Major ranking event snooker returns to the UK for the first time since May on Monday as it hosts the English Open – the first of four Home Nations events across the season.
After making its debut last year, the English Open is back again and will be the first major UK ranking event of the season.
More than 100 players including some of the biggest names in the sport will battle it out over the next seven days hoping to get their hands on the first Home Nations trophy of the season.
Here is a guide to everything you need to know ahead of its kick-off on Monday.
What is the English Open?
The English Open is one of snooker’s newest major ranking events in the season calendar.
The event made its debut to the World Snooker setup last year and was considered to be a success. It is the first of the season’s Home Nation series which comprises the English Open, Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, and Welsh Open.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has laid down the challenge that if one player wins all four tournaments they will win £1million – the biggest prize offered in snooker’s history.
The chances of this happening are unlikely but you never know. What is for certain s that by the end of the English Open only one player will be able to go for the jackpot.
Where is it taking place?
A;ll the action is taking place in Barnley’s Metrodome Arena – making it rather a big week in the old Yorkshire town.
That’s because it is the first time Barnsley is hosting a major ranking snooker event. Not too far down the road is Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – the much-loved home of the Snooker World Championship.
Last year’s English Open was held in Manchester so the once again there is a sense of newness twelve months on.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to bring a ranking tournament to Barnsley for the first time. We have staged various qualifying events at the Metrodome in recent years and we are sure it will prove an excellent venue.
The Mertrodome has been used before to host world ranking qualifying matches but all eyes will be on the Arena this week as it delivers a major championship for the first time.
Who is defending champion?
The first ever English Open was won by a talented man from China.
Liang Wenbo beat England’s Judd Trump 9-6 in an engrossing final a year ago. It was Wenbo’s first ranking title and his celebration when potting the final ball was one of last season’s best moments.
The world number 14 kicks off his title defence on Monday afternoon by taking on Welshman Duane Jones..
How can I watch it on TV?
Eurosport is the answer for those in the UK. Europsort 1 and 2 will be broadcasting live coverage of the event throughout the week with punditry from the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.
What do the players win?
Players will be competing for the main £70,000 cash prize but also a very special trophy.
The winner of the English Open will be presented with the Steve Davis Trophy – in honour of the six-times world champion and one of the greatest names to have played the sport.
When it was announced the English Open trophy would be named after the legendary player, Davis said: “It will be a proud moment when I see the trophy being handed out for the first time and it’s very flattering to have been given this honour. It’s fantastic to have a new tournament in England and having the trophy in my name will make it special for me.”
Who’s playing who?
Below is the first round draw. The world’s top 16 are in bold.
Liang Wenbo vs Duane Jones, Tom Ford vs Xu Si, Basem Eltahhan vs Jamie Jones, Noppon Saengkham vs Yan Bingtao, Anthony McGill vs Michael Holt, Lyu Haotian vs Allan Taylor or David Lilley, Akani Songsermsawad vs Matthew Bolton, Chris Totten vs Joe Swail, Jimmy Robertson vs Adam Duffy, Gary Wilson vs Sean O’Sullivan, Li Hang vs Chris Wakelin, Neil Robertson vs Billy Castle, Ian Preece vs Mei Xi Wen, Sam Craigie vs Aditya Mehta, Chen Zifan vs Sanderson lam, Barry Hawkins vs Peter Lines, Judd Trump vs Robbie Williams, Yu De Lu vs Mark Joyce, Matthew Stevens vs Eden Sharav, Josh Boileau vs David Gilbert, Luca Brecel vs Ryan Day, David Grace vs Mark Williams, Jamie Curtis-Barrett vs Li Yuan, Rory McLeod vs Jack Lisowski, Rhys Clark vs Alan McManus, Zhang Yong vs Kurt Durnham, Mark Davis vs Chen Zhe, Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Ian Burns or Zhang Anda, Robert Milkins vs Stephen Maguire, Ashley Hugill vs Nigel Bond, Matthew Selt vs Alfie Burden, John Higgins vs Elliot Slessor, Ding Junhui vs Christopher Keogan, Lukas Kleckers vs Michael White, Craig Steadman vs Robin Hull, Ben Woollaston vs Peter Ebdon, Ali Carter vs Oliver Lines, James Wattana vs Martin O’Donnell, John Astley vs Paul Davison, Yuan Sijun vs Joe Perry, Ken Doherty vs Gerard Greene, Anthony Hamilton vs Alexander Ursenbache, Stuart Carrington vs Boonyarit Keattikun, Mark Allen vs Jimmy White, Liam Highfield vs Fergal O’Brien, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Kurt Maflin, Dominic Dale vs Daniel Wells, Shaun Murphy vs Soheil Vahedi, Marco Fu vs Tian Pengfei, Michael Georgiou vs Hammad Miah, Mitchell Mann vs Leo Fernandez, Zhou Yuelong vs Andrew Higginson, Stuart Bingham vs Lee Walker, Mark King vs Fang Xiongman or Joe O’Connor, Martin Gould vs Zhou Xintong, Hossein Vafaei vs Niu Zhuang, Thor Chuan Leong vs Grame Dott, Cao Yupeng vs Hamza Akbar, Mike Dunn vs Alex Borg, Kyren Wilson vs Rod Lawler, Xiao Gudong vs Wang Yuchen, Jak Jones vs Ricky Walden, Sam Baird vs Ross Muir, Mark Selby vs Scott Donaldson.
Format of Matches?
Up to and including Round 4 (Last 16) is best of 7 frames which will see no match intervals. The quarter-finals are best of 9 frames,
Then the semi-finals are the best of 11 frames and the Final, like last year, wil be a race to nine frames (best of 17).