Stuart Bingham is warming up for his Betway UK Championship campaign with a first trip to Romania this weekend – and exhibition matches against Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Bingham, of course, claimed a famous 13-9 quarter-final win over the Rocket at the Crucible en route to his stunning world championship success in May.
And O’Sullivan will have the edge when it comes to recent exhibition match experience, having played only those and not once competitively since that defeat in April.
Bingham has for years been the archetypal ‘have cue, will travel’ ambassador for the game and is looking forward to his trip to Bucharest and the Circul Globus venue.
The nights were set up by Thomas Cesal, well known for being the promoter behind the successful German Masters and Paul Hunter Classic among other events.
And Michaela Tabb was also due to fly out and referee the meeting of ‘Snooker Titans’, as it was billed in the Romanian media, with ticket prices ranging from around £16 to £85.
World champion and world No2 Bingham said: “I am off on Friday morning, and then playing the exhibitions on Saturday night and Sunday night.
“It was all arranged a couple of months ago, and it is certainly a new country for me. To my knowledge no snooker player has been to play in Romania, though I could be wrong.
“And there’s a first time for everything. It is quite rare these days that you get to go and experience a completely new country, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“They tell me that the tickets sold out at the venue quicker than when Elton John played a concert there, so we better put on a decent show if they’re that mad for it.
“It is just a nice feeling to be taking the game to a new territory and spreading the word. I will be taking the trophy as something to show to the fans in Romania.
“Bizarrely I met some Romanians in Dubai recently going to Hong Kong airport. One was an ex-pro footballer, and he said he had tickets to come and see me and Ronnie. That was surreal.”
Bingham will travel back on Monday – and after a quarter-final and two semi-finals in the last three years at the UK will look to do even better at the Barbican Centre this year.
As the No1 seed, he opens up in York against Northern Ireland amateur Jordan Brown on Thursday 26th November.