The new ranking tournament will run for three weeks in total between January and March.
Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Mark Selby are among the 128 players in the draw for the inaugural WST Pro Series that gets under way on Monday.
After the Masters was completed on Sunday, there has only been one night in Milton Keynes to get ready for what is the newest ranking event introduced to the snooker calendar.
With so many tournaments cancelled this season – particularly several lucrative competitions in China – it was important to come up with a new plan to keep the tour active.
Prize, History, and Format
As a new ranking event to the schedule, there obviously haven’t been any previous winners.
The format is quite similar to that which was unitilised for two out of the three editions of the Championship League that were staged during 2020.
There are 16 groups comprising eight players in each, with a round-robin phase determining the top two who will advance to the second group stage.
Eight groups in the first stage take place this week, while the remaining eight groups are in March.
The 32 players who progress to stage two will be split into four more groups of eight, with the top two again moving forward from each to contest the final group.
That remaining set of eight players will subsequently battle it out in the same fashion to become the overall champion.
There is a total tournament prize fund of £420,500, broken down in various ways through the three group stages.
The winner, however, stands to collect at least £30,000 in an event that incorporates a sprint best-of-three frames format throughout.
It’s not the most innovative creation of all time and it mimics the Championship League style that is already pretty unpopular with the majority of supporters, but the tournament does serve a purpose in terms of keeping the players active.
As an event tailor-made for the betting market, it also perhaps earns a few brownie points with the sport’s primary backers at a time when sponsorship has been a little harder to attract.
2021 WST Pro Series Draw
There was some excitement that this could finally be the event in which Stephen Hendry made his eagerly anticipated comeback.
Yet, the seven-time world champion announced his withdrawal last week to the disappointment of many of his fans.
The likes of Trump, O’Sullivan, and Selby are set to feature in addition to Mark Williams, Mark Allen, and Masters champion Yan Bingtao.
John Higgins, Neil Robertson, and Ding Junhui are among the high-profile faces that won’t be seen during the competition, having each decided not to enter.
Monday’s opening group in the WST Pro Series draw – Group M – comprises Joe Perry, Xiao Guodong, Matthew Stevens, Allan Taylor, Jamie Jones, Daniel Wells, Rod Lawler, and amateur Haydon Pinhey.
First Group Stage Draw
Group A (Saturday, January 23)
Group B (Tuesday, January 19)
Group C (Thursday, January 21)
Group D (Friday, March 12)
Group E (Sunday, March 14)
Group F (Thursday, March 11)
Group G (Wednesday, January 20)
Group H (Wednesday, March 10)
Group I (Monday, March 15)
Group J (Tuesday, March 9)
Group K (Friday, January 22)
Group L (Sunday, January 24)
Group M (Monday, January 18)
Group N (Monday, January 25)
Group O (Tuesday, March 16)
Group P (Saturday, March 13)
Click here to view the full draw (Times in CET)
Where to Watch the WST Pro Series
The inaugural WST Pro Series is not being televised across Ireland and the United Kingdom.
However, the action will be available to watch via an account with several online bookmakers, as well as around the world through the Matchroom.Live streaming service.
The tournament in its entirety is being staged behind closed doors.
Featured photo credit: WST