THE eyes of 40 million TV viewers worldwide will be on Galway as the city hosts the world’s top stars in March in the climax of snooker’s Champions League – the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals.
“Last year the finals in Galway registered 32 million viewers worldwide, and this year, with the addition of two extra days, we are confident of breaking the 40 million barrier,” said Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker.
Hearn was speaking at the announcement of the draw, featuring nine of the World’s top ten ranked stars, for the 32-player tournament which takes place in Galway at the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway from March 12 to 17.
World number one and Masters champion Mark Selby, four-time World champion John Higgins, potting sensation Judd Trump, Asia’s top player Ding Junhui and Ireland’s Ken Doherty are among the star names who will appear
Higgins (ranked 5) has been handed a tough opening match against World number 11 Ali Carter, while Mark Allen (8) will battle it out with Mark Davis (16).
Ken Doherty, who has been superb over the ten qualifiers for this event, has been drawn against Kurt Maflin, while Belfast’s Joe Swail has remarkably qualified for this tournament as an amateur.
One of snooker’s richest prizes, €119,000, will be up for grabs in the event, which has been brought to Ireland by two Galway brothers Shea and Niall McNelis.
It will be televised by channels around the world including Eurosport, Shanghai TV, Beijing TV, Guangzhou TV and Hong Kong’s Now TV as well as stations in New Zealand and the Middle East.
Tickets are selling fast for the tournament which has been expanded to six days this year, with the number of players increasing from 24 to 32.
The PTC series has seen players battling for Order of Merit points over the past six months in 13 locations including China, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany, Belgium and the UK
The top 25 players from the Order of Merit plus the top seven from the Asian Order of Merit have qualified for Galway to battle for the world ranking title.
“We are urging fans to book their seats as soon as possible as this event will be in high demand and many sessions will sell out quickly,” said Hearn.
TPC Grand Final draw: John Higgins v Ali Carter; Judd Trump v Alfie Burden; Ken Doherty v Kurt Maflin; Marco Fu v Mark Joyce; Martin Gould v Tom Ford; Barry Hawkins v Li Hang; Neil Robertson v Jamie Burnett; Stephen Maguire v Joe Swail; Mark Allen v Mark Davis; Mark Selby v Jack Lisowski; Rod Lawler v Cao Yupeng; Ding Junhui v Andrew Higginson; Graeme Dott v Xiao Guodong; Robert Milkins v Anthony McGill; Mark Williams v Ben Woollaston; Stuart Bingham v Joe Perry.
Full draw available on www.worldsnooker.com