World Snooker has announced that the Snooker Shoot Out will be back next season at the Watford Colosseum in February, 2019.
Eurosport and Quest TV are set to broadcast the controversial ranking tournament for the first time, bringing the total number of events covered by the pan-European sports network to 19.
The Snooker Shoot Out, which has been a fixture of the calendar since 2011 and was previously aired on ITV4, has come in for quite an amount of criticism due to its unique format that breaks away from many traditional aspects of the game.
The focus is heavily weighted on entertainment, with shot clocks and a variation of the rules adopted in matches that require only one frame.
While there are many critics who label its inclusion as a ranking event as ludicrous, many others have enjoyed the Shoot Out over the years as it brings something a little different to the table for just once a year.
Michael Georgiou certainly didn’t mind a couple of months ago when he stormed through the pack to claim his maiden ranking success, leaping up the rankings into the top 64 in the process.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Eurosport and Quest on the Shoot Out for the first time.”
“We have established a fantastic partnership with them in recent years. Eurosport really is the home of snooker, broadcasting to 137 million homes in 54 countries.
“We have also seen incredible viewing figures on Quest since they first televised snooker in 2016.
“The Shoot Out is a wonderful event, which has become one of the highlights of the season for fans who enjoy the fast and furious pace of play.
“The 2018 Shoot Out was the best I have ever seen with so many matches going down to the last few seconds, including the final which was a great moment for Michael Georgiou.
“It’s a chance for up-and-coming players to make a name for themselves. I’m sure snooker fans will be thrilled that the Shoot Out will stay on the calendar and will be televised both on Eurosport and free-to-air on Quest.”
Meanwhile, the Shoot Out’s move to Eurosport has freed up a slot on the ITV schedule for a new tournament that is set to be launched during the next campaign.
The Tour Championship will take place in March of next year between the top eight players in the one-year ranking list of highest money earners.
With a top prize of £150,000 and a format of striking contrast to the Shoot Out, boasting long two-session encounters from start to finish, the Tour Championship will take place after the World Grand Prix and the Players Championship, which already feature the top 32 and top 16 players on the one-year money list respectively.
It’s kind of snooker’s answer to the Fed-Ex Cup in golf and, while Hearn announced earlier on Monday in his annual press conference at the World Snooker Championship that the prize money all the way down the pecking order will increase from next season, it’s hard to argue with the fact that the competitors at the top are continuing to receive more and more opportunities to reap lucrative rewards from the sport.
There’s a sniff of protectionism about it but, on the flip side, there’s the opportunity there for any player all the way down the rankings to fight his way into these rich tournaments if they are good enough to do so throughout the season.
Hearn said: “We are delighted to add the Tour Championship to our global calendar – it will be a highly prestigious event for the best players in the world.”
“The race to qualify for this series of tournaments begins from the very first moment of the 2018/19 season and every pound earned counts.
“All players will be striving throughout the season to move up the one-year ranking list and make it to these three crucial and highly lucrative events.
“We’re also thrilled to be working with ITV on this series for the next three years. They are a great team to work alongside, with fantastic production values.
“The viewing figures they receive for snooker are outstanding and growing year on year so their appetite for broadcasting our sport is growing in tandem.
“This is great news for snooker fans as the amount of coverage on television throughout the season continues to increase.”
More details about all the events to be staged next season will be released in due course.