Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters to become ‘fourth major’


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The Matchroom Sport agency has further enhanced its ties to Saudi Arabia with the announcement of a 10-year deal that will see an event dubbed snooker’s ‘fourth major’ added to the sport’s calendar.

The World Snooker Tour (WST) and World Nineball Tour – in partnership with the Saudi Arabian Billiard & Snooker Federation and the Ministry of Sport for Saudi Arabia – confirmed today (Tuesday) that a decade-long association will start this summer, with events in both Riyadh and Jeddah. 

The pact begins on June 3-8, when the 2024 World Pool Championship – the crown jewel of the World Nineball Tour – takes place at the Green Halls in Jeddah. A record World Nineball Tour prize fund of $1m (£789,000/€927,000) will be contested by a field including reigning world champion Francisco Sanchez Ruiz, five-time US Open champion and 2022 world champion Shane Van Boening, and 2018 world champion Joshua Filler.

Attention will then turn to Riyadh on August 31 to September 7 when the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters – spearheaded by the world’s leading players – takes place and officially becomes the sport’s ‘fourth major’ alongside the traditional Triple Crown events of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters.

A prize pot of over £2m will be at stake in what will become the second richest event on the WST schedule in 2024, behind the World Championship. The Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters will be a world ranking event open to all 128 tour players, plus six local wild cards from the Saudi Arabian Billiard & Snooker Federation.

Matchroom Sport operates the World Nineball Tour, holds a majority stake in World Snooker and the WST, and has also been heavily involved in taking major boxing events to Saudi Arabia. The WST last month became the latest sports body to strike a Saudi events deal with the World Masters of Snooker added to the expanding Riyadh Season calendar.

In a first for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the invitational event will take place between March 4-6 at Boulevard Arena in Boulevard City, Riyadh. The agreement was signed between Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA), the WST and Eddie Hearn and Barry Hearn, chairman and president, respectively, of Matchroom Sport.

Eddie Hearn said today: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has forged a reputation for growth and creating new opportunities for sports to grow in a new market to new fans. The country has hosted some of the world’s premier sporting events in recent years, welcoming visitors from all over to experience its passion for sport and unique culture.

“The addition of both the Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters and World Pool Championship over the next decade further enhances that as it heralds an exciting chapter for snooker and nineball pool. We have seen the incredible impact boxing has had in this region. Now, I believe we will see billiards cement its legacy here too, creating incredible opportunities and competition for the finest players on the planet.” 

For Saudi, today’s announcement adds yet another major sporting event to a burgeoning calendar. Attracting sports events has been a key part of Vision 2030, Saudi’s ongoing social and economic transformation and attempt to diversify its economy away from a reliance on the oil sector.

Earlier this month, the GEA detailed plans for ‘6 Kings Slam’, a non-ranking tennis event featuring high-profile men’s players that will form part of the 2024 Riyadh Season calendar. The event will take place in October and feature Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune.

Saudi Arabia Billiard & Snooker Federation president, Nasser Saab Al-Shammari, said: “The introduction of two brand new global events in Saudi Arabia with long-term deals in place is an absolute game changing moment for our sports. We have a flourishing community but until now opportunities were limited for exposure to the game’s elite. 

“This will undoubtedly accelerate our progress and development. We look forward to warmly welcoming the very best snooker and nineball pool players in the world to the Kingdom and taking their sports into the heart of our communities, while also giving emerging young Saudi players the chance to compete at this level for the first time with a ‘home’ event.

“Both events will be underpinned by community engagement to introduce new players to the sport and will open up new talent pathways over the decade. Clinics for coaches, for referees and player visits will guarantee a massive boost and a bright future for both snooker and pool in Saudi Arabia.”