As surprising as it may seem, there once was an invitational event held in Brazil nine years ago. It all happened in 2011, in my hometown, Florianópolis. The sad part of this story is that, despite the fact I was living in Florianópolis at the time, I was not the hardcore snooker fan I am today. I was born and raised in Florianópolis, the capital city of Santa Catarina state, located in the south region of Brazil. When the tournament took place in 2011, I was about to finish grad school in the field of engineering. In other words, I was spending my time and energy to get a B.S. degree. It turned out that I missed the opportunity to meet the snooker stars in person and to watch the event live.
The Brazil Masters Snooker was the first (and the only of its kind, to the best of my knowledge) WST tournament to ever take place in South America. I hope it's not the last, but unfortunately things are not looking good in my home country lately. The event was held at a venue called Costão do Santinho, a famous resort & spa near Santinho beach. There were four days of snooker: from September 15th to September 18th. It was a non-ranking tournament, but I don't believe that it compromised its relevance in the context of the main tour. For those who are not very familiar with rankings, there are two types of events: ranking and invitational tournaments. I shall enumerate three of my favorite tournaments that fall into the latter category (all of them are high-profile, lucrative and prestigious events):
As I mentioned, The Brazil Masters Snooker never happened again. However, back in 2011, 13 top players came to Florianópolis to compete: Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Peter Ebdon, Stephen Lee, Jamie Cope, Graeme Dott, Mark Davis, Shaun Murphy, Martin Gould, Ricky Walden, Stephen Hendry, Ali Carter and Steve Davis. Three Brazilians joined them: Igor Figueiredo, Noel Rodrigues e Sobradinho de Deus (we pick weird nicknames for ourselves; I reckon). And that was the line-up for the tournament. The format was as follows: best-of-7 matches in the first round and quarter-finals, and best-of-9 matches in the semi-finals and final. And here is the outcome for the impatient: Shaun Murphy was the champion by defeating the Scottish Graeme Dott in the final.
The Brazilians did not perform well. The only Brazilian player who got past the first round was Igor Figueiredo. He defeated Jamie Cope 4-2. The highlight of the match was Igor's 114 break in the last frame. Figueiredo lost the next match to runner-up Graeme Dott 4-2. Sobradinho de Deus suffered a whitewash against champion Shaun Murphy and Noel Rodrigues lost to Stephen Hendry 4-1. The seven times world champion missed the fifteenth black on his way to a maximum in the last frame. Mark Selby was already fond of playing deciders at the time, he scored 336 points in his 4-3 victory against Stuart Bingham, who scored 334 points. Selby's run ended in the quarter-finals as he lost to Peter Ebdon in a decider, obviously. In the semi-finals, Murphy toppled Hendry 5-1 e Dott got to the final with a 5-2 win against Ebdon. The best was yet to come, though. Shaun Murphy defeated Graeme Dott 5-0 with breaks of 81, 54, 79 and 139 in frame 5 (the highest break of the tournament). Murphy became the first and only champion of the Brazil Masters.
Sadly, I have to acknowledge that snooker has not become more popular since then. Most tournaments these days are sponsored by betting companies, and those are pretty popular in the UK. Such activity is illegal in Brazil and the same applies to cassinos (Brazilians visit neighbor countries to play at cassinos). In fact, the Brazilian government owns a monopoly because all the existing "betting companies" are run by the government. There is the possibility of allowing the private sector to venture into the business, but that initiative is yet to become a reality. Another issue is that, unlike the UK, the game of snooker in Brazil is seen as a sport for the wealthy, instead of being a sport for the working class.
Another reason that made the event quite unpopular was the price of the tickets. They were far from being affordable. The fact that most seats were empty during the matches proves this fact. In addition, the tournament was not advertised properly. I myself was a college student at the time and I never heard about it. Writing about the tournament was not easy, either. I had a hard time gathering detailed information and still, I couldn't find high-resolution images nor high-quality headlines available online. Despite all these issues, it was a nice and respectable effort. But who knows? Maybe in a few years we can try again...