Six of the eight top snooker stars competing in next week’s Coral Tour Championship have been confirmed, and first round matches scheduled for the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump.
The brand new tournament runs from March 19 to 24 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and it’s the culmination of the Coral Snooker Series. A top prize of £150,000 will be up for grabs in the ITV-televised event.
The line-up features the top eight players on the one-year ranking list at the end of this week’s Gibraltar Open. The top six are already sure of qualification:
One-year ranking list leader Mark Allen
Five-time World Champion and Coral Players Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan
Coral World Grand Prix champion Judd Trump
Former World Champion Neil Robertson
Current world number one Mark Selby
Reigning World Champion Mark Williams
The other two places will be decided in Gibraltar this week, with Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert battling for those two spots.
In the first round in Llandudno, Robertson will face Selby, with that best-of-17 frame match to be played to a finish on the opening day, Tuesday March 19.
Trump will take on Williams, with the first session on the afternoon of March 19, and the conclusion the following afternoon.
O’Sullivan will face his opponent on the evening of March 19, with the second session of that match on the evening of March 20. And Allen will take on his opponent in both sessions on March 20.
If crowd favourite O’Sullivan comes through his opening match he will take on Trump or Williams in the best-of-19 semi-final on Thursday March 21, over two sessions. The other semi-final will be on Friday March 22, with the best-of-25 frame final to be played over three sessions on the Saturday and Sunday.
A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are thrilled to be heading back to Llandudno which is one of the best venues on the circuit. The new Coral Tour Championship is a fantastic addition to our calendar, bringing together an elite field of the best eight players this season.
“And we have a superb line up with six top stars already confirmed – those six have 12 world titles and over 100 ranking titles between them! The race is on to win the inaugural Coral Cup, to be awarded to the player who wins the most money across the Coral Snooker Series. Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are leading the way, but with a top prize of £150,000 available there are others who have a chance.
“It will be a week of the highest quality snooker and a great opportunity for fans in North Wales to watch the very best players live.
“Tickets start at just £15 and there is still availability but fans must book quickly because certain sessions will sell out now that the format has been announced.”
It will be interesting to see what type of crowd this event draws. When Barry Hearn shortened the UK format, his justification was that the audience on site and on television want to see a result at the end of the session.