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Saudi Arabia snooker event to feature 20-point golden ball and possible 167 break

The twist on the sport’s rules has caused uproar on social media ahead of the March event for Riyadh Season

Jack Rathborn
Friday 19 January 2024 08:56 GMT
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Saudi Arabia will host its first televised World Snooker Tour event with a twist: the addition of a 20-point golden ball to provide players with the opportunity to complete a 167 break.

Games will follow existing rules, but there will be a 23rd ball, known as the "Riyadh Season ball", for those on a maximum break, to enhance the 147 total.

Details over whether the ball will be available on the table throughout the game, or if it will be introduced after a 147 break, are unclear.

Moreover, there was no clarity over whether a penalty would be applied for hitting it too early.

The event will include seven-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has made headlines with his recent feud with Ali Carter, 2019 winner Judd Trump and current champion Luca Brecel across three days from 4-6 March.

Seven other players and the full schedule will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia's general entertainment authority, said: "We are thrilled to be hosting our first-ever professional snooker tournament in the Kingdom.

"Snooker is watched and played by millions around the world and we look forward to welcoming some of the greatest players and snooker fans to our country and showing them what Saudi Arabia and Riyadh Season has to offer."

Chairman of World Snooker Tour Steve Dawson declared it was a "great privilege" to stage an event in Saudi Arabia, adding: "This is a huge breakthrough for snooker into a new territory, and we see this as the beginning of a new adventure for our sport in the region."

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, promoter Eddie Hearn said: "Major news for snooker tonight as we confirm the first major TV tournament in Saudi Arabia! The Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will feature the top eight players in the a world with two wildcards and $1m prize pool! March 4-6 let's go!"

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