The eighth and final European Tour PTC event of the season gets under way today in Gdynia, Poland.
The Gdynia Open returns after a successful outing in the country last season when Neil Robertson emerged the victor in a 4-3 success over Jamie Burnett.
This tournament is one of the most important of the campaign as it not only determines the 24 players who will advance from the Order of Merit to the PTC Grand Finals in Thailand next month, but it also will help matters become clearer as to who will guarantee their Tour spot for next year by finishing in the top 8 places on the Order of Merit who have not already attained their card by other means.
It’s all rather confusing as there are a whole host of possible permutations on offer but, as ever, rankings guru Matt over at ProSnookerBlog is your man to go to for enhanced detail on that subject.
Australia’s Robertson has chosen not to defend his title, instead taking a break ahead of another incredibly busy schedule in the coming few months, and is joined on the absentee list by last Sunday’s champion Ding Junhui and Masters winner Ronnie O’Sullivan.
EDIT: Robertson is in fact defending his title, with Poland’s Adam Stefanow his first round opponent.
Mark Allen has also opted out, which is a peculiar decision given the fact that he is not yet guaranteed his place inside the top 16 of the world rankings ahead of the crucial Crucible cut-off point.
The World Championship, of course, is one of only three full ranking events this season that did not adhere to the rule change involving the flat 128 format structure so if the Northern Irishman was to drop out of the elite bracket he would be forced to qualify for Sheffield.
Most of the other star players are in attendance, though, and will be well aware that the competition will be fierce as those lower down the rankings attempt to collect valuable money – rankings for next season will be determined by money earned rather than points received.
Jimmy White will be one of those thanking his lucky stars as he has already been granted a bye into the last 64 following the withdrawal of Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon.
At 60th in the provisional money standings, the ‘Whirlwind’ is in a precarious position, a fear shared similarly by fellow legend Steve Davis at 58th.
That said, while White has admitted to being scared at the thought of dropping outside the top 64, the ‘Nugget’ suggested that he didn’t really care and would enjoy the challenge of trying to get back on should that outcome materialise.
Ireland’s David Morris has also decided to sit this one out, but his stalwart compatriots Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien will be competing as ever.
As always with these satellite events, amateurs are entitles to enter and there are dozens of them in today’s preliminaries – with the professionals taking centre stage from tomorrow.
It will be interesting to see if any of the local Polish players can generate a run of sorts, with teenager Kacper Filipiak the most likely contender.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.