Monday sees the start of the Shanghai Masters – but this year sees the established event begin a brand new dawn.
The event, held in China, returns this week but for the first time as a non-ranking event.
That’s because the tournament has now become the most lucrative invitational tournament in snooker history with top names fielding the circuit hoping to win the winner’s cheque worth a staggering £200,000.
A total number of 24 players will be competing for huge sums of prize money – totaling £750,000 throughout the whole event.
And the money involved will increase in future years as part of a five-year deal between World Snooker, tournament promoter Juss Sports and the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association.
Among the big names taking part this week include world champion Mark Williams who already has claimed one big title this season (the World Open) to add to his wonderful Crucible triumph four months ago.
Five times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who won the Shanghai Masters last year, is also in the draw and all set for his first appearance of the 2018/2019 campaign.
Also throw into the mix, World Championship finalist John Higgins, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and the current world number one Mark Selby as well as a number of talented Chinese youngsters wanting to make the grade and all the ingredients are set up for an intriguing week of action.
Eight players have received byes into the second round – these include Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Ding Junhui, Barry Hawkins, Mark Selby and John Higgins.
Here’s the draw for the first round.
Neil Robertson vs Guo Hua (winner to play Ronnie O’Sullivan)
Stuart Bingham vs Fan Zhengyi (winner to play Shaun Murphy)
Kyren Wilson vs Linag Wenbo (winner to play Judd Trump)
Ryan Day vs Chang Binyu (winner to play John Higgins)
Luca Brecel vs Zhou Yuelong (winner to play Mark Selby)
Mark Allen vs Xiao Guodong (winner to play Ding Junhui)
Stephen Maguire vs Pu Qinsong (winner to play Barry Hawkins)
Anthony McGill vs Yan Bingtao (winner to play Mark Williams)
Matches will be screened live on Eurosport UK.
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