Players fume over mid-season change to WST schedule: ‘It shouldn’t be allowed’

Mark Williams was baffled by the mid-season change to the schedule (Picture: Getty Images)

Numerous players are not impressed after it was announced that the cut-off to qualify for the Players Championship has been moved to earlier in February, meaning there is one less opportunity to earn ranking points needed to make it into the event.

The Players Championship features the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list, with those 16 now set to be decided after the German Masters on 5 February.

Previously it had been announced that the cut-off point was after the Welsh Open on 19 February.

This gives players one less tournament to earn the ranking points to get into the Players Championship, which could have changed how they planned their calendar from the start of the season.

While most players enter every event, some do not, and would have planned to have the Welsh Open as an event they could use to get into the Players Championship, which is now not an option.

Mark Williams and Mark Allen were vocal in their disapproval of the move, criticising the change in the middle of the season.

With a small amount of editing for accuracy, Williams’ tweeted: How can you change the cut off point for the Players Championship half way through the season? Now the Welsh won’t count for it. #bizarre [Original tweet below].

Allen responded: WST had a shocker here and this doesn’t affect me in the slightest before anyone starts.

‘It shouldn’t be allowed. Players entered certain events knowing when the cut off was. Ridiculous they’ve now changed it even if it is to give players more notice of when they play in players. Was the same every other year and they didn’t care then.’

There is a good reason to make the change, as mentioned by Allen in that tweet, with WST explaining: ‘This [the change] means that the draw and format for the Players Championship can be announced well in advance.’

Under the previous plan, the line-up, draw and schedule for the Players Championship in Wolverhampton starting on 20 February may not have been known until the final of the Welsh Open finishes on the night of 19 February in Llandudno.

The tournament organisers now have time to promote the matches and players have time to prepare for them, so the change makes perfect sense on that front and will be a good move going forward, but it is the mid-season announcement that has riled players.

The Twitter reactions from top players continued, mainly with feelings of disbelief.

Judd Trump replied to Williams’ first tweet with: ‘Incredible.’

Mark Selby asked: ‘Who makes these decisions???’

Ali Carter chimed in: ‘Lol make it up as you go along..’

There remains the current Scottish Open and the upcoming English Open to make it into the World Grand Prix in January, which features the top 32 on the one-year list.

Then there is the Shoot Out and German Masters before the new cut-off for the Players Championship.

The German Masters qualifiers have already been played and one man that chose not to play in them was Ronnie O’Sullivan, opting against trying to make it to Berlin.

The Rocket may well not have chosen to play anyway, but his decision could possibly have been different if the Players Championship cut-off had previously been straight after the German Masters.

It will also be a blow for a player like, for example, Robbie Williams who is currently number 21 on the one-year ranking list, but has already lost in English Open and German Masters qualifying, so now has one less chance to win matches to make that top 16.

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