An ever-present fixture on the World Snooker Tour since Dominic Dale first lifted the trophy back in 2007, the Shanghai Masters will once again return this year from 10-16 September.
But this year it will be with a twist, following the announcement by World Snooker last November that the 2018 edition will see the tournament become the richest invitational event in snooker’s history.
This follows the signing of a new five-year agreement reached between World Snooker, promoter Juss Sports and the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA), under which the total prize fund will continue to rise year-on-year from £725,000 this year to £825,000 in 2022.
Earlier today both WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson and two-time Shanghai winner Ronnie O’Sullivan were in China to formally launch the 2018 event. For the first time, the tournament will also include four players who will qualify via the new Shanghai Amateur Masters competition.
But how will the rest of the field be made up?
The event will comprise 24 players, to include defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, reigning world champion Mark Williams and the next 14 players on the official prize money ranking list following August’s World Open.
Ryan Day currently holds on to the final qualifying spot in 16th position, with Hong Kong’s Marco Fu currently his closest challenger some £16,212 behind.
They will be joined by the top four ranked Chinese players not already included within the top 16, of which Fu would not be included and so he must earn a top 16 spot to qualify.
The remaining four places will be taken by players who will qualify via the new Shanghai Amateur Masters competition.
The top eight seeded players will be kept apart in the draw and seeded straight through to the last 16, with those seeded 9-24 to meet in the opening round.
Matches up to and including the quarter-finals will be played over the best of 11 frames, semi-finals best of 19 and the final best of 21 frames.
China’s ‘new Masters’
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “The Shanghai Masters has earned its place in snooker history as an elite event and becoming the new Masters event for China is the obvious next step.
“Interest in snooker continues to grow across China and we are proud to be associated with such a renowned organiser as Juss Sports. We can safely say that this long-term relationship with them and the CBSA will year on year deliver a fantastic tournament for everyone involved.”
For more information on the World Snooker Tour visit www.worldsnooker.com