Brazil will stage a new tournament next season as professional snooker heads to South America for the first time.
The Brazilian Masters (launched today in London, picture left) will be held in the city of Sao Paulo from September 14-17. It will be an invitation tournament in the first year, featuring 12 top players and four wildcards, with the plan to upgrade it to a ranking event in the fullness of time.
Brazil has a history of snooker but the game is largely played with ten reds on smaller tables.
For the first time this season a Brazilian player, Igor Figueiredo, is competing as a professional and qualified for the World Open, where his British TV debut ended at the hands of Mark Williams.
The move into any new territory is a cause for celebration but Brazil, with its sun-drenched beaches and long history of excellence at football, is one of the more glamorous locations for a tournament.
I can’t imagine many players thinking twice before accepting the invitation.
However, those with long memories will recall that events were also announced in Brazil in 1995 and 2004 and that neither took place.
But I have rather more confidence in Barry Hearn’s promotional skills than those of regimes gone by and this new event, and tournaments likely to be announced in other far off places in the near future, is proof of genuine progress being made under his stewardship of the game’s commercial body.
It is right to start off with an invitation event and test the water to see if the interest in Brazil can sustain a bigger tournament in years to come.
This strategy is one Hearn pursued in the 1980s as an independent promoter. It was he who first went to Thailand, China and Dubai, long before the governing body.
Two of the local wildcards will be determined by a qualifying event in Brazil, which itself will generate even more interest in snooker in the country as amateur players fight to take on the sport's biggest names.
The Brazilian Masters will be played under a knock-out format on one match table.
The early rounds will be best of seven frames while the semis and final will be best of nine.
Television coverage will be announced in due course.