New Format For Snooker’s Welsh Open

World class snooker returns to Newport in February with the Welsh Open - and the world ranking event boasts a brand new format.

The tournament runs from February 14 to 20 at the Newport Centre and will feature the top 16 players in the world as of the seeding cut-off point which falls after next month's UK Championship.

John Higgins will be defending the title he won last year by beating Ali Carter in the final, and also set to feature are World Champion Neil Robertson, Rocket Ronnie O'Sullivan, Welsh ace Mark Williams and many more of the sport's top stars.

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For the first time, the early rounds will feature best-of-seven frame matches with no interval, rather than best-of-nine. This will be the case for the qualifying rounds and up until the last 16 at the venue. The quarter-finals will be best-of-nine, the semis best-of-11 and the final best-of-17.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: "We are using a range of exciting new formats this season to add variety to our tournaments and give them distinctive features. We have reduced the number of tables in the Newport Centre arena from three to two, which means that every match can potentially be televised by BBC Wales. We will be keen to receive feedback from fans and players on the new format.

"We also have the scope to hold over two matches from the qualifiers to the venue, so if two Welsh players such as Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day or Dominic Dale are seeded between 17 and 32, we will give the fans in Newport the chance to see their local favourites in action.

"The Welsh Open will be the final tournament before the seeding list is updated for the World Championship, which will bring an extra element to the event as players will be battling to guarantee their place at the Crucible.

"It promises to be a fantastic week with snooker of the highest quality and a cracking atmosphere, so we strongly urge supporters to get their tickets booked and enjoy the show!"

The qualifiers run from February 8 to 11 at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.