The first action of the new season will take place at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
The Championship League launches the 2021/22 campaign on Sunday, with Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan among the star players in the draw.
Matchroom’s Championship League has been conducted under various guises in recent years, but on this occasion it will take place as a ranking event that features the majority of Main Tour players.
It has been more than two months since the conclusion of the last term, the longest gap in between snooker seasons for more than a decade, so it will be interesting to see which players can get off to a quick start.
Prize, History, and Format
The Championship League has been on the calendar in some way, shape, or form since 2008, but it’s only in the last couple of years that it has been intermittently staged as a ranking event.
England’s Kyren Wilson is the defending champion, and the Kettering cueist actually won both editions from the makeshift 2020/21 campaign.
Joe Perry triumphed in the inaugural Championship League that was held as an invitational 13 years ago, and the Gentleman is in this year’s draw alongside fellow former champions Trump, John Higgins, Stuart Bingham, and Martin Gould.
On this occasion, there are three stages to the elongated competition with 128 players initially split into 32 round-robin groups comprising four players in each.
The 32 group winners advance to Stage Two, before the next eight group winners determine the competitors who feature in Stage Three, with all matches lasting just four frames.
The two players who win their third and final groups will subsequently contest the outright final, with the winner set to earn £33,000 from the total prize fund.
2021 Championship League Draw
In not the most thrilling of openings to a new campaign, Stage One of the Championship League draw takes almost three weeks to complete, and the overall champion won’t be known until August 13th – just a few days shy of a full month after the first pots were made.
Trump, who is the favourite in the sports betting odds, will get his bid for a record-extending fourth Championship League title under way against Anthony Hamilton, Lee Walker, and Rod Lawler on the very last day of Stage One on August 6th.
O’Sullivan is expected to be in action on Tuesday against Mark Joyce, Ian Burns, and amateur top-up Saqib Nasir – the latter a late replacement for Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee.
Women’s world champion Reanne Evans returns to the Main Tour as a professional for the first time in ten years and will begin her campaign against Tom Ford, Simon Lichtenberg, and Simon Blackwell.
Higgins, a winner of this tournament in 2017 and 2018, participates in Group 9 alongside Noppon Saengkham, Igor Figueiredo, and Soheil Vahedi, while reigning champion Wilson plays Sam Craigie, Ben Hancorn, and Dylan Emery.
Stage One Draw
|Group 1 (Aug 6)||Group 2 (Jul 21)||Group 3 (Jul 22)||Group 4 (Aug 2)|
|Judd Trump||Jordan Brown||Tom Ford||Joe Perry|
|Anthony Hamilton||Stuart Carrington||Simon Lichtenberg||Jimmy Robertson|
|Lee Walker||Michael Judge||Reanne Evans||Sean Maddocks|
|Rod Lawler (a)||Duane Jones||Simon Blackwell (a)||Jimmy White|
|Group 5 (Aug 6)||Group 6 (Jul 20)||Group 7 (Jul 18)||Group 8 (Jul 18)|
|Mark Allen||Michael Holt||Ricky Walden||Mark Williams|
|Chris Wakelin||Andrew Higginson||Nigel Bond||Jak Jones|
|Mitchell Mann||Fergal O’Brien||Allan Taylor||Peter Lines|
|Daniel Womersley (a)||Mark Lloyd (a)||Oliver Brown (a)||Hammad Miah|
|Group 9 (Jul 27)||Group 10 (Jul 22)||Group 11 (Aug 5)||Group 12 (Jul 23)|
|John Higgins||David Grace||Zhao Xintong||Anthony McGill|
|Noppon Saengkham||Farakh Ajaib||Joe O’Connor||Mark Davis|
|Igor Figueiredo||Ben Fortey (a)||Andy Hicks||Yuan Sijun|
|Soheil Vahedi (a)||Bai Langning (a)||David Lilley (a)||Billy Castle (a)|
|Group 13 (Jul 26)||Group 14 (Jul 26)||Group 15 (Aug 4)||Group 16 (Jul 29)|
|Oliver Lines||Martin Gould||Matthew Stevens||Kyren Wilson|
|Peter Devlin||Ken Doherty||Mark King||Sam Craigie|
|Luke Pinches (a)||Rory McLeod||Andrew Pagett||Ben Hancorn|
|Joshua Thomond (a)||Ryan Davies (a)||Ross Muir (a)||Dylan Emery (a)|
|Group 17 (Aug 4)||Group 18 (Jul 28)||Group 19 (Jul 19)||Group 20 (Jul 29)|
|Shaun Murphy||Robert Milkins||Ali Carter||Graeme Dott|
|Jamie Jones||Zhao Jianbo||Dominic Dale||Robbie Williams|
|Chen Zifan||Gerard Greene||Sydney Wilson (a)||Iulian Boiko|
|Michael Collumb (a)||Haydon Pinhey (a)||Michael Georgiou (a)||Si Jiahui (a)|
|Group 21 (Jul 30)||Group 22 (Jul 30)||Group 23 (Jul 19)||Group 24 (Aug 2)|
|Stuart Bingham||Ryan Day||Scott Donaldson||Stephen Maguire|
|Elliot Slessor||Hossein Vafaei||Alexander Ursenbacher||Sunny Akani|
|Gao Yang||Barry Pinches||Aaron Hill||Ashley Hugill|
|Michael White (a)||Jackson Page||Leo Fernandez (a)||John Astley (a)|
|Group 25 (Aug 3)||Group 26 (Jul 27)||Group 27 (Aug 3)||Group 28 (Jul 21)|
|Yan Bingtao||Gary Wilson||Matthew Selt||Barry Hawkins|
|Jamie Clarke||Steven Hallworth||Ashley Carty||Zak Surety|
|Louis Heathcote||Cap Yupeng||Lukas Kleckers||Ben Woollaston|
|Robbie McGuigan (a)||James Cahill (a)||Fraser Patrick||Kuldesh Johal (a)|
|Group 29 (Jul 28)||Group 30 (Aug 5)||Group 31 (Jul 23)||Group 32 (Jul 20)|
|Thepchaiya Un-Nooh||David Gilbert||Luca Brecel||Ronnie O’Sullivan|
|Martin O’Donnell||Liam Highfield||Pang Junxu||Mark Joyce|
|Craig Steadman||Jamie Wilson||Chang Bingyu||Ian Burns|
|Zhang Jiankang||Sanderson Lam (a)||Dean Young||Saqib Nasir (a)|
Where to Watch the Championship League
There will be two tables available to watch on each day of the group stages, with the snooker on table one available across Ireland and the UK on FreeSports, and table two’s play on Matchroom.Live’s snooker streaming service.
There are various other TV broadcast options around the world, which you can view by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WST