Huge format change for the big-money Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters

A photo of the landscape of a Saudi Arabian city. At the bottom of the poster it says WST Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters.A photo of the landscape of a Saudi Arabian city. At the bottom of the poster it says WST Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters.
A photo of the landscape of a Saudi Arabian city. At the bottom of the poster it says WST Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters. | World Snooker Tour
Following an official announcement on the World Snooker Tour website on Wednesday, there are date and significant format changes for this season’s upcoming Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters.

The first ranking event to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the historic new tournament features a gigantic prize fund of over £2million and has been described by the WST as snooker’s ‘fourth major’.

The 2024 Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will now take place between August 30 to September 7 - the event starting a day earlier (therefore extending it) than previously scheduled.

However, the two biggest pieces of news to come from the statement are that the competition now features 144 players and all players will compete at the main venue in Riyadh.

It was previously stated that the event would have all 128 tour card holders and six local wildcards, so this update means the field has risen by a further ten players. Further details are to be released in due course, although it will be interesting to see who fills those remaining spots. At the recent World Nineball Pool Championship in Jeddah, there were 13 Saudi wildcards in a 128-player field.

Currently, the sport’s two biggest ranking events - the World Championship and the UK Championship - have 144 player fields, with recent amateur champions invited to take part in the first qualifying round. It is very possible that the 2024 Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will use the same tiered system with the world’s top 16 going straight through to the last 32, although this is only a guess.

The biggest talking point, though, is that all the matches will be played at the venue - there will be no ‘qualifying’ rounds held away from the main venue in a different country that we often see for many non-UK based events.

It has been a criticism from some that the early/qualifying rounds of ‘overseas’ events are held hundreds of miles away from the main venue, and often weeks before. However, it appears that the venue being used for the event in Jeddah is big enough to accommodate all 144 participants; at last week’s world nineball, all 128 players featured at the venue itself.

It will also be intriguing to see whether first round losers in the event will collect prize money; at the recent World Nineball Pool Championship, all players were guaranteed prize money.

The full WST announcement - including details for other events - is here.

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