For the first time in four years, the Six Red World Championship is back on the snooker calendar and there is a star-studded cast heading to Thailand to compete for the trophy.
Stephen Maguire, winner of the most recent renewal in 2019, is the defending champion but he faces a tough test to follow up with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump in the line-up.
John Higgins, Mark Williams, Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham also feature in a classy field, but 2018 champion Kyren Wilson, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen are notable absentees.
Williams won this event with victory over home favourite Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the 2017 final and the Welsh Wonder is also available at 8/1 to double up.
After qualifying, there are 32 players remaining in the tournament and they are split into eight groups of four.
The group stage is in round-robin style with the matches played over a best-of-nine format, and the top two from each section progress into the knockout stages.
The last 16 and quarter-finals are both played as a best-of-11, with the semi-final a best-of-13 and the final being a first to eight.
|What||Six Red World Championship|
|Where||Thammasat University Convention Centre, Bangkok, Thailand|
|When||Monday 6th March – Saturday 11th March, 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming and Eurosport|
|Odds||Ronnie O’Sullivan 7/2, Judd Trump 11/2, John Higgins 8/1, Mark Williams 8/1, Ding Junhui 10/1|
Some groups are tougher than others and it is easy to see why O’Sullivan, who has recently declared his love for travelling to visit new countries, is the tournament favourite.
The Rocket finds himself housed in a group featuring Jimmy Robertson, James Wattana and 16-year-old Stan Moody and that should be easy pickings for the seven-time world champion.
The Ace in the Pack faces Ricky Walden, Chinese youngster Ma Hailong and inexperienced Thai Kritsanut Lertsattayathorn.
While both heavy-hitters should make a strong start to their Six Red title bids, things will get tougher as the tournament progresses, so there is better value to be had.
Higgins has had a tough start to this season but the legendary Scot will be feeling much happier about things after ending his title drought at last week’s Championship League.
The Wizard of Wishaw defeated Trump 3-1 to defend the invitational title on Thursday, in the process ending a 13-month wait for silverware.
With pressure relieved by that victory, Higgins could build on that success and this is an event in which he has shown his liking for in the past.
The Scot finished runner-up to his compatriot Maguire when this tournament was last staged in 2019, losing 8-6 in the final, but there is a case to suggest he could go one better this time around.
Not only is Higgins in winning form, but the draw has been kind to him with his group featuring Hossein Vafaei, Ken Doherty and home talent Poramin Danjirakul.
Not only did Maguire win this tournament in 2019, but he was also crowned champion in 2014 so this is evidently an event that plays to his break-building qualities.
It has been a poor season so far from the Glaswegian but his recent blow out at the Championship League was far more encouraging.
Maguire made the playoffs, winning four of his six games to finish second in Group 7, and it is likely these short burst matches are what now play to his strengths.
The 41-year-old may not be the force of old but he is still a serious talent on his day and there is every chance he may have been underestimated in the market.
The Scot has a tough group, containing Chinese duo Ding Junhui and Zhang Anda, as well as former women’s world number one Mink Nutcharut.
But Ding has looked way below his best form in recent outings so Maguire must fancy his chances of progressing as group winner and giving his title defence a real go.