The Champion of Champions returns next week for its ninth edition in as many seasons, so let’s recap on the previous eight finals.
Bolton will host the tournament for the first time in 2021 after it was forced to be staged behind closed doors in Milton Keynes last year.
Prior to that, the Champion of Champions enjoyed a seven-year spell at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry where some memorable finals took place.
2013: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 Stuart Bingham
The outcome of the inaugural staging was determined from a tight contest between world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stuart Bingham.
Bingham boasted a two-frame cushion early on and later led 7-6 with the winning line coming into sight, but the Rocket took three out of the last four frames to collect the £100,000 top prize.
2014: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7 Judd Trump
A first of three clashes in big finals during the 2014/2015 snooker season for O’Sullivan and Judd Trump, it was a barnstorming affair that lived up to the hype.
After winning the opening two frames, O’Sullivan was never behind but had to score heavily in order to keep his young challenger at bay, with the pair compiling six century breaks between them during the showdown.
2015: Neil Robertson 10-5 Mark Allen
In 2015, O’Sullivan opted not to defend his crown and go for a hat-trick, which opened the door for a number of other pretenders to the throne.
Neil Robertson emerged with glory in what proved to be the first of two Champion of Champions finals against Mark Allen, comfortably outclassing the Northern Irishman on this occasion with a 10-5 scoreline.
2016: John Higgins 10-7 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Twelve months on and O’Sullivan was back, looking odds-on to pick up where he left off in the prestigious invitational tournament when he coasted through to the last two.
However, John Higgins was flying high after a recent success in the China Championship, and the Scot put his opponent to bed with a late three-frame burst.
2017: Shaun Murphy 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan
O’Sullivan was involved at the same stage a year later, making it four title-deciding appearances in five years at the Ricoh Arena, but for the second year in a row he fell short of the ultimate target.
Shaun Murphy, in a victory that he regards as one of the best of his career, led 8-4 and withstood a late charge to prevail without the need of a deciding frame.
2018: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 Kyren Wilson
Guess who? Undeterred by his recent disappointments in the Matchoom-promoted tournament, O’Sullivan was back in yet another final in 2018 – funnily enough, beating both Higgins and Murphy en route.
In a gripping fixture against Kyren Wilson, O’Sullivan led 8-5 but lost four frames on the spin to move to within the brink of a third final defeat in a row, only to pinch a dramatic 18th frame on the colours and subsequently knock in a magnificent 110 break in the decider to capture a record third Champion of Champions title.
2019: Neil Robertson 10-9 Judd Trump
For the first time as an entrant, O’Sullivan failed to reach the final after losing 6-5 to Robertson in the last four, and it was the Australian who would go on to lift the trophy aloft for the second time.
In a mesmorising see-saw battle that would set the tone for future showdowns between the pair, Robertson and Trump exchanged eight tons, with Robertson’s 137 in the 19th frame proving to be the separating factor.
2020: Mark Allen 10-6 Neil Robertson
In a repeat of 2015 final, Allen managed to gain his revenge and end Robertson’s aspirations of equalling the record of three titles.
This time, the duo combined for seven century breaks with Allen producing near faultless snooker towards the end to pull away from 7-6 to 10-6.
There have been many memorable Champion of Champions finals in recent years, and in the eyes of many players and fans this tournament has quickly become one of the most important on the calendar.
Allen won’t be defending his crown after announcing his withdrawal for personal reasons last week, but all of the other previous finalists are involved in addition to the likes of Mark Williams, Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, and Yan Bingtao.
It promises to be another exciting week of action.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA