New ground for World Snooker as the Macau Masters welcomes a stellar cast of top potters
- Macau welcomes elite snooker to the city for the first time
- World champion Mark Williams and Hong Kong hero Marco Fu headline the event
World class snooker returns to the region on Wednesday when world champion potter Mark Williams headlines the eight-man invitational Macau Masters at the JW Marriott Hotel Macau.
Williams joins Hong Kong hero Marco Fu Ka-chun in providing the star power, with Barry Hawkins, Ryan Day and Joe Perry also making the trip over from the UK.
The line-up is rounded out by Chinese players Zhou Yuelong, Zhao Xintong and Zhang Anda.
The event marks the first return of elite snooker to the region since the much-praised Hong Kong Masters was held in 2017 as part of the city’s 20th anniversary handover celebrations. That event represented the first return of chairman Barry Hearn’s World Snooker franchise to these shores since the early 1990s.
Although a huge success among fans and players, the Hong Kong event was put on ice after its short-lived return with funding issues cited as a roadblock.
The Macau Masters is being staged by little known Hong Kong-based Dandelion Sports and Entertainment Company Limited in conjunction the Macau General Billiards Association and event sponsor D88 Sports.
The invitational event falls during the Asian swing of the World Snooker main tour, which has visited Bangkok, Thailand, as well as Shanghai and Guangzhou in China in recent weeks.
After Macau, the players move on to tournaments on the mainland in Daqing and Shenzhen.
World No 2 Williams talked about the demands the tour has on the players while noting that the financial rewards have grown in recent years as the sport becomes more entrenched in the Far East.
“Since Barry Hearn came in it’s changed dramatically,” Williams said. “We were playing six or seven tournaments a year. Now we play in 30-odd tournaments a year with £15 million (US$19.5 million, HK$152.6 million) prize money, and he reckons in the next couple of years it’s going to be up to £20 million prize money.”
The Welshman also noted how the future of the game could be centred in China.
“I think the whole tour is going to be in China. Half of the big money events are already in China; they’ve got between 20 and 30 professional players on the tour; and I think in 10 years they’ll have 30, or 40 or 50 pros – maybe half the tour. I just can’t see how it doesn’t end up being over here.”
“All the English players are gonna have to come over here to play on the tour!” added the 43-year-old.
The two-day Macau Masters, the first world class snooker event to be held in Macau, consists of a doubles team event on Wednesday and a six-red individual leapfrog challenge on Thursday.