Snooker Heads To Barnsley For International Championship Qualifiers

Hot on the heels of back to back events in China during the last couple of weeks, next week sees the return of ranking event snooker to UK shores, as the qualifiers for the International Championship are played out over two days at the Barnsley Metrodome.

Click below for the usual links that you will need to follow all of the action, as well as my thoughts on the matches to keep an eye on…

  • Click here to view the draw for the International Championship
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings
  • Click here to view the latest provisional money list
  • Click here to view the race to the Masters
  • Click here to view the order of play
  • Click here to view livescores from the event (from Tuesday)

Following a successful first-staging back in 2012, China’s biggest tournament, the International Championship, returns in 2013 with a cool £125,000 prize for the winner, together with 8,000 ranking points and a plushy panda.

With it’s slightly longer format, with best of 11 frame matches up until the semi-finals, as well as excellent playing conditions, the Chengdu event quickly established itself as the biggest tournament in China last year and there is no reason to think that the event will be any less successful a year on.

As with the majority of tournaments this season, the event will be played under the new ‘flat’ structure and will see the top 64 seeded players, take on the lower seeds in the opening ‘last 128’ round.

Following the recent use of the Doncaster Dome for event qualifiers, what I have affectionately dubbed as snooker’s ‘Yorkshire tour’ continues at the Barnsley Metrodome, which will stage the opening round, with the 64 qualifiers heading out to Chengdu for the venue stage of the event.

With the longer matches, to be played across three sessions (9:30am, 2:30pm and 7:30pm), there will no doubt be a couple of late nights for all involved in Barnsley, though at least the players will not be required to play again the following day with just one match to play.

It will be interesting to see whether lessons have been learned from August’s Doncaster events, which were plagued with complaints about the heat and also the way that spectators were allowed to walk across the ‘black’ end of the table in order to take their seats. In terms of the heat, of course the temperature in the UK at the moment is much cooler than it was last month, while the obvious solution to the other problem of turning the tables around should not be too difficult to implement.

While I will not be able to make it to Barnsley next week due to work commitments, hopefully I will be able to get over there later in the season for other events to be able to see the set-up for myself.

To the tournament in hand though, and a quick look at the draw shows that unsurprisingly, all of the top 64, excluding the suspended Stephen Lee, have entered the event, with only seven places for amateurs further down the draw.

All of the big names will be present therefore, with world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan competing in his first full-ranking event since the World Championship back in May. Awaiting him in the opening round will be Joel Walker, who of course was selected by Ronnie as his Rileys ‘Future Star’ back in 2010. It goes without saying that Ronnie will be a heavy favourite to qualify for the venue, but no doubt it will be a special occasion for Sheffield’s Walker, regardless of the final score.

Elsewhere, Shaun Murphy will be hoping to make it third time lucky in his attempts to qualify for the final stages of an event staged under the flat draw system, having previously lost in qualifying for the Wuxi Classic and India Open tournaments this season. He takes on amateur player Christopher Keogan, who takes his place in the draw following consistent performances at the Q School at the end of last season.

Others to keep an eye on for me are the likes of Mark Allen and Mark Williams, who are both under pressure to get ranking points on the board with Masters places on the line come December, as well as Matthew Stevens, Joe Perry, Mark Davis and Graeme Dott, the latter hoping to find some form with a new cue.

In terms of potential upsets, Mike Dunn has been handed a tough assignment with a match against the talented Scott Donaldson, who has made an encouraging start to the new season, while Jamie Cope will not have wanted to draw Shanghai Masters quarter-finalist Kyren Wilson in his opening match.

Indian duo Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta will be hoping to build momentum ahead of their home tournament later in the month, with ties against Dominic Dale and Ricky Walden respectively in Barnsley.

All in all, it promises to be a hectic couple of days in Barnsley and as ever, you will be able to find updates at the close of play here at PSB.