Mark Williams will join the world’s elite players next month, as they travel to Guangzhou for the inaugural Evergrande China Championship.
The tournament runs from November 1st to 5th and will have a top prize of £200,000, the biggest ever for a tournament outside of the UK.
Williams, who is a winner of 18 ranking events and two-time World Champion, has replaced Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has withdrawn from the 16-man event. The Welshman was next in line to qualify through his official world ranking and will directly replace O’Sullivan in the draw.
The star-studded field also includes the likes of Mark Selby, Judd Trump and newly crowned Shanghai Masters Champion Ding Junhui.
This year it will be a 16-man non-ranking invitation tournament, with the top ten players in the world rankings invited, along with the next four players from the separate one-year list. The line-up is completed by the two Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association nominees: Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo.
The total prize money will be £650,000, with first round losers to receive £15,000 and the winner to bank £200,000.
It will also be the final opportunity for players to earn a place in the Champion of Champions, which runs the following week in Coventry.
In the following three years prize money is set to increase even further and the tournament will become a full world ranking event, contested by 128 players.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “Mark Williams was next in line from the world rankings and deserves the opportunity to compete in this brilliant tournament. The event has gained a fitting replacement for O’Sullivan. Mark is one of the greatest players to have graced the baize and I’m sure he will put on a fantastic display.
“This is going to be an unmissable tournament and with the biggest prize ever we’ve ever had on offer in Asia it is sure to create great drama. And from next year it will be a full ranking event open to all tour players”
The completed list of first round matches is as follows:
Mark Selby vs Anthony McGill
Mark Allen vs Ricky Walden
John Higgins vs Mark Williams
Judd Trump vs Allister Carter
Shaun Murphy vs Joe Perry
Ding Junhui vs Marco Fu
Neil Robertson vs Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham vs Liang Wenbo