The 2022 Welsh Open commences on Monday at the Celtic Manor in Newport with the majority of the heavy hitters in the draw.
The European Masters may have just concluded on Sunday night following a tight tussle between Fan Zhengyi and Ronnie O’Sullivan, but it’s straight onto the next ranking tournament on the busy schedule.
2022 Welsh Open Draw
As has been the norm with the Home Nations events this season, there was a preliminary stage ahead of this week in which the majority of first-round matches were already completed.
Such is how things can quickly change in the current climate of the game that Fan, who stunned the Rocket to claim a maiden ranking crown yesterday, won’t be involved this week after already losing to Cao Yupeng earlier in February.
The top 16 seeds have had their initial encounters held over to the venue stages, with O’Sullivan set to face amateur top-up James Cahill on Tuesday.
The Englishman has hinted in recent days that he could withdraw from this week’s competition, but should he stay involved he’ll have the opportunity to regain the world number one position from Mark Seby.
Depending on the latter’s performances, O’Sullivan would need win the title itself in order to usurp the world champion.
Selby takes on Chen Zifan in the last 128, while Jordan Brown kick starts his defence against Mitchell Mann.
The likes of Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, John Higgins, and home favourite Mark Williams are all looking to contend as well.
Last 128 (held over matches)
Jordan Brown vs Mitchell Mann (Mon, 10am)
Anthony McGill vs Zhang Anda (Mon, 10am)
Zhao Xintong vs Oliver Lines (Mon, 7pm)
Shaun Murphy vs Andy Hicks (Mon, 10am)
Neil Robertson vs Jimmy White (Mon, 7pm)
Barry Hawkins vs Alexander Ursenbacher (Mon, 1pm)
Stephen Maguire vs Fergal O’Brien (Mon, 10am)
Judd Trump vs Dean Young (Mon, 1pm)
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs James Cahill (Tues, 1pm)
Yan Bingtao vs Ashley Hugill (Mon, est. 2pm)
Liam James Davies vs Iulian Boiko (Mon, 1pm)
Mark Allen vs Ken Doherty (Mon, 7pm)
Kyren Wilson vs Dominic Dale (Mon, 1pm)
John Higgins vs Pang Junxu (Mon, est. 8pm)
Mark Williams vs Michael Judge (Mon, est. 2pm)
Elliot Slessor vs Dylan Emery (Mon, 7pm)
Stuart Bingham vs Sean Maddocks (Mon, est. 2pm)
Mark Selby vs Chen Zifan (Mon, est. 8pm)
(some fixtures haven’t been scheduled yet)
Brown/Mann vs Ben Hancorn (Tues, 10am)
Lu Ning vs Matthew Stevens (Wed, 10am)
McGill/Zhang vs Mark Joyce (Tues)
Rory McLeod vs Yuan Sijun (Tues, 10am)
Robbie Williams vs Hossein Vafaei (Tues, 10am)
Jak Jones vs Zhao/Lines (Wed)
Zak Surety vs Ryan Day (Wed, 1pm)
Anthony Hamilton vs Murphy/Hicks (Wed)
N Robertson/J White vs Hammad Miah (Tues)
Graeme Dott vs Jamie Clarke (Wed, 10am)
Hawkins/Ursenbacher vs Ashley Carty (Wed)
Ben Woollaston vs Liang Wenbo (Tues, 1pm)
Jimmy Robertson vs Jamie Jones (Tues, 1pm)
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Maguire/O’Brien (Tues, 7pm)
Si Jiahui vs Gary Wilson (Mon, est. 8pm)
Craig Steadman vs Trump/Young (Tues)
O’Sullivan/Cahill vs Lukas Kleckers (Wed)
Ding Junhui vs Michael Holt (Tues)
Yan/Hugill vs Zhao Jianbo (Wed)
Ricky Walden vs Noppon Saengkham (Wed, 1pm)
Cao Yupeng vs Joe Perry (Tues, est. 2pm)
Davies/Boiko vs Allen/Doherty (Tues)
Mark Davis vs Matthew Selt (Tues, 7pm)
Li Hang vs K Wilson/Dale (Wed)
Higgins/Pang vs Soheil Vahedi (Tues)
Ali Carter vs Ng On Yee (Tues, 10am)
M Williams/Judge vs Kurt Maflin (Tues)
Scott Donaldson vs Andrew Pagett (Tues, est. 2pm)
Christ Wakelin vs Jack Lisowski (Tues)
Slessor/Emery vs Bingham/Maddocks (Wed)
Allan Taylor vs Michael White (Mon, est. 8pm)
Liam Highfield vs Selby/Chen (Wed)
Prize, History, and Format
The Welsh Open is one of the oldest professional ranking events on the calendar, third only to the World Championship and the UK Championship.
The tournament was launched all the way back in 1992 when then world number one Stephen Hendry beat home favourite Darren Morgan in the final to claim the inaugural title.
Since then, most of the game’s biggest stars have etched their names onto the trophy – including O’Sullivan, Selby, Higgins, Robertson, Steve Davis, Ken Doherty, Ding Junhui, and Shaun Murphy.
Mark Williams has been the only home winner, capturing the trophy in both 1996 and 1999, but Welsh players have generally struggled to feature prominently over the years.
One notable absentee from the roll of honour is Judd Trump, with the Welsh Open representing one of the few competitions on the schedule that he hasn’t now triumphed in.
Since 2017, the Welsh Open has been part of the Home Nations series, and as well as a top prize worth £70,000 the champion gets to raise the Ray Reardon Trophy aloft.
Sponsored by BetVictor, the Welsh Open is also the penultimate leg of the 2021/22 European Series, where the highest earner after eight events will win a bumper bonus worth £150,000.
Mark Allen currently leads the way, but there’s less than £20,000 separating the Northern Irishman and Neil Robertson in fifth place.
The format for the 2022 Welsh Open is the same as every other Home Nations event, with best-of-seven matches required in the early rounds to whittle the draw down from 128 to eight, before the length is increased to nine for the quarter-finals, 11 for the semi-finals, and 17 for next Sunday’s final.
Where to Watch the Welsh Open
The tournament will be available to UK and Irish viewers on Quest TV in addition to blanket Eurosport coverage provided across all of Europe.
BBC Wales will cover the play locally and various broadcasters around the world will be offering coverage too (information here), while fans in territories without another service can access the event through the Matchroom.Live streaming service.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA