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Top 5: better events that could launch a new snooker season

The 2024/25 snooker season has already commenced with Ali Carter emerging with the first title last week in Leicester.

The Captain triumphed in the ranking event version of Championship League Snooker with a 3-1 defeat of Jackson Page in the final.

It was Carter’s sixth career ranking success, taking him into equal 15th on the all-time winners list alongside the likes of reigning world champion Kyren Wilson.

While it was a good achievement and a fine start to the new term, there will be a big section of snooker fans who wouldn’t have paid much notice.

With a monotonous, repetitive, and frankly boring format, Championship League Snooker took 21 days to complete (over a 24-day period).

There were moments of excitement, including David Gilbert’s magnificent escape from his group in Stage One.

But by and large, the tournament doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment and is an uninspiring way to commence a fresh campaign.

It’s curious that it has effectively become a tradition to launch a new season with this event, given how it hardly generates any publicity at all.

Okay, there is a gap in the summer schedule and the Championship League can easily fill that void – especially when it’s so difficult to organise venues and broadcasters.

Yet it seems strange that a sport would readily choose to begin things with a whimper, rather than with a bang.

Here then, in no particular order, are five possible tournaments that could be better suited to stirring up an immediate frenzy with fans.

Champion of Champions

Perhaps the most obvious better option to launch a new snooker season is the Champion of Champions.

The Champion of Champions has been a terrific tournament on the annual schedule since 2013, with Ronnie O’Sullivan a record four-time champion.

The invitation event boasts all the biggest trophy winners from the previous 12 months on the calendar.

Staging it at the start of the season, rather than in its usual mid-campaign slot around November, would guarantee a lineup of all of the prior season’s more important winners.

The lineup would comprise most of the best players in the world, which might be a more effective way to entice supporters back following the post-World Championship break.

Tour Championship

As things stand, the Tour Championship has become the regular penultimate ranking event on the schedule.

However, the fact that it’s staged just before the World Championship does leave it open to an anomaly of sorts.

The Tour Championship’s lineup is based on the one-year rankings, with the top 12 from that list having qualified for an absorbing edition in Manchester in early-April.

Ronnie O'Sullivan Mark Williams
Mark Williams beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2024 Tour Championship final. Photo credit: WST

But with the one-year rankings commencing at the start of a season, it means that the huge points that are on offer in Sheffield for the World Championship never count.

One potential way to fix this issue is to move the Tour Championship to after the World Championship, where it could act as a perfect way to start a new season.

Like the Champion of Champions, it also guarantees the involvement of several marquee names.

Shanghai Masters

This season, the Shanghai Masters has been moved from its familiar slot in September to the middle of July.

That makes it the second tournament of the 2024/25 snooker season, and there will be many supporters who ignored Championship League Snooker but will be returning to watch this competition.

The Chinese non-ranking event features the top 16 from the official two-year world rankings list, plus the next four highest-ranked Chinese players and four additional wildcards.

The Shanghai Masters is arguably China’s finest tournament – boasting a hefty prize fund, a good atmosphere, and always a fine lineup.

British Open

One positive aspect of Championship League Snooker is it ensures that every player on the World Snooker Tour has the opportunity to enter.

That, of course, is the case with all ranking events, but with the reintroduction of the tiered qualifying system at a lot of tournaments this season, the opportunity for those further down the rankings to feature at the venue stages has potentially become even more limited.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case with the British Open.

This tournament is one of only two on the calendar – the other being the Shoot Out – that incorporates a random, FA Cup-style, draw for each round.

An event that doesn’t rely on ranking lists and which most players and fans already enjoy, this could be an enticing opener.

An international team event

There hasn’t been a World Cup in snooker since 2019, when the Scottish pairing of John Higgins and Stephen Maguire secured glory in Wuxi.

The truth is that the more recent formats for the World Cup were not particularly enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean that a new arrangement couldn’t be.

The prospect of players representing their countries is often passion-inducing, and this is an event that could be staged in different countries with numerous options in mainland Europe especially.

Don’t want a World Cup every year? No problem. Turn it into a biennial tournament with a different international event in the alternating years.

How about adding a Ryder Cup inspired event between the UK and the Rest of the World?

That certainly would be a more exhilarating way to a start a new snooker season.

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Ger Murphy

    As usual your I really enjoyed your informative article.
    Could u please tell me if the one year listing starts with the Championship League? A

  2. Jamie Brannon

    A July start with Shanghai would be the best choice. A UK based event in high summer is not going to appeal to broadcasters. ITV cover three of the events you mention and they’ve got too many other commitments. The Tour Championship is also part of a series so would feel a little out of a kilter in a separate season.

    The World Cup should return as it works so well in many sports.

    The only good thing about Championship League is I don’t feel any need to watch it and can focus on a packed sporting summer.

  3. Daniel White

    Having the same name for two different tournaments is odd in itself. It further dilutes the interest of the sports season opener if it’s sharing it’s name with something else that happens to be more prestigious later in the season when everyone is in their groove.

    • Yes, it’s a contractual arrangement with Matchroom that means these two completely different events have the same name. I insist on calling them ‘Summer Championship League’ and ‘Spring Championship League’ which is much more understandable that ‘Non-Ranking-Version-…’, etc. which makes very little sense, especially to people not familiar with snooker’s tortuous ranking system.

  4. Jamie Brannon

    I don’t know any sport that has two events in the same season.

  5. Why was Championship League not showing on any television channel?

  6. Thanks for your article – it’s always extremely valuable to see a serious discussion about any aspect snooker’s future.

    Actually, I’m not as negative about the Summer Championship League, as it showcases many new players. The event does suit the lower-ranked players (earning opportunities as well a rare chance to play on centre-stage) and some top players, who get to choose their dates around their exhibition or holiday priorities. The were several Chinese players who preferred to play in the CBSA City Teams event in Shaanxi (won by Xiao Guodong’s team). Liu Hongyu was the only player who got lucky with his schedule to play in both.

    I do agree that from a promotional point of view it makes sense to have the season start with a high-profile event, such as the Shanghai Masters or Champion of Champions. But there’s something to be said for a lower-profile event which can be used by many players as a warm-up. Ideally we want to see the top events have players who are ready.

    It might be possible to improve the action, by having 4 tables with roaming TV coverage. What does not help at all is when the highlighted group fizzles out before the end.

    I was a supporter of a UK vs. China ‘Ryder Cup’ event (probably bienially, alternating with the regular World Cup). I don’t think people would get behind a ‘Rest-of-the-World’ fudge team. Unfortunately, Chinese snooker has suffered a number of setbacks, and indeed may be in terminal decline (Ding Junhui is fading, Heyball is taking over, and many Chinese players are disillusioned with WST’s UK-centric tour). If we are to have a Mixed Doubles event, then that would make much more sense at the start of the season.

    Starting the season with the Tour Championship is a nice idea, but Jamie is right in that it would mess up the ‘series’, although I don’t like these ‘series bonuses’.

  7. Jamie Brannon

    There’s no current bonus for the ITV Player’s Series.

    My issues is how long winded it is. You need to be moving more quickly through the opening stage as the narrative is too disjointed and the gap between player’s appearances too spaced out initially. I’m fine with it from a selfish perspective as I feel no great desire to engage with it when far more prestigious sport is taking place.

    DC is right not just about the dull format but it’s failure to start the season more explosively.

    A World Cup is preferable as that would give more opportunities to spread the game globally.

    Chinese snooker seems healthy in terms of audiences last season but Q School went badly for them and clearly losing ten players to various bans has diminished their depth and took away their two biggest stars since Ding – Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong.

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