Champion of Champions Preview

The Champion of Champions gets under way today as 16 invitees prepare to battle it out at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has won both Champion of Champions but wont be returning to make it a hat-trick - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Ronnie O’Sullivan has won both Champion of Champions but wont be returning to make it a hat-trick – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

This invitation event has become a popular spectacle for fans since its inception in 2013, with only the champions from the previous year’s array of biggest tournaments receiving the call to compete.

This means that a high-class¬†field of hopefuls will be gunning for the lucrative ¬£100,000 winner’s cheque come Sunday evening.

Because of the formidable line-up, and the fact that the opening round is only best of seven frames, it will be difficult to immediately predict a winner.

The format is technically phrased as having the entrants drawn into four groups of four, but in reality the event is a straight knockout.

The novelty is that, rather than play the entire last 16 out first, each bracket will be contested as a unit, ensuring that a semi-finalist will be determined on every one of the opening four days.

This arguably favours the group who are scheduled to play on Friday, with the tournament for them effectively being a three-day sprint.

That group is also probably the toughest one, with recent Bulgarian Open champion Mark Allen set to go head-to-head with Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire.

Today kicks off with world champion and former runner-up Stuart Bingham taking on one half of the Chinese World Cup winning team, Zhou Yuelong, while Judd Trump attempts to gain revenge on Kyren Wilson for the Shanghai Masters final defeat to his fellow Englishman earlier in the season.

The other two groups are equally competitive.

Wednesday has in-form John Higgins up against Ali Carter, with either Joe Perry or Michael White awaiting the pair in the quarter-finals.

On Thursday, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy enter the fray with their initial ties against Rory McLeod and Yan Bingtao respectively.

A notable absentee is Ronnie O’Sullivan, the reigning champion who has opted out of this campaign so far.

It’s a shame that he’s not present to defend his crown as an extra flavour of excitement is always added with his presence, but the field is still more than impressive enough to produce a spectacle by their own right.

The Champion of Champions sees snooker return to the UK, the traditional home of the game, and with that there will be excellent coverage provided by ITV4 throughout the week.

Who do you think will win?

Click here to view the draw.

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