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Next season’s Tour Championship snooker field increased to 12

The primary focus during the last week has been on the World Snooker Championship, but there was some other important main tour news as well.

It may have slipped through the cracks somewhat in terms of coverage, but there was an unexpected reveal from the World Snooker Tour on Thursday.

The Tour Championship, which in recent seasons has represented one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar, will have its field increased from the 2023/24 snooker campaign.

For its first five stagings, only eight players qualified for the competition through the one-year list.

That number, however, will increase to twelve next season, with the top four-ranked competitors automatically seeded through to the quarter-finals.

It seems an unnecessary tweak to what had already been billed as a successful addition to the schedule since its launch in 2019.

But after the likes of world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan, defending champion Neil Robertson, and reigning Masters winner Judd Trump failed to qualify in 2023, there seems to have been a kneejerk reaction to prevent that kind of scenario from happening again in the future.

What impact this will have on the other Players Series tournaments is so far unknown.

The World Grand Prix usually boasts the top 32 players from the one-year rankings, before the Players Championship entertains the list’s top 16.

There will also be a new destination for the Tour Championship, as the sport’s merry-go-round with venues in the UK continues.

The 2024 edition of the tournament will take place at Manchester Central during the first week of April, just after the World Mixed Doubles is staged at the same arena.

There were widespread complaints about the crowd numbers at the recent 2023 Tour Championship at the Bonus Arena in Hull – an event that was won by Shaun Murphy.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “The Tour Championship is one of our biggest events and we felt it was right to move it to a venue befitting its stature.”

“The Masters, for example, has thrived and grown massively in London.

“We are always improving our understanding of fans and using all data points available to inform our event venue selection strategy, while also working closely with our broadcasters.

“It will be a great thrill for the players to compete in a tournament in central Manchester and an extra incentive to qualify for this elite 12-player event.

“We expect the people of Manchester and the North West to support it in droves, and we are delighted to stage the Mixed Doubles again following its success this season.”

Shaun Hinds, CEO at Manchester Central, added: “We’re honoured that the World Snooker Tour organisers have chosen our iconic venue to host this superb event in the North West.”

“This prestigious fixture in the sporting calendar promises to attract people from near and far, as well as showcase our wonderful city to a worldwide TV audience.

“This tournament, and the series of events being organised as part of it, has the ability to create an incredible vibe and sense of excitement throughout Manchester next April.

“We can’t wait to give snooker fans a warm North West welcome!”

Tickets for the 2024 Tour Championship will go on sale on Wednesday, April 26th.

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Jay Brannon

    I agree this is an unnecessary tweak especially if it compromises every match being a two session affair. The fact it remains seven days suggests a shorter format could happen unless we go to a two table setup. ITV reported below par figures so that may also have been a motivating factor in this decision.

    The move to city of Oasis and the Stone Roses is a good one though. Snooker has not held enough events in major English cities. I live in the second city of Birmingham and we’ve not had an event since the 1990s.

    • Yes, agreed. Moving to Manchester could turn out positively. I just hope it establishes a base there and stays for several years. All of the regular tournaments deserve permanent homes. This recurring theme of rotating venues is not good.

  2. Declan White

    How can 12 players work? It’s neither last sixteen nor a quarter final – 6 players against 6, then the next round is 3 players against 3 – so what’s the final, 2 players against 1? Or does it start out in that league fashion to get the best 8? We all know league snooker is the dullest version of the sport.

    They probably wouldn’t have secured the contract unless they could guarantee that the sport’s top players would be there. So the top 4 will have a good idea at the start of the season whether they’ll qualify for this great tournament – part of what makes it good is that a player has to work hard to earn his place. But not so now.

    If any of the players ranked 8-12 on the one year list have had earned more in the season than any of the top 4 on the two year list, they’ll feel rightly aggrieved.

    It seems the trade off is a better venue for a compromised tournament, so it’s an insight into the thinking of…what’s his name…the snooker boss that hardly any of us knows what he looks like or what his name is. His first real appearance in the whole season was to criticize Ronnie, and that wasn’t on video, just a photo and words.

    His second in command, Jason Ferguson, seems to be the boss the rest of the time, who knows? And that’s the man who said in interview that one of the greatest moments in his life was figuring out a balance sheet!

    It won’t surprise me if the matches are whittled down to best of 17s or something like that or earlier rounds best of 11. The current world championships, with so many one sided matches, almost suggests a lot of snooker players – old timers aside – are forgetting how to play longer matches, which is what snooker is all about, a slow-burning sport.

    • As mentioned in the article, the top four players are seeded through to the quarter-finals. The remaining eight play each other in the first round, with the four winners then completing the quarter-final lineup.

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