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Professional Players Tournament
Grand Prix
LG Cup
World Ranking Events

A brief history of the Grand Prix and LG Cup

(Formerly the Professional Players Tournament)

Prior to the 1982/3 season, the world rankings had been based solely on performances in the world championship. The WPBSA decided to extend ranking status to one existing event, the Jameson International, and to promote another themselves which would be open to all professionals. So began the Professional Players Tournaments which was un-sponsored and un-televised. The initial event was held in Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham with a field of sixty. Players were not seeded so that you had Ray Reardon against Alex Higgins, a repeat of the world final a few months previously, in the second round. It was Reardon who went on to take the winner’s prize beating Jimmy White in the final and this was to prove his last major victory. In 1983 the event moved to Redwood Lodge, Bristol. As the field has increased a qualifying round was necessary and the top 32 were seeded. Only four of the top 16 reached the quarter-finals and Tony Knowles beat Joe Johnson in the final.

The event was proving so successful that the BBC took interest as State Express had pulled the plug on one of the major televised events, The World Team Classic. Rothmans stepped in with sponsorship, and with a new name, The Rothmans Grand Prix, the tournament moved to the Hexagon in Reading, the previous home of the team, event. The first Grand Prix was an emotional affair as it was a first major win for Dennis Taylor who almost pulled out having following the death of his mother. Cliff Thorburn was the runner-up. Taylor, by then reigning world champion, reached the final again the following year and he took Steve Davis to the final frame before losing 10-9. 

The 1986 final went into the record books because Rex Williams, who had been a professional since 1951, became the oldest player to reach a ranking final. He could not complete the job and Jimmy White took the crown. Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis dominated the next five years with the Scot winning three and Davis two. Jimmy White’s 10-9 victory over Ken Doherty in 1992 was the last under Rothmans’ sponsorship. Skoda Cars took over for 1993 and the event moved to Derby the following year. It the moved to Sunderland for the last running under the Skoda banner. 

Now without any sponsorship, the event moved to Bournemouth’s International Centre for the next two seasons and then it switched venues with the UK Championship and moved to Preston’s Guild Hall where yet another first-time winner emerged in Stephen Lee, 9-2 victor over Marco Fu in 1998. In 1999 Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved the only maximum the event has seen but it was Higgins who beat Williams in the final before the tournament moved again, this time to Telford, for what was to be the end, for the time being at least, of the Grand Prix story. Williams won the title for a second time. 

Sponsors were found at last for the 2001/02 season and the Grand Prix name disappeared from the calendar to be replaced by the LG Cup but to all intents and purposes it was the same event. It also took a major event back to Preston’s Guild Hall which had been dropped the previous season. Ronnie O’Sullivan set the tournament alight with his fifth maximum but it was Stephen Lee who beat Peter Ebdon in the final for his second ranking title and an £82,500 cheque. A new name was added to the roll of ranking event winners in 2002 when Chris Small came through the field to take the title. John Higgins made his third 147 break in the 2003 final but it was Mark Williams who ran out a 9-5 winner. LG Electronics ceased their support after three seasons and the ‘Grand Prix’ name was restored for the 2004/5 season with sponsorship from Totesport.

 

History was created in the final of the 2005 event as John Higgins became the first man to make four successive centuries on his way to beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-2 and including also a world record 494 unanswered points. In 2006 a new sponsor was found. Royal London Watches signed a deal to back the event for at least three years and for the first time it was to be held in Scotland, at the Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre.

 

A new format was also introduced in 2006. Qualifying consisted of eight round robin groups of eight players, each playing each other in best-of-five frame matches with the top two in each group going forward. Those sixteen then joined the top 32 seeds in a further round robin section. This time there were eight groups of six, again over best-of-five, with the top two in each going forward to the knockout stage. All changed again in 2008 when a randon draw was introduced from the last 16 round onwards.

In 2009 Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui contested the final, the first ranking final without a British player for 24½ years and only the second ever.

That was to be the end of the Grand Prix, at least for the time being. From 2010/11 it would be replace by a nre event, the World Open.


Roll of Honour
Year Venue Sponsor Winner Runner Up Score 1st Prize

PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS
TOURNAMENT
1982 International SC, Birmingham none Ray Reardon Jimmy White 10-5 £5,000
1983 Redwood Lodge, Bristol none Tony Knowles Joe Johnson 9-8 £12,500
  GRAND PRIX
1984 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Dennis Taylor Cliff Thorburn 10-2 £45,000
1985 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Steve Davis Dennis Taylor 10-9 £50,000
1986 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Jimmy White Rex Williams 10-6 £55,000
1987 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Stephen Hendry Dennis Taylor 10-7 £60,000
1988 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Steve Davis Alex Higgins 10-6 £65,000
1989 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Steve Davis Dean Reynolds 10-0 £70,000
1990 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Stephen Hendry Nigel Bond 10-5 £75,000
1991 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Stephen Hendry Steve Davis 10-6 £75,000
1992 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Rothmans Jimmy White Ken Doherty 10-9 £80,000
1993 Hexagon Theatre, Reading Skoda Peter Ebdon Ken Doherty 9-6 £60,000
1994 Assembly Rooms, Derby Skoda John Higgins Dave Harold 9-6 £60,000
1995 Crowtree Centrem Sunderland Skoda Stephen Hendry John Higgins 9-5 £60,000
1996 Bournemouth International Centre none Mark J. Williams Euan Henderson 9-5 £60,000
1997 Bournemouth International Centre none Dominic Dale John Higgins 9-6 £60,000
1998 Guild Hall, Preston none Stephen Lee Marco Fu 9-2  £60,000
1999 Guild Hall, Preston none John Higgins Mark J. Williams 9-8 £62,000
2000 Telford International Centre none Mark J. Williams Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-5 £62,000
LG CUP
2001 Guild Hall, Preston LG Electronics Stephen Lee Peter Ebdon 9-4 £82,500
2002 Guild Hall, Preston LG Electronics Chris Small Alan McManus 9-5 £82,500
2003 Guild Hall, Preston LG Electronics Mark J. Williams John Higgins 9-5 £82,500
GRAND PRIX
2004 Guild Hall, Preston Totesport Ronnie O'Sullivan Ian McCulloch 9-5 £60,000
2005 Guild Hall, Preston none John Higgins Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-2 £60,000
2006 Aberdeen Exibition & Conf. Centre Royal London Watches Neil Robertson Jamie Cope 9-5 £60,000
2007 Aberdeen Exibition & Conf. Centre Royal London Watches Marco Fu Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-6 £75,000
2008 SECC, Glasgow Royal London Watches John Higgins Ryan Day 9-7 £75,000
2009 Kelvin Hall, Glasgow none Neil Robertson Ding Junhui 9-4 £75,000
 
Maximum Breaks - Grand Prix
Final Stages
Ronnie O'Sullivan 1999 Last 32 v. Graeme Dott
Ronnie O'Sullivan 2001 Last 16 v. Drew Henry
John Higgins 2003 Final v. Mark Williams
John Higgins 2004 Last 64 v. Ricky Walden
Jamie Cope 2006 Last 48 v. Michael Holt
Tom Ford 2007 Last 48 v. Steve Davis

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 © Chris Turner 2010