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John Higgins Calls for End to Open Draws – Advocates Return to Tiered System

John Higgins secured a spot in the semi-finals of the English Open after a convincing victory over Martin O’Donnell at the Brentwood Centre in Essex on Friday. As he prepares to face Judd Trump in the semi-finals, the four-time world champion shared candid opinions about the current state of the game and proposed a solution to the governing body, World Snooker.

John Higgins has called for tiered draws to return to snooker in place of the open-draw format.
The current system sees all players – regardless of ranking – begin at the first round.
At many tournaments, those inside the world’s top 16 see their matches held over to the main venue, rather than taking part in pre-qualifying, and that has added further issues for some players – particularly when events run back-to-back.

Mark Selby, after a late-night finish in the final of the British Open on Sunday, had his match in the opening round of the English Open pushed back by a day and had to play twice on Tuesday.
He went on to suffer a shock defeat to Martin O’Donnell on Tuesday evening.
World Snooker, the sport’s governing body, has added tournaments from China into the 2023/24 calendar after the country opened up to the sport for the first time since 2019.

The open draw is also likely to be an issue for some players at the Wuhan Open – which begins on Monday – on the back of the English Open.
Higgins is still in the English Open, after winning on Friday to reach the semi-finals, and was candid about his feelings towards the open draw format.

“I don’t think there is one player that likes this open draw,” Higgins told Eurosport.
The theory behind the open draw is it hands players further down the rankings a shot at the big guns. Higgins can see why there was initially some appeal, but that has now changed.
The Scot said: “I know the young boys when they first came in were ‘right, it’s great I get to play Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump in the first round.’

John Higgins Calls for End to Open Draws – Advocates Return to Tiered System

“Now they are not winning, they are not earning any money so definitely it has to go back to a tiered system, without a shadow of a doubt.
“The powers that be have to listen to the players and we will see what happens.”

“I just think it would help the young boys to earn some money,” the 48-year-old continued.
“I know World Snooker came up with the scheme to pay £20,000 (to players) at the start of the season. [That is fantastic] of course it is, but if they get to the point where if they earn the money they have got to pay it back.
“It should go back to the tiered system, this open system has not worked as they hoped it would for the younger boys coming through.”
When put to Higgins that World Snooker should poll the players, Higgins replied: “It does not matter. We can tell them and the majority would say this is the way forward.”
And when asked if he thinks the players have a voice, Higgins said: “No. Not just now, but I think it could change in the next six months.”

Jimmy White, currently ranked 124 in the world, also voiced his support for a return to the tiered system.
”If you are a top player who gets in the top 16, top 32, you should get prizes,” White said. “One of those prizes is you are at the venue and have time to acclimatise.“
Eurosport contacted World Snooker for comment, who provided the following statement:
“This season we have brought four huge events in China on to our calendar, having previously not been able to stage tournaments in the region since 2019. This has been a massive boost for the tour and has increased prize money by several million pounds.
“The recent Shanghai Masters reached a vast audience on digital channels and the television figures were up over 50% compared to 2019. China is a highly significant growth area and the players will expect us to maximise those opportunities in the future.

“A busy calendar can lead to scheduling challenges in any sport, as seen in Formula 1, which frequently shifts between different continents. Broadcasters in each region typically prefer events to be spaced out rather than consecutive. However, we collaborate with our partners and broadcasters to identify optimal solutions, and we consistently value input from the players’ feedback.”

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