The China Open in April will become the only snooker event other than the World Championships to hit the £1 million prize money mark, thanks to a new four-year agreement between World Snooker and joint promoters Star Xing Pai and Beijing Fuhua Culture Tourism Development Ltd. Co.
The world ranking event will run from April 1 to 8 in Beijing with a top prize of £225,000 and a total prize fund of £1 million. That’s almost double last year’s China Open total of £510,000, when the top prize was £85,000. The £225,000 winner’s cheque will only be topped by the World Championships first prize of £425,000.
The final of the tournament will be best of 21 frames for the first time. It will be televised by CCTV, Eurosport and various other broadcasters worldwide.
The China Open has been staged in the country’s capital every year since 2005. Ding Junhui won the title that year as an 18-year-old, helping to spark a surge of interest in snooker in China. Since then top stars including Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and defending champion Mark Selby have lifted the trophy.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “This is a fantastic announcement which establishes the China Open in Beijing as the flagship tournament in Asia. It’s remarkable to think that back in 2005 when this event was first staged, the total prize fund was only £200,000 and the top prize £30,000 – that shows how far we have come in the past 13 years in terms of the growth of snooker in China.”
There will be a qualifying round from January 27-30 in Barnsley, England, with players needing to win one match to get through to the final stages.