|List of snooker tournaments dates|
The Grand Prix is a professional snooker tournament. It is one of the 'major' ranking tournaments. It has previously been known as the LG Cup and the Professional Players Tournament. For 2006 and 2007 it was played in a unique round-robin format, more similar to the soccer and rugbys than the knock-out systems usually played in snooker. The knockout format returned for 2008.
The tournament was created in 1982 as the Professional Players Tournament by the WPBSA, in order to provide another ranking event. Ray Reardon beat Jimmy White by 10 frames to 5 in the final to win the first prize of £5000.
In 1984 Rothmans started sponsoring the tournament, changed its name to the Rothmans Grand Prix, and moved its venue to the Hexagon Theatre, Reading. The tournament has had various sponsors and venues since. Previous sponsors include LG Electronics, who took over in 2001 and changed the tournament's name to the LG Cup. After LG withdrew their sponsorship, the Grand Prix name was revived for 2004 and was sponsored by totesport. Between 2006 and 2008 the event was sponsored by Royal London Watches.
The tournament was played at the Preston Guild Hall in October, at the start of the snooker season, until 2005. In 2006 the venue was changed to the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. Prize money for 2005 totalled £400,000, ($773,239) with the winner receiving £60,000 ($115,985).
In its original form, the tournament had a flatter structure than most tournaments, with the top 32 players all coming in at the last 64 stage (in other tournaments there are only 16 players left when the players ranked 17-32 come in, and then the 16 winners of those matches face the top 16). From the 2006 tournament onwards, a round-robin stage was introduced for the top 32 and 16 qualifiers.
These two facts made it more common to see surprise results than in most other tournaments, with players such as Dominic Dale, Marco Fu, Euan Henderson and Dave Harold all surprise finalists at the time. A player from outside the top 16 has reached the final roughly half the times the contest has been played. Few of those have become consistent stars, although Stephen Hendry and John Higgins took their first ranking titles in the event. In addition, the Grand Prix has, over the years, seen many Top 16 players eliminated in the early stages of the contest. Taking the 1996 event as an extreme case, thirteen of the top sixteen seeds failed to reach the quarter final stages, and the semi-finals featured one match between two Top 16 players (Mark Williams and John Parrott) and another between two unseeded players (Euan Henderson and Mark Bennett); with Bennett and Henderson respectively winning the first two quarter final matches, a surprise finalist was guaranteed before the quarter finals had been completed.
For 2008 the event moved to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow. It went back to a knock out format with no round-robin. The last 16 and beyond will however was played using a FA Cup style draw, rather than automatically pitching higher ranked players (or their conquerors) against lower-ranked players. In 2009 the event was held in Glasgow, but at an other venue, the Kelvin Hall.
John Higgins and Stephen Hendry are the only players to have won this tournament four times each.
John Higgins was awarded £75,000 in the 2008 final compared to the winners prize of £5,000 in 1982
The event moved to Scotland in the AECC in Aberdeen for 2006, and introduced a brand new format. Players are split into groups (8 groups of 8 in qualifying, 8 groups of 6 in the final stages) and play every other player in their group once. The top 2 players progress; the last 16 and onwards are played as a straight knock-out.
This resulted in several surprise results. Little-known players such as Ben Woollaston, Jamie Jones and Issara Kachaiwong made it through qualifying, while stars such as Graeme Dott, Stephen Hendry and Shaun Murphy failed to clear their groups.
The format was slightly tweaked for 2007, after complaints (notably from Dennis Taylor) that the system was too random. Matches increased in length from best-of-5 to best-of-7, to give the better player more chance to win. The main tie-breaker for players level on wins was changed, with frame difference now taking precedence over results between the players who are level on points. Notably, under the 2007 format, 2006 runner-up Jamie Cope would have been eliminated in the groups, as he defeated third-placed Michael Holt but had an inferior frame-difference.
The 2007 event saw fewer surprises, although 2006 World champion Graeme Dott, 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty, defending champion Neil Robertson, seven time World Champion Stephen Hendry, six-time world champion Steve Davis, Chinese sensation Ding Junhui, twice World champion Mark Williams and 2007 World Championship finalist Mark Selby were all eliminated in the groups.
The format was not continued for 2008, due to dwindling ticket sales in the early rounds.
The Grand Prix currently gets shown live on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Red Button and also British Eurosport, British Eurosport 2 and European Eurosport.
Records set in Grand Prix finals
In the 2005 final, John Higgins set two records:
- His century breaks in the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth frames marked the first time a player had ever recorded centuries in four consecutive frames in a match during a ranking tournament.
- He scored 494 points without reply, the greatest number in any professional snooker tournament, until Ding Junhui made 495 points without reply against Stephen Hendry in the 2007 Premier League Snooker.
|Full results by year|
|1982 • 1983 •1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014|
|Winners and statistics|
|List of winners from 1982 to present|