The International Championship returns for a second year as the qualifiers take place in Barnsley today and tomorrow.
Last year’s event in Chengdu was recognised as an overall success, with a slightly longer format and increased prize money appeasing the wishes of both fans and players alike.
Judd Trump claimed the inaugural title and collected a handsome winner’s cheque but has been generally in and out of form since then – not least losing what was then his world no.1 position in the rankings.
This year the tournament falls into the category of those where only one qualifying round will be played in a flat 128 draw.
This will be seen as a huge opportunity for many of the Main Tour’s lesser know players to qualify for the venue stage of an important ranking event.
Indeed, even though it is only in its second year, the International Championship is widely considered to likely become somewhat of a fourth major – both because of its slightly longer match length and also for the fact it’s in China, which currently doesn’t boast one of the traditional majors.
With encounters in the early rounds already best of 11, there is extra room for comfort for the star names to ensure their progress unscathed.
One particular player who will be looking for a boost will be Shaun Murphy, who has failed on both occasions these single qualifying rounds have been implemented so far this season.
The 2005 world champion will be a heavy favourite over Christopher Keogan, though.
Of the Irish involved, David Morris, who has enjoyed an excellent return to the circuit following a year’s absence, has been handed a tricky tie with the inconsistent Stephen Maguire.
Veteran Ken Doherty will feel confident against Stuart Carrington, a player who has usually struggled as a professional, while fellow Dubliner Fergal O’Brien has David Grace for company.
One of the most talked about clashes is that between world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and teenager Joel Walker, who the ‘Rocket’ once mentored as an amateur.
Trump’s defence begins against Cao Xinlong, who will be one of many Chinese hoping to continue the country’s recent success.
The format works by pitting the top 64 in the world against the bottom 64 and, therefore, a pair of players who most in the higher bracket want to avoid is Indian duo Aditya Mehta and Pankaj Advani.
Mehta has landed Ricky Walden while Advani faces another two-time ranking event winner in Dominic Dale.
The event also marks the introduction of a new venue to the snooker scene in the UK with the Barnsley Metrodome playing host to these qualifiers.
The full draw and list of results can be viewed by clicking here.
The 2014 Snookerbacker Classic got under way at the weekend in Gloucester with back-to-back 32-man events.
Four men from both tournaments qualified for the Grand Finals early next year with Ben Harrison, Kishan Hirani, Jamie Clarke and Adam Wicheard all one step closer to earning the entry fee for Q-School.
Now in its third year, the Snookerbacker Classic has been a tremendous addition to the amateur set-up over in England and will continue to be back strongly by this website.
All the best to SB and the entire field of competitors in what will surely be another successful year for the Classic.
IBSF World Team and 6-Red Championship
Finally, the IBSF World Team and 6-Red Championship is taking place this week at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.
Ireland is represented by a 34-strong team as it takes advantage of being the home nation.
In the team event, there are six groups with Ireland sending a total of seven teams in total.
With the likes of David Hogan and Brendan O’Donoghue, and Josh Boileau and Rodney Goggins being paired together, Several of the Irish teams will feel strong enough to reach the business end come this weekend.