This of course is a tournament,that with its long history will always hold a special place in the heart of snooker fans,despite what has seemed in recent years to be a concerted effort by the powers that be to change all that once made this event so great
Firstly a few years ago the early matches were changed from "best of 17" to "best of 11",a move that at the time that was in order to make sure that all matches could be played in the main arena in front of the tv cameras.\this move was made redundant last year when the tournament reverted to a flat 128 draw with all rounds played in York.This also caused problems with the BBC insisting some round one matches be held over until they stated broadcasting,leading to a week of confusion which frankly even those most tuned into snooker,struggled to keep up with.
This at least has been resolved to some extent this year with all of round one been played before the BBC arrive.Unfortunately this has come at the expense of the semi finals which will also now only be "best of 11".
All of these changes have devalued our games second biggest prize and surely this tournament would have been better served had it been protected the way the World Championship has.
To quote the phrase of the times though "We are where we are" and 128 players start out over the next few days with the dream of lifting the trophy on December 7th.
The obvious favourite is of course Ronnie O'Sullivan who looked as good as ever in lifting the Champion of Champions title a fortnight ago.To put it simply if he shows up in that form,he will be claiming a fifth UK title next week.If though for some reason he isn't who else can put themselves forward as champion?
Well I suppose the obvious place to start is with Mark Selby,but just how much his preparation for this event has been effected by the arrival of baby Sofia a couple of weeks ago cannot be judged until we see him in the heat of battle.
Selby of course was beaten in last years final by Neil Robertson who along with Ding was the other big story from last season.Both however have struggled so far this term and they will have to step it up a bit on what we've seen lately if they are to challenge here.
A couple of players who have shown some good form this season and may fancy their chances here are Shaun Murphy & Judd Trump.Murphy has dominated the most recent PTC events,winning the last two including the Ruhr Open on Sunday where he also had a 147 in the final.Trump has also been playing with a new found maturity this season and pushed Ronnie hard in that Champion of Champions event.
Other players worth keeping an eye on include Mark Allen,Mark Williams & Ricky Walden.
Lets hope whatever happens and in spite of everything I've said above we get a tournament that will live long in the memory.
The action starts tomorrow with some matches been streamed via the World Snooker subscription site,with The BBC & Eurosport commencing broadcasting from Saturday