World Open Replaces Shanghai Masters
Yesterday came the predicted news that the Shanghai Masters will be replaced this season by the World Open in September.
Ding Welsh Open
Ding is the only player to have won the Shanghai Masters twice, having also emerged victorious in 2014. Photo credit: Monique Limbos.
There had been much speculation in recent weeks as to what was happening with the Autumn ranking event in China, but World Snooker finally confirmed on Tuesday what many had already suspected.
The World Open will take place from the 18th to 24th of September in Yushan, which also staged the event in July of 2016 when Ali Carter won a fourth ranking crown.
It brings an end, temporarily at least, to the Shanghai Masters, which was a regular fixture on the calendar since 2007 and the news will come as a major disappointment to many hardened fans and players alike.
Running for a decade, the Shanghai Masters had become one of the longest active ranking tournaments and, in the last few years, it was the last remaining event other than the World Championship to use the old tiered system of qualification.
The final contract reached its conclusion at the end of the 2016 edition which was won by home favourite Ding Junhui, which is perhaps in hindsight a fitting way to now end its tenure on the tour.
While it was always expected that the tournament would become a flat 128 draw for this campaign, its quick demise and replacement has come as a little bit of a shock.
Chinese events, though widely watched on television and followed online, have often struggled to attract sellout crowds at the venues but this was generally not the case in the country’s biggest city.
Yushan, on the other hand, is in a much more remote location and evidence from its first staging last year would suggest that effort will need to be made in order to make the promotion as successful as possible.
That said, even though some players will feel aggrieved at having to undertake the extra travel necessary, the huge increase in prize fund should counter that woe.
In 2016, Ding earned £85,000 for his exploits on home soil in Shanghai but the World Open will provide a top prize of £150,000 from a total purse of a whopping £700,000.
There’s hope yet that the Shanghai Masters can continue in some way shape or form as well, with World Snooker stating that it is “still in discussions with the Shanghai promoter about continuing the Shanghai Masters in a different format later in the season.”
Hopefully something can be resolved because the Shanghai Masters was one of the better ranking events every year and it always served an important role as being the gateway into the busier period of the campaign.
That honour following the summer months will now fall on the World Open and it’ll be interesting if it can create any of its own identity, or if it will simply mesh in with many of the other samey ranking events on the calendar.
The single qualifying round for the World Open will take place in August along with the Indian Open and European Masters preliminaries in Preston.