THE 2022 Cazoo UK Championship at the York Barbican saw a 15 per cent increase in ticket sales compared to the 2021 edition.

Comparing the nine days of the 2022 tournament to the final nine days of the 12-day 2021 competition, the Triple Crown event witnessed a significant boost in its crowds.

The news comes amid a format change to the UK Championship to draw it in line with the Betfred World Championship.

Previously there was a 128-player field, which saw eight tables utilised, half of which were positioned in the often near-empty backroom.

From 2021, qualifying for the event was introduced, with two-tables employed in the main arena. Numerous players have praised the added prestige that the refreshed set-up has brought to the UK Championship.

“This is one of the best events we’ve held here, it’s been fantastic,” enthused World Snooker Tour press officer Ivan Hirschowitz, who has worked for WST since 2001.

“The changes that we’ve made to the arena, it was one of those where until you actually see how it works, you’re never quite sure, but it’s gone better than we could have expected.

“In years gone by, the biggest criticism from the players was that they didn’t like the four tables in the sports hall, for them it didn’t feel like a proper event.

“Having two tables from the beginning, it felt like a much bigger event right from the start.

“We’ve had great atmospheres with every match feeling like a big match and then you go down to the one-table set-up from the semi-finals.

“This is a Triple Crown event, one of our big three. The World Championship is our biggest event, The Masters has really grown at the Alexandra Palace in London and we didn’t want the UK Championship to be left behind.

“We wanted to up the game here this year and I think it feels like a much-bigger event now.”

Also aiding the experience of the UK Championship was the introduction of the Cue Zone. Hosted by an WST, the sessions would feature the sport’s top players doing question-and-answers with fans and giving them demonstrations on particular shots.

“I think it’s the best Cue Zone area we’ve ever done,” said Hirschowitz. “It’s been the first time we’ve asked the players to get involved.

“Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski did a session as did Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy, Tom Ford and quite a few others. That’s been really popular with fans, we’ve had around 50 to 100 people around the table for those sessions.

“I think every sport recognises that people have so many more options for leisure these days.

“When you buy a ticket, if you just want to watch the snooker, that’s great.

“But if you can enjoy the whole day, get closer to the players, find more out about the game, then that becomes a really good day out and something people want to do again next year.

“Part of that is bringing the players and fans closer together. The players are superstars but we don’t want them to feel unconnected from the fans.

“Anything we can do to make the players and fans interact more is a good thing for everyone.”

As part of a one-year rolling deal, the UK Championship will return to the York Barbican in 2023, tickets for which went on sale on Sunday.

Hirschowitz said: “We love York, it’s been the home of this event for 20 years on and off and it still very much feels like the home of the event.
“As long as we keep having this level of success, it will continue to feel like the home of the UK Championship."