Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Back on the baize

After a brief respite from snooker action, the season is ready to kick right back into gear this weekend.

This starts in Southampton with one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches of the campaign so far. With the Premier League returning, defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is being pitted against man of the series so far, Judd Trump.

It promises to be an absolute classic as the two most naturally suited players to the Premier League come head-to-head.

The Rocket has dominated this quickfire format of the sport for many years and Trump is being predicted by many to take over that mantle.

This match will be a good marker to see whether Judd can indeed match the shot-clock expert. His performances so far in this campaign suggest yes as he's won both the nights he's played in so far but, we can expect Ronnie to raise his game for this massive match.

The crowd promises to be good spirit which will appeal the showman instincts in both players.

Either way, this tie won't be one for the feint-hearted as both players love to attack.

Not forgetting the other side of the draw, Neil Robertson faces Ding Junhui with both of them still in the running for a play-off place too.

It doesn't stop there either. This weekend sees the return of the World Seniors Championship with Jimmy White looking to defend the crown he won a year ago.

These best-of-three frame matches played with a 30-second shot clock are likely to prove a big pull for fans who love the game's legends.

As for the ranking scene, there's also the UK Championship qualifiers to get underway.

Changes to the format of this tournament this year have prompted many to question whether the UK Championship is as prestigious as it used to be. With matches due to be played over 11 frames instead of 17 this season, many have called to question whether it can still be regarded as the second major behind only the World Championship.

It's definitely watered down the competition but I still think it remains a big prize. 

Whatever your view, you can guarantee the qualifiers won't be taking it lightly.

Returning to the Barbican in York, it's chance for players to qualify for one of the game's top venues and more importantly, vital ranking points are up for grabs. The scramble to stay on tour next season and move up a bracket in preparation for the Crucible begins.

Let's get the boys back on the baize!

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