The 2011 Wuxi Classic commences in the early hours of tomorrow morning as eight of the Top 16 in the world rankings contest the annual invitational tournament.
Now in its fourth year, the Wuxi Classic has become a recognised World Snooker event and continues to attract star names across the globe into China.
The Classic is doubly important this season as it acts as priceless preparation for those who are participating at the World Cup in Thailand next week and the Australian Open in less than a fortnight.
Shaun Murphy returns to defend his title and may or may not come back to a heroes welcome after his stunning comeback over local favourite Ding Junhui in the 2010 final.
The 2005 world champion was 8-2 behind to Ding, who grew up in Wuxi, but dispelled the partisan crowd by claiming the last seven frames for a remarkable turnaround.
Murphy, Ding, Ali Carter and Mark Selby await in the quarter finals for the victors of the first round encounters taking place tomorrow.
In the first round, the remaining Top 16 quartet await the challenge of four Chinese wildcards – although only one of these players is not currently on the professional Main Tour.
That is Rouzi Maimaiti, who takes on former world and UK champion Peter Ebdon for a potential meeting with Murphy.
The tie of the first round, though, is undoubtedly the match-up between Stephen Maguire and Liang Wenbo.
Maguire has been the epitome of consistency over the last couple of seasons, having reached countless quarter-finals and semi-finals in ranking events, but has failed to live up to his nickname of ‘On Fire’ in recent times.
Liang, meanwhile, suffered a miserable 2010/11 campaign in which he failed to win a single ranking event encounter and almost dropped outside the Top 32, having began the year within the elite 16.
Both Maguire and Liang are competing in next week’s World Cup for Scotland and China respectively and they will be looking for an early confidence boost ahead of the eagerly awaited event in Bangkok.
In the remaining two first round clashes, another former world champion in Graeme Dott plays Under 21 Asian Champion Cao Yupeng while Welshman Matthew Stevens takes on Yu Delu.
The Wuxi Classic is being covered by Eurosport, who continue to show their dedication for the sport.
Indeed, tomorrow begins a remarkable 18 consecutive days of snooker – incorporating the Wuxi Classic, the World Cup and the Australian Open – and every day will be aired live on the Eurosport channels.