Monday, 9 January 2012

Back at Crondon Park

The return of the Championship League for a fifth season may not be a universally popular decision among the fans but for the players it means top quality match practice and an extra few quid in the back pocket.

Today saw the start of the first of eight events in Essex as the game's top stars fight it out for a place in next season's Premier League.

But even those who miss out on the top prize have plenty to gain.

With matches played over a best-of-five frame format, there's £100 up for grabs for each frame, plus £3,000 for each group winner, £2,000 for the runner-up and £1,000 for the semi-finalists.

All eight group winners then go through to a finals group with the winner earning the place in the Premier League.

Matthew Stevens came out on top last season and you'll hear no complaints from his quarters about fixture pile-up.

While the event may not rank high up on the agenda of most fans, it's a different story with the players. In fact, 13 of the world's top 16 have entered.

In an age where the expenses of playing professional snooker has risen, this a great chance to boost the coffers and, for those playing this week, excellent preparation ahead of the Masters.

Scottish trio John Higgins, Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire are the only three among the elite not to enter but this isn't the greatest surprise given the chance they have to play each other in practice and the huge trip they'd have to make down to the south of England.

The Championship League may not be the trendiest or most sought after title on the circuit but offers two of the greatest prizes: money and match sharpness.

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