A one-off event called World Professional Match-Play Championship was staged in 1976. Eddie Charlton promoted the event in Melbourne with WPBSA approval. Charlton beat Ray Reardon 31–24 in the final.
In 1988 Barry Hearn resurrected the event as an invitational tournament, called World Matchplay, for the provisional top 12 players, and it ran for five years. The event was held at the Brentwood Centre, Brentwood between 1988 and 1990, before moving to the The Dome, Doncaster, for the last two years. The 1988 event was the first snooker tournament to offer a top prize of £100,000.
It was sponsored by Everest in 1988 and 1989, and Coalite from 1990–1992. It was televised between 1988 and 1992 by ITV as a replacement for the World Doubles Championship.