It’s the third edition of the Championship League this year, and the third different format to be utilised.
The 2020/21 campaign gets going this weekend with the start of the latest Championship League snooker tournament in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
Previously always an invitational event, the competition has been opened up to every professional player and will for the first time carry ranking points.
A total of 128 players will cue up at the Marshall Arena over the next few weeks in a unique format which incorporates a round-robin as well as short encounters that will last only four frames.
Because of the vastly increased field, this edition of the Championship League is set to take place over three separate weeks on the snooker calendar.
The first two weeks are effectively qualifiers for the third and final stint of action in late October that will ultimately provide the champion.
There are 32 groups at the outset comprising four players in each, with the 32 winners following the mini-league phase advancing to the second stage.
The first 16 groups will be contested from Sunday for a week, while the remaining 16 groups will undertake their fixtures at the end of September and into October.
World number one Judd Trump is among those participating at the beginning of the lengthy process, with last season’s record six-time ranking event winner up against Alan McManus, David Lilley, and Fan Zhengyi on day one.
Recent world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan – in a group alongside Li Hang, Alex Borg, and teenage rookie Iulian Boiko – won’t be involved until October 5th.
Every member of the top 16 in the world rankings has entered with the exception of China’s Ding Junhui.
Meanwhile, the two other Championship League Snooker winners from 2020, Scott Donaldson and Luca Brecel, both enter the fray in the second week.
There’s a total of £33,000 on offer for the player who can negotiate every hurdle successfully.
The initial 32 group winners, who will be guaranteed £3,000, will be divided into a further eight groups, and that process will continue until the final two group winners face off against each other in a standalone final showdown for the title.
The Championship League is the first of numerous events on the 2020/21 snooker schedule that will be staged in Milton Keynes.
To restrict unnecessary travel amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was taken to host every event until at least the UK Championship at the same venue – with the Marshall Arena useful as it provides on-site accommodation that the players can avail of.
It hasn’t yet been confirmed whether or not the tournament will be broadcast on television, but as an event run by Matchroom Sport, it seems reasonable to expect that it will be streamed on its Matchroom.Live service via a subscription at the very least.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Photo credit: CLSnooker