It is now clear that the World Open will not be staged in Hainan this season – and almost certainly not in China either due to an issue with the promoter wanting to put on another non-sanctioned tournament. It remains a possibility that the event will be held elsewhere, with World Snooker actively looking to plug a hole in the calendar.
The event had been scheduled for Jan 26 to Feb 1 2015, and back in 2012 the deal was originally signed for a five-year term which would have expired in 2016.
Discussions have been held in a number of new countries about hosting a ranking event, notably Qatar, Malaysia and Singapore. None of these are understood to be over the line, and if they do see the light of day it will not necessarily be to take on the World Open, but could be as new events in their own right.
The Haikou World Open enjoyed a lively three years of existence, and Mark Allen more than most will have cause to remember his trips there. The Antrim ace got into trouble on Twitter in the inaugural 2012 event for saying: "Journey a nightmare. People are ignorant. Place stinks. Arena's rubbish, tables poor, food is horrendous. Other than that I love China." The tweet was deleted and the “ignorant” claim later retracted.
Almost inevitably Allen, hit by a storm of criticism, went on to play superbly for the remainder of the tournament to win the title that year with a 10-1 thrashing of Stephen Lee in the final – and he followed that up by defending his crown 12 months later, this time beating Matthew Stevens 10-4 in the final for his two ranking event titles to date. By this time the players were a lot happier with both the playing conditions and the hotel.
Shaun Murphy is another player with fond memories of Hainan Island, as it provided him with a first ranking event victory for three years earlier in 2014 with a 10-6 win over Mark Selby.
Photograph by Monique Limbos