Legends Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis are sceptical about whether snooker can attract top-notch sponsorship as a new era dawns following the end of Embassy's involvement with the world championship after 30 years.
Hendry claims that the threat of Ronnie O'Sullivan, the game's biggest draw and world No 1, not to play next season will have a negative effect on any budding backers.
The search is on to find a new sponsor for the game's showpiece tournament at Sheffield after legislation regarding tobacco advertising forced a change in that direction and despite Shaun Murphy, the born-again Christian based at nearby Rotherham, becoming the first qualifier to win the event for 26 years.
Murphy had never even won a match at the Crucible before this tournament but his awesome potting power and composure belied his 22 years as he overcame three former champions before defeating Matthew Stevens 18-16 in a thrilling final on Monday night.
Hendry believes "the last £250,000 winner's cheque has been played for" - the amount picked up by Murphy - after a considerable drop in prizemoney available this season.
Davis said that Embassy, who have pumped £23 million into snooker, "will be a hard act to follow" in a market where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find willing backers of the right quality.
The signs were not encouraging with the failure to find a major sponsor for this season's Masters at Wembley after the end of the involvement of Benson & Hedges after 25 years.
Hendry, who has won a record seven world titles, said: "I hope the future is optimistic but I would say we have probably played for the last £ 250,000 winner's cheque.
"It is a sad day for snooker that Embassy are out of the game and it has been proved for the last ten years that our association hasn't attracted sponsors of the ilk of the tobacco companies.
"They haven't been able to do it. Can one be attracted for the world championship? I would be surprised.
"They couldn't get a major replacement for such a great event as The Masters at Wembley, a tournament shown live on BBC with the game's top 16 players.
" If Ronnie O'Sullivan decides not to play next season, then it will have a bearing on any possible sponsors.
"If you are putting money into something, you'd want the top player taking part."
Davis, who has won the title six times, said: "It is not an easy market out there. It is not just snooker's problem. It is everyone's problem.
"Embassy will be a hard act to follow but we've been asking for a more professional management of the game for many years. We are going to see whether we've got that, or what snooker is worth.
"Hopefully, the powers that be in the game can at some stage get their foot in the door of some type of multinational company who can help with the finance that the game needs.
"It is a tough market but, on the other hand, you would think with two weeks' blanket coverage of the tournament, that perhaps it shouldn't be that hard to attract someone."
Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion, believes a greater globalisation of the game, with more tournaments outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland, is vital for snooker to move forward.
He said: "The world championship is our Blue Riband event. We get fantastic coverage and viewing figures and we need another great sponsor to come along and take it forward. Generally, we really do need to globalise the game a lot more. We don't have enough international players or international tournaments. There are too many in the UK."