The grand finals of the Players Tour Championship is yet another event which simply didn’t exist until Barry Hearn took the reins of World Snooker.
The treadmill of PTCs hasn’t been to every player’s liking but the 32 who have qualified for the final stages have no reason for complaint. The first prize is £100,000.
And it’s a terrific field comprising many big names plus a smattering of less familiar faces equally deserving of their places in Galway.
This includes two amateurs. Li Hang qualified through the Asian PTC order of merit and Joe Swail by reaching the Paul Hunter Classic final.
It’s hard to think of Swail, a mainstay of the circuit for two decades, as an amateur. Actually, I’m not sure technically that he is because he is still on the ranking list and thus a WPBSA member. Whatever, it’s good to see him back.
The seedings are worked out not from the ranking list but the two orders of merit so top players are not necessarily kept apart. Therefore, John Higgins will play Ali Carter in the first round.
With ranking points available, the various machinations for places on the list ahead of the seedings revision for the Crucible, which takes place after the China Open, will be underway, with these 32 players able to steal a march on their rivals.
The titles have been shared around over the past couple of seasons but shared around primarily among the same faces. With the shorter best of sevens perhaps the PTC grand finals represent a chance for a lesser known name to shine, although regardless of the format the pressure of one table in a big arena with crowds and live TV remains as tough as ever.
Galway is a lovely place and crowds built steadily last year, although six matches a day may be a bit much for some spectators.
All the matches are live on British Eurosport2 for UK viewers with Eurosport International also showing extensive live and recorded action.