three ranking events at any rate and, you would think, will hang around for satellite events while there.

That said, one incentive to make the trip is that each of the three champions of the China PTCs will gain automatic entry into the Grand Finals while the top four in a separate Order of Merit table will receive likewise in addition to receiving an invitation onto the Main Tour for the upcoming season.

This all culminated in the announcement that the Grand Finals will consist of 32 players next year as opposed to 24, but no mention was made as to the whereabouts of its location – twice held here in Ireland, of course.

Elsewhere, Hearn revealed that the UK Championship will be staged at the excellent Barbican Centre in York for a further two years after its successful return to the venue last December while the Masters will be staged at Alexandra Palace in London for the next three seasons.

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