The World Snooker Tour resumes tomorrow with the start of the 2017 Indian Open, which for the first time will be held in the port city of Vishakhapatnam.
Defending champion Anthony McGill leads a varied field heading to India for the fourth staging of an event first held in New Delhi four years ago and following further events in Mumbai and Hyderabad, continues to be moved to new venues across the country.
As in previous years, a number of the top ranked players have elected not to enter the tournament but with a top prize of £50,000 on offer and plenty of the world’s best players on show looking to claim a ranking title, there is still much to look forward to during the following six days.
The majority of the tournament will once again be played over the best of seven frames, with the length increasing to the best of nine frames with a mid-session interval. Four tables will be used for the majority of the first four days, decreasing to two for Friday evening’s quarter-finals and one for the semi-finals and final, all to be played this Saturday.
The majority of the first round matches were played to a conclusion back in Preston at the start of August, with the exception of a selection of wildcard matches and the heldover match of defending champion Anthony McGill against 2013 runner-up Aditya Mehta at the top of the drawer.
Unlike the recent Paul Hunter Classic which was played using an entirely random draw, for this tournament we have a more traditional seeding structure applied with the top 64 placed specifically within the draw and the remaining players drawn at random.
Following qualifying defeats for the likes of Ali Carter and Martin Gould, 27th ranked Anthony Hamilton is in fact the second highest seed after defending champion McGill in a top quarter that could easily see a surprise semi-finalist emerge.
Names to keep an eye on include Iranian duo Hossein Vafaei Ayouri and Soheil Vahedi, while the in-form Ken Doherty and a player 31 years his junior in Jackson Page will both be targeting a run at the event.
The second section meanwhile has a few more of the big hitters with former world champions Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Graeme Dott among those in action. Could Northern Ireland Open winner Mark King spring another surprise or perhaps a player closer to the top 64 battle such as Elliot Slessor or Daniel Wells could enjoy a career-best run this week?
In the bottom half of the draw, the third section has a somewhat Asian flavour to it with no fewer than four players from China present, down one from five as Yan Bingtao has given Ben Woollaston a bye straight through to the last 32.
One player to keep an eye on here could be new father Mark Allen, who following a low key start to the season will be targeting an improved run with his world ranking in some danger of slipping over the coming months with points to defend. The Northern Irishman recently hinted on Twitter that his game is beginning to come together again at the moment and there is no doubt as to his ability, as he reminded the world back at the Crucible in April as John Higgins had to produce some of his strongest form to beat him on his way to the final.
Speaking of Higgins, he heads up the bottom quarter of the draw and in fact is the highest ranked player to have entered the tournament. Standing in his path to the semi-finals will be the likes of Stephen Maguire, Luca Brecel and most immediately, China’s Zhao Xintong, who the Scot will take on in his opening match in India.
The event marks the final chance to add points to their ranking tallies ahead of the second mid-season seedings revision, the final list then to be used to decide the draw for this season’s International Championship.
Prize money will also count towards this season’s Masters Race, with seven announced counting events still to be played before the all-important cut-off date after the UK Championship.
The winner of the tournament will also become the latest name to qualify for this season’s Champion of Champions, if they have not already secured their position.
How to watch
The action from the Indian Open this week will be available to watch live on Eurosport Player.
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