The 2022 Players Championship commences on Monday in Wolverhampton with the top 16 players from this season in the draw.
The lucrative ranking event, the second leg of three on the Cazoo Series, carries a top prize worth £125,000.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s triumph in the World Grand Prix means that he currently leads the way in the race for the Cazoo Cup, but the Rocket also has a return to the world number one position in his sights.
2022 Players Championship Draw and Schedule
Such is the nature of the qualification process that sees the top 16 money-earners from this term so far involved, the 2022 Players Championship draw was always guaranteed to be filled with several matches worthy of finals.
The outstanding bout is undoubtedly O’Sullivan’s clash against Judd Trump, a first meeting between the duo since the end of 2020.
Trump has enjoyed the upper hand in recent times, winning five from their last six battles, but the reigning Champion of Champions hasn’t necessarily been in the best of form of late overall.
With Mark Selby failing to qualify, O’Sullivan could usurp his great rival at the summit of the rankings if he ends up with the title and the champion’s cheque next Sunday.
Meanwhile, reigning champion John Higgins begins his defence against Hossein Vafaei – the Iranian gaining a late invite after rising up the pecking order with success in the Snooker Shoot Out.
Having accumulated the most earnings during this campaign until now, the top seed is UK Championship and German Masters winner Zhao Xintong.
The young Chinese star faces Barry Hawkins in the last 16 with countryman Yan Bingtao in action against David Gilbert.
The other standout tie from the first round of the 2022 Players Championship draw sees Australian Neil Robertson, who produced a positive COVID-19 test after his participation in the German Masters, face Kyren Wilson.
(Times in GMT)
Zhao Xintong (1) vs Barry Hawkins (16)
David Gilbert (8) vs Yan Bingtao (9)
Mark Allen (5) vs Ricky Walden (12)
Mark Williams (4) vs Gary Wilson (13)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) vs Judd Trump (14)
Neil Robertson (6) vs Kyren Wilson (11)
John Higgins (7) vs Hossein Vafaei (10)
Luca Brecel (2) vs Jimmy Robertson (15)
Prize, History, and Format
In its current guise, the Players Championship has been around since 2017, but the competition evolved from a previous incarnation as the Players Tour Championship Grand Finals, which ran between 2011 and 2016.
For the first six editions, the line-up was determined by the order of merit on the now defunct PTC series.
During those years, there were six different winners including the inaugural champion Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui, and Mark Allen.
However, since 2017 the event was altered to boast the top-16 earners on the one-year rankings list overall, with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump sharing two wins apiece from the first four stagings.
Last year’s final saw John Higgins end that sequence with a magnificent 10-3 thrashing of O’Sullivan, a fitting climax to a tournament that the Scot utterly dominated from the outset.
The format is similar to that incorporated for the Masters, with best-of-11 fixtures utilised for the first three rounds before a 19-frame final showdown for the title.
How to Watch the Players Championship
The tournament will be available to UK and Irish viewers on ITV4 in addition to Eurosport coverage across the continent.
Fans around the world will have various other options available to them, which you can find more details for here.
Featured image credit: WST