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Premier / Matchroom League
Matchroom Championship League
Invitation Events


Brief History of the Premier League               (click for  Championship League)
 
There had been an earlier attempt to run a professional Snooker League in 1984/84 but that was beset with financial problems and only lasted one season. For the record, it was won by John Virgo but no prize money was paid.
 
In 1987, with sponsorship from Rothmans, Barry Hearn, set up the Matchroom League which initially involved only the eight players under contract to him. Each player would play one match against each of the others at venues all over the country. Matches were of eight frames, all of which were played out with three points being awarded for a win and one for a draw.
 
The following year there were ten players with invitations going to outside the Matchroom team, and the event spread into Europe for some of its matches. In 1990 there were two leagues, one played in the UK and an International League played in Europe.
 
Steve Davis won the first four titles but Stephen Hendry won for a record sixth time in 2004. The title went outside the British Isles for the first time in 2003 when Hong Kong’s Marco Fu won the last six frames to beat Mark Williams.
 
Although there have been many different sponsors and the Matchroom name has now been dropped even though it is still promoted by that organisation, the format has remained largely unchanged to the present day. The only major change was in 1992, when a play-off system was introduced whereby the top four in the league played semi-finals and a final to decide the winner. Prior to that, the winner was whoever finished top of the league.
 
When Betfred took over as sponsors in 2005 they introduced a 25 second time restriction on every shot in addition to offering a £1000 bonus for every century and for every frame won in the round robbing section. The league had always been played in the second half of the season with the final usually in May but for the 2005/06 season, still with Betfred sponsorship, it was moved to the first half of the season with the final in early December. In 2006, Ronnie O’Sullivan won the title for the third time in a row without conceding a frame in any of those finals. He then won it in 2007 and 2008 as well making five in a row and eight times in all.


Roll Of Honour             

Season Sponsor/Title Winner
Runner Up Score 1st Prize
1986/7 Rothmans / Matchroom Steve Davis Neal Foulds * £53,600
1987/8 Rothmans / Matchroom Steve Davis Stephen Hendry * £70,000
1988/9 Matchroom Snooker Steve Davis John Parrott * £70,000
1989/90 Stormseal / Matchroom Steve Davis Stephen Hendry * £70,000
1989/90 Matchroom International Tony Meo Jimmy White * n/a
1990/1 Trusthouse Forte / Matchroom Stephen Hendry Steve Davis * £50,000
1991/2 Forte Hotels / Matchroom Stephen Hendry Steve Davis 9-2 £50,000
1992/3 Matchroom European Jimmy White Alan McManus 10-7 £25,000
1993/4 Lowen European Stephen Hendry John Parrott 10-7 £30,000
1994/5 Doc. Marten's Stephen Hendry Ken Doherty 10-2 £50,000
1995/6 Doc. Marten's Ken Doherty Steve Davis 10-5 £50,000
1996/7 Doc. Marten's Ronnie O'Sullivan Stephen Hendry 10-8 £60,000
1997/8 Doc. Marten's Ken Doherty Jimmy White 10-2 £60,000
1998/9 Riley John Higgins Jimmy White 9-4 £50,000
1999/00 Altodigital.com Stephen Hendry Mark J. Williams 9-5 £50,000
2000/1 Sportingbet.com Ronnie O'Sullivan Stephen Hendry 9-7 £60,000
2001/2 Daily Star Ronnie O'Sullivan John Higgins 9-4 £68,000
2002/3 Hasseroder Marco Fu Mark J. Williams 9-5 £45.000
2003/4 Betfair Stephen Hendry John Higgins 9-6 £45.000
2004/5 Betfred Ronnie O'Sullivan Mark J. Williams 6-0 £50,000
2005/6 Betfred Ronnie O'Sullivan Stephen Hendry 6-0 £50,000
2006/7 Betfred Ronnie O'Sullivan Jimmy White 7-0 £50,000
2007/8 PartyBets.com Ronnie O'Sullivan John Higgins 7-4 £50,000
2008/9 PartyPoker.com Ronnie O'Sullivan Mark Selby 7-2 £50,000
2009/10 PartyCasino.com Shaun Murphy Ronnie O'Sullivan 7-3 £30,000
2009/10 PartyCasino.com Ronnie O'Sullivan Shaun Murphy 7-1 £30,000
* No Play-off. Title decided on league table only.

Maximum Breaks
Tony Meo 1988 v. Stephen Hendry
Cliff Thorburn 1989 v. Jimmy White
John Parrott 1992 v. Tony Meo
Stephen Hendry 1992 v. Willie Thorne
Stephen Hendry 1998 v. Ken Doherty



Matchroom Championship League

 
This event was introduced in 2008 to provide additional competition at a time when there were long periods of inactivity in the professional schedules. It was also to provide a qualifier for the lucrative Premier League later in the year.
 
25 professionals are involved and the first seven of these play in the first group where they each play each other over four frames over a period of two days at a single venue, Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex. There is no audience and the matches are broadcast via the internet only. After the round robin stage the top four go into a play-off with the winner advancing to the final ‘winners’ group. The bottom two in the league are eliminated and the remaining four move to the second group to be joined by three more players. This process is repeated in a total of seven groups. The winners of each then play in a final group with the overall winner taking a place in the Premier League. Prize money is paid to all those reaching the play-off stage of each group and in addition £100 is paid for each frame won which increases to £300 in the play-offs and £200 in the winners group.

The first season involved mainly players from the lower half of the top 32 and some from lower down but by the third competition in 2010, virtually all the top 16 players were involved.

Roll Of Honour

Season Sponsor Winner
Runner Up Score 1st Prize
2007/8 Matchroom Sport Joe Perry Mark Selby 3-1 £10,000
2008/9 Matchroom Sport Judd Trump Mark Selby 3-2 £10,000
2009/10 Matchroom Sport Marco Fu Mark Allen 3-2 £10,000
2010/11 Matchroom Sport Matthew Stevens Shaun Murphy 3-1 £10,000

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© Chris Turner 2009