Of course by its nature,this tournament is a showcase for the games top 16 players and as such in theory should mean everybody has equal billing,but really there is really only one place to start.
Ronnie O'Sullivan thrilled snooker fans & I dare say the tournament organisers when he announced in early December that he was returning from his self imposed exile in time to compete here.His first competitive action came in the German Masters qualifiers & although his lack of match sharpness there saw him exit in round 2,he certainly showed a vast improvement just this week,as he won 8 matches out of 8 in winning Championship League Group One.A repeat of,not just that form,but also his seemingly relaxed attitude around the table will make him hard to beat this week.
Others though will have plenty to say about that assessment & Neil Robertson will surely feel a repeat of the form he showed in last months UK championship will see him go close to another title here
The same can be said for John Higgins who,with two titles under his belt already this season,can probably count himself a tad unlucky to have lost to Robertson in that UK.
Also throw into the mix the defending champion Shaun Murphy who was superb here last year,Mark Selby,who regardless of how he's playing,is always a danger in this event ,as well as a couple of players like the world champion Stuart Bingham,Judd Trump & Ding Junhui who will all feel they've something to prove here this week and we're left with potentially the most exciting week of snooker we've seen in a long time.
The action gets under way tomorrow afternoon with Shaun Murphy starting his defence against Mark Allen.Let to games begin!