UPDATE: The Tour Championship has been postponed.
Judd Trump may be celebrating a record sixth ranking event title in a single season but the next tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Trump’s 4-3 defeat of Kyren Wilson in the final of the Gibraltar Open on Sunday means that the latter failed in his attempt to force his way into the Tour Championship draw.
Instead, the eight-man field will be completed by John Higgins with the Scot tasked with the unenviable mission of trying to stop the express train that is the world number one.
Trump and Higgins will clash in a repeat of their World Championship final from ten months ago when they cross paths at the Venue Cymru in the quarter-finals of the last tournament in the Coral Series.
Doubts have been raised as to whether or not the competition should go ahead in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak that has resulted in worldwide cancellations of major sporting occasions.
Following government advice, a decision was made on Monday to play the Tour Championship behind closed doors.
Yet, aside from that the snooker season is set to continue for now at least and a prestigious Tour Championship draw will see eight of this season’s best performers in action.
Trump’s latest victory saw him eclipse the previous best tally for ranking victories in one campaign, and the 30 year-old also pocketed a useful £150,000 bonus for topping the European Series order of merit standings.
The runaway world number one will be looking to add more to his bank this week, and Trump will naturally be well fancied to etch his name onto silverware again – as long as he can make his way back to Britain from Gibraltar in time.
Trump and Higgins have already met three times since Sheffield with every encounter being won by the Englishman.
The top half of the Tour Championship draw will also feature Neil Robertson, with the Australian set to face Ding Junhui for a semi-final berth.
Ding came out of nowhere to capture a third UK Championship title in December but has since reverted back to the drab form of old, making the in-form Robertson a heavy favourite to progress.
The latter could be ruing his decision to skip Gibraltar as he missed out on the European Series bonus that was at one point within his grasp, but the World Grand Prix champion could still snatch the £100,000 Coral Series jackpot from Trump with a strong showing in Wales.
Robertson boasts a narrow head-to-head advantage over Ding from their earlier meetings, but the duo has somewhat surprisingly only played each other once in the last four years.
— Barry Hearn (@BarryHearn) March 13, 2020
The other bracket features an interesting tie between close pals Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen, while Mark Selby is challenged by emerging star Yan Bingtao.
Murphy has dominated previous fixtures with the Northern Irishman, highlighted by a 6-2 win at the Players Championship recently and a 10-3 thrashing in Shanghai earlier this term.
Selby and Yan, meanwhile, have only a couple of matches with each other to learn from, with one win apiece in clashes that were contested over a shorter best of seven frames guise.
The opposite will be true for the Tour Championship as longer fixtures and the drama that comes with that are wholly celebrated.
Every encounter will be multi-session affairs, with the quarter-finals the first to nine, the semi-finals the first to ten, and the final taking place over a whopping 25 frames.
The Tour Championship Draw
Judd Trump (1) vs John Higgins (8)
Ding Junhui (5) vs Neil Robertson (4)
Mark Selby (3) vs Yan Bingtao (6)
Mark Allen (7) vs Shaun Murphy (2)
Live coverage will be on ITV4.
Click here to view the full draw. (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST