World Snooker Forced Into Major U-Turn After Top Players Revolt

The qualifying cut-off date for this season’s prestigious Players’ Championship had been brought forward
15:54, 02 Dec 2022

World Snooker have been forced into an embarrassing U-turn after furious top players went into full revolt in objecting to the qualifying cut-off date for this season’s prestigious Players’ Championship being brought forward to exclude the Welsh Open. 

The Players’ event, reserved exclusively for the 16 best-performing professionals in the campaign to that point in the season, will take place in Wolverhampton in February. Last year the winner, Neil Robertson, picked up £125,000 for lifting the trophy. 

And all season the cut-off for getting in to the event had been the Welsh Open that finishes only a day before it starts with a tight changeover. But midway through this week’s Scottish Open bosses announced they would be excluding the Cardiff tournament and making the German Masters the last one to count. 


There are several big-name players who have not enjoyed the best start to the season in the ranking tournaments that count - including Robertson, Mark Williams, Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins – and who would want as many events as possible to try and make sure of their places. 

But having been slammed by Robertson, Williams and even runaway player of the season and recent UK Championship winner Mark Allen who has nothing to worry about personally on making the line-up the Players line-up, WST under huge pressure from the players changed their minds. 

A World Snooker statement on Friday read: “Following the announced change to the seeding cut off for the 2023 Players Championship, the decision has today been taken to revert to the original seeding cut off point of after the 2023 BetVictor Welsh Open. 

“The announced change was made for good reasons to assist scheduling and planning for players; however, it is recognised that it is mid-season, and this decision should be considered at the end of the season and in advance of a full calendar. 

“The top 16 players on the one-year ranking list at the end of the BetVictor Welsh Open, which finishes on February 19, will qualify for the Players Championship which runs from February 20 to 26.” 

Earlier Robertson, who was also unhappy with the decision being announced midway through another event, had raged about the goalposts being moved mid-season. He said: “World Snooker said they are cutting the qualification events by one tournament for the Players Championship. 

“All the players will get together and try and get that decision reversed, because you can’t do that. The Players Championship is for the top 16 on the one-year list and the changes will mean that money earned in the Welsh Open immediately before it no longer counts. 

“And that is completely wrong, because it wasn’t like that at the start of the season and they have decided for whatever reason to change it – and for me you can’t do that. 

“In my case, I would have entered more tournaments had I known that. Judd Trump, Mark Williams and I have already agreed that we will put in an official letter or complaint on this. 

“Whatever is necessary, and I’m sure other players will too. And any player that doesn’t is only doing it for their own selfish reasons in a way that wouldn’t reflect well on them. 

“Put it this way, even Mark Allen who has just won the UK and has nothing to worry about personally tweeted that it was wrong. And even if I had won the UK I would have said the same. 

“It was there at the start of the season, and they have never done it any other way. Maybe if it was Gibraltar or one with minimal prize money it wouldn’t be so bad. 

“But this is the Welsh Open, one of the Home Nations tournaments and one of the most established events on the calendar. The fact they announced all this halfway through an event was really poor timing as well - unsettling. 

“There was a big principle involved here, I can’t see why they have so late cut out a Home Nations event which carries decent money from the qualifying period. 

“We already have a situation that there are so many top players out of the German Masters. And you don’t want more top players out of the Players, and then out of the Tour Championships. It could be a disaster in terms of the line-up.” 

World No3 Trump had agreed. He said: “I only heard about it on social media and talking to other players. None of the players found out directly which is ridiculous. 

“At least I don’t think so, unless I missed the email and I don’t normally. No one else I know found out that way, there was no warning that might happen. A lot of the top players are not happy with that and I’d imagine anyone bar Mark Allen would be very disappointed – and even he has said he is against it. 

“You can’t go changing the criteria halfway through the season. Everyone I have spoken to was bemused by it. Plus we were halfway through an event, I don’t know how they can get away with that. 

“Players are not happy and let’s see what happens. But first and foremost it is in my hands and if I can have a good run I can avoid the possible consequences. It isn’t great, though. I spoke to Neil and Mark Williams and they weren’t happy, I haven’t heard one person that agrees with it.” 

Meanwhile Trump lost a Scottish Open quarter-final thriller 5-4 to Thailand speedster Thepchaiya Un-Nooh on a re-spotted black in a dramatic deciding frame. It is the first time the Juddernaut has ever lost to the world No57 in six meetings. A devastated Trump, 33, could hardly speak afterwards. He managed: "I don't have much to say - it is tough to take. 

"I am just disappointed, it is a very tough loss. I should have won the match, I had enough chances. I should have potted the last black, and had chances before that. I just threw it away like I have been all season."

Un Nooh will face Geordie Gary Wilson on Saturday after he came through an ill tempered clash 5-3 against namesake Kyren.

The Newcastle player said: "At the end he seemed very angry and told me my attitude was bad after having a joke with the crowd. I am delighted with the win."

The second semi-final will be between Leicester's Joe O'Connor, into the last four of a major event for only the second time, and Neil Robertson.

O'Connor, 27, beat Ricky Walden 5-1 while Australian Robertson maintained a great recent record against Mark Selby with a 5-2 win.

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