Updates: The full draw for Galway can be viewed by clicking here.
A preview of the 2012 PTC Grand Finals can be viewed by clicking here.
It appears set that the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals will return to Ireland for 2012.
Despite the relatively successful staging of last season’s event at The Helix in Dublin, this campaign’s series finale will conclude in Galway’s Bailey Allen Hall.
Like last March, the tournament will coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, running from 14-18 March.
In truth, this may or may not have been planned because of the difficult scheduling dilemmas that World Snooker face with the influx of a host of new events.
However, if it is indeed held around this time of the year as a marketing ploy, it is a very brave decision based on previous form.
Given the fact that the patron saint’s annual holiday falls on the Saturday – the second last day of the event – it will be interesting to see the level of crowds that will fill the 650-seater venue.
As was the case prior to last year, I remain sceptical.
Paddy’s Day is the biggest drinking bonanza of the year and it is not without reason to expect people to be more interested in spending their time in a pub rather than watching snooker.
It is arguably also a risk staging the tournament in the west as opposed to the capital city again but Galway is a vibrant city in its own right, very student orientated and boasts good transport links to and from various other locations across Ireland.
Of course, it will mean that the country will have staged two events in the 2011/12 calendar, which by all accounts is a great thing given the fact that it was five years between anything major happened until the 2011 PTC Finals.
Yet, with the relative failure ticket sales wise of the Alex Higgins International Trophy in October, it is crucial for this upcoming tournament to be a resounding success.
How well the event is marketed could play a vital role in that very success because, in my opinion, the two tournaments in Ireland in 2011 were not advertised to the full potential.
The event itself will feature the top 24 players on the Order of Merit which has been played out over twelve tournaments since last June.
Shaun Murphy is the defending champion but will fail to make a bid to reclaim his title after falling short of the required cut.
But the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and world number one Mark Selby will all be in attendance, ensuring a grandstand finish for the best of 7 frames format.
All in all, though, great news for Irish snooker and hopefully any concerns will go unnoticed next March.
Tickets will go on sale early in the New Year.
The PTC Order of Merit can be viewed by clicking here.