If you're wondering why top players such as Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen would go to China in July to play in an invitation tournament, here's a clue:

The top prize in 110sport's Beijing Challenge is £50,000.

There used to be a large number of small invitation tournaments on the calendar and, having dwindled, it's good to see more cropping up.

Invitation events - not ranking tournaments - are the best way of promoting snooker. They cost far less to stage and feature mainly big names so audiences are guaranteed to recognise the players in action.

In recent years, snooker fans have been brainwashed into believing that if a tournament doesn't hold ranking status it's not worth staging.


Does anyone remember the Irish Masters at Goffs? That was one of the best events on the circuit.

There was also the Scottish Masters in Motherwell and tournaments such as the World Matchplay and the Champions Cup, plus a number of others that helped create a more vibrant circuit than we have today.

Ideally, I'd like to see a Masters series for the top players, preferably played around Europe: short events featuring the top eight or twelve players in the world rewarded for being the elite, something that snooker seems to frown upon.

The WPBSA recently announced tournaments aimed at lower ranked players - how about some purely for those on whose shoulders the game's popularity is carried?


Anonymous said...

thing is over resent years people see invertational events as nothing tournaments but the truth is snooker was built on invertational tournaments in the 80s.

the UK Championship started life as a invertational to UK Citisens only.

snooker needs more of these events to compliment the Ranking tournaments..in the 80s and during the season that braught a record 18 million after midnight audience watching the 85 world final there was only 6 world ranking events and the first season that saw more than 6 was in 1988/1989 season but during the sports "GOLDEN PERIOD" there was only 6.

next season theres 6 Ranking Tournaments thats not ideal but remember when snooker ruled the world there was only 6 Ranking tournaments at that time aswell.

Anonymous said...


Just wondering how more prize money than a ranking event costs less to stage? Surely the costs for the venue, tables, etc will be the same. Plus to invite players you'll be paying for flights and hotels for the week.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news.

£60k prize money to the winner in China is exactly what our once great sport needs. That sort of dough isn't available in Europe.

Players must be really struggling financially at the moment due to the lack of decent wedge in the game.

I hope some of our up-coming talent are also asked to participate. Snooker needs some new characters to help us challenge for an Olympic spot in 2016.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the irony.

This blog article hails a £60k winners prize as a godsend, while belittling a £3k prize it was "bigging-up" less than a week ago.

The sport is dead in the UK, and this is proof of the point as if it was needed.

Anonymous said...

What you on about. The top players have been spoilt by invitation tournaments for many years. If this is the way of promoting the sport, they have not done much good in gaining any sponsorship.

Now world snooker are at least trying to do something for the lower ranked players, lets not try and spoil it before its even began by trying to get more invites for the higher ranked.

Barry Hearn and John Higgins are doing their bit to promote the game, especially in Europe, now give the lower ranked players a chance. As i said, these top players have done many invitation events over the years, So where is this so called promoting they are doing to benefit snooker. I have not seen one sponsored event due to this hardly.

Dave H said...

I'm not knocking the Pro Challenge Series - I welcomed it on this blog

I'm just saying there should be more tournaments for top players as well

Dave H said...

To 9.21: less players in the field = less money to stage the event, plus you don't have to run qualifiers or take as many officials

Mig said...

I agree that small invitational events are a great way to promote snooker, and they are not so expensive as the ranking tournaments, but the thing is they don't affect the ranking status of the players involved, and the promoter can invite whoever he wants to be in it while in a ranking tournament players EARN their spots. These two facts add a kind of interest other tournaments will never have.

Anonymous said...

£60k? Mmmmm?

A 110 sport event, with all 110 sport players taking part?

£60k makes it sound good - but I doubt it's anything like that in reality.

It's not as if their players are going to question what they get

Monique said...

Amusingly when in Berlin last month Ronnie compared the atmosphere in the German exhibitions with what he used to feel in Goffs. The players thrive to that - well many of them - and they need it. They also need events where they can express/enjoy themselves, at the risk to lose, without the absolute pressure of ranking points at stake. It's because of that lack of invitationals in the recent years mainly that so mainy have the feeling there aren't characters anymore in snooker. There are just as many as in the past, they just have little opportunity to show.
So YES ... more of them!

and - off topic - Happy Birthday Dave!

Anonymous said...

I can't agree with the sentiments in the blog. More tournaments dominated by the 'big names' would gradually freeze out any new faces coming through. They would be a disincentive for any aspiring player knowing that no matter how hard they tried, if their face didn't fit then they would only be able to play in a few tournaments. The established players are not short of money, players outside of the top 32 are. If the culture of invitational events becomes more widespread, this gap will widen and the game will stagnate.

Anonymous said...

The game, in the UK anyway, has come full circle from the early 70's. There's a decent living to be made by a select few but they've got to be distinctive as well as being good players. As the BBC is the games life support, IF and WHEN it pulls the plug expect to see Davis and White get star billing in every invitational event going. The UK public just aren't interested in the likes of Selby, Murphy etc as seen by the horrendous Masters turnout this year.

