2018 English Open & Home Nations Snooker Tournaments
Snooker’s Home Nations Series returns on October 15th as Crawley hosts the English Open. The event is the first in this season’s quartet of tournaments to be staged in each country of the UK.
The Home Nations Series was created in 2016 with the addition of the English Open and a £1m jackpot is payable to anyone who emerges victorious in each of the four events in a season.
The English Open snooker champion will be crowned on October 21st following seven days play featuring the world’s leading 128 players. The Northern Ireland Open follows in November with the Scottish event to be held just before Christmas. This season’s series will conclude with the Welsh Open to be held in February 2019.
What Is The Home Nations Series?
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make up the Home Nations, the four countries which constitute the United Kingdom.
The Welsh Open is the oldest of the four events, having originated in 1992. The Scottish Open followed in its current guise in 1998. The Northern Irish and English events were added in 2015 and 2016 respectively to make up the Home Nations Series.
Each tournament is a world ranking event meaning the world’s best will be in action. £70,000 is on offer to the winner of each contest with a total prize pot of £366,000 to play for. Anyone eliminated in the first round will walk away with £2,500. There’s a bonus of £20,000 for each maximum 147 break.
The trophies for each tournament are named after a great of the game from the respective countries. Players in the English Open compete for the Steve Davis Trophy, at the Welsh Open for the Ray Reardon Trophy, in Scotland for the Steven Hendry trophy and in Northern Ireland, for the Alex Higgins Trophy.
History Of The Home Nations Series
Before 1998, the Scottish Open was called something else and wasn’t regularly held in Scotland. The competition originated in 1981 as the International Open before becoming the Matchroom Trophy four years later. Finding a home in Aberdeen in 1997, the tournament remained in the highlands for six years. This year the event will be held at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
February’s Welsh Open will be the 28th edition of the event which has rotated around Newport and Cardiff during its history. The current competition replaced the Welsh Professional Championship which was only open to players from Wales. The 2019 tournament will be staged at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. The competition moved to its current bigger venue in 2015 following a decade at the Newport Centre.
In 2015, World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn announced that a new Northern Ireland Open and English Open would be added to the season to create the Home Nations Series. There had been previous versions of the Northern Irish event held in Belfast.
The first English Open was held at Manchester’s EventCity venue close to the Trafford Centre and was won by Liang Wenbo. The inaugural Northern Ireland Open was won by Mark Williams at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.
Home Nations Champions
The £1m jackpot for winning all four of the events in a season has yet to be won. Ronnie O’Sullivan has claimed there is more chance of winning the lottery than landing the bonus, but it remains a tantalising prospect for this season’s hopefuls.
O’Sullivan is the current defending champion of the English Open having thrashed Kyren Wilson 9-2 last year at the Barnsley Metrodome. The Rocket was in sensational form with a 98-per cent pot rate in a performance hailed as one of the finest in O’Sullivan’s 25-year career.
Neil Robertson currently holds the Scottish title, Mark Williams the Northern Irish and John Higgins the Welsh. Higgins holds the record for most Welsh Open wins with five titles claimed since 2000.
Steve Davis remains the most prolific winner of the Scottish Open having won the event six times, though each of those victories came at English venues. Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the most titles in Scotland with two titles won in Aberdeen.
Format Of The Home Nations Snooker Events
Each of the Home Nations events begins with a 128-strong field. The first four rounds consist of a series of best of 7 frame matches with the field split into eight sections. The latter rounds then extend to a best of 9 quarter-finals, a best of 11 semi-finals and a first to 9 frame final.
Each tournament features two amateur wildcard entrants from the home nation, selected by the respective governing bodies of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Any spare places remaining once the professional players have confirmed their attendance are taken up by Q school card holders.
The game’s big guns will be in action at each event. Ronnie O’Sullivan returns to defend the English Open title he won last year. The top eight seeds dominate the English Open odds and will line up in each section of the draw.
World number one Mark Selby, world champion Mark Williams and John Higgins, Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins, Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy will make up the rest of the top seeds.
There will be extensive coverage of each event on Eurosport and Quest TV channels. The broadcasters have a long-term partnership with World Snooker which runs to 2026.
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