World Open Is Ongoing From Today Onwards
John Higgins only yesterday claimed his 29th ranking event title at the Indian Open but thoughts immediately turn to the next tournament of a busy period on the schedule. The World Open is back on the calendar, replacing the Shanghai Masters from the spot it held in mid-September for a decade.
There are very strong rumours that an event in Shanghai will still be staged this year, with November seemingly a likely date, although nothing has been officially confirmed yet.
Yushan county in China is the World Open host for a second successive season, which the players will probably not be overly pleased about given the fact that there were plenty of complaints during the inaugural staging just over a year ago.
However, this edition of the World Open is the most lucrative yet, with the players set to compete for a whopping £150,000 winner’s cheque – putting it in line with other competitions in China like the International and China Championships.
Ali Carter beat Joe Perry in 2016 to win his fourth ranking crown but the “Captain” won’t be back to defend the trophy after deciding to opt out of this tournament.
The field, though, is arguably the strongest assembled for a ranking event so far this season.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is an unsurprising absentee while Judd Trump was stunned in the qualifying round by Sam Craigie, but several of the other heavy-hitters are in contention.
World champion Mark Selby is back and will play his held over preliminary round match against Kritsanut Lertsattayatthorn on Monday, while home favourites Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo also have the extra encounter to play on the opening day of fixtures.
Scotland’s Higgins, who rose back into the world number two position in the rankings behind Selby following his triumph in the subcontinent, will face talented young Swiss cueist Alexander Ursenbacher in the last 64.
His countryman Anthony McGill, the player he defeated in the final in Visakhapatnam, is up against Duane Jones, while Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham, and Marco Fu will all be expected to feature prominently.
Two-time champion Mark Allen will be looking to reignite his career after a suspect and somewhat lengthy period in the doldrums, but has been handed a tricky opening obstacle in Oliver Lines.
Meanwhile, the other three ranking event champions from this campaign are all in the line-up.
Michael White entertains one of the local wildcards in the last 128 while Ryan Day and Luca Brecel are in the first round proper against Gary Wilson and Mike Dunn respectively.
Elsewhere, there are numerous interesting affairs to already look forward to at the start of the week.
Ireland’s Ken Doherty will be looking to continue his resurgence in form and meets fellow multiple ranking event winner Stephen Maguire, who of course edged the Dubliner in a thrilling Riga Masters semi-final in June.
Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott clash in a battle of the former world champions, while Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens face each other in an all-Welsh tie.
Traditionalists will be a little more pleased with the format this week, which is back under the best of nine guise until the semi-finals, with the last four played over 11 frames and the final the best of 19.