Judd Trump will get the new World Snooker Tour season under way while Ronnie O’Sullivan gets a first-hand glimpse of the sport’s new generation at September’s Championship League.
World number one Trump will face Alan McManus, David Lilley and Fan Zhengyi in group one when play begins on September 13 at the Marshall Arena, the venue attached to MK Dons’ Stadium MK which hosted the event as well as the Tour Championship when the 2019-20 season resumed following the coronavirus shutdown.
O’Sullivan will wait until October 5 to get back on the baize for the first time since winning his sixth World Championship.
During that tournament, O’Sullivan labelled snooker’s young generation “not that good” and quipped: “I’ve probably got to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50.”
He will have the chance to test that theory against 14-year-old Iulian Boiko – the Ukrainian was the youngest player ever to appear in the World Championship qualifiers when he lost to Thor Chuan Leong in Sheffield, and also featured at February’s Snooker Shoot-out. Li Hang and Alex Borg complete group 32 of the expanded tournament.
Reigning champion Luca Brecel faces Tom Ford, Mitchell Mann and Ashley Hugill in group 27 while Crucible runner-up Kyren Wilson takes on Daniel Wells, Duane Jones and Kuldesh Johal in group 24.
Shaun Murphy and Jimmy White were drawn together in group eight, also featuring Martin O’Donnell and Peter Devlin, while group 17 features Neil Robertson and Ken Doherty as well as Andrew Higginson and Eden Sharav.
The 32 group winners will advance to a second stage featuring eight groups of four from October 26-29.
The eight stage two winners will be drawn into two groups to play on October 30, followed by a best-of-five-frames final between the two group winners. All previous matches will be best of four frames, with three points for a win and one for a draw.