Phil Haigh ✍️
Judd Trump strolled to the Champion of Champions title last year, but he is unlikely to have a comfortable ride this time around with a tough-looking week ahead of him.
The event in Bolton gets underway on Monday 31 October, with 15 winners of tournaments from the last year competing, along with Mark Selby who gets in through the world rankings due to multiple champions over the last 12 months.
Trump gets his campaign underway on Wednesday afternoon against Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel, before the winner takes on the either Joe Perry or Mark Allen the same evening.
Allen will be the hot favourite to down the Gentleman after winning the Northern Ireland Open on Sunday night and reaching the British Open final earlier this month.
Having reached the semi-finals last year by beating David Lilley and Ryan Day, things are looking a lot trickier for Trump this time round, although the defending champion will still be confident of dealing with the difficult draw.
Monday’s group sees Selby play Lee Walker and John Higgins meet Hossein Vafaei before the winners clash. On Tuesday Neil Robertson faces Fan Zhengyi and Kyren Wilson takes on Ryan Day, with the winners meeting in the evening, and on Thursday it is Ronnie O’Sullivan against Rob Milkins and Zhao Xintong taking on women’s world champ Mink Nutcharut before a group final.
Trump, in some ways, had an underwhelming season last time, but the Champion of Champions was a clear highlight, dropping just one frame on his way to the final, whitewashing Day in the group final and then Kyren Wilson in the semis.
He then dominated John Higgins to lift the trophy, beating the Wizard of Wishaw 10-4 in the final.
Unquestionably there are easier draws than other for the big names in the opening round of the Champion of Championsm, with eight players going in as seeds.
Trump drawn against Brecel, Higgins to face Vafaei and Wilson playing Day are far from walkovers, while there will be some heavily odds-on favourites in other games, such as Robertson against Fan, Selby playing World Seniors champion Walker and Zhao against Mink.
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