Championship Snooker League - What's it all About?
If you keep a slight interest in snooker throughout the course of a year then I am sure you have heard of the Championship League, for those of you that haven’t then this is our short, handy, perfectly formed guide on this series of professional snooker events.
What is it?
The Championship League is a round-robin based professional snooker tournament introduced to the calendar in 2008 as a way to gain entry into the Premier League. When the Premier League finished in 2012 the Championship League winner instead got a place in the new Champion of Champions event.
The Championship League is a non-ranking event and other than the qualification element to a further event was actually introduced to allow some competitive match practice and for a number of bookmakers to provide live-odds on a live stream only snooker event.
The league, as mentioned above, is run in a round robin format with 7 players competing in each of the qualifying groups. At the end of the round-robin phase the top four ‘play-off’ for a spot in the winners group.
There are seven ‘winners’ that make the final group and the winner of this group gets the spot in the Champion of Champions event plus £10,000.
The whole series is run throughout January and February every year and each frame has a financial value attached to it meaning a total prize fund of £200,000, we really isn’t bad at all for some supposed match practice!
Where is it and How Do I Watch it?
If the live snooker on the BBC or Eurosport are not enough then the Championship League can also be viewed live. However, it is slightly different to usual professional events in that it can only be viewed live online via a few select book making partners, and in some cases (it may be all – I am not a huge betting man) you have to have money in the betting account to view the live stream.
In addition you can also view the live stream via Wold Snooker’s subscription service.
It is not open to the public to go and watch and is actually held on a single table setup at the Crondon Park Golf Club in Stock, Essex. When you view the stream the room seems very small but is a nice intimate venue that really suits the event and gives it its own personality.
Who is Involved?
25 players (26 this season due to withdrawal of Neil Robertson in group 2) in total take part over the 7 league groups. Players from earlier groups get further chance to qualify if they reach the playoff stage of the previous event which means three new faces per group.
This year the following players are set to compete:
- Barry Hawkins
- Stephen Maguire
- Judd Trump
- Stuart Bingham
- Neil Robertson
- Marco Fu
- Mark King
- Matt Selt
- Ali Carter
- Michael Holt
- Robert Milkins
- Ricky Walden
- Ryan Day
- Mark Davis
- Martin Gould
- Matt Stevens
- Michael White
- Ronnie O’Sullivan
- Liang Wenbo
- Fergal O’Brien
- Dominic Dale
- Peter Ebdon
- Kurt Maflin
- Xiao Guodong
- John Higgins
- Mark Williams
So from this list you can see that the standard is going to be very high indeed and with each match only a best of 5 frame affair then perhaps the event is made for some of the slightly lower ranked players (Judd Trump has won the event twice, the first time he was outside of the top 32.)
This Season So Far
As I write this article Group 1 has already been completed with Barry Hawkins beating Stuart Bingham 3-1 in the final. Earlier in the same day he had made his second career maximum break in the round robin phase and very much looks in good form heading into the Masters.
The final stages of Group 2 are being played tonight and it looks like being between Ali Carter, Marco Fu, Judd Trump and Matt Selt. I will keep you updated over the coming weeks.
Image credit: http://www.worldsnooker.com/page/NewsArticles/0,,13165~4402307,00.html