Quite amazingly, the 2012/13 campaign has almost reached its halfway mark but, perhaps more shocking, there’s even more snooker to look forward to over the next six months than there was in the previous five.
With four ranking events and eight Players Tour Championship events already over with, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the majority of the season has already been completed. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong.
Because it is right about now where the non-stop action begins to dramatically kick in as the players prepare for arguably the busiest schedule in the sport’s history.
Only three years ago the calendar boasted a paltry six ranking events – well, there’s still seven left on this roster and, aside from yesterday’s conclusion to the International Championship, not one ranking tournament will be completed in the busy month of November.
Starting today – in fact, from the beginning of proceedings in Chengdu – there’ll be only one day this month where absolutely no snooker will be taking place and that’s the 19th. So if you have any major plans, make them for that day…
On Saturday, the final UK PTC of the season, otherwise known as the Kay Suzanne Memorial Cup, gets up and running at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester while straight after the players will travel to Bulgaria for its maiden staging of a European Tour event in Sofia.
Following that, there are back-to-back qualifiers for full ranking events to be decided – first the UK Championship to be held in York next month, then the 16 names outside the Top 16 in the world rankings to compete in German Masters will also be determined.
In the meantime, the Premier League will be played out to an exciting end as a pair of regular Thursday night slots will classify the last two semi-finalists that will join Stuart Bingham and John Higgins at the play-offs weekend in Grimsby in the last weekend of the month.
But first, the third and last Asian Players Tour Championship event of the season got under way today and runs through until Friday with the winner guaranteed a place in the Grand Finals next March.
Not all that many of the more established names on the circuit have made the trip over to Zhengzhou in China – understandably so with such substantial activity ahead – so it is a great opportunity for some of the amateur contenders to go on a deep run.
That said, the likes of Bingham, Ricky Walden, Ding Junhui and Matthew Stevens are all in contention so opposition will still be stiff for the less experienced competing.
Ireland’s Ken Doherty and ‘Whirlwind’ Jimmy White have also made the trip to the other side of the world in an effort to claim some silverware and a ticket to the lucrative Grand Finals.
So strap yourselves in for a packed and stacked schedule as the most crammed season ever begins to come to a boil.
The draw for APTC3 can be viewed by clicking here.