As a new year begins, so too does another month on the baize as the world’s best snooker players return to action on the World Snooker Tour.
Championship League (2-5, 8-11, 23-26 January)
Returning for a 11th consecutive year, the Championship League will once again see snooker’s top professionals battle to qualify for a place at next season’s Champion of Champions competition.
Like the Champion of Champions, the event will be staged at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena over seven regular groups, with each of the group winners then to contest a two day ‘winner’s group’ to determine the overall champion.
The majority of these groups – six in fact – will be played during January, the first getting underway today with the likes of Kyren Wilson in action and available to watch via selected betting websites.
Dafabet Masters (14-21 January)
Snooker returns to our television screens with the Dafabet Masters, an event that needs little introduction as the most prestigious invitational event, featuring the world’s top 16 players following last month’s UK Championship.
Won for a record seventh time last year by Ronnie O’Sullivan, the tournament will once again be staged at the Alexandra Palace, London, with a total prize fund of £600,000 to be won. Other champions in the field include three-time winner Mark Selby, two-time champion John Higgins and Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui who have each won the Masters once.
Two players will be making their débuts this year as both Luca Brecel and Anthony McGill have qualified for the first time, while Ryan Day makes his first appearance in the event since 2010. Former champion Neil Robertson is of course a notable absentee from the tournament, his recent success in Scotland coming after the seeding cut-off for the Masters, but he will still be on site having joined Eurosport’s presenting team for the week.
The event will be broadcast by both the BBC and Eurosport.
China Open qualifiers (27-30 January)
Hot on the heels of the Masters come the qualifiers for the China Open, which will be held across four days at the Barnsley Metrodome.
Last year’s tournament saw Mark Selby capture the title on his way to becoming the first player to win both of the season-ending events in Beijing and Sheffield, while Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson are among the other recent winners of the event.
The draw has not yet been published, but will be seeded on the basis of the rankings following the Scottish Open.
German Masters (31 January – 4 February)
The final event of the month, or at least covering the final day of the month, will be the German Masters, won so memorably by Anthony Hamilton in 2017 as the veteran claimed a long-awaited first ranking title.
Having come through two qualifying matches in December, Hamilton will be among those returning to the Tempodrom as top seed, but a number of big names will be missing out including Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Neil Robertson.
Always one of the biggest and most popular events on the calendar, the event will also be the penultimate counting event towards qualification for the World Grand Prix, which you can read all about HERE at my previous blog.
Check out the full 2017/18 calendar at worldsnooker.com