2021 UK Championship draw
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UK Championship: 2021 Draw, Preview, How to Watch

The 2021 UK Championship commences on Tuesday with defending champion Neil Robertson and world champion Mark Selby among the star names in the draw.

Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins, and a host of other high-profile contenders will be looking to feature prominently at the Barbican Centre in York across the upcoming fortnight as well.

With £200,000 on offer for the champion, it represents one of the most lucrative prizes on the 2021/22 calendar, and it provides the first opportunity this term to claim a Triple Crown title.

Prize, History, and Format

Inaugurally staged in 1977, the UK Championship is the third-oldest professional tournament – behind only the other two legs of the Triple Crown, the World Championship and the Masters.

As such, there is an enormous amount of history and prestige attributed to this competition, highlighted by an impressive roll of honour that has almost never produced a shock champion.

Robertson triumphed for a third time twelve months ago when, staged behind closed doors, the Australian edged Trump in a memorable deciding-frame thriller.

The latter, a dominant force on the Main Tour for the last three years, has only one UK crown to his name and will be keen to add to his Triple Crown tally in the immediate aftermath of winning last week’s Champion of Champions in impressive fashion.

O’Sullivan boasts the all-time record with seven UK titles to his name, but the Rocket hasn’t managed a ranking-event victory since capturing a sixth World Championship in the summer of 2020.

World champion Selby and Scotland’s Higgins, who has been defeated in the last three finals this season, have enjoyed success in the UK Championship on five occasions between them.

Ding Junhui is another notable multiple winner, but with the points from the Chinese’s third triumph from two years ago coming off his tally, he’s on the cusp of an emphatic plummet down the official rankings list.

Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White, and five-time champion Stephen Hendry are the other former winners in the 2021 UK Championship draw.

The event’s format – 11-frame encounters at each hurdle until the best-of-19 frames final – has been the subject of major debate during the last decade or so, with many bemoaning the lack of longer matches that would perhaps be more appropriate for its status as a major.

However, the cream generally rises to the top in this tournament, and there’s no reason to think that this year will be any different.

2021 UK Championship Draw

With a seeded draw that pits the first seed against the 128th, the second seed against the 127th, and so on, the draw does tend to favour the elite players – particularly in the early stages.

Robertson will begin his bid for a fourth success against John Astley, one of several amateurs who have been invited as top-ups to make up the numbers.

Selby, Trump, and O’Sullivan also have amateur opposition with the favoured trio in action first against Ross Muir, David Lilley, and Michael White respectively.

Higgins faces former Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou, while Masters winner Yan Bingtao will prepare to face former women’s world champion Ng On Yee.

Fellow female star Reanne Evans is tasked with a similarly difficult prospect in top-16 stalwart Barry Hawkins, who the Englishwoman lost to in the recent English Open.

Two intriguing ties involve the veterans of the competition, with Hendry and White drawn to face Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Ali Carter respectively.

While there will surely be an inevitable upset or two, the majority of the top-16 seeds will be expected to advance, which makes it difficult to map out any possible trajectory for the title at this early juncture.

On current form the likes of Trump, English Open champion Robertson, and Higgins of course stand out as the most obvious choices, but these tournaments that require seven victories can be as much about building momentum as they are about recent form.

Neil Robertson (1)vs John Astley
Andrew HigginsonvsMark Joyce
Scott Donaldsonvs Farakh Ajaib
Jordan Brownvs Duane Jones
Anthony McGill (16)vs Iulian Boiko
David Gracevs Peter Devlin
Zhou Yuelongvs Chen Zifan
Mark Davisvs Ashley Hugill
Li Hangvs Mitchell Mann
Ricky Waldenvs Craig Steadman
Anthony Hamiltonvs Allan Taylor
Mark Williams (9)vs Lei Peifan
Luca BrecelvsXu Si
Tom FordvsAndrew Pagett
Tian PengfeivsSimon Lichtenberg
Stephen Maguire (8)vsSanderson Lam
Kyren Wilson (5)vsSoheil Vahedi
Jak JonesvsOliver Lines
Lu NingvsWu Yize
Matthew StevensvsHammad Miah
Yan Bingtao (12)vsNg On Yee
Ben WoollastonvsRory McLeod
Gary WilsonvsIan Burns
Liam HighfieldvsJamie Wilson
Noppon SaengkhamvsAaron Hill
Ali CartervsJimmy White
Stuart CarringtonvsZhao Jianbo
Stuart Bingham (13)vsDean Young
Mark KingvsJackson Page
Kurt MaflinvsGerard Greene
Nigel BondvsRobbie Williams
Ronnie O’Sullivan (4)vsMichael White
Judd Trump (3)vsDavid Lilley
Chris WakelinvsJamie Clarke
Joe PerryvsFraser Patrick
Matthew SeltvsChang Bingyu
Barry Hawkins (14)vsReanne Evans
Lyu HaotianvsGao Yang
Martin GouldvsBarry Pinches
Jamie JonesvsCao Yupeng
Alexander UrsenbachervsBen Hancorn
David GilbertvsAlfie Burden
Joe O’ConnorvsFergal O’Brien
Mark Allen (11)vsMichael Judge
Michael HoltvsZak Surety
Liang WenbovsAndy Hicks
Dominic DalevsAshley Carty
Shaun Murphy (6)vsSi Jiahui
John Higgins (7)vsMichael Georgiou
Sunny AkanivsSteven Hallworth
Zhao XintongvsYuan Sijun
Thepchaiya Un-NoohvsStephen Hendry
Ding Junhui (10)vsZhang Anda
Sam CraigievsKen Doherty
Ryan DayvsPeter Lines
Elliot SlessorvsFan Zhengyi
Jimmy RobertsonvsBai Langning
Graeme DottvsJamie O’Neill
Martin O’DonnellvsLukas Kleckers
Jack Lisowski (15)vsSean Maddocks
Robert MilkinsvsLouis Heathcote
Xiao GuodongvsZhang Jiankang
Hossein VafaeivsPang Junxu
Mark Selby (2)vsRoss Muir

How to Watch the UK Championship

Round one of the 2021 UK Championship will be available to watch on Eurosport for viewers across Europe, with the BBC then joining the fold for the Irish and UK audience on Saturday when the second round of the draw starts.

Other options for live coverage are available around the world, with more information on those global networks available over on the World Snooker Tour website.

Featured photo credit: WST

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  1. Pingback: UK Championship: 2021 Draw, Preview, How to Watch • Snooker Site

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