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Ronnie O'Sullivan comes into the tournament off the back of a loss to David Grace
  1. Snooker

Snooker: Champion of Champions preview

Sixteen of the world's top snooker stars will enter the arena at Bolton Whites Hotel over the coming week to contest the Champion of Champions, with Ronnie O'Sullivan chasing down a fourth crown.

World champion O'Sullivan is the star name in an elite field for this non-ranking event, where Judd Trump is the defending champion.

Women's world champ Mink Nutcharut becomes the second female player to qualify for the event and is a 400/1 shot to lift the trophy.

Can Rocket summon desire for fourth title?

What2022 Champion of Champions
WhereBolton Whites Hotel, Bolton
WhenMonday 31st October - Sunday 6th November, 2022
How to watchITV
OddsNeil Robertson 10/3, Ronnie O'Sullivan 7/2, Mark Selby 11/2, Judd Trump 11/2, Zhao Zintong 11/1, John Higgins 11/1, Mark Allen 11/1

O'Sullivan is the big draw going into the £440,000 Champion of Champions and is rated 7/2 to complete his quest for a fourth title.

The Rocket, who won the title in 2013 and 2014 and again in 2018, begins his quest against Robert Milkins in a best-of-seven frames shootout.

Should he win that he would take on the winner of Zhao and Nutcharut, who is just the second woman to ever appear at this prestigious and popular invitational event.

O'Sullivan can win this with his eyes shut, inevitably, but then he can also throw in the odd horror show depending on whether or not he fancies it.

He comes into the tournament off the back of a second-round loss to world No.62 David Grace at the Northern Ireland Open and promptly stated: "I don't care anymore. I really don't have the passion and desire for it."

Fans with tickets for the tournament and punters who are all aboard The Rocket will be hoping this is one of those weeks when the most naturally gifted player of all time turns up and turns on the style.

Hat-trick chasing Robbo

O'Sullivan has a fair old wait before he takes on Milkins - their match is slated for Thursday, November 3 - which will give The Rocket a chance to see how his rivals are playing.

Not that he needs any reminders of the talent of, for example, Neil Robertson, the Thunder from Down Under, who is a 10/3 chance to claim the title for a third time.

The 2015 and 2019 champion has enjoyed a stellar year. He kicked it off by beating O'Sullivan en route to Masters glory and defeated the Englishman again a few weeks later in lifting the Players Championship trophy.

And Robertson completed a hat-trick over O'Sullivan in Llandudno in early April as he won the Tour Championship.

Well-fancied at the Worlds he was surprisingly beaten by Jack Lisowski but last week looked close to his best reaching the semis of the Northern Ireland Open where he was pipped by Mark Allen.

Allen a major threat in Bolton

Allen's performance in Belfast, where he was successfully defending his crown, has marked down the gritty Northern Irishman as a real and present danger in Bolton at 11/1.

Allen, rather like O'Sullivan, is all about mindset and if he's in the mood he's a desperately tough man to beat.

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And he showed he was playing well at the British Open in Milton Keynes a few weeks earlier where he chalked up wins over Judd Trump and Mark Selby before demolishing Noppon Saengkham 6-1 in his semi-final. He looked to have the final in the bag as well when going 7-6 up over Ryan Day only for the Welshman to reel off the next four frames.

Allen is a two-time Champion of Champions finalist, losing to Robertson in the 2015 showpiece before avenging that defeat in the final five years later.

Top seed Trump looking for rare repeat

O'Sullivan is the only player to have successfully defended the Champion of Champions title, something Judd Trump is planning to replicate this week.

Trump hammered John Higgins 10-4 in last year's final, the prelude to a decent end to the 2021/22 season which saw him reach three finals, the Welsh, the Worlds and the Turkish Masters, the latter he won. Trump has a tough opener against Luca Brecel for which he's a 4/9 shot.

Perhaps the most intriguing first-round tie is the final one, on Thursday evening, between in-form Zhao and Thai women's world champ Nutcharut.

Zhao was phenomenal 12 months ago winning the UK Championship and then whitewashing Yan Bingtao in the German Masters final. Since then his form hasn't been as good, though at 1/80 he's fully expected to make light work of debutant Nutcharut.

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