Untangling the 2011/12 Tournament Calendar

With the tournament calendar for next season changing rapidly, click below for my take on how the schedule is currently shaping up while I am also pleased to confirm that I have received confirmation now as to the crucial question of when the points from the 2009 Grand Prix tournament will come off the rankings…

As you may or may not be aware, following the recent introduction of live streaming of the qualifiers and PTC matches World Snooker issued a broadcast schedule document on their website to explain where and how you can watch live snooker between now and the end of the season. Of particular interest however was not the TV schedule, but instead the fact that the actual calendar of events differs markedly to that currently displayed on the World Snooker tournaments page.

As snooker continues to grow, new tournaments are being introduced seemingly all the time at the moment and what has meant is that the tournament calendar for 2011/12 has been a fluid document, rapidly changing and evolving as new contracts and therefore events are agreed.

Amidst the fun and games at PTC2 last week therefore a few of us managed to sit down and try to make sense of what exactly has changed in the most recent, but almost certainly not final calendar.

2009 GP points – will be dropped in October

The first issue that has been confirmed is that the points from the 2009 Grand Prix tournament WILL be taken off at the season’s first mid-season rankings revision following PTC6 in early October. There had been some doubt over this (mainly from myself), which meant that my projected seedings list was not quite definite, but I now understand that as anticipated the points will be removed in October.

Looking at the actual calendar itself, by and large it would appear to be unchanged up until the conclusion of the PTC12 event and therefore the second mid-season ranking cut-off on the 8th January 2012. The Wembley Masters too will also be unchanged as it moves to the Alexandra Palace at Wembley on the 15th January 2012.

The first big change is that the Hainan World Open qualifiers have been pencilled in between the 11-14th January 2012 immediately before the Masters. Rumours have been abound as to where the World Open would take place this season if at all but Hainan, the venue for the invitational Hainan Classic won by John Higgins earlier this year appears to have been given the nod.

Immediately on the back of this comes ‘Ranking Event TBC’ between the 17-20 January. While I do not know this for sure, the fact that this runs for four days would indicate that this will be a qualifying tournament and judging by this article, my guess would be that this will be for a tournament to be staged in India.

Moving on, subsequent dates for the Shootout, German Masters and Welsh Open remain unchanged, though the venue for the Welsh remains unconfirmed at present. Following this under the old calendar was to be the final mid-season ranking event cut-off but whether this changes now following the fact that the potential event in India will not come to a conclusion until the 3rd March 2012 remains to be seen. This is also complicated by the fact that the China Open qualifiers will be played before the India tournament.

Welsh Open to stay at Newport?

Another important point to note is that although the German Masters qualifiers take place before the second seedings cut-off, because the venue stages take place after this, no points will be added until the conclusion of the venue stages meaning that I will not be adding the minimum points for that event to my lists until after PTC12.

The final, and for me most interesting change to the calendar is that the qualifiers for the World Championship have now been pushed forward a month and will run from the 4-15 April 2012, with the Crucible stages starting just days later on the 21st April 2012.

This is the first time that I can recall such a short period of time between the qualifiers and the venue stages for the World Championship and it will be fascinating to see the effect that it has. Particularly, first-time qualifiers such as Andrew Pagett and Jimmy Robertson this year would enter the Crucible full of confidence and with less time for the magnitude of qualifying to actually sink in, could this potentially help or hinder them?

Another observation raised by Alan McManus on Twitter yesterday was that for the qualifiers it does extend the season because previously those losing in the World Championship qualifiers in March who had not already qualified for China would be finished until the end of June, but will now be in action until at least mid-April.

Also as Dave Hendon pointed out, World Snooker will have to be quick on the draw for the Crucible stages, indeed for ticket sales I wonder whether it may be better to make the full draw from the start rather than draw the last 32 once the qualifiers are drawn. For me as a ticket buying fan, I would like to know sooner rather than later what match I am paying money to watch, though with the tickets going on sale in October now it is not such an important issue.

We will see how everything pans out because as I say, the calendar is currently a constantly evolving document and will no doubt change further between now and Christmas. I will though try to keep everyone abreast of developments as they happen here at PSB.