More details soon.#NirvanaTurkishMasters pic.twitter.com/dH4lSUWBo6 — World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 13, 2022 The countdown to the 20
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) February 13, 2022
The countdown to the 2022 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield has already begun, with just weeks remaining before the event gets underway on April 16. Judd Trump has been installed as the early favourite in the snooker betting ahead of recent Players’ Championship winner Neil Robertson. But there is plenty more action before the curtain raises at the Crucible including the first-ever professional event to be staged in Turkey.
An Exciting Time for Snooker Fans in Turkey
The Turkish Masters is the last ranking event to be held before the World Championship. It will take place in the beautiful Mediterranean city of Antalya and will feature 64 players competing for a total prize fund of £500,000. Turkey is the latest location to appear on the world snooker calendar as organisers continue their quest for world domination. The event will run for at least four years with the prize money increasing each year. It is hoped that a deal can be struck to extend the contract beyond 2025. The latest snooker tips suggest that Judd Trump will start as a favourite if he gets through his qualifying match against Michael Georgiou.
Turkey may not be a location you would associate with snooker, but the sport is hugely popular there and the country has its own Snooker and Billiard Federation. The event has the full backing of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The first 58 of the 64 qualifying matches were played at the Morningside Arena in Leicester between February 2 and 6.
Big Names Present Despite O’Sullivan Absence
The final six qualifiers will take place at the event venue in Antalya including those involving the top four remaining seeds after Ronnie O’Sullivan opted out following a dispute over appearances fees. The other two qualifiers held over until the start of the tournament will feature local wildcards Enes Bakirci and Ismail Turker who face shoot-out champion Hossein Vafaei and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, respectively. All matches will take place at the five-star Nirvana hotel.
Putting Snooker on the Western Asian Map
The mission to put world snooker on the map in Eastern Europe/Western Asia was given a massive boost back in January when Hossein Vafaei became the first Iranian player to win a ranking event, beating Mark Williams in the final of the Snooker Shoot Out.
🗣 “You could not play a better frame than this!” 🤩
— Eurosport (@eurosport) January 24, 2022
Fellow countryman, Soheil Vahedi, has also been on the tour since 2017 and despite dropping out of the top 64 last year has been invited to all eligible events this year as a top-up player. Neighbouring Pakistan also has a professional representative in Farakh Ajaib, who represents the country of his heritage despite being born in Blackburn, England. Snooker is a popular participation sport in the country with around 80,000 citizens currently following the World Snooker Tour Facebook page.
The event in Turkey follows hot on the heels of Vafaei’s win and should give snooker a further boost in the region. The sport has been transformed over the last 15 years into a truly global event with professional players from emerging from countries not usually associated with the sport including Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, Germany and Ukraine.