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...

anon 9.31

thats why theres Ranking Tournaments so that new players comes through and replace the big names and get in to invertational events.

they all have had to do it Stephen Hendry was a unknown in the 80s playing in 6 Ranking Tournaments .

you make youre name there before you get to a decent standard and win things and put youre name forward.

3 years ago Mark Selby wouldnt have had a invite for many things but he worked hard and got better now he is a Top Player.

suerly Top Players should Play Tournaments because they have earned that in being good in Ranking Tournaments.

Anonymous said...

To 10.35 (reply from 9.31). The point I am making is that there will be less incentive for lower players to progress and with the top players playing more events the gap will widen between the top and the middle ranking players. On a related point, everyone knows that Stephen Hendry is well past his best yet he still continues to be invited to everything. Someone along the lines of say, Jamie Cope doesn't, yet he is a better player than Hendry is now. I just think all this 'living on your reputation' or what you have done many years ago isn't the way forward. It will act as a disincentive to younger players.

Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

And, Mark Selby hasn't been invited to the Premier League, Hendry has, because his face fits.

Ruthie said...

The first tournament match I went to was at the Irish Masters, twenty years ago. There was always a sense of occasion there, even though there were no ranking points. The foyer at Goffs was a model for what Dave has pointed out here before: merchandise stands, snack stands, and a bookmakers next door. There was also a standing policy that players came out after their matches to sign autographs (hundreds of them) at a designated area. Invitation events can deliver things that ranking events (where players understandably feel under more pressure to earn their living) can't.

Pete@cuesport.tv said...

I am all for events to promote the sport, however I would question the logic of having more high profile invitational events for top players only.

The top 16 are already overly protected in my opinion, look at Tennis where the seeded players all have to start in round one. Snooker would be more exciting with rankings more fluent if this was the case.

Maybe open events like we saw in Belgium last year are a better solution, top players get invited but play alongside lower ranked pro's and amateurs. This will grow the game.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Maguire is comfterbly through to the Semi Finals .....

following his win over Ali Carter if Stephen Hendry beats Jin Long he is also through to the Semi Finals

if Marco Fu beats Mark Allen he is through and Allen out but if Allen wins its calculator time.

i also reckon Liang Wenbo after 2 3-0 wins against Hendry and Carter that he is through despite losing 3-1 to Tian Pengfei.

theres good money for the Winner of this Tournament £60,000

Dave H said...

I'm now told the top prize is actually £50,000, not £60,000 as I was told yesterday

I have thus edited the original article

cb said...

I think a combination of Invitational events for the top players and smaller ranking events for everybody is whats needed. There isn't the money or interest for any new large ranking events, but a few smaler ones could be held. With the interst in snooker in Europe there should be enough smaller sponsers for a £100,000-125,000 ranking event with lower points at stake. The same goes for China, Thailand, Malta and maybe another couple of places. This along with a couple of invitationals like what the Irish Masters used to be would leave snooker with at least a half-decent looking season.

jamie brannon said...

I agree but Ranking events are generally more important and six is laughable.

Anonymous said...

in every sport theres degrees of importance and without smaller events the bigger events arent seen as important.

in Snooker you got The World,UK and Masters at the pinicle

then the other Ranking tournaments

then other Invertational Tournaments

then the PL before finishing off with this 6 red rubish.

Anonymous said...

This event has more money for winning than some ranking events!

Maybe it's time to scrap the Welsh Open and look at holding another tournament in the Far East. It's only worth 5,000 points now. Small events like this would serve snooker better by taking them to areas where they are desperate for a ranking tournament.

If World Snooker are stumping up the prize money for ranking events then it doesn't really matter where they are held. It would be far better to take unsponsored small tournaments abroad to grow the sport (to Belgium?, Germany?). Who knows, we may end up getting a sponsor!

Anonymous said...

why not forget about every other country and play everything in the far east.

snooker if its going to get back on top has to look for other countrys and not put all theire eggs in 1 basket.

anon 5.10pm

youre a very inteligent guy.

Anonymous said...

invertational events is the way to go to fill up a Season....theres less players so more money on offer for winners.

i stil say you need 8 Ranking tournaments but then play invertationals in between like its always been.

Anonymous said...

hendray was refusing shots i expected him to go for.

he did look competative whitch for a minor even was very encouraging ....watch this space.

Anonymous said...

Snooker should watch and learn how tennis and golf run their tours . They have very few invitational events and everyone starts on an even playing field in ranking events , none of this seeding players through to the last 32 of every tournament . This encourages more progress for minority overseaes players and youngsters which in turn creates more interest.
At the moment in snooker the young and overseas players have to win upto 4 matches to get any exposure at a big venue against a top player because of the draw structure in snooker tournaments. Given the standard this is extremely difficult indeed. If you proposed our draw structure to tennis and other sports they would dismiss it withought a thought.
IMHO if you want snooker to globalize the progress of overseas players must be encouraged not stagnated.