Of course the big story coming into this years tournament is the absence of defending and current world champion Ronnie O Sullivan.Since the introduction of the shot clock Ronnie has made this tournament his own only failing to win it once when for some reason best known to himself he decided to run a half marathon on the morning of the final!.
This does leave the tournament with a "Hamlet without the Prince" feel to it but with such a strong line up consisting of all last seasons ranking event winners once it gets going I'm sure the audiences will still be treated to an exhibition of top quality snooker.
The other new element to this years tournament will be a return to an actual league format following last years frankly confusing mini tournament system This year the ten players will be split into two groups of five with Group A: containing Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham and a
Group B: of Judd Trump,Mark Allen,Stephen Lee, John Higgins and Peter Ebdon. eventually boiling down to a semi final and final play off between the top two in each.
Of course the secret to Ronnie's success in this tournament has been how little he had to adapt his game for the shot clock which again this year will be 25 seconds..Looking at this years line up you can't imagine Trump or Allen having a problem but it will be intriguing to see how Ebdon adapts.I personally think it could actually help him as it did Selby in his first year when he reached the final.
Who do I tip for glory?The obvious ones are the quick players like Trump and Allen but I have a sneaky feeling for Ding who in the past has shown flashes of brilliance in this tournament.
The action begins Thursday night on Sky Sports and starts off a run of weeks where we will be treated to professional snooker action via tv or internet which will take us all the way to December. The season has well and truly started!!
Follow me on twitter @thegreenbaize for constant snooker updates,