The 2015 Betway UK Championship is now well underway in York, with three-time runner-up Ken Doherty the first man through to the second round following a 6-0 victory against Tony Drago.
This year marks the 11th occasion that the tournament has been held at the Barbican Centre, a popular venue with both players and fans which has now firmly established itself as the home of snooker’s second biggest ranking event.
As has been the format here for the past couple of seasons, the tournament will see 128 players compete for the £150,000 winner’s cheque, with a total prize fund of £732,000 up for grabs. The rolling prize fund for a maximum break is now up to £40,000, a 147 not having been made at a full-ranking event now since German Masters back in February.
Interestingly, with Steve Davis, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry all not participating in the event it means that the most successful player in this year’s event is three-time winner John Higgins. Mark Williams and Ding Junhui have also won the tournament twice, while there are a further eight single time champions in this year’s field.
The event begins with eight tables in operation, four in the main arena with another four in a separate hall within the same venue. From the start of the third round next Monday only the main arena will be in use, before a further two tables will be removed on Wednesday and ultimately just one for the final weekend.
As well as being a hugely significant tournament in itself, the Betway UK Championship will also be the final counting event towards qualification for next year’s Dafabet Masters, with the players either side of the top 16 cut-off targeting a run to make it to London. More updates will follow on that battle and indeed the other ranking battles across the two weeks.
The first three days of the event will be streamed on http://www.worldsnooker.livesport.tv/ and selected betting sites, before the televised stages on both BBC and Eurosport get underway from Saturday.
I will be blogging here throughout the tournament, but for match reports and player reaction, check out http://www.worldsnooker.com/
The tournament schedule can be accessed here.