Professional Snooker - 2017 World Snooker Masters Challenge
20th-23rd July / Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Hong Kong
TOP PLAYERS INVITED TO FEATURE IN SPECIAL EVENT
The third trophy of the new 2017/18 professional snooker season will be claimed at a special 'World Snooker Masters Challenge' event in Hong Kong this July.
Many of the sport's big stars are expected to line-up for this unique invitational tournament that is part of the 20th year handover celebrations.
It has been reported that the Hong Kong government have put aside HK$650 million for the celebrations, of which HK$194 million will be spent on cultural and sports events. These will apparently include the Volvo Ocean Race and the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
The nation has real cuesport heritage and influence. The General Cup (invitational) - won by some well known names in the past, has been staged there before.
For the 10th year handover anniversary in 2007 they had a notable snooker competition called the Euro-Asia Challenge. This featured the then reigning World Champion John Higgins, Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Ken Doherty among others. Higgins beat James Wattana 5-4 in the final, whilst Europe beat Asia 5-3 in a team match.
That Higgins v Wattana final was watched by an audience of 3,000 at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium - the same venue that is to be used this time around.
Details on the players and format are not currently finalised, however, the organisers have said the World's Top 8 players will all be invited, that includes Hong Kong's undisputed top cueist, Marco Fu.
O'Sullivan, the current World Number 14, has also allegedly been approached, and home hero Ng On Yee - the reigning WLBS World Ladies Champion, has also been mentioned on Social Media.
Confirmation of the entries will be declared next month by the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council, according to the South China Morning Post. The signs sound very positive that World Champion and World Number 1 Mark Selby will play.
The competition will be held between 20th-23rd July. That same week Hong Hong will host the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix and the Premier League Asia Trophy that includes Liverpool F.C.
It is great that snooker will be part of the festivities this summer. Fu, a three time major ranking event winner, as well as a World Under 21's and Amateur Champion, has certainly been the main contributing factor as to why snooker has an impression in the Far East nation.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 25th May 2017