World Snooker has revealed that there will be an 11th ranking event this season – to be staged for the first time in India.
India has long been touted as a future destination with the game increasingly growing in popularity there.
And as it was widely speculated that this would finally be the year the eventuality became a reality, the revelation doesn’t come as a major surprise.
However, it remains fantastic news for the sport as it continues to reach wider audiences in massively populated countries.
The inclusion of Indian duo Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani have helped the process become even more of a foregone conclusion and they will now be desperate to play in front of their home crowds.
Here is the full World Snooker statement:
World Snooker will stage the first ever world ranking tournament in India in October.
The Indian Open will run from October 14 to 18 in Delhi.
Snooker has expanded across the globe in recent years, particularly in China and continental Europe, and it is hoped that India will be the next successful market.
The tournament will feature 64 of the world’s top players. All players on the World Snooker Tour will have the chance to compete in the qualifying round on August 11 and 12 at the Doncaster Dome, needing to win one match to earn a place at the venue.
The event will offer prize money of £300,000, with the winner to take home £50,000.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “This is a momentous announcement for snooker as we stage a world ranking event in India for the very first time. If we can replicate the phenomenal success we have had in China then India will be a very exciting prospect.
“It’s amazing to think that snooker was invented in India in 1875, and now nearly 140 years later we are taking the world’s leading players back for a major ranking tournament.
“This is fantastic opportunity for the players to showcase their skills in a new territory and I hope they grasp it.”
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “I have been in Delhi this week to finalise the agreement for the event and I have witnessed first hand the enthusiasm for snooker in India. The people really love our game and I’ve no doubt that this event will be a great success and provide a basis for snooker’s growth in India.
“We now have two Indian players on the professional tour, Aditya Mehta who reached the last 16 of the International Championship last season, and Pankaj Advani who got to the semi-finals of the Paul Hunter Classic and the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open ranking event. Both of these players are excellent role models for snooker and hopefully their success will help increase participation levels among the youth in India.
“Delhi is a wonderful city with a rich and deep history of billiard sports and we look forward to working with our new partners in the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India. For the players who earn a place in the tournament it’s going to be an amazing experience in Incredible India.
“We believe that snooker is the world’s fastest growing sport and this is another huge step forward in our globalisation plan.”
Further details on the tournament will be announced shortly.