Chairman of World Snooker Barry Hearn has announced a number of changes for next season which include a new qualifying format for the World Championship, a new 147 bonus and an extended tour card for Jimmy White.
Currently the top-16 players qualify as seeds for the World Championship with the rest having to go three rounds of qualifying, something that has drawn criticism from players who just missed out on seeding.
However now there will be four rounds of qualifying as opposed to three and the higher ranked players will join in the later rounds.
“I do think now we can look at the World Championships as a one-off.” Hearn told Eurosport’s Neal Foulds. “The top-16 are seeded through to the Crucible.”
“The game has matured enough where we can look to reward the efforts they’ve put in during the season for the next tier of players.
“Players will always argue a case that suits them personally because that’s human nature, to be a bit selfish, but I think they’ve got a relevant point now.
“They didn’t a few years ago because there weren’t enough events to suggest you were a top -32 player. We know now that the cream rises to the crop and these players are there on merit because they’ve performed during the season so this is listening to the players but at the same taking in commercial reality.”
Eurosport pundit Jimmy White has also been given a new two-year tour card in recognition of his undisputed services to snooker.
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“He’s got an invitational tour card which is something we very, very rarely give, only on special occasions.” Hearn explained.
“James Wattana got one if you remember for his services to snooker in South-East Asia and Ken Doherty got one last year as he is a former world champion and Ken has justified that by earning his place back on the tour through his performances on the table.
Jimmy White has been one of the great custodians of our game, he’s been crazy, he’s been exciting he’s been Jimmy!
“I’ve known him since he’s been 12 and the game owes a lot to Jimmy White and I think the least we can do is make sure it’s his choice when he doesn’t play on tour.
“I phoned Jimmy up and I said ‘are you interested in carrying on because I’m mindful of giving you another two years,’ and he said ‘Bazza, it’s my life’ and I thought that summed up Jimmy White.”
“I’m delighted, this last season bits and pieces I’ve played okay but I really enjoyed practicing.” White said live on Eurosport after the news was confirmed.
I’d like to thank Barry Hearn and World Snooker for arranging that and I’m delighted to take it up and I shall give it my best.”
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The final major piece of news from the announcement is that from next season there will be a £1 million prize pot on offer for 147s.
Once there have been 20 147s across the season the bonus will be triggered and the pot will be shared between every player to make a maximum during the season.
Reacting to the news live on Eurosport five-time champion of the world Ronnie O’Sullivan was sceptical saying “Barry is a mix between Del Boy and Arthur Daley at the end of the day so he’s always looking for a good, cheap soundbite and I think this is a good way to kind of say 20 maximums there’s a million-pound prize on offer.
“It’s not going to happen but it sounds good. It’s a bit like the home nations, whoever wins all four gets a million, it’ll never happen but it sounds good.
“It might incentivise some players but it might demotivate some other players because you’ll think if it’s likely somebody is going to get 20.”