International Championship 2015: Qualifiers Start Wednesday


Following a week of downtime after Kyren Wilson’s victory at the Shanghai Masters, snooker is back as the International Championship qualifiers get underway at the Barnsley Metrodome tomorrow.

As ever, the all-important quicklinks to the draw and schedule can be found at the top of the sidebar to the right, while you can also click here to read my first look at this season’s tour survival battle.

In terms of entries, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the only player in the top 64, indeed the top 81 who has elected not to play in the event, while Tony Drago, Steve Davis, Duane Jones and Igor Figueiredo are amongst the other most notable absentees.

The event marks the first ‘flat draw’ event of the season, after the Australian Goldfields Open and Shanghai Masters were played under the traditional tiered system. The tournament will also mark the first time since the introduction of the format that matches will be held over in accordance with new rules announced last season.

For this event, the change means that Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo (the two highest ranked players from the host nation), Ricky Walden (defending champion) and Stuart Bingham (world champion), will not be in action in Barnsley, with their qualifying matches held over to the venues stages in October.

This is a topic that has seen some debate on Twitter this morning, critics pointing out that the changes goes against the message of fairness that was put out by the governing body and in particular Barry Hearn when the move towards flat draw events was first announced.

It is something that I blogged about when the change was announced last November and several months on my view remains unchanged.

On one hand I can see their point, that it is unfair that certain players will play their opening match at the venue and not others. That said, those four players are still required to win the same amount of matches in total to lift the trophy, unlike at the tiered events where Kyren Wilson for example had to win three extra qualifying matches at the Shanghai Masters, compared to those ranked inside the top 16. Is that any more fair than having matches held over?

In truth, the only truly fair way to operate the event would be to have all 128 players at the venue in China, but financially this would be a step too far at this moment in time and many lower ranked players would be unable to enter this and other overseas events.

What is your view on these held over matches?

  • bluelagoon

    I think held over matches are okay. But it should be crystal clear which matches this will be, before the draw has been made.

    For example: The two highest pros of the host nation. If they are drawn against each other, then also the match of the third highest pro. If there is only one or no pro, then the two highest pros of the host continent. (Europe should count as a continent excluding GB 😉

    + match of world champion
    + match of defending champion
    (if the world champion is also the defending champion or one of the champions is also one of the two/three highest seeded pros of the home nation/continent, then the match of the highest seeded player of the world rankings should be held over)

    Those 4 players down the rankings or q-school-qualifiers, who have to travel (e.g. Taubman) should get their travel/hotel costs get paid by the local organizers or world snooker, wether they loose or win (!) their match.

    So every (q-school)player who subscribes the event, would be aware of the “risk” to have to travel, but could be sure that he will have no monetary defecit.

    Those criteria could be different for e.g. the International Championship and the Indian Open. But as said above, they should be clear without ambiguity before the draw has been made.

    • Matt


      In respect of the lower ranked players, World Snooker will make a contribution of £2,000 to expenses, so this has actually been covered already.

      In terms of the identity of the players, the set criteria of two local players/wc/defending champ is clear before the draw really so I do think it works actually.

      It might only confuse people if for example Xiao Guodong had won Shanghai and moved above Liang in the rankings, but still he would have done so prior to the draw (but not the entry deadline).