Belgium will stage a World Snooker ranking event for the first time in 23 years in October when the 2017 European Masters comes to Lommel.
The tournament will run from October 2 to 8 in the city of Lommel in the Belgian province of Limburg. Belgium hosted the European Open from 1992 to 1994, in the cities of Tongeren and Antwerp, but has not staged a full ranking event since.
The tournament will start with a 128-player flat draw, with a qualifying round to run on August 3-4 in Preston and the winners going through to the final stages in Belgium.
Judd Trump won the European Masters last season, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in a dramatic final in Bucharest, Romania.
The popularity of snooker has grown in Belgium in recent years, particularly through television coverage on Eurosport as well as the success of talented young player Luca Brecel.
World number 27 Brecel is the highest ranked player from continental Europe. The 22-year-old from Maasmechelen reached the final of the German Masters last year and remains the youngest ever player to compete in the final stages of the World Championship, having made his Crucible debut in 2012 at the age of 17. Brecel is in China this week representing his country in the Snooker World Cup.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are thrilled to be growing our footprint in Europe by staging a ranking event in the beautiful city of Lommel for the first time.
“Snooker has grown at an astonishing rate in Europe in recent years and our viewing figures on Eurosport are fantastic. Our sport is extremely popular in Belgium and now the fans there have the chance to see their heroes play live.
“We want to see more gifted young players like Luca Brecel emerge from the continent, and staging major tournaments is an important way of keeping our growth going and inspiring the next generation.”
Mayor of Lommel Peter Vanvelthoven added: “We are extremely thrilled to be able to host such a prestigious event in our city, Lommel. With pleasure we provide our venue and knowledge! This is an unique opportunity to see Luca Brecel – young snooker talent from our region and country – play in our beloved city. This will attract many visitors for sure.”
Details of how to buy tickets for the event will be announced soon.