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Saudi organisers make major rule change to $1m snooker tournament hours before event featuring 'Golden Ball'

Saudi organisers make major rule change to $1m snooker tournament hours before event featuring 'Golden Ball'

The Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will begin on March 4th.

Organisers of the Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker have been criticised after they made a major rule change ahead of Monday's opening night.

It was initially stated that the tournament would be contested by 10 players; the top eight players in the world rankings at the end of the Players Championship on February 25 and two wild cards.

Luca Brecel, who is the top seed following his win at the World Championship last year, will feature alongside Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams and Ali Carter.

But hours before the opening night on March 4th, where two wild cards will take on the two lowest-ranked seeds, Mark Williams and Ali Carter, the rules were changed.

Now, two more names from the world of snooker have been added as part of an "expanded" tournament.

As you can see from social media post below, both Ding Junhui [rank nine] and John Higgins [rank 10] were announced as late additions by the World Snooker Tour.

Here's how fans on social media have reacted to the news.

One said: "Just making it up as you go along," while another commented: "Superb planning for this event. Hats off to the organisers."

A third wrote: "How are Ding and Higgins going to be shoehorned into the draw Genuinely can't see how, unless they drop seeds 5 and 6 into the prelim round?"

A fourth added: "Higgins and Ding join the others out in Saudi. How will this change the format of the event?!"

The format at the Riyadh Season World Masters will be the same as other major tournament aside from the addition of a golden ball.

When the tournament was announced last month, organisers confirmed that a 23rd ball will be available for those who are on a 147 maximum break.

“Each game will be played under World Snooker rules and regulations but with the introduction of an innovative new concept, a 23rd ball known as the Riyadh Season ball,” The World Snooker Tour said in a statement.

“This gold ball will be worth 20 points and can only be potted once all other balls have been successfully cleared from the table if a player is on a maximum break to make it 167.”

So where will it be placed? World number three Mark Allen recently gave the clearest indication yet that the ball will be placed in the middle of the baulk cushion.

Taking to Instagram, he wrote: "We've been told it's going in the middle of the baulk cushion. It will be removed once a 147 is no longer possible in a frame. If moved legally during the frame, it stays where it finishes."

It is believed the prize money for hitting a 167 break will be £400,000.

Eurosport will broadcast live coverage of The Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker, with play starting on Monday at 2pm UK time. There will also be two sessions starting at 2pm and 7pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Snooker, Ronnie OSullivan, Saudi Arabia