New format for 2008 Malta Cup

New format for 2008 Malta Cup

Shaun Murphy - Malta Cup holder.

Shaun Murphy - Malta Cup holder.

Snooker Promotions will maintain their annual appointment in hosting a world snooker event on our shores when yesterday they unveiled the 2008 Malta Cup which will be played at the Hilton Conference Centre between next February 4 and 10.

For the past 13 years, Snooker Promotions lured to the islands the leading players in the world and next year will be no exception when again the top 16 in the Main Tour, including 2007 winner Shaun Murphy, and four wild card entries will contest the Malta Cup.

While the previous three editions of the tournament carried ranking points and were played in a knock-out format, the 2008 Malta Cup is an invitational event with a round-robin qualifying phase.

The players will be divided in four groups of five each with the winners in each section progressing to the semi-finals which will be played on Saturday, February 9. The best-of-17 final is scheduled for February 10.

The winner of the tournament will pocket £20,000 while the one who compiles a maximum break of 147, if any, gets £10,000.

"We think this format guarantees a better treat for snooker fans," Richard Balani, of Snooker Promotions, told a conference call yesterday.

"There were times in previous years when local players made just one showing during the tournament. However, this time the fans will see more of them, at least four times, so that should make the tournament even more popular."

Neal Stevens, Commercial Manager of World Snooker, also gave his thumbs-up to the format and said round-robin tournaments are proving to be attractive.

"Such formats are very popular on the WSA Main Tour," Stevens said.

"The Royal Watches Grand Prix last month also had the same format. It was a great success with the players and fans as it keeps the interest alive throughout the whole week.

"I'm sure that the Malta Cup will be another success as besides the prestige of the competition, it is held at a venue where all top professionals love to play at. The hospitality and the mild weather conditions makes this tournament unique."

Local hopes in the Malta Cup will again rest on Tony Drago and Alex Borg who will benefit from a wild card. The other two will be picked by the WSA on November 30 when the draw will be held in England.

All matches will be controlled by five international referees, including Maltese officials Terry Camilleri and Ray Debattista.

Balani described the international exposure for the Malta Cup last February as 'phenomenal' with 34 million viewers following the competition on TV. Eurosport transmitted 46 hours of coverage.

Besides, he added, hundreds of overseas snooker fans from 23 different countries were at the Hilton for most of the tournament.

"This time, in order to maximise the aim of attracting overseas visitors to the Malta Cup, we have teamed up with Allevents Malta, who form part of the Fraser Eagle Group," Balani added.

"The company is well established in organising tailored events for Malta which includes conferences and meetings.

"In conjunction with Allevents Malta we are providing full travel packages for our overseas fans, offering them a 'one-stop shop' to make it easier for them to visit Malta and watch snooker."

Despite figuring outside the WSA ranking events for the season, Eurosport will still transmit an extensive live coverage of the 2008 Malta Cup.

Meanwhile, ticket bookings for the tournament will be on sale as from December 1 and can be bought online from the tournament website ( The ticket office at the Hilton Conference Centre will be open on January 28.

Air Malta, the Malta Tourism Authority, Hilton Malta and Allevents Malta are the main sponsors of the 2008 Malta Cup.

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