This season sees the UK ditch it's traditional best-of-17 format for the first three rounds. Instead, matches will last just one session, with the first player to six, rather than nine, advancing. What it means is that the semi-finals of the UK Championship are now the only matches of the season that offer multiple sessions outside of tournament finals and the World Championship.
It's a big change for a tournament that many of us dearly love, and while I think we all understand that TV deals have a massive part to play in this change, it is hard to believe that the event will not lose some of the magic that has made it my, and many other's, second favourite tournament. However, I suppose we will have to wait and see before passing judgement.
To be fair, the UK has struggled as far as attendances are concerned for quite a few years now. It's move to Telford was hugely controversial, but it has now reverted back to a more popular past venue, the Barbican Centre in York.
I certainly have some great memories from the tournament: Ronnie O'Sullivan's stunning hammering of Ken Doherty in 2001 comes to mind, as Doherty, a very fine player, memorably admitted that he had been 'embarassed'. O'Sullivan was in similar form six years later when he played some scintillating, clinical snooker in dismantling Stephen Maguire at the same stage.
Mark Williams won a thrilling final in 2002, against Doherty again, on his way to claiming snooker's 'triple crown', it's also the tournament that saw Matthew Stevens complete a fantastic comeback from 0-4 down against Stephen Hendry in the 2003 decider, the Welshman's sole ranking title to date.
Stephen Maguire and Ding Junhui were back to back unseeded winners of the tournament in 2004 & 2005 respectively, titles that saw both of them proclaimed as future stars of the game. While Maguire has disappointed many since that win, Ding memorably defeated John Higgins in the 2009 decider to end a three year ranking title drought.
Just last year, Mark Williams was on the receiving end of one of the game's great comebacks. John Higgins, who had just returned having served a six month ban, fell 5-9 behind, and needed a snooker at 7-9... he found it, and took the title, drawing tears from the normally super laid-back Williams.
The UK, with it's time slot just before Christmas, has always had a certain amount of magic attached to it... outside of the World Championship, it's by far my favourite, and I include the Masters in that statement. Whether it thrives in it's new guise or not remains to be seen, the jury is out now like it's never been before.
But what are your favourite memories of this tournament, do you feel that the revamp will signal new life, or do you think it's a further downgrading of a once-great event?
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