The York Barbican hosts one of snooker’s Triple Crown events as 128 players battle for the coveted UK Championship trophy and a top prize of £150,000, live on BBC Sport and British Eurosport.
World snooker’s top stars and familiar faces, including defending UK champion Neil Robertson, world champion Mark Selby and the legendary Ronnie O’Sullivan will all be in York to compete for their sport’s second-biggest ranking event.
Such is the interest in this the first BBC-televised snooker event of the season, box office records are set to be smashed, with nearly 7,000 tickets having already been sold, with sales more than 20 per cent up on the equivalent time last year.
Snooker’s second most prestigious tournament underwent a facelift last season with its new 128-player draw, introduced by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearnwhich resulted in all players on the professional tour starting in the same round, and this format remains in place for 2014.
This led to some notable scalps in the opening round last year, with amateur Mitchell Travis producing perhaps the biggest shock when he knocked out world number six Marco Fu.
Established stars like Robertson, Selby and O’Sullivan will all come up against a mixture of up-and-coming amateurs and rookies once again in the opening rounds, before the televised stages begin on Saturday, November 29.
As a result, the tournament is three days longer than previous years, giving fans the chance to see many more players in action with a multi-table layout at the Barbican in the early stages.
The top 16 players also had their protected ranking at major events removed, giving lesser-known players a greater chance of competing and playing against top names in lucrative televised tournaments.
With up to eight tables in play during the opening stages, many lower ranked players will have a chance to take on the established stars in front of a packed York Barbican Centre crowd.
The pick of the first round matches sees six-time champion Steve Davis face world number eight Ricky Walden, who won the biggest title of his career at China’s International Championship in November, while elsewhere, O’Sullivan begins his quest for a fifth title against Welsh amateur Daniel Wells.
Last year saw Neil Robertson capture the trophy with a 10-7 victory over Mark Selby in the final to become the first overseas player to complete snooker’s Triple Crown. He faces Joe O’Connor, while Selby takes on Oliver Brown.
The York crowd will no doubt give a great reception to former World Championship finalist Ali Carter, who will play in his first full ranking event since successful treatment for lung cancer and goes up against Zhang Anda in the first round.
Dating back to 1977, the UK Championship title is one of the most sought-after on the snooker calendar and with £150,000 up for grabs for the winner, top stars including five-time world champion O’Sullivan and world number one Selby will all be gunning for the lucrative prize.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn commented: “It’s fantastic to have Coral on board for one of our Triple Crown events. The UK Championship is a true highlight of the sporting calendar, keenly anticipated by many millions of fans across the globe.
“We look forward to working closely with the Coral team and building a successful relationship.
“We are well on course for record ticket sales as fans continue to show massive enthusiasm for snooker. It’s going to be a spectacular fortnight of drama and excitement as the best players in the world contest the title.”
In a slight change to the playing format this year, all matches up to and including the semi-finals will best of 11 frames and played across one session, with the final itself on Sunday, December 7, remaining the best of 19 frames to determine the 2014 UK champion.
Find out who prevails out of the 128 starters in snooker’s second biggest televised event by watching BBC Sport and British Eurosport’s extensive coverage, starting on Saturday, November 29.
BBC Sport’s snooker season gets underway with the second biggest event on the calendar as Australia’s Neil Robertson looks to retain his UK Championship title in York.
Hazel Irvine and Jason Mohammad present the BBC’s coverage throughout all nine days of the televised stages, including live programming, nightly highlights and the late-night Snooker Extra shows, which will be primarily broadcast on BBC Two, with coverage on BBC One on Saturday afternoons.
BBC Red Button will screen live action from the second televised table during the afternoon sessions, as well as full live coverage from the best match during each evening session from 7.00pm.
The BBC’s usual mix of star snooker commentators and guests return to offer their views and opinions throughout the championships, including Ken Doherty, Dennis Taylor, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Parrott, Willie Thorne and John Virgo.
Online viewers can watch full live coverage from both tables and BBC network TV’s output on PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablet devices via the BBC Sport website and app, while the BBC snooker website has all the latest news, reports and scores.
The BBC will continue to be the home of all three World Snooker ‘Crown Jewel events’ in the UK until at least 2017 following a deal signed in January 2013.
The corporation will continue to cover the World Championship, UK Championship and the Masters until at least the end of the 2016/17 season, and there is also the option to continue with one further event after 2014, ensuring the sport’s biggest events will remain on terrestrial television.
British Eurosport will also have live coverage of the 2014 Coral UK Championship from York Barbican.
The pan-European channel will broadcast comprehensive two table coverage throughout the televised stages of the tournament, starting on Saturday, November 29, including high-definition coverage of all televised sessions.
As ever, Dave Hendon, Mike Hallett, Philip Studd and Joe Johnson will again form part of British Eurosport’s expert commentary team during the event.
Looking ahead to the season’s fifth ranking event, former world champion and Eurosport commentator Johnson commented: “Ding Junhui, a twice UK champion, and Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won it four times, are the players likely to challenge for the first prize in York.
“There are far more snooker tournaments now than in years gone by but the UK Championship remains one that every player wants on their career CV, which should ensure a hard fought battle for the title.”
Live online streaming of British Eurosport’s coverage can be accessed via Eurosport Player (subscription required), plus there will also be additional reports and features via the British Eurosport website.
. Saturday 29th November DAY 4: Round 2 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.00pm-2.00pm BBC One / 2.00pm-5.30pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-2.30pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.30pm-12.20am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.20am-2.20am BBC Two Sunday 30th November DAY 5: Round 2 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.20pm-5.30pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm & 9.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.30pm-12.20am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.20am-2.20am BBC Two Monday 1st December DAY 6: Round 3 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two Tuesday 2nd December DAY 7: Round 3 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Snooker Extra: 12.10am-2.10am BBC Two Wednesday 3rd December DAY 8: Round 4 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 3.30pm-6.00pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-2.30pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Thursday 4th December DAY 9: Round 4 (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 2.00pm-6.00pm & 7.00pm-8.00pm BBC Two LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.20pm-12.10am BBC Two Friday 5th December DAY 10: Quarter Finals (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.00pm-6.00pm BBC Two LIVE: 4.30pm-6.00pm & 7.55pm-11.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 11.35pm-12.25am BBC Two Saturday 6th December DAY 11: Semi Finals (Best of 11 frames) LIVE: 1.00pm-4.30pm BBC One LIVE: 4.30pm-5.30pm & 7.00pm-10.00pm BBC Two Sunday 7th December UK Championship Final (Best of 19 frames) LIVE: 12.55pm-6.00pm & 7.00pm-11.00pm BBC Two CLICK HERE for British Eurosport TV schedule