STUART BINGHAM is keen to get off to a good start at this month’s Championship League to help secure his place at the top end of snooker’s world rankings.
Ballrun won the tournament in 2015 by beating pal Mark Davis in the final, but the switch to making it a ranking event during the Covid-19 fallout has upped the stakes for a competition which has taken place behind closed doors since its launch 12 years ago.
And Bingham, currently 13th on the money-list structured world rankings, said: “The new ranking aspect of the Championship League is certainly something to take into account, and with the final stages being held at the end of October it will all be over fairly soon this time.
“When I won in 2015 it was certainly a bit different, with no ranking points involved, but it was still nice to get my hands on that trophy.
“This season I am hoping to use it to get off to a flying start. I think I need to because a couple of seasons ago I had a good year but I’ve got all those ranking points coming off soon, so it could be an important one for me.”
Bingham admits he is not keen on the “cut-throat” nature of the four-frame format used at the event.
But he is happy with its staging at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, which will be used to host several early season competitions including the European Masters, English Open and the Northern Irish Open.
He said: “Walking around there you realise it has a lot of space and it is probably as good as any other venue. It’s also in an area with plenty of amenities around it, like a Wagamama and TGI nearby.
“Last time we were not allowed to go outside because of Covid but this time, as things currently stand, we are. And this time we can book in to stay at any hotel we want.
“The tables played okay there during lockdown in the summer so it is a good choice for staging these events I think.”
Bingham will start his Championship League campaign in stage one, group 12, with three matches back-to-back on Friday, September 18, against Pang Junxu, James Cahill and then Yuan Sijun.
He added: “I think Pang is new on the Tour so he will be an unknown quantity, but I’m sure coming from China he will be a good player.
“James always raises his game and has had some big wins in the last couple of years so I know that will be a tough match.
“I’m pretty sure I played Yuan in Gibraltar when I won there. He’s another of the bright prospects coming through so there’ll be no easy games here, especially over four frames when you have to get off to a good start.”
The Championship League’s first stage will run from September 13 to 20, with 128 players divided into 32 groups of four, and the 32 winners going through to the second stage.