Players Championship Draw and Preview

Success for the “Hitman” earned him £50,000 and a maiden ranking title, but also a potentially lucrative place in this week’s prestigious tournament in Southport.

Holt squeezed out Shoot Out runner-up Zhou Yuelong on the one-year ranking list to land the coveted 16th and final spot in the Players Championship draw.

The pair’s match-up in the final also meant that Ronnie O’Sullivan, who had been desperately hanging onto the 16th seeding, duly misses out.

O’Sullivan is the two-time defending champion, but as the Coral Series relies only on this season’s rankings there’s no automatic return for the “Rocket”.

In addition, while the Shoot Out incorporated a random draw, the Players Championship draw follows a simple formula of the first seed facing the last seed in the first round, and so on.

That means Holt’s reward for his late inclusion is a meeting with top seed, world number one, and world champion Judd Trump.

As expected in a tournament of this calbire, there are eight intriguing ties right from the outset to look forward to.

Everyone in the field has demonstrated form at some point of the campaign, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to get into the line-up.

The top half of the draw also features an all-Scottish battle between John Higgins and Graeme Dott, a repeat of the UK Championship final with Ding Junhui facing Stephen Maguire, and a duel of the three-time world champion Marks in Selby and Williams.

Shaun Murphy is the second seed and the “Magician” entertains David Gilbert on the other side of the bracket, with the winner facing either Mark Allen or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Kyren Wilson meets Yan Bingtao and Joe Perry is up against close pal Neil Robertson in the other couple of clashes.

The latter prevailed in the first event of the Coral Series earlier this month when he emerged with the World Grand Prix silverware in Cheltenham.

As a result, the Australian lies in first place on the Coral Series order of merit, in which the player who finishes top after the Tour Championship next month will receive a £100,000 bonus.

The Players Championship couldn’t really be any more different from the ranking event that preceded it on the calendar.

Last week was all about time duration, shot clocks, and matches that were over after just a single frame.

This week, traditional snooker returns and the longer format utilised as the matches from the last 16 take place over the best of 11 frames, before a 19-frame final on Sunday where £125,000 will be at stake.

Players Championship Draw (L16)

Judd Trump (1) vs Michael Holt (16)
John Higgins (8) vs Graeme Dott (9)
Ding Junhui (5) vs Stephen Maguire (12)
Mark Selby (4) vs Mark Williams (13)

Neil Robertson (3) vs Joe Perry (14)
Yan Bingtao (6) vs Kyren Wilson (11)
Mark Allen (7) vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (10)
Shaun Murphy (2) vs David Gilbert (15)

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