It’s the third Home Nations series event of an increasingly busy 2020/21 campaign.
All of the big names are back in action in the Scottish Open draw this week, another tournament which is again being staged remotely in Milton Keynes.
Only a matter of hours after Neil Robertson denied Judd Trump in a dramatic decider to claim a third UK title, the next ranking event is ready to commence.
The Scottish Open is usually held in Glasgow, but this year’s edition will be added to all the others from this term so far that have been staged at the Marshall Arena.
Prize, History, and Format
Robertson is one of four players who have won the tournament since it was launched in its current guise and integrated with the Home Nations series in 2016.
The Australian triumphed in 2017 with a memorable come-from-behind success over Cao Yupeng.
Marco Fu was the inaugural champion, but the Hong Kong cueist doesn’t feature in the 2020 Scottish Open draw as a result of his continued absence due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Marks Allen and Selby have etched their names onto the Stephen Hendry Trophy in the last two years and will be hoping to threaten for the £70,000 top prize again.
The format is the same as all of the other Home Nations tournaments, with encounters lasting a short seven frames until the quarter-finals.
The last eight requires nine frames before a further increase to 11 and 17 frames for the semi-finals and final respectively.
2020 Scottish Open Draw
As usual, all 128 players enter at the same stage, and with the short format in the early rounds it’s generally difficult to predict what’s going to happen.
Having reached every final bar one on the calendar between them since September, Robertson and Trump are the obvious primary contenders.
Yet, neither of them has a long time to prepare after a mentally exhausting showdown for the UK crown on Sunday night.
In the first round, Trump is due to face Alexander Ursenbacher – the young Swiss star who upset Ronnie O’Sullivan last week – but the world number one will have to bounce back after an emotionally draining defeat in which he missed the final pink in the deciding frame with victory within his grasp.
Trump has won both of the first two Home Nations events of this season – the English and Northern Ireland Opens – which is a bittersweet achievement given that there’s no £1 million bonus on offer this campaign for triumphing in all four in the series.
Robertson, on the other hand, will have to find a way to come back down from the high of raising a fifth career Triple Crown trophy aloft.
The Australian meets Lei Peifan in his opening fixture that is scheduled for a lunch-time start on Tuesday.
Great match this, but spare a thought for the table fitters @snookerservices and set designers who have to come in afterwards and re rig the table(s) and sets for the Scottish Open starting in a few hours. They do a great job
— Shaun Murphy (@Magician147) December 7, 2020
All of the other usual protagonists are in the Scottish Open draw, including O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy, and Kyren Wilson.
Scottish competitors John Higgins, Stephen Maguire, Graeme Dott, and Anthony McGill will be among the home players hoping to feature prominently, although any advantage they could have received by playing in front of their own fans has of course been lost.
Intriguing first-round ties include Allen’s bout with veteran Jimmy White, David Gilbert’s clash against Matthew Stevens, and defending champion Selby’s pairing with Yuan Sijun.
A frenetic schedule ensures that the matches come thick and fast for the first four days, and it’s not usually until Friday’s quarter-final line-up is revealed that we can get a better sense of who might actually emerge with the silverware.
One subplot to this year’s Scottish Open is that it’s the last counting tournament before the upcoming World Grand Prix, which is set to feature the top 32 on the one-year rankings list.
Allen, Maguire, and Williams are a few of the established names who currently stand to miss out on an invitation.
Where to Watch the Scottish Open
The tournament will be available to UK and Irish viewers on Quest TV in addition to blanket Eurosport coverage provided across all of Europe.
Various broadcasters around the world will be offering coverage (information here), while fans in territories without another service can access the event through Matchroom.Live.
As has become the norm during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament in its entirety will be staged behind closed doors.
Featured photo credit: WST