If it’s August it must be Sheffield. Or, more specifically, the Roewe Shanghai Masters qualifiers, which start today.
It’s farewell Prestatyn, which will not upset many players. The set up for playing at Pontin’s was excellent and everyone was made to feel welcome but it was hardly handy to get to (unless you’re Ricky Walden). Tony Drago once said of it - in an interview - "It's the sort of place where you could kill someone and they'd never find the body."
Sheffield is, of course, a city that will forever be associated with snooker. The Academy holds eight tables and two have been set aside for practising, so each round will now be played over three sessions.
Although there have already been two Players Tour Championship events, each carrying ranking points, this is where it really begins for the circuit’s new players.
It’s the first day at school, university and work rolled into one.
It’s no longer a 96-man circuit, rather a 95-man and one woman circuit. Reanne Evans (pictured), the undisputed women’s no.1, starts off against Alfie Burden, the reigning IBSF world amateur champion.
Allison Fisher, the best women’s player of them all, beat a few top male professionals in the Matchroom League but never really made any progress in ranking events, although when she played the game was open and so there were many more rounds to negotiate.
Igor Figueiredo becomes the first Brazilian ever to play in a full scale ranking event when he cues off against the experienced Paul Davison.
Liu Song will be looking to make the most of his call up, which came about through John Higgins’s suspension, when he tackles Ben Woollaston.
I’m looking forward to seeing which referee gets to officiate the superbly named Thanawat Tirapaipongboon, one of three Thais starting out in round one.
Of the young players worth watching, look out for Liam Highfield – more about him in August’s Snooker Scene – Anthony McGill, who reached the quarter-finals of PTC2, and Jack Lisowski, who is sensible enough not to be eyeing a meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan in Shanghai just yet.
I’m not sure what’s happening with live scoring but, as ever, Global Snooker will provide updates.
It may seem pointless given that there are no spectators allowed in to watch aside from a few pals of the pros but I think the players should pause for a minute before play starts to remember Alex Higgins, whose funeral it is this morning.
The new stars will probably never have seen him play bar the odd clip on Youtube. The older players will know all about the extraordinary excitement the Hurricane generated and will know too that, regardless of his many faults, the circuit came into being largely because of him.