Preview: Champion of Champions

The International Championship ended less than 24 hours ago but it’s straight onto the next big event as the Champion of Champions begins on Monday in Coventry.

John Higgins beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7 to win last year’s final. Photo credit: World Snooker

Returning for a fifth season at the Ricoh Arena, the Champion of Champions invites 16 winners from the year gone by to compete for a top prize of £100,000.

The limited, high-quality field gives the tournament a sense of prestige and the event has been well received by both players and fans since its inception in 2013.

John Higgins returns as the defending champion after ending Ronnie O’Sullivan’s unbeaten 11-match streak in the competition in last year’s showdown for the trophy.

As luck would have it, the Scot has been drawn in the same quarter as the “Rocket”, with a quarter-final encounter on the cards between the multiple world champions.

While the format for the Champion of Champions takes on a familiar straight knockout guise, the schedule is slightly different to give the feeling that each quarter represents a separate group.

Thus, each of the opening four days will provide a semi-finalist who will go on to compete for the top honours at the weekend.

Monday’s action sees Ding Junhui, Anthony Hamilton, Barry Hawkins, and Ryan Day battle it out for the first semi-final spot.

World Open winner Ding will play German Masters champion Hamilton before Hawkins and Day will clash in a repeat of their World Grand Prix final from earlier in 2017.

The two winners will subsequently face off in the evening session with a last four place at stake.

Tuesday’s group features Shaun Murphy, Marco Fu, Michael White, and Mark King – the latter making his debut in the tournament after his Northern Ireland Open success last November.

Arguably the best section of the lot takes place on Wednesday, where yesterday’s International Championship winner Mark Selby is challenged by Liang Wenbo, Judd Trump, and Luca Brecel.

Finally, reigning champ Higgins will take on countryman Anthony McGill on Thursday while two-time former winner O’Sullivan entertains Neil Robertson, who gratefully received the last available invitation after Mark Allen’s defeat in the Daqing final yesterday.

All last 16 ties will be played over the best of seven frames, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals increased to eleven frames.

Coverage all week will be provided by ITV4, the broadcaster’s first tournament of the campaign, with the lucrative best of 19 frames final set to be contested on Sunday.

Interestingly, for viewers from the countries that are not broadcasting the tournament on television, every match will be streamed live on the Champion of Champions Facebook page.

Good stuff.

Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)

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