A formal announcement is expected soon with World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn having flown to China for the Shanghai Masters final.
But Inside Snooker understands that this week’s negotiations should result in a new two-year deal for the city to host one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar.
That news, if confirmed, will be of little surprise but greeted with enthusiasm in many quarters, as in most key respects everyone involved from the national and world governing bodies, sponsors, promoters, governmental Shanghai Sports Bureau and event organisers make the Shanghai Masters a tournament to be held up as an example of how it should be done.
Shanghai were one of the three ranking tournaments along with Australia and the World Championships that did not want to fall into line with Hearn’s vision of all players in at the 128-man stage. And Inside Snooker is sticking to its prediction made a week ago that the format will remain the same, with a draw of 32 including 16 seeds through to the venue, 16 qualifiers, and eight Chinese wildcards.
There is an inconsistency, and the wildcards in particular appear obsolete but if the alternative was to lose a top-class tournament and good prize-money from the schedule, the thinking can be understood. This year's final featured Stuart Bingham and Mark Allen, pictured, guaranteeing an eighth different winner from the eight stagings.
The only problem this year has been the playing conditions in the humidity, also affected by the air conditioning going on and off – but that improved markedly once the event got down to one table in the main arena on the Saturday and the associated re-clothing.
Photograph courtesy of World Snooker