Ronnie O’Sullivan makes his return to competitive action in Group Ten of the Championship League in Milton Keynes on Friday.
The five-time World Champion returns to the baize following an enforced three-month absence as he looks to progress to the next phase of the behind-closed-doors event at the Marshall Arena.
The opening four days have seen the likes of Judd Trump, David Gilbert, Luca Brecel, Liang Wenbo and Gary Wilson advance from their groups, and ‘The Rocket’ will be keen to avoid a major upset here.
Lockdown has meant limited practice for most players, and it’s anyone’s guess as how quickly ‘The Rocket’ can get off the launchpad in a group otherwise made up of three players ranked outside of the world’s top 40.
O’Sullivan’s last title of any sort came at the Shanghai Masters last September, while he finished runner-up in the Northern Ireland Open and was a beaten semi-finalist at the Welsh Open.
The 36-time ranking event winner starts out in Group Ten against world number 93 Kishan Hirani in what will be the first competitive meeting between the two players.
O’Sullivan then faces former Shoot-Out champion Michael Georgiou of Cyprus, having won all three of their previous encounters for the total loss of just three frames.
The world number seven will then look to secure his spot in the next phase by overcoming Chris Wakelin in perhaps his toughest test of the day.
Wakelin has beaten O’Sullivan in front of the television cameras, having done so 4-3 in their most recent meeting at the 2016 English Open.
Elsewhere, world number 26 Tom Ford is the highest ranked player in action in Group 15 on Table Two as he comes up against Gloucester’s Robert Milkins, Middlesbrough’s Mike Dunn and Preston’s Ian Burns.
The action gets underway from 4pm BST, with all matches contested over the best of four frames, with three points awarded for a win and one point for a draw.
Strict social distancing measures are in place, with no crowd or players’ guests permitted and COVID testing and hygiene measures also taken, including players using separate rests and extensions housed at the back of the playing area.
Championship League 2020 Match Schedule
Friday June 5
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Kishan Hirani (Group 10)
Robert Milkins v Mike Dunn (Group 15)
Chris Wakelin v Michael Georgiou (Group 10)
Tom Ford v Ian Burns (Group 15)
Chris Wakelin v Kishan Hirani (Group 10)
Tom Ford v Mike Dunn (Group 15)
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Michael Georgiou (Group 10)
Robert Milkins v Ian Burns (Group 15)
Michael Georgiou v Kishan Hirani (Group 10)
Tom Ford v Robert Milkins (Group 15)
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Chris Wakelin (Group 10)
Mike Dunn v Ian Burns (Group 15)