TOMORROW (Monday) sees the return of major ranking event snooker with the Wuxi Classic getting underway in China – the first major of the 2014/15 campaign.
It’s always exciting to see the start of the new season with players feeling fresh optimism for the months ahead and with a strong line-up of players involved, we could be in for an interesting week of action in Wuxi.
After an enthralling World Championship which saw story after story told and a number of dramas including a memorable final won by Mark Selby (pictured), snooker looks to be in really good hands – without a shadow of a doubt better than a decade ago when there were only a handful of tournaments for players to play in.
Now the snooker calendar you could say (except July as things stand) is fully booked with events right through to next year’s World Championships in late April.
And to fit in nicely with that is a new prize-money based rankings system which came into effect after Selby’s thrilling comeback win over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible last month.
The new rankings system will benefit all the players should they perform well. It means players who enjoy good runs in tournaments could climb up the rankings like a flash unlike the previous points system where realistically they had no chance of catching the top stars despite a strong run.
And if the top stars deliver the goods then they can enjoy the benefits of picking the tournaments they want to play in and not having to play all or most the events in the calendar. All of this means good performances in ranking events will reap rewards.
During the World Championships Barry Hearn announced a new tournament next year. The World Grand Prix which will feature the top 32 players from a one year money list which took effect when Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the exciting Crucible final.
A good performance in Wuxi will certainly see players put themselves in early contention for a place in the £100,000 top prize tournament.
Defending champion Neil Robertson has received a bye into the last 32 stage after his opponent Alexander Ursenbache wiithdrew because of visa problems. World champion Selby could face Robbie Williams in the opening round should this year’s Crucible debutant win a wildcard match.
No Ronnie O’Sullivan in Wuxi but the likes of Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Marco Fu, Barry Hawkins and John Higgins will be eager to start the season in strong fashion.
Other players to look out for are amateur Oliver Brown who beat Ding Junhui 5-0 to make the venue stages, Q School winner Michael Georgiou after thrashing Aditya Mehta in the qualifiers and Chris Melling who is looking to build on an eventful career in the world of pool with snooker success.