The Championship League Snooker draw commences on Monday in Leicester, launching the 2023/24 season.
There have been almost two months since the conclusion of the last campaign, when Luca Brecel secured a memorable maiden world title at the Crucible Theatre.
Matchroom’s Championship League Snooker has been conducted using varying formats, but on this occasion it will take place as a ranking event again.
A long competition that takes almost a month to complete, it’s not 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 annually as a ranking event.
Luca Brecel emerged victoriously around this time last year, a victory that proved to be a nice omen considering how the Belgian Bullet subsequently concluded the campaign in Sheffield.
Brecel, however, won’t be defending the season-opening tournament after opting to prolong his summer break instead.
John Higgins, who won this year’s invitational version of the Championship League for a record fourth time, has also not entered.
Joe Perry triumphed in the inaugural Championship League that was held 15 years ago, and the Gentleman is in this year’s draw alongside fellow former champions Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson.
The latter and his countryman David Gilbert are the only other two players who have won the tournament when it has been staged as a ranking event.
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.
All group-stage matches last just four frames, and the two players who win their third and final groups will then contest the outright final over five frames to determine the champion.
The total prize fund stands at £328,000, which is the same as last year when Brecel collected £33,000 from the pot for going all the way.
2023 Championship League Snooker draw
Stage one will take three weeks to complete, a monotonous schedule that serves the bookmakers more than it does the fans.
World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan is in Group 1 of the Championship League Snooker draw with Scott Donaldson, Rod Lawler, and Alfie Burden.
Trump’s bid for a fourth Championship League crown, albeit a first while staged as a ranking event, starts in Group 2 with Xu Si, Jimmy White, and Reanne Evans.
Neil Robertson had been expected to feature on the opening day only for the Australian to withdraw, with the likes of Mark Selby and Ding Junhui additionally not taking part.
Below is a rundown of the full draw and schedule.
|Group 1 (July 10)
|Group 2 (July 11)
|Group 3 (June 26)
|Group 4 (July 12)
|Group 5 (June 29)
|Group 6 (June 30)
|Group 7 (July 6)
|Group 8 (July 7)
|Thor Chuan Leong
|Group 9 (July 14)
|Group 10 (June 28)
|Group 11 (June 27)
|Group 12 (July 12)
|Group 13 (July 13)
|Group 14 (July 14)
|Group 15 (July 4)
|Group 16 (July 3)
|Group 17 (July 5)
|Group 18 (July 11)
|Group 19 (July 10)
|Group 20 (July 8)
|Group 21 (June 27)
|Group 22 (June 28)
|Group 23 (July 7)
|Group 24 (July 6)
|Ahmed Aly Elsayed
|Group 25 (July 8)
|Group 26 (July 5)
|Group 27 (June 30)
|Group 28 (July 4)
|Group 29 (June 29)
|Group 30 (June 26)
|Group 31 (July 13)
|Group 32 (July 3)
How to watch Championship League Snooker
There will be two tables available to watch on each day of the group stages, and depending on your location you may be able to tune into both.
Featured image credit: CLS