UK Snooker Championship 2023: Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Allen and Judd Trump among contenders

UK Championship
Venue: Barbican Centre, York Dates: Saturday, 25 November - Sunday, 3 December
BBC coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC iPlayer, as well as the BBC Sport website and mobile app

A seven-time champion threatening to quit, a repeat of the 2022 final and an in-form 'Juddernaut' will be among the main plot lines as the UK Championship gets under way in York on Saturday.

Defending champion Mark Allen is first up against Ding Junhui - the player he beat in last year's final - while two-time winner Mark Williams faces qualifier Fan Zhengyi.

World champion Luca Brecel begins his bid to reach a second UK final on Sunday when he plays Yuan Sijun, with Judd Trump and Ronnie O'Sullivan starting on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

All the action will be shown live across the BBC, but which of the 32 players will collect the £250,000 winners' cheque in nine days' time?

O'Sullivan arrives in blaze of publicity

The release of a documentary chronicling O'Sullivan's relationship with snooker, and his record-equalling seventh World Championship in the modern era, coupled with comments about potentially quitting the game, mean the Englishman arrives in York in a blaze of publicity.

However, that is unlikely to prove a distraction once he gets back on the green baize against Anthony McGill on Tuesday.

O'Sullivan is not only seeking a record-extending eighth win in the UK Championship but also a first ranking title of 2023.

The 47-year-old lost a final-frame decider (13-12) to Scotland's McGill in the last 16 of the 2021 World Championship, but he has won their past five meetings in the shorter format of the game.

O'Sullivan was also victorious in September's Shanghai Masters and if he can replicate that performance he will fancy his chances of adding more silverware and a 40th ranking title to his extensive collection.

Allen's tough test

Given his history in this event, China's Ding - who says he loves "playing in York" - was arguably the man to avoid in the first-round draw for the 16 seeded players.

Asia's most successful ever player is a three-time former UK champion and only just missed out on an automatic spot at the Barbican Centre by one place on the official rankings list.

And the 36-year-old will view his mouth-watering opener against Allen as an opportunity to atone for his defeat in the final 12 months ago when the Northern Irishman sensationally overturned a 6-1 deficit to win 10-7.

Ding has the advantage in the head-to-head meetings against the current world number four but 37-year-old Allen comes into the tournament on a high after thrashing Trump 10-3 in the final of the Champion of Champions.

Will Trump's artistry triumph?

While Allen will hope his recent victory over Trump in Bolton provides him with a platform to claim his first ranking title since January, the Englishman has been the outstanding player of the season to date.

Trump has already reached five finals this term and has looked imperious at times.

The 34-year-old, who is surprisingly only looking for his second UK triumph, remarkably won 22 consecutive matches on his way to the English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open titles before he was eventually beaten by Stephen Maguire in the International Championship.

And even in defeat at the Champion of Champions, an event in which he has reached four finals in five years, Trump played some sensational snooker.external-link

Trump is also leading the way when it comes to century breaks - compiling almost twice as many (46) this season as any other player, with Williams, the winner at the British Open, next on the list with 24.

As well as Williams, the English duo of Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins, and China's Zhang Anda are the only other players to collect ranking titles this term.

Murphy, the winner in 2008, takes on Hossein Vafaei in his first-round match, with the Iranian looking for a lengthy run in the tournament to climb into the top 16 in time for the Masters in January.

Zhanq, who won the International Championship in Tianjin, would meet Brecel in the second round if he overcomes Elliot Slessor and the Belgian advances past China's Yuan Sijun.

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