ITV Sport presents live coverage of the 888.com World Grand Prix this March, a brand new tournament to the global snooker calendar for 2015, featuring the top-ranked 32 players in the world.
The brainchild of World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, the newly added second ITV4-televised tournament of the season takes place at the Venue Cymru in the picturesque seaside town of Llandudno on the North Wales coast, in what is the biggest snooker event ever hosted in North Wales and the prestigious arena, situated on the seafront, is set for a sell out crowd.
All of the sport’s biggest names will be among the green baize stars chasing the top prize when the tournament kicks off on Monday, March 16 and ends on the following Sunday, with the winner receiving £100,000 out of a total prize fund of £300,000.
One player who will be looking forward to the trip to Wales is veteran Scotsman John Higgins, who is fresh from winning the Welsh Open in Cardiff last month.
The 39-year-old four-time world champion will be up against a top-class field including current world champion Mark Selby, China’s Ding Junhui, Australia’s Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Despite not being a ranking event, the World Grand Prix comes at an important time in the season as the sport’s top players aim to find their form ahead of next month’s World Championships in Sheffield.
With snooker tournaments now taking place in exotic locations across the globe, it was Llandudno that won the right to stage the second ITV4-televised event of the season.
The town has some notable snooker pedigree, having previously staged matches in the Premier League, while further along the coast Pontin’s in Prestatyn has been a regular venue for qualifiers.
But the World Grand Prix is the biggest tournament to be held in north Wales and Welsh interest is well represented, with man of the moment Michael White one of four Welshmen competing
On the back of his first professional title, the one frame Shoot-Out in Blackpool in early March, the 23-year-old won his first world ranking title at the Indian Open. while other home favourites this week include former world champion Mark Williams, who faces fellow Welshman Ryan Day in the first round, and ‘Spaceman’ Dominic Dale.
Commenting on the new Llandudno-based event, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said: “This tournament is a wonderful addition to the calendar as we will see the very best players in the world competing for the inaugural title, in Llandudno where we know there is a great support for snooker.
“This will be the biggest snooker event ever staged in North Wales and we are delighted to bring the sport to an area where we know we will get massive support.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the people in Llandudno and the surrounding area to see the very best players competing for a prestigious new crown – and a huge top prize. It’s going to be a superb week for fans in the arena and viewers at home.”
ITV Sport will screen comprehensive live coverage of the inaugural staging of the 888.com World Grand Prix tournament at Venue Cymru in Llandudno from March 16-22.
All of the sport’s biggest names and well-known faces will compete over the six-day event to be crowned the first winner of the World Grand Prix title and ITV4 will screen live action every afternoon and evening during the week, totalling up to more than 50 hours of coverage.
Jill Douglas will present the channel’s coverage, which will also be shown in high-definition on ITV4 HD, where she will be joined in the studio for expert analysis by former world number three Neal Foulds and former Masters champion Alan McManus, who himself is playing in the tournament.
Additional commentary and expert analysis throughout the week will also come from former world champions John Higgins and Shaun Murphy, while Rob Walker will step into the presenter’s chair on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, while Douglas covers Six Nations rugby for the BBC.
Commentary on every televised match during the week comes from veteran snooker broadcaster Clive Everton, with either Foulds or McManus alongside him in the booth.
Coverage of each afternoon session will get underway at 12.45pm from Monday to Friday, followed by the evening sessions at 6.45pm, with the event drawing to an exciting climax on Sunday, March 22, when the two remaining players compete for the trophy across the two-session best-of-19 frame final, all live on ITV4.
Due to ITV4’s Europa League football coverage on Thursday evening, no play is scheduled at the snooker, so the tournament resumes on Friday with the four quarter-finals all live on ITV4, followed by the semi-finals on Saturday and each split across the two sessions, then the final over two sessions on Sunday.
Fans can also watch every moment from the tournament in Llandudno throughout the week online via ITV Player desktop or app, available on all devices.
Live snooker returned to ITV screens in 2013 when ITV4 screened live coverage of the Haikou World Open, which was then followed by the inaugural invitational Champion of Champions event later that year.
Alongside the newly-established Llandudno-based event, ITV Sport will once again televised the Champion of Champions event, featuring 16 top tournament winners, at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena later this year, as part of the broadcaster’s five-year deal to screen two top World Snooker events.
Commenting on ITV’s coverage of the inaugural World Grand Prix, Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn said: “ITV are building their support for snooker so for those who can’t make it to the venue this is a valuable addition to our free-to-air coverage in the UK.”
Monday 16th March DAY 1: Last 32 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm ITV4 DAY 1: Last 32 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4
Tuesday 17th March DAY 2: Last 32 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm ITV4 DAY 2: Last 32 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4
Wednesday 18th March DAY 3: Last 16 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm ITV4 DAY 3: Last 16 (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4
Friday 20th March DAY 4: Quarter Finals (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm ITV4 DAY 4: Quarter Finals (Best of 7 frames) LIVE: 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4
Saturday 21st March DAY 5: Semi Final 1 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm ITV4 DAY 5: Semi Final 2 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4
Sunday 22nd March World Grand Prix Final (Best of 19 frames) LIVE: 12.45pm-5.15pm / 6.45pm-11.15pm ITV4