News, Ranking, Tournaments

Round-Up: World Open and Championship League

Such is the density of the snooker season nowadays that new stories come thick and fast – the most recent of which will be summarised now.

World Open set for China

It has been well-known over the past few months that the World Open – formerly the Grand Prix – would be heading to South East Asia for this year at least.

However, it has been officially announced today that the event will be staged in the city of Haikou on Hainan Island for the next five years.

This is great news for both China and the sport in general.

It ensures that one of the most promising countries in snooker at the moment will boast at least three ranking events for the foreseeable future and safeguards one the sport’s oldest tournaments.

Despite its different name and guise, many of us will still associate this event with the Grand Prix – a long-standing competition that for years was televised on the BBC.

Over its last few years of existence and into the inaugural staging of the World Open in 2010, Neil Robertson had come to dominate proceedings by lifting the trophy three times in five years.

It will be interesting to see whether he will be able to make it a hat-trick of victories in a row when the event gets under way from February 27 to March 4.

As usual, the world’s Top 16 players will automatically enter the main event while the qualifying rounds for the remaining 16 competitors take place later this week.

The format returns to the old system of best of nine frames until the semi-finals which is not necessarily a good thing considering the fact that both the China Open and Shanghai Masters follow a similar pattern.

Nevertheless, the news is indeed of the positive nature and I’m sure the Chinese will be pleased to have earned another major title to their repertoire.

Championship League

The fifth edition of the Championship League also commences today with the first of eight groups battling it out for a place in next season’s Premier League.

Seven groups of seven players each produce, well, seven winners in a round robin format over the course of the next few months.

Those cueists then go on to a final group stage where the overall champion books his place in the lucrative Premier League.

Matthew Stevens emerged victorious in 2011 and is in the first batch alongside Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Mark Davis and Andrew Higginson.

At the end of each league the victor and the bottom two players in the points table exit the fray with three newcomers joining in the subsequent group, and so on.

The series isn’t open to the public and is basically an opportunity for a lot of the top players to play in money matches that several of the leading bookmakers take an interest in with matches streamed live online.

In 2011, over the course of the entire championship, Stevens claimed over £30,000 so it is an event that is not to be sniffed at.

The first two groups will be completed this week and reported on lightly here.

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