Mark Williams will attempt to complete a hat-trick of British Open titles in September, although the event will be changed to a more traditional structure after a spectacular return to the snooker calendar after a 17-year hiatus last season.
When he defeated Gary Wilson 6-4 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, the Welshman became a double British Open champion and the tournament’s first winner since John Higgins in 2004.
The competition has been relocated to Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena and pushed back a month from August, with a 128-man field vying for the £100,000 first prize between September 26 and October 2.
Judd Trump, the 2019 world champion, expressed worry about the gap in last season’s schedule after playing nine-ball pool in the United States in September before returning to participate in the Northern Ireland Open.
“I don’t really feel that anything has happened this season. It’s been a waste of time so far,” Trump told Eurosport. “I think they would have been better off waiting until late September and starting the season then.”
Last season’s ‘FA Cup’ elimination draw saw a rematch of the 2021 world final between Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy in the first round.
The tournament, however, is more like to the British Open ranking event, which was originally conducted in 1985 and was won by Silvino Francisco, who defeated Kirk Stevens 12-9 at the Assembly Rooms in Derby.
The early stages have been changed from best-of-five frame matches to best-of-seven matches, as was the case in the quarter-finals and semi-finals last year.
The quarter-finals will be best of nine frames, the semi-finals will be best of 11 frames, and the final will be a more typical best-of-19 frame spectacle.
Despite the reduced format, the British Open saw two 147 breaks on its return to the professional tour, with Higgins and Ali Carter recording maximums.
Mark Williams has also reflected on a topsy-turvy season that he has had.
He reminisced on a tumultuous season that produced a British Open victory but disappointment in both the Masters and the World Championship.
Williams won his 24th ranking championship in the British Open, perhaps the highlight of his season, only to be defeated in nine deciding frames by Neil Robertson at the Masters and Judd Trump at the World Championship.
“If I had won a few of those matches, my season may have gone a lot better, but those are the tiny margins,” Williams remarked.