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Ranking events of snooker based in China on decline


04-04-2016 15:52 BJT

With the China Open coming to an end, the last major snooker competition is the World Championship, next week in England. This season, three ranking events were held in China, down from a previous total of five. The number of lower level tournaments has also dropped from four to one. Observers are worried the decrease in activity is also dousing the passion of Chinese fans for the sport.

Ding Junhui's success at the 2005 China Open helped snooker break into a period of rapid development in his native country. There were actually more competitions held in the PRC than in England during the 2013-14 season, leading many to conclude that the sport had found a new base. But the boom has given way to a bust, with a tournament in Haikou canceled, and the Wuxi Classic moved to World Cup status. Those changes left just three ranking events and one other contest on the schedule.

"I don't see it as a decline in ranking events. I will take it as a structure adjustment. Although our snooker ranking events have decreased from five to three, we also added an American billiards event and a Chinese Billiards World Championship, so I think we are maintaining the same amount of events at the international level," said Wang Tao, General Adminstration of Sports Member.

The total prize money for most ranking events held in China is at least four million RMB. In addition, organizers have to dedicate one-third of their total expenditures to television rights, appearance fees, and accommodations for players, making it hard to turn a profit in the PRC.

"Currently I think there is very limited room to make a profit in China. In general, our sports industry is booming right now, and all the other sports are developing very fast. That means our sponsors and audience have more choices. Under such circumstances, I can't say that snooker has a very big potential market. I think it will develop in its own space," Wang said.

Compared to 2005, when tournaments were packed with capacity crowds and tickets were extremely hard to purchase, the public's passion for the sport has also been on a downswing. One reason for this is the declining performance of domestic players in recent seasons. Ding bowed out during the Qualification Round of this year's China Open for example, and no PRC potters advanced to the Last Eight. But the WPBSA's Chairman believes the country's shotmakers will soon bounce back.

To help reboot China's passion for tussles on the table, World Snooker has decided to add another ranking event in the country next season. Although the details have not yet been announced, Jason Ferguson says the tournament will most likely take place in the southern part of the nation. 

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