Professional Snooker - 2016 Championship League Snooker
Throughout January to March 2017 / Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England
A NEW YEAR! 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE PREVIEW
The first professional snooker action of the new calendar year will be Group 1 of the 2017 Championship League Snooker event from a new home of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Whilst it may be one of the more obscure tournaments on the circuit, this will be its 10th successive annual edition. With an expanding worldwide schedule that only seems to be getting busier, many have questioned the attributes and requirement of this invitational competition.
Back in 2008 (when there were only a handful of tournaments) this concept was a welcome addition from Matchroom Sports, who used it as a qualifier for the currently defunct Premier League. Even now it still serves as an avenue for players to qualify for the Champion of Champions (the replacement for the Premier League).
I believe one of the reasons CLS continues to be played is World Snooker's ongoing partnerships with a number of online bookmakers, who will stream this on their websites. A lot of snooker gets played within a small space of time during this relatively quick format which consists of best of 5 frames matches throughout.
The only change this year is the choice of venue. Maybe to become parallel with the CofC, they have moved this to Coventry, although it is still set to be non-televised (live streamed) and without a live audience. Perhaps this is a shame as Crondon Park seemed to have a really good reputation amongst the snooker community.
The Players & The Tournament Structure
Just like previous years, 25 different players will be involved across 7 initial groups of 7.
Each group is a Round Robin where everyone faces each other. The top 4 then contest the Knock-Out Semis and Final.
The winner of each group moves on to the tournament ending 'Winners Group' where the same process is played to determine the overall champion.
The bottom 2 of each group are eliminated and then replaced by new players entering the fray in time for the next group.
It can be quite lucrative for those involved, as there are cash prizes for every frame you win (see the CLS website for more details here). So technically, the longer you stay in it, the more money you can bank.
Many of the top players will feature at some point throughout after being given the options of when they wanted to enter. This is set to include Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham, John Higgins and defending champion Judd Trump.
Groups 1 to 4 will be completed between the 2nd-12th January (providing some New Year match practice for those playing at the Masters the following week).
The second block, which see Groups 5, 6, 7 and then the 'Winners Group', is between 20th February to the 2nd March.
Trump, who beat O'Sullivan in 2016's Grand Final, is the most successful player in the event's history having won it three times (2009, 2014, 2016). He is also the only person to have claimed it more than once.
Group 1 (2nd & 3rd January)
Anthony McGill, David Gilbert, Ryan Day, Matthew Selt, Ben Woollaston, Mark Davis, Robert Milkins
Group 2 (4th & 5th January)
Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, Michael White
Group 3 (9th & 10th January)
Joe Perry, Barry Hawkins, Ali Carter
Group 4 (11th & 12th January)
Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson
Group 5 (20th & 21st February)
Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump, Liang Wenbo
Group 6 (22nd & 23rd February)
Mark Selby, Ricky Walden, Martin Gould
Group 7 (27th & 28th February)
John Higgins, Michael Holt, Graeme Dott
Winners Group (1st & 2nd March)
The Seven Previous Group Winners
Written and published by Michael Day on the 28th December 2016