World Snooker have announced that, for the first time, there will be three wildcards for the Wembley Masters.

Quite rightly, Ding Jun Hui has been given a place, having won three world ranking events in the last 18 months.

Jimmy White, the darling of Wembley, is also given one. The third is going to the winner of the qualifying event.

This means that, for the first time, there are 19 players in the tournament.

Ding and White were the two obvious choices for wildcards, which have a dual function: to boost audience interest and reward achievement.

Otherwise, the Masters has always been a tournament for the elite and should remain so.

The only reason there was ever a qualifying event in the past was because the previous sponsors - B&H - understandably wanted to boost name penetration prior to the event.

Of course, the same could be said of SAGA, who have encouragingly signed on for three more years, but there is an established way players qualify for the Masters: they do well enough to become part of the top 16.

Last year, of the 78 players eligible to take part in the qualifying tournament, only 48 did. The widely held view is that it is only being staged to appease the voting membership, with the AGM just around the corner.

Whoever wins will, of course, have every right to enjoy their time at Wembley - with the tournament now being held at the Arena after the Conference Centre was earmarked for demolition as part of the stadium redevelopment - but are unlikely to do much for ticket sales.


Anonymous said...


Will the qualifying event still take place at Malcolm Thorne's Snooker Centre as previous events have done in the past?

Secondly, I take it the schedule will start earlier than Sunday?

Thirdly, with the dwindling amount of World Ranking tournaments in the season, has the Masters, since its loss of Benson and Hedges, ever been considered as a World Ranking event.

Also, can you tell me whether the Irish Masters has ever been a World Ranking event? Because I was certain that Ronnie O'Sullivan's 9-8 victory over Matthew Stevens in the Irish Masters in 2004/05 was classified as a World Ranking event as B&H had finished the previous season.

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...


One of the special things about the Masters is that it isn't a ranking event - it's a prestigious tournament for the elite and I think that's how it should remain.

They will start on the Sunday and have three morning sessions instead of two.

The Irish Masters was a ranking event from 2003-2005.

Anonymous said...


I used to think it was a 'elite tournament' but some players attitudes towards the event make me think different sometimes. (I also think it will lose its value when BBC Sport pull the Snooker contract, which I think has 4 years to run.)

Last season, I think Ken Doherty, was quoted that some players take things for granted at some of the tournaments on the calendar.

Also, how come the Irish Masters changed it's policy to World Ranking status, whilst still under B&H sponsorship, and The Masters didn't at Wembley? They both featured the top 16 and 2 wildcards didn't they?

Thanks for the information, Joe

Dave H said...

The Irish Masters used to be the top 8 plus 4 wildcards. It became a ranking event for political reasons.

Ken's point was that players should do more to promote the game.

Incidentally, I don't see any basis for suggesting the BBC will dump snooker - it does huge business for them.

Anonymous said...


Apologies about misquoting Ken.

And I realised, after posting the last message, that the Irish Masters had a shorter field when the tournament begun on a Tuesday...But political reasons?

But, I do hope that Rodney Walker starts to make inroads with regards new competition. If the Beeb did pull out, would Sky take the tournaments on? Apart from the World Championship they probably wouldn't be too bothered, as they already have the Premier Snooker League in it's new razzmatazz format. They did a splendid job with the International Open, British Open, Welsh Open and Regal Masters. Where are they all now? Doubt Sky would be interested.

Eurosport do a marvellous job of covering snooker, but only take the feed from the tv company hosting it, ie BBC or Chinese tv/Malta/Germany etc...

And ITV had their fill with the recent Champions and Nations Cup.

I do hope the BBC keep on to them, but I do really, really worry that they might just cancel it, and with sponsorship of tournaments at an all-time low, we could be entering an unthinkable stage for the sport.

Just hope Rodney Walker et al at the WSA are planning in advance, so we don't have the 'I told you so' comments in 3 or 4 years.

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

The political reason was this: World Snooker Enterprises - who won the commercial rights to snooker in 2002 after the players rejected the far more financially rewarding Altium proposal - needed an extra ranking event to meet their promise of eight tournaments so did a deal with the Irish Masters promoter.

(For the record, WSE were dsacked 10 months into their 10 year contract after it became clear they couldn't deliver.)

I thought Sky's approach to snooker was refreshing and entertaining and very much hope they will do more in the future.

But I can assure you the BBC are very happy with snooker's figures. How many other sports could pull in 3m at 1am, as Graeme Dott and Peter Ebdon did at the Crucible last May?

Anonymous said...


Without this blog I wouldn't have known those intricate and political details of the past 4 years. Thanks.

By the way, do you think Ian Doyle may line-up an alternative tour. It nearly happened 5 years ago and, he has the stable of players to do it?

(*note: it is hard to get a copy of Snookerscene where I live).

I don't disagree about the viewing figures or, the BBC's fantastic coverage. I just hope more tournaments evolve and Sky/ITV (or dare I say it, Five or Four,) get the rights to them.

Then, there'd be safety in numbers...

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

There won't be a rival tour, or at least not one organised by Ian Doyle - 110sport is now run by his son, Lee, who has recently joined the World Snooker board