Back at the Barbican

Nov 24 / Snooker System

Here’s our preview ahead of the UK Championship

All aboard to York as the first major of the snooker season is upon us.
This weekend the curtain will raise and the BBC cameras will roll for the MrQ UK Championship.

A packed Barbican arena awaits as all of the very best players in the world get ready to fight it out for the title – one of the most prestigious our game has to offer in fact.

Gracing our television screens since 1977 when Patsy Fagan become the first man to lift the trophy, this fantastic event is always one to savour and this year will certainly be no different.

For a large proportion of the general British public, this is the first time the world’s best players have been seen since the crescendo of the World Championship in Sheffield back in Spring, but the tour since then has been a lively place.

The busiest man of all so far this season has been Judd Trump. Busy collecting three trophies and as a result rightfully going into this one as the outright favourite. He looks like the man to beat on current form but it’s worth noting that this is not one of his favourite events.

His last and only win here came back in 2011. Since then, he’s been to two further finals but been unable to convert to become a multiple winner. Many fancy him to put that right this time though.

Lurking in his half of the draw however is Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, who is back to defend his title and has drawn Ding Junhui – the man he beat in last year’s final – in round one.

Allen is also high on confidence having captured last week’s Champion of Champions title beating Trump heavily in the final so there could be a score to settle if they meet in the last four.

The fans’ favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan has perhaps been a little pre-occupied in the run-up to the event. The eagle-eyed among us will have seen the Rocket’s Amazon documentary launch this week helping him to absorb plenty of headlines along the way.

He’ll be back on the table starting out against Anthony McGill and looking to prove once more why he’s the best in the history of the game.

Waiting for him in the quarter-finals could be three-time UK champion Neil Robertson. York has always been a happy hunting ground for the Australian, although recent form suggests he’s looking far from his best. His last tournament win came at the Tour Championship more than 18 months ago and this season he’s yet to win a single match. But beware of the wounded animal.

Beyond this, many of the familiar old faces will be back on our screens. Legends John Higgins and Mark Williams are still going strong more than 30 years after turning professional. They both last reached the final back in 2010 and played out an epic which went all the way to a deciding frame.

Two-time winner Mark Selby is always a threat when the big events come around and then there’s the world champion Luca Brecel who, after a slow start to the campaign, will be looking to burst back into life and back up his Crucible heroics.

This tournament is one that always seems to get the juices flowing. It is steeped in great history and has a top-class venue which sets it apart from so many other events on the calendar.

And whether you agree with it or not, the change of format last year meaning the top 16 are seeded through to the venue to meet 16 qualifiers enhances the coverage and makes it feel like a proper tournament again.

There’s little more to say than a plea to sit back and soak up the action.
Snooker System prediction: He could have asked for an easier first-round draw, but it could be a useful early test. It all feels a bit like Ronnie O’Sullivan is building up to something special. We think he could win his eighth UK title and don’t bet against Mark Williams joining him in the final.


  • Mark Allen v Ding Junhui
  • Tom Ford v Noppon Saengkham
  • Mark Williams v Fan Zhengyi
  • Kyren Wilson v Jamie Clarke
  • Mark Selby v Mark Joyce
  • Barry Hawkins v Ben Woollaston
  • Jack Lisowski v Jamie Jones
  • Judd Trump v Pang Junxu
  • Ronnie O’Sullivan v Anthony McGill
  • Robert Milkins v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • John Higgins v Joe O’Connor
  • Neil Robertson v Zhou Yuelong
  • Shaun Murphy v Hossein Vafaei
  • Ali Carter v Matt Selt
  • Zhang Anda v Elliot Slessor
  • Luca Brecel v Yuan Sijun
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