Snooker in October

From the start of the season in May until now at the end of September, the snooker season has been a stop-start motion right the way through.

What's onThis is in stark contrast to last season when it felt like there was no respite almost from beginning to end, until Mark Selby was ultimately crowned as world champion in the season finale.

That’s not to say that last year’s relentlessness was better.

On the contrary, it had its problems too – not least the topic of burnout which was never far from the mouths of either player or fan.

The reservations held regarding the 2014/15 schedule have already been well documented on this website – in particular, here – so there is no need to go over those issues again at this juncture.

What we can look forward to is the month of October, which is just one day away and opens with the return of the Bulgarian Open.

Now in its third year on the calendar, the tournament in Sofia is one of the most well established European Tour events.

And it has duly delivered on both of its previous occasions with excellent crowds, as is the norm for the continental competitions, in to watch Judd Trump and John Higgins garner glory in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

As per usual, the first piece of action involves the amateur rounds and, as the entry list was so high, the pros wont begin their efforts until Friday.

There’s no Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui for this one – a decision the latter might regret having been dumped out of the International Championship early in the qualifiers – but the likes of Selby, Trump, Higgins, Neil Robertson et al will provide an entertaining event no doubt.

Irish amateur trio Josh Boileau, TJ Dowling and John Sutton each require a brace of wins in the preliminary rounds to reach the first round proper while waiting for them in the last 128 are Fergal O’Brien and Ken Doherty.

Kilkenny’s David Morris has again decided to sit out a tournament on the Players Championship series.

Later in the month, the annual General Cup invitation event will take place in Hong Kong with defending champion Mark Davis competing alongside Barry Hawkins, Ricky Walden, Marco Fu, Shaun Murphy, Jimmy White and Ali Carter – who will hopefully be returning to action for the first time since the 35 year-old’s latest battle with cancer.

From this point onward, the season begins to get a lot busier.

Quickly following the General Cup will be the second Asian Tour event of the campaign in Haining, where any number of Chinese amateur youngsters will be desperate to perform well and thus give themselves a good opportunity of gaining a pro ticket in 2015.

Finally, starting the 26th and finishing in early November is the eagerly anticipated International Championship, which was whittled down to the last 64 in Barnsley last week.

Like with the Bulgarian Open, the International will be staged for the third season in a row and the title has quickly become one of the most sought after given the sizable prize money that is up for grabs.

As mentioned, there’ll be no Ding, who is the defending champion of course, while Selby also suffered a surprising defeat to miss out on the trip out east.

Yet, the tournament in Chengdu still promises to be a thrilling affair that will benefit from its longer format – a factor that generally provides more drama.

In addition to all that, the first senior ranking event of the new Irish season takes place at the North West Snooker Club in Letterkenny on October 11.

Plenty to look forward to then.

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