Snooker: New Saudi Arabia event to feature 20-point golden ball

A 167 break will be possible at the inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters event

Snooker is the latest sport to get a foothold in Saudi Arabia, with a first TV event in the country which includes a 20-point golden ball for any player completing a 147.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, current world champion Luca Brecel and Judd Trump have signed up to the event which will take place from March 4-6.

A maximum break of 167? Saudi snooker plans unveil 20-point gold ball |  Snooker | The Guardian

The World Snooker Tour said matches would follow the usual format bar what they described as a 23rd ball — the Riyadh Season ball — which anyone making a 147 can attempt, meaning a 167 break is possible. It is not clear whether the golden ball will be on the table during play.

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s general entertainment authority, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting our first-ever pro snooker tournament.

“Snooker is watched and played by millions around the world and we look forward to welcoming some of the greatest players to our country.”

It is the latest sporting investment by Saudi Arabia, which will host Anthony Joshua’s next fight, against Francis Ngannou, and Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in the same week as the snooker event.

The Riyadh Season World Masters comes with a prize pot of $1million (£788,000) for the eight players who will take part.

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New snooker ball introduced worth 20 points at tournament featuring Ronnie O’Sullivan

For some reason a new snooker tournament set to be hosted in Saudi Arabia is due to introduce a new rule and put a new ball on the table.

While the rules of snooker seem to have been doing a perfectly good job for years the World Snooker Tour has announced that at an invitational event in Riyadh there will be a new rule for players to contend with.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Luca Brecel are among the players who will be heading off to compete and the twist at this tournament is that there will be up to 23 balls on the table this time.

Taking place in March, the Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will see the introduction of the ‘Riyadh Season gold ball’ which will be worth 20 points if a player manages to pot it.

However, an extra rule states that you’re not allowed to pot the gold ball until you’ve completed a maximum break of 147.

At the moment we don’t know whether the golden ball will be sitting on the table throughout the game like a shining monument to its own self-importance compared to the standard rules of snooker.

Nor do we know whether there would be any penalties for hitting the golden ball or accidentally potting it should the ball be on the table for the whole game.

Otherwise, the ball might be kept off the table unless and until a player completes a maximum break, with the ball then placed on the table for the player to get a chance to pot it and pick up 20 points.

It’s either going to sit there like a shiny golden annoyance that thinks it’s too cool for you to play with, or it’ll be a meaningless denouement to a frame already won by the snooker player who gets to pot it.

Ronnie O’Sullivan holds the record for the highest number of maximum breaks in competitions at 15, though he hasn’t done it since 2018.

One fan called the rule change ‘gimmicky’ and another said they wished we’d ‘stop f**king around with sports’ that already work just fine.

Someone else said ‘snooker has s**t the bed’, so it doesn’t seem like a popular change.

Another snooker fan pointed out the problem that you can only pot the gold ball if you’ve already completed a maximum break, after which point you’ve already won the frame leaving them to wonder ‘what’s the point’.

Others lamented that snooker was ‘selling its soul’ while plenty said they wanted Jasper Carrott involved in some way

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