The WST Classic will replace the cancelled Turkish Masters in March, it has been announced by the World Snooker Tour on Friday.
The new tournament, with a total prize fund of £427,000 and a champion’s cheque worth £80,000, will take place at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Open to the full professional circuit, the WST Classic will incorporate a best-of-seven frames format until the quarter-finals before increasing to nine frames for the semi-finals and eleven for the final.
The top 64 players will be seeded in the draw, based on the seeding cut-off after the Players Championship, with all other players drawn at random.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are pleased to add the new WST Classic to the calendar and to provide an extra earning opportunity for the players.”
“Last week we had to cancel the Turkish Masters after several months of trying to get that event over the line, which was disappointing for us and the players.”
“It was always our intention to replace that event and fill the space in the calendar.”
News of the competition will come as some relief to players down the ranking list, some of whom thought that this week’s Shoot Out might be their last chance to earn money before the World Championship in April.
In an interview with the Metro published earlier on Friday, former world number two Stephen Maguire launched a scathing attacking on the powers of the sport.
‘”It’s dying, the game’s dying right in front of us,” six-time ranking event winner Maguire told reporter Phil Haigh.
“I spoke to the suits at the start of the season and they promised me there’d be tournaments on.”
“Turkey was always a question mark and it’s turned out to be cancelled, so the suits aren’t doing their job, which isn’t good for the players.
“They might find a replacement, but it’s against time now. Is it going to be a best-of-five, a league, a PTC? It’s not good enough, definitely not good enough.
“I spoke to [WST chairman] Steve Dawson, [WST president] Barry Hearn, [WPBSA chairman] Jason Ferguson, I told them I didn’t want to speak to the press, I wanted to speak to them man-to-man, which I did.
“They all gave me the same answer: we’ll look after you, the tournaments will be there, don’t worry.
“The tournaments aren’t there, so there’s something wrong at the top of the game. It’s worrying for players. It’s not good enough for most of the tour.
“I’ve either been lied to that things will be ok, or they’ve just not been able to fulfill it. Something’s wrong.”
The WST Classic will take place from March 16 to 22, with further details on possible tickets and TV options expected to be announced soon.
Featured photo credit: WST