The Premier League without Ronnie O’Sullivan is a bit like getting tickets to see The Beatles (back in the day) and discovering there was no John Lennon. Or Paul McCartney.
Since the introduction of the shot-clock, O’Sullivan has dominated this event like no other. He has won the Premier League ten times in total but, this year, has not entered.
So, like George (who was always my favourite Beatle anyway) and Ringo going it alone, the tournament, which starts tomorrow, will not feel the same.
But, it does include ten top players, including League debuts for Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham and Stephen Lee, who all won ranking titles last season.
The Premier League format has once again changed. There are ten players split into two groups of five, the top two in each progressing to the semi-finals.
Group A: Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Bingham
Group B: Judd Trump, Allen, Lee, John Higgins and Peter Ebdon
The shot-clock is fixed at 25 seconds with players permitted two time extensions per frame.
This should be no problem for Trump, among the favourites for the title, or Allen (even if the event if a new experience for him).
Some others will surely struggle, though, which brings us to Ebdon.
Of the top players there is none more methodical, but Ebdon is still a heavy scorer who can play to a high standard and it may be that when he is forced to play quickly, with no time for nerves and doubts to set in, he will do so perfectly ably.
I have a feeling Allen will do well in this. He enjoys the big stage and seems a natural for this sort of format.
The Premier League has been running since 1987. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea by any means but it is a good night out and takes the game to various parts of the UK increasingly ill-served by live snooker.
Sky Sports will once again be covering the tournament live in the UK.