The action for the new term gets under way on Sunday in Leicester.
The 2021/22 snooker season launches today with the return of a ranking event version of the Championship League at the Morningside Arena.
To be perfectly honest, a near month-long competition comprising more than 40 round-robin groups and matches lasting just four frames doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing for the fresh campaign.
In fact, if there was a most boring way possible to kick proceedings off, this method would likely be right at the top of the list.
Albeit a tournament that has served a useful purpose under various formats since its launch in 2008, notably in the last couple of years as important calendar fillers during difficult times, the Championship League continues to be an uninspiring event that doesn’t really appeal to anybody except the hardcore fans and the betting market.
But many will indeed be pleased to see snooker return after what has been the longest off-season in the sport for more than a decade, with two and a half months having passed since Mark Selby captured a fantastic fourth world crown at the Crucible Theatre in early May.
The Championship League, which you can read more details about here, is one of 17 confirmed ranking events on the 2021/22 snooker season schedule and 19 in total.
The returning British Open is next up in the middle of August, and in reality it’s probably around that point when the majority of supporters start to take an interest in this campaign, especially as a crowd looks set to be welcomed for a revamped week of snooker that fully incorporates random draws.
So far, there is only one other new event confirmed with the inaugural Turkey Masters set to take place in September and October in Antalya.
Meanwhile, the tournaments on the old European Series have combined with the Home Nations events to create a new BetVictor Snooker Series.
The player who accumulates the most ranking points across the eight events – the Shoot Out, German Masters, European Masters, and Gibraltar Open, in addition to the English, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Welsh Opens – will earn a £150,000 bonus.
The one-year ranking list will again determine the players that feature in the 32-player World Grand Prix, 16-person Players Championship, and eight-player Tour Championship.
This trio of events make up the Cazoo Series, with the same sponsor now also attached to the UK Championship and a couple of prestigious invitationals, the Champion of Champions and the Masters.
There hasn’t been a Main Tour tournament held in China since 2019, but the China Open is pencilled in for now at least in a March slot, with a spot saved a week earlier for another potential week of action – possibly in China too, if things open up there again.
Ending the 2021/22 snooker season will be the World Snooker Championship, staged in its familiar position in April and May, with the main event running from April 16th to May 2nd in Sheffield.
This is a new era for the sport, with Steve Dawson taking over at the helm of the World Snooker Tour following Barry Hearn’s recent retirement.
As always, there’ll be much intrigue and excitement ahead as the likes of Selby, Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, and the strong support cast entertain while battling for the biggest titles.
Featured photo credit: WST