The 2021 Champion of Champions will get under way on Monday with Mark Selby, Judd Trump, and Ronnie O’Sullivan among those in the draw.
One of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar, it marks the first non-ranking edition to the 2021/22 snooker season and will take place at the Bolton Whites Hotel for the first time.
Mark Allen is the reigning champion, but the Northern Irishman won’t be defending his crown after announcing his withdrawal last week due to personal reasons.
Prize, History, and Format
The Champion of Champions has been an annual fixture on the Main Tour’s schedule since 2013, when O’Sullivan won the first of his record three titles in Coventry.
Neil Robertson, who was runner-up to Allen twelve months ago, is the only other player to enjoy success more than once with victories in both 2015 and 2019.
John Higgins and Shaun Murphy captured glory at O’Sullivan’s expense in the 2016 and 2017 editions that were previously staged at the Ricoh Arena.
There’s a top prize of £150,000 on offer for the winner, a sum that won’t count towards the official rankings but does represent the highest amount that will be dished out so far this term.
As usual, there are 16 players in the draw, but as there have been fewer tournaments in the last year, and with plenty of repeat winners too, there are five players in the 2021 Champion of Champions who haven’t, in fact, been recent winners at all.
O’Sullivan, Stephen Maguire, Ding Junhui, and Stuart Bingham all accept an invitation based on their ranking – fortunate timing for Ding in particular, given he’s likely to plummet dramatically outside the top 16 in the standings next month after the UK Championship.
Former champion Murphy is also back in the mix thanks to his runner-up finish in the World Snooker Championship in May.
The event is effectively a straight knockout, although for marketing reasons promoters Matchroom seem intent on separating each quarter-bracket into groups with miniature “semi-finals” and “finals”.
2021 Champion of Champions Draw
Group 1, then, takes place on Monday with two-time runner-up Judd Trump in action against world seniors champion David Lilley, with the winner meeting Maguire or Shoot Out champion Ryan Day later in the day for a place in the last four of the competition.
On Tuesday it’s Group 4, which is also in the top half of the 2021 Champion of Champions draw and features last season’s Championship League winner Kyren Wilson, Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown, UK champion Robertson, and British Open winner Mark Williams.
Wednesday sees world champion and returning world number one Mark Selby enter the fray, with the Jester’s opening challenge a date with David Gilbert – the winner of the most recent Championship League.
Elsewhere in Group 2, Murphy faces Masters champion Yan Bingtao, while O’Sullivan, Bingham, Ding, and Players Championship winner Higgins will join the fold on Thursday in Group 3.
|Group 1 (Monday)||Group 4 (Tuesday)|
|Judd Trump vs David Lilley||TOP HALF||Kyren Wilson vs Jordan Brown|
|Stephen Maguire vs Ryan Day||Neil Robertson vs Mark Williams|
|Group 3 (Thursday)||Group 2 (Wednesday)|
|Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Stuart Bingham||BOTTOM HALF||Mark Selby vs David Gilbert|
|John Higgins vs Ding Junhui||Shaun Murphy vs Yan Bingtao|
How to Watch the Champion of Champions
Live coverage of the 2021 Champion of Champions will be on ITV in Ireland and the UK, with various other options available around the world.
Visit the World Snooker Tour website for more information on the worldwide coverage.
Featured photo credit: Champion of Champions