The 2014 Arcaden Paul Hunter Classic gets under way later today with the preliminary amateur rounds in Furth, Germany.
The European Tour event is widely regarded as the one of the best Players Championship tournaments as it brings a level of prestige given its name and accompanied enthusiastic crowd each season.
The Classic is now in its 11th year and fifth as a distinguished minor ranking competition on the Main Tour calendar.
Like most of the other Players Championship events, the Paul Hunter Classic has generally produced worthy winners of players at the top of the sport.
The late Paul Hunter himself won the inaugural staging back in 2004 and since 2008 the hands of Shaun Murphy (twice), Judd Trump, Mark Selby (twice) and Ronnie O’Sullivan have all lifted the trophy.
The ‘Rocket’, the defending champion, returns for his first piece of action on the baize since losing the World Championship final to Leicester’s Selby back in May and has Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham for company when the last 128 first round proper gets started on Friday.
Selby, fresh off capturing the Riga Open title earlier this month, starts his campaign for a hat-trick of triumphs in the Stadhalle venue against 18 year-old Swiss talent Alexander Ursenbacher.
Before all that, more than 100 amateurs will scrap it out for the 17 remaining spots in the main draw.
Irish amateur trio Josh Boileau, John Sutton and TJ Dowling are back in action having all done well in Latvia but face a tough task of having to manouevre their way through three rounds in order to even reach the last 128.
There, two Irishmen are already due to face each other as David Morris comes up against Fergal O’Brien while Ken Doherty has been drawn with Belgian Luca Brecel.
Eurosport will provide extensive coverage at the weekend.