So the williamhill.com UK Championship is here and we’re set for a fascinating nine day’s snooker.
It’s been three months since the last full ranking event. No disrespect to the PTCs, Premier League etc but this is what it’s all about: a major tournament, the game’s top players and all the drama and subplots that ensue before the winner is crowned.
There has been much fulmination about the reduction from best of 17s to best of 11s and I’m sure there will be plenty more.
Well, not from me. I didn’t agree with the change but that won’t stop me enjoying the tournament. It is what it is, it's not going to change now so just try to enjoy it.
The one good thing is that all matches are now televised, which is fairer than playing half on TV and half round the back in a cubicle.
Although fewer frames in theory means the lower ranked players have a better chance against the top seeds, we saw last season in the best of five World Open that qualifiers had several chances to cause upsets but felt the pressure of TV attention.
I’d be very surprised if the winner on Sunday week did not come from the list of usual suspects.
There are many questions to be answered...
Can John Higgins find that intensity he displayed last year to defend his title?
Can Ronnie O’Sullivan transfer his Premier League form into a fifth UK victory?
Can Neil Robertson maintain his excellent performances so far this season?
Can Stephen Hendry or Steve Davis, in that hoary old cliché, roll back the years?
Can a rank outsider have a good run?
Some have raised eyebrows about the BBC times, but it will still be on the red button (one channel on Freeview) and the BBC website.
There is also extensive live coverage on Eurosport and live streaming on liveworldsnooker.tv for those outside Europe.
York is a lovely place, particularly just before Christmas. It’s great to have snooker back at the Barbican.
And it’s great to have another major tournament on our screens. So wrap up warm, and enjoy the snooker.