The 2017 UK Championship is just one hour away from getting underway.
The tournament is the second biggest in the season calendar, after the World Championship, with the winner taking home a cheque for a whopping £170,000. In total there is a prize pot of £850,000 to play for and will be held at the Barbican Theatre in York.
The competition has decades of history after it was formed in 1977 before it earned ranking event status from 1984. It’s most successful players include Steve Davis (six-times winner, four-times runner-up), Stephen Hendry (five-times winner, five-times runner up), and Ronnie O’Sullivan (five-times winner, one runner-up).
O’Sullivan will once again this year be competing, bidding for a sixth UK crown and goes into tournament in fine form with already two ranking titles under his belt this season – the English Open and the Shanghai Masters. He starts his campaign against 16-year-old Welsh talent Jackson Page.
Defending champion Mark Selby will also be keen to defend his title and prove once again why he is the world’s number one in front of millions of fans. The Leicester star beat O’Sullivan 10-7 in a gripping final last year.
UK CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST ROUND DRAW
Mark Selby vs Basem Eltahhan, Scot Donaldson vs John Astley, Li Hang vs Gerard Greene, Robert Milkins vs Chen Zhe, Mark Williams vs Paul Davison, Andrew Higginson vs Sam Craigie, Ryan Day vs Jamie Curtis-Barrett, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Elliot Slessor, Mark Joyce vs Thor Chuan Leong, David Gilbert vs Christopher Keogan, Gary Wilson vs Ken Doherty, Neil Robertson vs Rod Lawler, Peter Ebdon vs Allan Taylor, Anthony Hamilton vs Lyu Haotian, Rory McLeod vs Zhou Xintong, Marco Fu vs Nigel Bond, Shaun Murphy vs Hamza Akbar, Daniel Wells vs Liam Highfield, Alan McManus vs Robin Hull, Jimmy Robertson vs Alex Borg, Kyren Wilson vs Sean O’Sullivan. Yu Delu vs Ian Preece, Ricky Walden vs Duane Jones, Jamie Jones vs Craig Steadman, Mike Dunn vs Fang Xiongman, Mark King vs Boonyarit Keattikun, Sam Baird vs Aditya Mehta, Luca Brecel vs Soheil Vahedi, Yan Bingtao vs Zhang Yong, Ben Woollaston vs Li Yuan, Tian Pengfei vs Cao Yupeng, John Higgins vs Chris Totten, Judd Trump vs Matthew Bolton, Chris Wakelin vs Lee Walker, Graeme Dott vs Josh Boileau, Dominic Dale vs Adam Duffy, Liang Wenbo vs Sanderson Lam, Stuart Carrington vs Mitchell Mann, Stephen Maguire vs Yuan Sijun, David Grace vs Jak Jones, Jack Lisowski vs Wang Yuchen, Joe Perry vs Billy Joe Castle, Kurt Maflin vs Alexander Ursenbacher, Ali Carter vs Jimmy White, Mark Davis vs Xu Si, Zhou Yuelong vs Peter Lines, Oliver Lines vs Mei Xi Wen, Mark Allen vs Lukas Kleckers, Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Jackson Page, Alfie Burden vs Michael Georgiou, Michael White vs Ross Muir, Matthew Selt vs Ian Burns, Barry Hawkins vs Kurt Dunham, Matthew stevens vs Hammad Miah, Michael Holt vs Niu Zhuang, Fergal O’Brien vs Akain Songsermsawad, Robbie Williams vs Martin O’Donnell, Martin Gould vs Joe Swail, Hossein Vafaei vs James Wattana, Anthony McGill vs Ashley Hugill, Xiao Guodong vs Chen Zifan, Tom Ford vs Eden Sharav, Noppon Saengkham vs Zhang Anda, Ding Junhui vs Leo Fernandez
There is also an interesting sub-plot in York with the fact several players are also playing to qualify for the Masters in January. The prestigious event is just weeks away and the UK Championship is the last chance for players, still looking to make sure of their place, to get vital prize money on the board.
As things stand Neil Robertson is up against it, in terms of qualifying, as he is currently below the top 16 in the Race to the Masters list and needs a good run of results in the coming days to make sure of his place.
Other players such as Liang Wenbo and Ryan Day are also in need of a strong run in York to make sure they don’t lose out on a place.
The UK Championship will be screened live on the BBC and Eurosport from Saturday, December 2. It means UK TV viewers will get to hear the like of Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty and Steve Davis from the BBC commentary box once again or choose Eurosport’s coverage with expert analysis from the likes of Jimmy White, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neal Foulds.
Unfortunately the first round matches will not be televised – however some will be streamed live on the paid subscription service Eurosport Player.
LIST OF RECENT WINNERS OF THE UK CHAMPIONSHIP
2010 – John Higgins (beat Mark Williams 10-9)
2011 – Judd Trump (beat Mark Allen 10-8)
2012 – Mark Selby (beat Shaun Murphy 10-6)
2013 – Neil Robertson (beat Mark Selby 10-7)
2014 – Ronnie O’Sullivan (beat Judd Trump 10-9)
2015 – Neil Robertson (beat Liang Wenbo 10-5)
2016 – Mark Selby (beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-7)
All matches up to and including the Semi -Finals will be the best of 11 frames (race to six frames) with no interval.
The final will be the best-out of 19 frames (race to ten frames) and will be held on Sunday, December 10.
And the UK Championship certainly awards winners. Here is the prize money breakdown.
To reach round 2 (last 64) – £5,000
To reach round 3 (last 32) – £10,000
To reach round 4 (last 16) – £15,000
To reach Quarter-Finals – £22,500
To reach Semi-Finals – £35,000
To reach final – £75,000
To win the tournament £170,000
This means that players who do well this week will certainly see a difference not only in their bank balance but in their ranking position as well. This could be a huge ten days for those players who are in danger of losing their tour place – a good week on the baize can change all that.
All the first round matches should be completed by Thursday evening with the second round matches starting on Saturday, December 2.
Tickets are still available for a number of days but some sessions are already sold out. Click here for more details.