Champion of Champions Draw, Preview, and Where to Watch

The prestigious invitational is on the calendar for the eighth time since 2013.

 

After three ranking events opened the 2020/21 campaign, the next action to watch on the baize is the invitational Champion of Champions this week in Milton Keynes.

Boasting various winners from the previous twelve months on the snooker circuit, the tournament has become one of the most sought-after trophies to fight for on the annual schedule.

Prize, History, and Format

With a top prize worth £150,000, the Champion of Champions is also one of the most lucrative events in the sport currently.

Neil Robertson is the reigning champion after his magnificent 10-9 defeat of Judd Trump in last year’s final – a showdown that has gone down as one of the most memorable in recent times.

The pair traded eight century breaks between them in a high-quality affair, including Robertson’s 137 in the deciding frame to clinch it.

It was an appropriate way to conclude the competition’s tenure at the Ricoh Arena, as the Coventry venue’s association with the Champion of Champions ended after a successful seven years.

Other former champions include Ronnie O’Sullivan – who has triumphed on a record three occasions – John Higgins, and Shaun Murphy.

The format for the Champion of Champions is a straight knockout comprising 16 players, although promoters Matchroom Sport attempt to jazz it up each year by calling each quarter of the bracket an individual group.

It’s effectively the same as the round of 16 and quarter-finals at any other event, but the fact that one semi-finalist is determined on each of the first four days does add a unique twist to the setup.

The first round is played over the short best of seven frames before the format is increased to the best of eleven until the final, which requires 19 frames.

The Champion of Champions Draw

Robertson, then, is in Group 1, which kick starts the 2020 edition on Monday’s opening day at the Marshall Arena.

The Australian’s first Champion of Champions match is definitely one to watch as he takes on the world seniors champion and all-time legend, Jimmy White.

The winner of that tie will face either Higgins or Ding Junhui to decide who will become the first semi-finalist in this year’s event.

That side of the draw features Group 4, which comprises the in-form Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson in addition to Stephen Maguire and Luca Brecel.

European Masters champion Selby takes on June’s Championship League winner Brecel, while Wilson, the most recent Championship League winner from last week, clashes with Tour Championship conqueror Maguire.

That group takes place on Wednesday but before that will be Group 2’s action on Tuesday.

World number one Trump entertains Masters champion Stuart Bingham while Murphy is in action against David Gilbert.

On Thursday, world champion O’Sullivan will enter the fray in Group 3 as the opening stage reaches its climax.

The “Rocket” will battle Shoot Out king Michael Holt, with Mark Allen and Scott Donaldson also in the same section.

Northern Ireland’s Allen, runner-up in 2015, is one of three players who hasn’t actually won anything and is only in the draw as a top-up on the basis of his high ranking – the others being Higgins and Gilbert.

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