The World Snooker Tour has announced another new ranking event with the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters set for this summer in Riyadh.
A lucrative pot of over £2 million will put the tournament behind only the World Snooker Championship for prize money.
In contrast to the invitational Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker that was announced last month, the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will be open to all 128 players on the main tour.
Six local wild cards from the Saudi Arabian Billiard & Snooker Federation will also be invited to participate in the competition.
Perhaps the most eye-catching part of the 10-year deal is that the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters is set to be classified as the sport’s “fourth major”.
This would potentially rank it alongside the Triple Crown events in terms of status.
The 2024 World Pool Championship from the World Nineball Tour will also be held in Jeddah with a prize fund of $1 million.
Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has forged a reputation for growth and creating new opportunities for sports to grow in a new market to new fans.”
“The country has hosted some of the world’s premier sporting events in recent years, welcoming visitors from all over to experience its passion for sport and unique culture.
“The addition of both the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters and World Pool Championship over the next decade further enhances that as it heralds an exciting chapter for Snooker and Nineball pool.
“We have seen the incredible impact Boxing has had in this region.
“Now, I believe we will see Billiards cement its legacy here too, creating incredible opportunities and competition for the finest players on the planet.”
Saudi Arabia Billiard & Snooker Federation President, Dr. Nasser Saab Al-Shammari, added: “The introduction of two brand new global events in Saudi Arabia with long-term deals in place is absolute game changing moment for our sports.”
“We have a flourishing community but until now opportunities were limited expose to the game’s elite. This will undoubtedly accelerate our progress and development.
“We look forward to warmly welcoming the very best snooker and Nineball pool players in the world to the Kingdom and taking their sports into the heart of our communities, while also giving emerging young Saudi players the chance to compete at this level for the first time with a ‘home’ event.
“Both events will be underpinned by community engagement to introduce new players to the sport and will open up new talent pathways over the decade.
“Clinics for coaches, for referees and player visits will guarantee a massive boost and a bright future for both snooker and pool in Saudi Arabia.”
The announcement comes a week after the World Snooker Tour revealed that there would be a new ranking event in China next season as well.
The Xi-an Grand Prix, signed under a multi-year deal, will run from August 19th to 25th later this year.
The tournament will boast a total prize fund of £850,000 and offer a winner’s cheque worth £177,000.
WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “This is fantastic news for our players and fans as we continue our global development and particularly our presence in China.”
“During the 2023/24 season we have been able to stage events in China for the first time since 2019 and this return has been a great success, with three world ranking events as well as one invitation tournament, and a fabulous reception from our friends and partners in the cities we have visited.
“We are thrilled and excited to announce a new event and to be heading for the first time to the fascinating location of Xi’an, with its remarkable history and culture.
“The local fans will have the chance to see their heroes play live.
“And for the players this is another opportunity to experience a new location, while competing and earning a high level of prize money.
“Our particular thanks go to the CBSA for their long-term dedication to growing our sport throughout China, and to Shaanxi Sports Industry Group Limited.
“We look forward to working with them closely on the first Xi’an Grand Prix and to a successful long-term partnership.”
Featured photo credit: WST