The Welsh Open is a professional ranking snooker tournament created in 1980 under the name of the Welsh Professional Championship with only Welsh players allowed to compete.
In 1992, the tournament went through several changes and the event was open to all professionals, the name was changed to the Welsh Open and was changed to a ranking format.
The tournament takes place between the 13th and 19th February, shortly after fellow ranking event the German Masters. The event is televised by BBC Wales, Eurosport, CCTV, SMG (China), Now TV (Hong Kong) and Showtime Arabia.
The Welsh Open is currently held at the Newport Centre, Newport, however it has been held one other venue across Wales until it settled in Newport.
From the launch of the event, it was held at the Newport Centre under the Welsh Professional Championship and continued to reside in Newport until the name and ranking change in 1992.
In 1999 the Open moved to the Cardiff International Arena but after six years the event moved back to Newport in 2005 and is set to remain there until 2014.
The Welsh Open is of a ranking format, meaning the top 16 players in the world rankings automatically qualify for the event and are seeded depending on recent performances.
Players who qualify through the four qualifying rounds on the 8th and 11th February at the World Snooker Academy fill the remaining 16 places.
Once the 16 players have been seeded and the fixtures have been arranged for the main draw the event commences from the last 32 to the last 16 and so on.
In 1996, at the age of 17 years and 111 days, Paul Hunter reached the semi-finals and became the youngest player to reach this stage of a ranking tournament, and although he was unsuccessful this time, he later went on to win the whole tournament in 1998 and 2002.
Stephen Hendry and John Higgins lead the winners chart with three Open wins each.
There have been 4 maximum breaks in the history of the tournament, firstly by Ronnie O’Sullivan in 1999 against James Wattana. Barry Pinches against Joe Johnson completed the second at the qualifying stage of the 2000 event.
Andrew Higginson contributed the third in 2007 against Ali Carter and the legendary Stephen Hendry versus Stephen Maguire executed the last maximum break in 2011. This was Hendry’s 10th 147 break and with this equalled Ronnie O’Sullivan record for maximum break.
The Welsh Open Previous Winners (ranking)
- 1992 – Stephen Hendry
- 1993 – Ken Doherty
- 1994 – Steve Davis
- 1995 – Steve Davis
- 1996 – Mark Williams
- 1997 – Stephen Hendry
- 1998 – Paul Hunter
- 1999 – Mark Williams
- 2000 – John Higgins
- 2001 – Ken Doherty
- 2002 – Paul Hunter
- 2003 – Stephen Hendry
- 2004 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
- 2005 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
- 2006 – Stephen Lee
- 2007 – Neil Robertson
- 2008 – Mark Selby
- 2009 – Ali Carter
- 2010 – John Higgins
- 2011 – John Higgins
- 2012 – Ding Junhui
- 2013 – Stephen Maguire
Current Welsh Open champion Stephen Maguire edged out Stuart Bingham in a tense 2013 final at the Newport Centre.
Maguire, a runner-up to John Higgins in 2011, had to be on top form to see off Bingham’s challenge, after both players went into the last session with four frames to their name,
The Scot looked down and out after Bingham took a 7-5 lead. A crucial shot miss allowed Maguire to take advantage, though, as he took Bingham to a final frame with the scores level at 8-8.
And in the final frame decider, Maguire lived up to his ‘On-Fire’ nickname with an imperious 82 to seal the title.