Snooker’s Champion of Champions was first played in the late 1970s
Ronnie O’Sullivan is the most successful player in tournament history with three titles
The winner of Champion of Champions Snooker in 2020 won £150,000
Snooker’s Champion of Champions is a non-ranking event, but it still attracts significant snooker betting attention. The world’s best snooker players come together for a relatively short tournament with a healthy prize fund.
Snooker betting tips are popular as 16 of the game’s elite talents come together for Champions of Champions snooker. There are still underdogs, of course, but there’s no chance of an unknown player toppling one of the sport’s biggest names.
Snooker Champion of Champions Tips:
Players qualified for the 2020 Snooker Champion of Champions by winning one of 20 qualifying events. This, however, became slightly more complicated when multiple players won more than one of those events.
The rest of the 16-player field was selected through a mix of event finishes and ranking. For instance, Kyren Wilson qualified through being runner-up at the World Championships, but he also earned a spot by winning the Championship League.
First played in 1978, there have been 10 Champion of Champions events so far. The snooker referees and players have changed since then, and its format might not be familiar to all fans.
Champion of Champions Format:
Unlike the straight-forward knockout of the World Championship or Welsh Open, Champion of Champions snooker is more comparable to UEFA’s Champions League.
For the 2020 edition, the 16 entrants were split into four groups of four. Each group includes two ‘semi-finals’, played over quick, seven-frame matches. The winner of those matches go head-to-head in a ‘final’ over 11 frames.
That process decides the four group winners, who then move onto the semi-finals. These are again played over 11 frames, which were played over the Friday and Saturday in the 2020 tournament.
The two winners of those matches go through to the showpiece final. Again, this is a much longer match at best of 19 frames and takes place across two sessions.
The schedule for the entirety of the 2020 Champion of Champions was played in less than a week, starting on the Monday and playing all of the final on the following Sunday. The winner of the final becomes the ‘Champion of Champions’.
Champion of Champions History:
Created in 1978, boxing promoter Mike Barrett threw four players together for a sharp knockout. This was a way to bring the world’s best together for a tournament which could be consumed over a couple of days.
The semi-finals were on the first day, followed by the final played the next. ITV showed short highlights of the first Champion of Champions snooker as Ray Reardon toppled Masters champion Alex Higgins in the final.
Missing from the schedule in 1979, Champion of Champions appeared like a one-off. That wasn’t the case, however, as it returned in a different guise in 1980.
This time there were 10 entrants. Similar to the modern format, they were put into two groups, and played a round-robin. The winners of each group went through to the final.
Doug Mountjoy got the better of John Virgo in 1980. Unfortunately, that was the last of snooker Champion of Champions for a long time. The venture was not financially viable and failed to really capture snooker fans.
Replacing Premier League Snooker, Champion of Champions resurfaced in 2013. ITV4 have the broadcast rights for the whole tournament.
Fittingly, given his stature in the modern game, Ronnie O’Sullivan won the first two events before opting not to defend his title in 2015. The Rocket has appeared in two more finals since then, winning one.
Neil Robertson is the only other player to win Champion of Champions snooker more than once – Robertson’s most recent success came against Judd Trump in the 2019 final before he lost to Mark Allen 10-6 in the 2020 final.
Champion of Champions Venue:
In the Mike Barrett era, Champion of Champions snooker was held in London. The first competition was at the Wembley Conference Centre. This switched to Drury Lane and the New London Theatre for the 1980 edition.
Over three decades without an event meant a change of location for its return in 2013. Coventry’s Ricoh Arena was the Champion of Champions’ home from 2013 through to 2019. The event is expected to stay in Coventry long-term.
However, the 2020 tournament, like many others, took place at Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Champion of Champions Prize Money:
There was £440,000 in the total prize fund for the 2020 edition of snooker Champion of Champions. This is £35,000 more than the Home Nations events, which all have total prize funds of just over £400,000.
While that’s a useful sum for anyone, the total prize money is still £60,000 below what the winner of the World Championship receives.
The winner of the Champion of Champions pocketing £150,000 holds up well against other events, though. Only a handful of events hand out a bigger prize to the competition winner.
Champion of Champions Winners List:
1978 – Ray Reardon
1980 – Doug Mountjoy
2013 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
2014 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
2015 – Neil Robertson
2016 – John Higgins
2017 – Shaun Murphy
2018 – Ronnie O’Sullivan
2019 – Neil Robertson
2020 – Mark Allen
Champion of Champions Betting:
In an event often laden with world snooker champions, betting on Champion of Champions snooker can be tough. The standards are incredibly high, but the short matches can lead to surprise winners.
Other than obvious trends like recent form and head-to-head records, it could be worthwhile to look at how well players start matches. A slow start in the early rounds of Champion of Champions can be enough for a betting upset.
Mark Allen was an example of what is possible in 2020. Few will have backed him before the tournament, but he toppled the top three seeds. It took nine frames to see off O’Sullivan, seven for Selby and 16 for Robertson.
Even in a draw of established names, don’t overlook the lower-profile players.
*Credit for the main photo belongs to Aijaz Rahi / AP Photo*
FIRST PUBLISHED: 9th March 2021