Snooker will have a mixed doubles competition this September as the World Snooker Tour seeks to enhance inclusivity in the sport.
The pioneering tournament will see the world's top four men – Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson – each paired with one of the top four women – Reanne Evans, Ng On Yee, Nutcharut Wongharuthai and Rebecca Kenna.
The invitation event will be televised over the weekend of Saturday 24 September at the Marshall Arena at MK Stadium in Milton Keynes.
The random draw will take place in advance of the event, with one man drawn to play alongside each woman. The four pairs will compete over two days in a round-robin format, followed by the final with the winning team to be crowned inaugural champion.
Each round-robin match will be four frames, with all frames to be completed. Teams will score one point for each frame. At the end of the group phase, the top two teams will go through to the final, which will be best of seven frames. The two players in a team will make alternate visits to the table (rather than alternate shots).
It will be the first televised mixed doubles snooker event since 1991 when Steve Davis and Allison Fisher joined forces to win the title in Hamburg.
WST chairman Steve Dawson said: "This is the first time that a mixed doubles snooker event will be broadcast live on free-to-air television so it’s a very significant moment for our sport. We’re delighted to partner with ITV and BetVictor for this fantastic tournament.
"Snooker is a game for everyone, regardless of age, gender and nationality, and we have proved this with the expansion of our tour and of the sport at grassroots level. There is no reason why men and women can’t compete together and we are thrilled to have – for the first time – four women on our professional tour in the coming season.
"The BetVictor World Mixed Doubles will be an opportunity for the eight players to compete in pairs, creating a different dynamic to the usual individual formats. It will be fascinating to watch both for the live audience and television viewers.
"We look forward to delivering a high quality event and we hope to make this a regular fixture on the circuit."