Tour Championship Schedule, Draw and Preview

The ranking tournament was originally supposed to be staged in March but got cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coral Tour Championship schedule finally begins on Saturday, more than three months after its initial slot on the 2019/20 snooker calendar.

Following the success of the Championship League earlier in June, the event will take place at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

The venue boasts on-site accommodation and is by now accustomed to the requirements necessary in order to meet social distancing and isolation standards during the ongoing COVID-19 recovery.

Whereas 64 players participated in the Championship League, only eight competitors will be in action for this competition.

Players, referees, and the various staff will once again undertake COVID-19 tests before being allowed entry.

The third leg in the lucrative Coral Series, the top eight on the one-year rankings list gain an invitation to compete in the Tour Championship for the top prize worth £150,000.

Judd Trump is the number one seed having bagged a record six ranking titles this term, including the preceding Coral Series tournament at the Players Championship in Southport.

Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Yan Bingtao, Mark Allen, John Higgins, and Stephen Maguire complete the high-profile field.

Maguire actually missed out on an automatic spot, finishing ninth in the pecking order and £6,500 adrift of compatriot Higgins in the standings.

But Ding Junhui’s recent decision to pull out of the tournament provided the six red world champion with a surprise opportunity to be involved.

Ding’s withdrawal also raised plenty of questions about WST’s efforts in safeguarding the opportunities to compete on the circuit for players currently outside the UK.

With quarantine measures in place, and travel restrictions all over the world, the international contingent is at a huge disadvantage compared to those based in Britain and Ireland.

The effect wasn’t so severe in the Championship League as ranking points weren’t available, but Maguire could potentially now leapfrog Ding in the world rankings with a deep run next week.

WST deserves a lot of credit for getting the action going again so quickly, and so far without many major hiccups, but it won’t do much good if it ultimately comes at the expense of its integrity as a global sport.

A lot will depend on how successful its efforts are in getting every player to the World Championship qualifiers in July, but before that there will of course be this silverware to be awarded.

The Tour Championship schedule begins on Saturday afternoon with Maguire slotting in to face Robertson instead of Ding.

Each quarter-final and semi-final tie will take place over the best of 17 frames, allowing one match to be completed on each day.

Sunday will see Trump face Higgins in a repeat of their World Championship final encounter from more than twelve months ago.

On Monday, Selby and Yan will face off against one another in what has the makings of being a long, tactical battle.

Allen and Murphy clash on day four, the Northern Irishman with a, somewhat strangely, vastly inferior head-to-head record against his close friend.

The following two days will see the semi-finals conducted before the final takes place on Friday, to be contested over the best of 19 frames.

Like the Championship League, the Tour Championship schedule will be covered live by host broadcaster ITV4, as well as various other platforms around the world.

All eight players additionally have the chance to collect the £100,000 bonus on offer for winning the Coral Cup – a mini ranking list that incorporates results from the World Grand Prix, Players Championship, and Tour Championship.

Trump leads on £132,500, with Robertson not far behind him on £100,000 earnings so far.

Although the players are guaranteed £20,000 in prize money, it won’t count towards the ranking lists if they are beaten at the opening hurdle, so even Allen and Selby on just £15,000 could end up leapfrogging their way into first place.

It will be played in front of an empty arena and to no atmosphere, but the Tour Championship trophy will be one of the most sought after for the entire campaign.

Tour Championship Draw

Quarter-Final (Best of 17)
Judd Trump vs John Higgins (Sunday, June 21st)
Neil Robertson vs Stephen Maguire (Saturday, June 20th)
Mark Selby vs Yan Bingtao (Monday, June 22nd)
Shaun Murphy vs Mark Allen (Tuesday, June 23rd)

Semi-Final (Best of 17)
Trump/Higgins vs Robertson/Maguire (Wednesday, June 24th)
Selby/Yan vs Murphy/Allen (Thursday, June 25th)

Final (Best of 19)
(Friday, June 26th)

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