Snooker returns to our TV screens this weekend for the grand finals of the World Series, which are being played in the picturesque climes of the Algarve in Portugal.
It’s a great field, including world champion John Higgins, his Crucible final victim Shaun Murphy as well as Stephen Maguire, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Steve Davis, Ryan Day, Graeme Dott, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White.
Also in action is Luca Brecel, the talented 14 year-old winner of the recent EBSA European under 19 title.
Here’s what Higgins told the press this week about the World Series:
“We’re doing something totally different, trying to take tournaments to countries that are crying out for snooker.
“I’ve been to Copenhagen, Israel, Prague, so many places where I didn't think snooker would have existed.
“These countries are buzzing for it. Portugal has not got any great history with snooker, but the Algarve Tourist Board came to our organisation and said, 'We would love to host the final'.
“It was meant to be held in Moscow but obviously things happened with the economy.
“We were going to play in the Kremlin which would have been an unbelievable experience, but we did go over to Moscow and experienced a crowd of 1,000 people there to watch me and Ding Junhui play.
“It would mean everything if one of these countries could produce a champion in the future. We’ve got a young Belgian boy Luca Brecel, we've put him in the series.
“He’s just won the European Under-19s so we gave him a wildcard into it, so it's all going to be about giving the cream of the talent wildcards into it.
“It would be as satisfying seeing one of them win something as it would me winning it. I was over in Israel playing a young chap, Shachar Ruberg, who's 14.
“For him to get the chance to play me, he had a whole apartment renovated, in match conditions, for me to go over there and play him for a few days."
“We’re not about creating a different world champion like in boxing. We spoke to World Snooker about that.
“World Snooker is like a big ship that can’t turn around as quickly as a smaller organisation.
“They’ll maybe take a wee while to turn the ship around whereas we're like in a dinghy bouncing from one wave to the other.
“But the countries are really loving it and if at the end of the day it makes snooker more popular in these countries, everybody wins.”
In my opinion, any attempt to increase interest in snooker outside the UK – particularly on mainland Europe where it is booming – should be applauded.
Here are the Eurosport transmission times:
(all times UK)
Friday, May 8: 6.45-10.15pm
Saturday, May 9: 8.45pm-12am
Sunday, May 10: 8.30pm-12am
There's more information here.