The Championship League returns today for its fifth staging with a Premier League place once again up for grabs at the end of the eight groups at Crondon Park golf club in Essex.
I can’t improve on pro Snooker Blog’s excellent preview of the event so will lazily link to it here.
However, a word on the competition as a whole. I’ve heard people question the point of it. Well, the point of it is that it makes money, and there is no reason to axe a profitable event. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of other tournaments.
It makes money for the players, the organisers, the bookies, the production company, the referees, the venue, the commentators, the table fitters and anyone else I’ve forgotten.
Most top 16 players have once again entered. Why wouldn’t they? What else would they be doing the week before the Masters than practising for it?
Better to get good solid match practice against other top players and be paid for it.
John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott have not entered but can of course all practice together.
The players are invited according to their rankings but can defer until a later group, as Mark Williams and Neil Robertson have by choosing to play in group 2 rather than 1.
The Championship League has a strange atmosphere because it has no atmosphere: there is no room for spectators and, as it’s set up to be bet on, there could be machinations if there was a crowd as streams are typically 10-15 second behind live action.
Also this week, the Hainan World Open qualifiers take place in Sheffield with 16 spots available for the 32-man final stages in February.
A long term deal to stage the tournament in China is expected to be announced today.