It’s straight onto the next ranking event on the calendar in Milton Keynes.
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry is among those in the draw for the Gibraltar Open, which gets under way at the Marshall Arena on Monday.
The Scot will make his highly anticipated comeback to the sport, with the majority of the usual heavy hitters also in action again this week.
The early focus will surround how the Scot manages to perform upon his return, but there is a lot more to be intrigued by in the coming days as well.
Prize, History, and Format
With COVID-19 still causing havoc with regard to travel, the Gibraltar Open must be staged at the now familiar location of Milton Keynes.
There have been five previous editions of the event, which has always taken place over a sprint best-of-seven frames format from start to finish.
Judd Trump is the reigning champion after his 4-3 victory over Kyren Wilson twelve months ago.
The victory was the world number one’s record sixth of a single campaign, and it was in last year’s Gibraltar Open when the full extent of the global pandemic was becoming known with the event ending behind closed doors.
Stuart Bingham, Ryan Day, and Shaun Murphy have won the tournament in the past, while Marco Fu was the inaugural winner when it was originally staged as a minor-ranking event through the now defunct European Tour in 2015.
There is a top prize worth £50,000 on offer, and the money earned will be important in various rankings races that are nearing their conclusions.
The final leg of six for the European Series that is sponsored by BetVictor, Trump and Mark Selby appear set to share a direct battle for the £150,000 bonus.
There is only £6,500 between the English pair, with reigning European Series champion Trump boasting the narrow advantage after the first five tournaments.
As the prize money for the Gibraltar Open is relatively low, Selby will need to go all the way to the final and better Trump’s showing if he is to successfully usurp the 31 year-old.
Last month’s Welsh Open winner Jordan Brown also has a chance to top the standings, but the Northern Irishman must win the event and hope that the other two fail to reach the final.
Meanwhile, the Gibraltar Open is the second-last counting event ahead of the eight-man Tour Championship.
The one-year rankings are used to determine that particular line-up, with Brown and Zhou Yuelong among those within striking distance of eight-placed Barry Hawkins.
Finally, the scrap to secure a spot in the top 16 of the official two-year world rankings in time for the upcoming World Snooker Championship is in its home stretch.
As is the norm, only the top 16 will automatically qualify for the Crucible Theatre, with the remaining players forced to endure the dreaded qualifiers.
Jack Lisowski currently holds onto the coveted 16th position on the provisional Race to the Crucible list, but there’s not a lot in it between David Gilbert in 14th and Stuart Bingham all the way down in 22nd.
2021 Gibraltar Open Draw
All eyes will obviously be on Stephen Hendry’s match with Matthew Selt on Tuesday evening and whether or not the former world number one will be able to produce any kind of serious standard.
Over a longer distance the Scot would probably struggle, but the 52 year-old might secretly fancy his chances over just seven frames if he can somehow get off to a decent start in the contest.
Trump begins his defence with a tricky tie against Robbie Williams, while Selby also has a tough opener with the talented Sam Craigie.
Trump and Selby are on the same side of the Gibraltar Open draw, so a winner-takes-all semi-final encounter for the European Series jackpot could be on the cards later in the week.
Brown is on the other side of the draw and will face Rod Lawler in the last 128, while Sunday’s Players Championship winner John Higgins is in action again against Jamie Wilson.
Ronnie O’Sullivan will attempt to put the disappointment of another ranking event final defeat behind him when he faces old rival Ali Carter on Wednesday in what is arguably the fixture of the round.
UPDATE: John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew from the Gibraltar Open draw after the writing of this article.
Selected L128 Matches
Judd Trump vs Robbie Williams
Mark Allen vs Jamie Curtis-Barrett (a)
Ding Junhui vs Si Jiahui
Kyren Wilson vs Kuldesh Johal (a)
Matthew Selt vs Stephen Hendry
Mark Williams vs Li Hang
Jimmy White vs Joe O’Connor
Ken Doherty vs Matthew Stevens
Mark Selby vs Sam Craigie
Neil Robertson vs Lei Peifan
Yan Bingtao vs Jamie Clarke
Shaun Murphy vs Ashley Hugill
Mark King vs Luca Brecel
Jack Lisowski vs Farakh Ajaib
Rod Lawler vs Jordan Brown
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Sean Maddocks
Click here to view the full draw (Scheduled times in CET)
Where to Watch the Gibraltar Open
There will be blanket Eurosport coverage provided across all of Europe, including Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Fans around the world will have various other options available to them, which you can find more details for here.
As has become the norm since last year, the tournament in its entirety will be staged behind closed doors.
Featured photo credit: WST