THE Newport Centre is gearing up for the arrival of the world's best snooker players next month and the Welsh Open has received a boost with the news that betting company BetVictor has renewed its title sponsorship of the world ranking event.
The BetVictor Welsh Open will run from February 19 to March 2 at the Newport Centre.
The likes of World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, world number one Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Ding Junhui, defending champion Stephen Maguire and home favourites Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens will all be eligible to enter.
For the first time, the BBC Wales-televised event will see all 128 players competing at the venue and starting in the same round, giving the chance to up-and-coming rookies to face established stars in the opening round.
The tournament is four days longer than usual and fans will have the chance to see many more players in action, with a multi-table layout at the Newport Centre in the early stages.
Total prize money has increased from £250,000 to £300,000, with the winner to receive £60,000 instead of £50,000. Last year's final was a gripping battle as Maguire edged out Stuart Bingham 9-8 in a dramatic deciding frame.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “BetVictor sponsored the Welsh Open for the first time in 2013 and we are thrilled to welcome them back. They are clearly very pleased with the worldwide exposure that snooker can provide.
“We have a brand new format for the event this season, which puts all the players on a level playing field. The same format was used at the recent UK Championship and it produced some fascinating stories. I can’t wait to see how it pans out in Newport and we look forward to working with the BetVictor team.”
Tickets for the tournament are on sale now and fans are strongly advised to book early as many sessions are expected to sell out quickly.
For full details call 01633 656 757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets
The draw and format will be available after the seeding cut-off point, which follows the German Masters (January 29 – February 2).
The BetVictor Welsh Open is supported by Newport City Council.