The twelfth and final Players Tour Championship event of the season concludes tomorrow in Munich as the remaining 16 players battle it out for the last Grand Final positions that are up for grabs.
The tournament also enjoys a sub-plot with a triumph for Ricky Walden enough to see him regain his place in the elite Top 16 of the world rankings at the expense of Ronnie O’Sullivan.
It hasn’t even been three weeks since there was snooker on our television or computer screens but it already feels like the resumption of play is long overdue.
Refreshing as the festive season break may have been, it is now full-blown action for the remainder of the campaign with almost four months of non-stop baize bashing.
This weekend will mark the first time that a PTC event will have already been whittled down to 16 players following the mix-up in venue facilities that led to the earlier rounds being played in Sheffield before Christmas.
While it inadvertently meant that many German and Central European amateurs were denied the opportunity to play in the preliminary rounds, the eventual conclusion does alternatively ensure that all of the remaining matches will be on the televised table.
This couldn’t have come at a more apt time given the overall randomness of the final draw – encompassing a wide range of highly and lowly ranked, experienced and inexperienced players.
It is a great opportunity for the fans in Germany, who have proven twice in the last twelve months that they are a budding snooker nation with extremely knowledgeable and attentive fans, to get to know some of the perhaps lesser known cueists on the Main Tour.
Only three of the Top 16 have made it to the last 16 with Mark Allen the obvious favourite having recently come agonisingly close to claiming his first professional title at the UK Championship in York.
The other duo are Stephen Maguire and Martin Gould – both of whom have been defeated twice in the final of PTC events over the course of its two-year existence.
Of the others in the field, Englishmen Andrew Higginson and Michael Holt have both emerged victorious in the series so far this season and are guaranteed their spots among the top 24 that will compete at the Grand Finals in Galway next March.
Scotsman Stephen Hendry makes a welcomed return to the latter stages of an event and will take on Hong Kong’s Marco Fu, who also showed a resurgence in some form at the UKs.
Perhaps one of the most exciting young prospects for 2012 in China’s Xiao Guodong takes on Ricky Walden and, by contrast, stalwarts Mike Dunn, Marcus Campbell and Joe Perry are also in action.
David Gilbert, Kurt Maflin and David Grace, who all find themselves battling for survival on the circuit for next year, will hope for a deep run and former professional David Gray makes up the selection by being the only amateur to make it this far.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.