Worldsnooker has published today the draw and format for the Riga Masters 2017 and the China Championship 2017:
Friday 12 May 2017 09:40AM
The draws and formats for the qualifying rounds of the first two ranking events of the 2017/18 season, the Kaspersky Riga Masters and the China Championship, are now available.
The qualifying rounds run from May 31 to June 6 at the Guild Hall in Preston, with the winners going through to the final stages.
For the 2017 China Championship there will be four Chinese wild cards, selected by the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association.
These four players will come into the draw at the first round (last 128) stage with their round 1 match being held over to the final venue, leaving 124 places available for tour players in the same system as was used in the Home Nations and Riga Masters during the 2016/17 season. These players are guaranteed these spaces and so there are 124 places remaining available to tour players which, had more than 124 players entered would have resulted in pre-qualifiers to reduce tour players down to 124. This is a change to the previous system, where the Chinese wild cards would take part in an additional round, competing against players who had already won their first round matches. Invitational Tour Cards and Amateur Top Ups will then be used to top up the field to 124 players in the event that fewer than 124 tour players enter.
Bold has been added by me and it’s an interesting read. Is this the end of the hated wildcards? It will be interesting to see if this applies to the other Chinese events as well.
Ronnie has not entered the Riga Masters – quite a number of top players skipped it, including Judd Trump, John Higgins, Ding Junhui, Marco Fu, Ali Carter and Liang Wenbo – but he has entered the China Championship. His opponent isn’t known yet, but he will play his first competitive match of the season on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 7 pm (UK time).
Can’t remember when last he started his season that early … if ever.