The 2022/23 snooker season commences on Tuesday with the ranking event edition of the Championship League in Leicester.
There have been almost two months since the conclusion of the last campaign, when Ronnie O’Sullivan memorably won a record-equalling seventh world title in Sheffield.
Matchroom’s Championship League Snooker has been conducted under various guises in recent years, but on this occasion it will take place as a ranking event.
A long competition that takes a month to complete, it’s hardly the most riveting way to launch a new term.
Nevertheless, it’s an opportunity after quite a lengthy spell to watch some of the best players in the world battle it out on the green baize again.
Prize, History, and Format
Championship League Snooker has been on the calendar in some way, shape, or form since 2008, but it’s only in the last few years that it has been staged on occasion as a ranking event.
David Gilbert triumphed this time last year, a victory that brought the Angry Farmer his long overdue maiden ranking success.
Joe Perry triumphed in the inaugural Championship League that was held as an invitational 13 years ago, and the Gentleman is in this year’s draw alongside fellow former champions Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, and Stuart Bingham.
John Higgins, who won this year’s invitational version of the Championship League, and Neil Robertson are high-profile players who will be absent from the Morningside Arena.
As for the format, there are three stages to the elongated competition with 128 players initially split into 32 round-robin groups comprising four players in each.
The 32 group winners advance to Stage Two, before the next eight group winners determine the competitors who feature in Stage Three, with all matches lasting just four frames.
The two players who win their third and final groups will subsequently contest the outright final which will determine the champion.
The total prize fund stands at £328,000, which is the same as last year when Gilbert collected £33,000 from the pot for going all the way.
2022 Championship League Draw
Stage one will take more than three weeks to complete, a monotous and elongated schedule that serves the bookmakers more than it does the fans.
Gilbert will begin his defence in Group 16 alongside Joe O’Connor, Zak Surety, and a fourth player that’s to be confirmed.
World champion O’Sullivan is in Group 1 with Alexander Ursenbacher, Alfie Burden, and Faraik Ajaib.
Trump’s bid for a fourth Championship League crown, albeit a first while staged as a ranking event, starts in Group 2 with Jamie Clarke, Sean O’Sullivan, and rookie pro Peng Yisong.
The Englishman is the outright favourite at about 5/1, closely followed by O’Sullivan and world number three Mark Selby.
For a concise list of all the best snooker betting sites in the UK that provide plenty of sign-up bonus offers, visit The Punters Page.
|Group 1 (July 4)||Group 2 (July 19)||Group 3 (July 7)||Group 4 (June 29)|
|Ronnie O’Sullivan||Judd Trump||Mark Selby||Zhao Xintong|
|Alexander Ursenbacher||Jamie Clarke||Ben Woollaston||Hammad Miah|
|Lee Walker||Michael Judge||Reanne Evans||Sean Maddocks|
|Alfie Burden||Sean O’Sullivan||Zhang Jiankang||Adam Duffy|
|Farakh Ajaib||Yisong Peng||James Cahill||Michael Holt|
|Group 5 (July 11)||Group 6 (June 30)||Group 7 (July 19)||Group 8 (July 21)|
|Mark Williams||Kyren Wilson||Shaun Murphy||Jack Lisowski|
|Li Hang||Zhang Anda||Liam Highfield||Mark Joyrce|
|Andrew Pagett||Michael Judge||Xu Si||Michael White|
|Rory McLeod||Luke Simmonds||TBC||Julien Leclercq|
|Group 9 (July 6)||Group 10 (July 1)||Group 11 (July 18)||Group 12 (July 21)|
|Barry Hawkins||Luca Brecel||Stuart Bingham||Mark Allen|
|Yuan Sijun||Robbie Williams||Cao Yupeng||Stuart Carrington|
|Lei Peifan||Oliver Brown||Peter Lines||Jenson Kendrick|
|Ken Doherty||Zhao Jianbo||TBC||TBC|
|Group 13 (Jun 28)||Group 14 (July 18)||Group 15 (July 5)||Group 16 (July 20)|
|David Grace||Hossein Vafaei||Ricky Walden||David Gilbert|
|Craig Steadman||TIan Pengfei||Jackson Page||Joe O’Connor|
|Aaron Hill||Ng On Yee||Gerard Greene||Zak Surety|
|Ben Hancorn||Ryan Thomerson||Andy Lee||TBC|
|Group 17 (July 14)||Group 18 (July 13)||Group 19 (July 20)||Group 20 (July 13)|
|Ali Carter||Matthew Selt||Jordan Brown||Zhou Yuelong|
|Wu Yize||Dominic Dale||Mark Davis||Mark King|
|Louis Heathcote||Duane Jones||Jimmy White||Chang Bingyu|
|Kurt Maflin||Daniel Wells||Ross Muir||Fergal O’Brien|
|Group 21 (July 12)||Group 22 (July 12)||Group 23 (July 7)||Group 24 (June 28)|
|Stephen Maguire||Jimmy Robertson||Joe Perry||Robert Milkins|
|Matthew Stevens||Thepchaiya Un-Nooh||Elliot Slessor||Andy Hicks|
|Mitchell Mann||Marco Fu||Lukas Kleckers||Allan Taylor|
|Si Jiahui||Ian Martin||Andrew Higginson||Sanderson Lam|
|Group 25 (July 14)||Group 26 (June 30)||Group 27 (July 4)||Group 28 (July 11)|
|Ryan Day||Tom Ford||Jamie Jones||Gary Wilson|
|Pang Junxu||Chris Wakelin||Sam Craigie||Jak Jones|
|Reanne Evans||Ian Burns||David Lilley||Barry Pinches|
|Dylan Emery||Anton Kazakov||Andres Petrov||TBC|
|Group 29 (July 1)||Group 30 (July 6)||Group 31 (June 29)||Group 32 (July 5)|
|Lu Ning||Graeme Dott||Noppon Saengkham||Xiao Guodong|
|Oliver Lines||Lyu Haotian||Anthony Hamilton||Scott Donaldson|
|Chen Zifan||Fraser Patrick||Ashley Hugill||Nutcharut Wongharuthai|
|John Astley||Haydon Pinhey||Steven Hallworth||Rod Lawler|
Where to Watch Championship League Snooker
There will be two tables available to watch on each day of the group stages, with the snooker on table one available across Ireland and the UK on FreeSports, and table two’s play on Matchroom.Live’s snooker streaming service.
There are various other TV broadcast options around the world, which you can view by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WPBSA