It is the second-last ranking event of the 2020/21 snooker season.
The draw for the 2021 Tour Championship has been confirmed, with the top eight players on the one-year rankings list set for battle at the Celtic Manor this week.
Most of the spots in the field had already been filled ahead of the recent WST Pro Series, and the line-up was fully confirmed on Friday after Barry Hawkins clinched the final position.
Prize, History, and Format
Boasting a top prize worth £150,000, the Tour Championship is one of the most lucrative tournaments on the snooker calendar.
This will be its third edition after Ronnie O’Sullivan’s triumph at the inaugural staging in 2019 and Stephen Maguire’s somewhat unexpected success last year.
The latter won’t be able to defend his trophy having failed to accumulate enough ranking points during this campaign to even threaten the top eight in the standings.
An event for the lover of long formats, the Tour Championship will act as a fitting appetiser to the upcoming World Snooker Championship.
Unlike in previous years, all three rounds will be played over the best of 19 frames and two sessions of play.
2021 Tour Championship Draw
With more than half a million pounds in prize money from ranking events this term, Judd Trump is the top seed in the Tour Championship draw.
The world number one is bidding for a record-equalling sixth ranking title of a single season and is undoubtedly the favourite for glory, but the Englishman will face stiff competition from the other star competitors in the field.
Hawkins’ reward for sealing the final berth in the line-up is a meeting with Trump in the first round, and the Hawk actually possesses a decent head-to-head record against the 31 year-old.
In all competitions, Hawkins has won 10 out of their 24 clashes, although he has lost the last five – including a 6-5 reverse in the semi-finals of the German Masters in January when he blew a four-frame advantage.
Elsewhere in the top half, Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins will clash only a few short weeks after their tussle in the Players Championship final in which the latter thrashed his old rival in a dominant display.
O’Sullivan will undoubtedly be motivated to gain a modicum of revenge for that defeat, which represented a fourth reverse of the season in a title-deciding match.
Enough has been said about this pair, and this battle gives fans another chance to enjoy two of the greatest ever competitors battling it out in a high-profile affair.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of other fascinating fixtures on the opposite side of the Tour Championship draw.
Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski face each other in a repeat of the 2019 China Open final, while Mark Selby encounters Kyren Wilson in a showdown that features similar styles from the two contenders.
Lisowski lost all seven of his round-robin matches in the final group stage of the WST Pro Series on Sunday, but it has otherwise been another strong campaign for the 29 year-old.
The Cheltenham cueist is still searching for his maiden ranking title and there would be few better times to do it than in a tournament of this stature, but Robertson will be the one expected to advance.
That said, it has been an unusually barren period for the Australian, underlined by the fact that he has won only one match since capturing the UK Championship in December.
Selby and Wilson’s battle has the makings of being an almighty slog that could go down to the final colours in the last frame.
The Englishmen have played each other on 16 occasions in all competitions and, somewhat surprisingly, Selby boasts an enormous head-to-head advantage, having won 13 to Wilson’s three.
Judd Trump (1) vs Barry Hawkins (8) – Thursday 25th
John Higgins (4) vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) – Monday 22nd
Neil Robertson (3) vs Jack Lisowski (6) – Tuesday 23rd
Mark Selby (2) vs Kyren Wilson (7) – Wednesday 24th
Where to Watch the Tour Championship
The tournament will be available to UK and Irish viewers on ITV4, and fans around the world will also have various other options available to them, which you can find more details for by clicking here.
As has become the norm since last year, the tournament in its entirety will be staged behind closed doors.
One thing that baffles me with this fabulous tournament is how the first round losers receive prizemoney but yet it doesn’t count towards the rankings. This isn’t a typical opening round exit as making the field for this event is a fine achievement.
I know what you mean, you have a point.
I may have to send an email into one of the snooker podcasts to get their thoughts!