The 2015 188BET Champion of Champions begins at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena on Tuesday, as 16 players battle it out for the top prize of £100,000.
This is the third edition of the popular invitational event and, with two-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan not currently playing competitive snooker, there will be a new name on the trophy this year.
The players are split into four groups of four, with one group played on each day from Tuesday until Friday.
There are eight seeded players in total and each seeded player will play an unseeded opponent in a best-of-seven group match in the afternoon session with the two winners clashing over 11 frames in the evening.
The four group winners then proceed to the best-of-11 semi-finals on Saturday, before the champion will be crowned on Sunday following a two-session final played over 19 frames.
First up is Group 3 on Tuesday as World Champion and 2013 finalist of this event Stuart Bingham breaks off against Zhou Yuelong – one half of the teenage pair that won the World Cup with China back in June.
The winner will take on either last year’s finalist Judd Trump, who qualified by winning the World Grand Prix in March, or debutant Kyren Wilson, who clash in what will be a repeat of September’s Shanghai Masters final which the Kettering cueman edged 10-9 to earn his spot here.
Group 1 gets underway on Wednesday with four-time World Champion John Higgins headlining the action and looking to add to the Australian Open and International Championship titles he has won so far this season.
He is searching for his first victory in this event, having been beaten in his opening match in the previous two years, when he takes on two-time World finalist Ali Carter – the winner of the European Tour’s Paul Hunter Classic in August.
A tournament debutant awaits the victor in either Players Championship Grand Final winner Joe Perry, who is looking to make the most of his opportunity having narrowly missed out on qualifying in each of the previous two years, or Shoot Out and Indian Open champion Michael White.
Thursday sees Group 4 take centre stage with Neil Robertson looking to go the extra couple of steps in this event after reaching the semi-finals in each of the previous two years.
He ensured that he would get a chance to make it third time lucky by winning the European Tour’s Gdynia Open in March and is hopeful of kickstaring his 2015/16 campaign, having only played in four events so far.
Standing in his way is debutant Rory McLeod, who booked his place here by winning the Ruhr Open last month – the 44-year-old’s first title of his 25-year career.
The group’s other match sees Masters champion and World finalist Shaun Murphy aiming for a first victory in Coventry.
He is up against 15-year-old Yan Bingtao – the other half of the Chinese World Cup-winning duo – who is currently completing his education before being due to turn professional at the start of next season.
The first stage concludes with Group 2 on Friday and what could be described as the ‘Group of Death’.
World number one and 2013 semi-finalist Mark Selby continues his quest for a first trophy of the
campaign, having captured the German Masters and China Open last season.
The Jester from Leicester takes on Stephen Maguire in a repeat of the Group 2 final two years ago which he won 6-3.
Maguire qualified for the event for a third straight year by winning the European Tour’s Lisbon Open last December.
In the group’s other match, Riga Open champion Barry Hawkins is still waiting for his opponent to be confirmed.
As it stands, last year’s semi-finalist Ding Junhui will take the final spot having recently won the Asian Tour’s Haining Open, but that would change should the winner of this weekend’s Bulgarian Open not already have qualified.
Should Ding progress, he will fancy his chances of recording a third straight victory over Hawkins in this event after beating him in each of the previous two years.
Play begins at 1pm on Tuesday with all of the action broadcast live on ITV4.
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