Many of the world’s greatest snooker players are descending on Wigan next week.
And fans of the sport can go and see them all for nothing!
The Robin Park Sports and Tennis Centre is the last minute setting for the qualifying rounds of the prestigious Shanghai Masters.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Marco Fu will be among the champions contesting frames on the green baize to get to the finals in the Far East next month.
There is a £700,000 competition purse and a £150,000 first prize on the table, so fans can expect some fierce competition.
These elimination rounds will be played out by more than 10 cuemen on no fewer than eight tables over three days starting on Wednesday with morning, afternoon and evening sessions.
Organisers say the biggest names are likely to be appearing later in the days.
It is not the first time Wigan has hosted major snooker competition qualifiers, although there has been a break of several years.
Meanwhile it has also became a popular spot for international darts qualifiers and finals.
But the venue stepped in at the 11th hour for this latest series of sessions for global cuemasters.
World Snooker spokesman Ivan Hirschowitz said: “The Shanghai Masters used to be in September but then it was replaced by the World Open in that slot. Then we got a new sponsor for the Shanghai Masters and so these have been slotted into the schedule for November.
“Wigan kindly stepped in at short notice for the qualifiers and it is nice to be back after a break of several years.”
Indicative of how last minute things have been is that it is not clear exactly which players will be exempt from qualifying. Usually it is the reigning champion (in this case Ding Junhui) and world champ (Mark Selby) but sometimes the top two ranking players from the host nation need not take part (which would be Ding again plus Liang Wenbo) but these criteria have yet to be decided.
Each entrant will play one match in a bid to get to China.
That said all the major stars have put in for the competition, also including John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Barry Hawkins.
And admission to the matches is free. Morning sessions begin at 10am. Fans just need to collect wristbands on the day of the event from the main reception desk for entry. No reservations for tickets can be made, tickets are first come first served on the day. Matches will commence from 10am, tickets available from 9.30am.
For any further information relating to this event, contact 01942 828550.