The draw for the 2022 Tour Championship was confirmed after the conclusion of the Gibraltar Open on Saturday.
The penultimate ranking event of the season gets under way on Monday at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales.
The eight highest earning players from this season – all members of the top 16 – will compete for the lucrative prize worth £150,000.
Prize, History, and Format
This will be the fourth edition of a tournament that is now already regarded as one of the most prestigious on the entire calendar.
Ronnie O’Sullivan won the inaugural staging back in 2019 before Stephen Maguire claimed the silverware behind closed doors in 2020.
Neil Robertson emerged victoriously twelve months ago with a commanding 10-4 defeat of O’Sullivan in the final.
An event for the lover of long formats, the Tour Championship will act as a fitting appetiser to the upcoming World Snooker Championship.
All three rounds will be played over the best of 19 frames and two sessions of play, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for twists and turns to materialise.
2022 Tour Championship Draw
Zhao Xintong (1) vs John Higgins (8)
Monday, March 28th
Zhao Xintong is the top seed after accumulating the most ranking points over the course of the season so far.
The 24 year-old made his brilliant breakthrough at the UK Championship in December before reaffirming his talent at the German Masters with a second ranking success not long after.
Against John Higgins, Zhao will face one of the most experienced and successful players on the tour.
After losing in the third round in Gibraltar, Higgins was somewhat fortunate to keep his place among the top eight on the one-year list.
Kyren Wilson could have usurped the Scot, but the Kettering cueist fell one win short as he lost the Gibraltar Open final to Robert Milkins.
Higgins, who is £150,000 richer after landing the European Series jackpot, will be looking to take advantage of his timely luck by claiming another windfall this week.
Zhao and Higgins have already played each other twice this season in high-profile encounters, with one triumph apiece.
Judd Trump (4) vs Luca Brecel (5)
Thursday, March 31st
In February, it looked like Judd Trump was out of the running for a place in the 2022 Tour Championship draw.
The Englishman was a long way adrift after a spell of indifferent form, but things have dramatically turned around in March.
Trump first reached the final of the Welsh Open before proceeding to capture the inaugural Turkish Masters crown in Antalya.
The 32 year-old shot up the one-year rankings and his reward is a first-round tie with Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel.
The Belgian Bullet has suffered a string of early exits since his magnificent December in which he also reached the UK Championship final.
Trump leads their overall head-to-head 9-3 and will be a pretty heavy favourite to progress to the semi-finals.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) vs Mark Williams (6)
Wednesday, March 30th
Ronnie O’Sullivan is already guaranteed to return to the world number one position after the conclusion of the Tour Championship.
The Rocket will replace Mark Selby at the top of the two-year rolling rankings after the world champion failed to qualify for Llandudno.
O’Sullivan’s won the World Grand Prix in December and reached the European Masters final recently, but his form in general is still a bit patchy by his very high standards.
The 46 year-old travelled to Gibraltar for the first time last week in search of that European Series bonus but limply bowed out in the first round to Ben Woollaston.
A battle with old foe Mark Williams is usually one to savour, and it continues to defy logic that the pair and Higgins are still ever-presents in these major competitions.
O’Sullivan boasts a dominant head-to-head record against the Welshman, but it would be wrong to write off the British Open champion completely.
Neil Robertson (2) vs Mark Allen (7)
Tuesday, March 29th
Neil Robertson will begin his defence against Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen in what is another blockbuster battle.
With two ranking event victories from three final appearances and success in the Masters, the Australian has been the best player of this campaign.
The 40 year-old would love to defend this title and keep his confidence high ahead of another crack at sealing a long overdue second world crown in Sheffield.
Allen is a formidable opponent, though, and one who Robertson has shared numerous important duels with over the years.
Indeed, their head-to-head is pretty close and Allen has triumphed in six out of their previous seven fixtures in all competitions.
They have played each other in five multi-session encounters, with Robertson leading that mini battle 3-2.
Where to Watch the 2022 Tour Championship
The host broadcaster for the tournament in the UK is ITV4.
Fans around the world will also have various other options available to them, which you can find more details for by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WST