Back to the Baize
The 2017/18 season enters its second phase over the coming weeks with five events to be completed between now and the end of August.
The early-season summer period has so far seen Ryan Day claim his maiden ranking event title at the Kaspersky Riga Masters with victory against Stephen Maguire last month, before Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo claimed the Little Swan World Cup for China A in Wuxi just over a week ago.
But what lies on the horizon? Below I take a look at what the next few weeks have in store with a mixture of both ranking and invitational events to come as the season gathers momentum…
Hong Kong Masters (20-23 July)
Eight of the world’s top players head to Hong Kong this week for the start of the new Hong Kong Masters tournament at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
Organised by the Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council Co. Ltd. (HKBSCC), the invitation event will help mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and is also aimed at promoting Sport-for-All, to further raise the profile of snooker in Hong Kong.
In addition to a stellar line-up which will see seven of the top eight ranked players joined by Ronnie O’Sullivan in the knock-out draw, there will also be exhibition matches staged alongside the event featuring two-time World Women’s Snooker champion Ng On Yee and legends of the sport Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White.
The tournament will be televised locally by Now TV and ViuTV in Hong Kong
World Games (20-23 July)
As well as the action in Hong Kong, this Thursday will also see the start of the 2017 IWGA World Games in Wroclaw, Poland. The 2017 Games represent the tenth staging of the event and will be the fifth to include Billiard Sports, i.e. Snooker, Pool and Carom, since the 2001 Akita Games.
Leading the snooker field will be top 16 duo Ali Carter and Kyren Wilson, with defending champion Aditya Mehta also among the six current professionals in the draw. For the first time the event will be staged as a mixed gender event, with Ng On Yee and Wendy Jans set to make their debuts in the competition.
The event will also be available to watch from the quarter-finals via the Olympic Channel app, available to download on your smartphone for free.
Camsing Global BVC International Challenge (27-29 July)
Completing a hat-trick of late July events will be the Camsing Global BVC International Challenge in Shenzhen, China,
The invitation tournament, sanctioned by World Snooker, will run from July 27-29 at Shenzhen Nanshan Sports Centre in China’s Guangdong Province.
It will be a team event with the British quintet of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, Joe Perry, Michael Holt and Graeme Dott taking on China’s Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Yan Bingtao, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong.
The event will be televised on Shenzhen TV and GDTV only.
Indian Open, European Masters & World Open Qualifiers (1-9 August)
Ranking event snooker returns at the start of August with eight days (no play on 5 August), of action at Preston’s Guild Hall encompassing three tournaments.
First up will be the Indian Open qualifiers, with best of seven matches over the first two days set to reduce the field to 64, or close to it taking into account matches held over to the venue stages in Vishakhapatnam in September. Defending champion Anthony McGill will have his match against home favourite and former Indian Open runner-up Aditya Mehta held over to the venue, while there will also be six wildcard matches to take pace in India. As at the China Championship, there will no longer be a separate wildcard round, with wildcards now included within the main 128 player draw.
- View the Indian Open qualifying schedule
- View the European Masters qualifying schedule
- View the World Open qualifying schedule
Similarly, the European Masters qualifiers will also be held across two days, with best of seven frame matches to be played across the round. Defending champion Judd Trump and reigning world champion Mark Selby will not be in action, their matches carried over the venue stages in Lommel, as well as the match involving home player Luca Brecel.
Following a rest day on the 5th, presumably to re-cover the tables, the action will resume with four days of qualifying for the World Open, with matches this time to be played over the best of nine frames. Those with matches held over to the venue stages include Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Michael White, Martin Gould, Alan McManus and Jimmy Robertson.
Evergrande China Championship (16-22 August)
The next piece of ranking event silverware on the World Snooker Tour will be handed over following the conclusion of the venue stages of the Evergrande China Championship next month. With the qualifying rounds having already been held in Preston at the start of June, the surviving players in the draw will head to Guangzhou in pursuit of the biggest title of the season so far with an impressive top prize of £150,000 on offer for the winner.
The field remains a strong one, with only Kyren Wilson, Ricky Walden and Dominic Dale having fallen of the current top 32 so far and you can view the tournament schedule here.
Paul Hunter Classic (25-27 August)
Rounding off a hectic month of action will be the Paul Hunter Classic, which takes up its regular late August slot in the calendar with two days of amateur rounds, followed by the main three-day competition at the Stadthalle.
Won last year by Mark Selby, expect to see the draw for the 2017 event released over the coming weeks. For a second successive year there will also be a WLBS event staged alongside the main competition, at which the likes of world number one Reanne Evans and defending Paul Hunter Women’s Classic champion Ng On Yee set to return to Germany.