Ronnie O’Sullivan launches his pursuit of a fourth Champion of Champions title with a clash against Stuart Bingham in Group Three on Thursday.
O’Sullivan boasts a superb record in the Champion of Champions, having reached the final in five of his seven previous appearances.
Winner in 2013, 2014 and 2018, O’Sullivan has only once failed to progress from the Group Stage, with that blemish coming 12 months ago with defeat to Mark Allen in a heated contest.
The six-time World Champion is competing in his fifth event of the season, having pulled out midway through the Championship League before suffering a Third Round defeat to Yan Bingtao in the Northern Ireland Open and a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Hossein Vafaei in the German Masters qualifiers.
He then reached the Semi-Finals of the English Open, before being edged out in a last-frame decider by ‘Class of 92’ rival John Higgins.
O’Sullivan last tasted success in a televised tournament at the 2020 World Championship and has subsequently lost in five finals.
He kicks off his quest for glory in Bolton with an all-Essex show-down against 2015 World Champion Bingham – who also qualified via the world rankings.
Bingham has appeared in all but one staging of the Champion of Champions since the event began in 2013 and was runner-up to O’Sullivan that year.
However, his record since has been somewhat underwhelming, with five First Round exits and a Quarter-Final to his name.
The world number 13 has had a slow start to the season by his standards, with a run to the Third Round of the Northern Ireland Open representing his best performance so far.
Ominously for ‘Ball Run’, O’Sullivan has dominated the head-to-heads over the years, winning 16 of their 19 previous meetings, including each of their last five since Bingham famously prevailed at The Crucible in 2015 en route to becoming World Champion.
The match gets under way from 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of seven frames at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
Either John Higgins or Ding Junhui will await the winner in the Group Three final from 7pm GMT.
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