Starting from next year, the Shanghai Masters will adopt a brand new format to give Chinese snooker players more opportunities following the signing of a new five-year contract.
World Snooker signed a new contract with the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association and local organizer Juss Event to keep the annual tournament in Shanghai for another five years. Meanwhile, a new format will be introduced.
Unlike this year's main draw of 64 players, starting from 2018, only 24 players will be given entry to the Shanghai Masters, including the world's top 16 ranked players, four top-ranked Chinese players, two players from the CBSA China Tour, and two Chinese amateurs.
Players with a world ranking of 9 to 16 will play against the eight Chinese players in the first round. The winners will take on the world's top eight ranked players in the second round.
"The new contract will guarantee a brighter future for Shanghai Masters," said World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn. "China holds four big ranking tournaments every year, which has cultivated a mature market. The 24-player invitational format will make the tournament more special for the city."
In the new format, Chinese players ranked in the world's top 16 will not take up the eight spot set aside for Chinese players, meaning there might be more than 10 Chinese players competing against top rivals starting from next year.
The total prize money will also be raised on a yearly base from the current 700,000 pounds (4,800) starting from next year — 725,000 pounds for 2018; 750,000 pounds for 2019; 775,000 pounds for 2020; 800,000 pounds for 2021 and 825,000 pounds for 2022.
The 2018 edition of the Masters will be scheduled for September or November.
On Saturday, Ronnie "the Rocket" O'Sullivan beat fellow Englishman Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the 2017 Shanghai Masters at Shanghai Indoor Stadium to win the 30th ranking title of his career.
O'Sullivan took an overwhelming 8-2 advantage in the afternoon session, and allowed his opponent to win only one more frame in the evening session before claiming his second Shanghai title. He took home 150,000 pounds, as well as 3,000 pounds extra for a highest break of 144. He also moved from seventh to fourth in the world ranking.
The Englishman, who turns 42 next month, compared himself to tennis icon Roger Federer. He didn't hide his ambition of overtaking Scot Stephen Hendry's record of 36 ranking crowns.
"I will set sight on the record. If I get it, it's great, but even if I don't, it's no big deal. I have already done fantastic things in the snooker game.
"I just want to keep playing for hopefully another 10 to 15 years. I still feel good, feel like I'm still 21. I will look after myself so as to have a long career, just like Roger Federer in tennis. He is not the youngest guy, but he is doing everything correctly. If I can do that, I still have many years ahead to play snooker."
O'Sullivan won his first Shanghai Masters title in 2009. Saturday's victory was his second ranking title within a month after the English Open in October.