Snooker returned yesterday with the opening day of the 2015 Paul Hunter Classic in Furth.
The second European Tour event of the season is arguably the marquee minor ranking event on the calendar, with big attendances and quite a lot of prestige attached to the player in which it honours.
It is almost nine years since the devastating death of one of snooker’s brightest young stars, Englishman Paul Hunter, to cancer.
The three-time Masters champion won the first edition of the tournament back in 2004 and after his passing the event took on the new guise to help protect his legacy.
In 2010, the Paul Hunter Classic joined the newly formed Players Tour Championship series, and has continued to thrive successfully each year since.
The roll of honour is impressive with Shaun Murphy, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan and 2014 champion Mark Allen among those to have etched their hands on the trophy in the last decade.
People love the tournament not only because of the obvious attachment to the ever-popular Hunter, but also as a result of the enthusiasm and widespread appreciation shown by the loyal German fans.
In the last five or so years, German interest in the sport has thrived, manifesting in a succession of brilliantly staged tournaments that have come across very well on television around the world.
Germany continues to look for their first breakthrough player into the higher echelons of the sport, which would help to continue to keep the interest at peak levels, though there are some promising youngsters like Lukas Kleckers and Simon Lichtenberg.
Both emerged unscathed from their opening amateur round on Wednesday, with three preliminary victories needed for most of the amateurs in order to even make the last 128 against the pros.
It was a good first day for the Irish contingent with all but one easing their way into the second stage.
Young duo Josh Boileau and Andrew Doherty set up an all-Irish clash following respective 4-0 victories while veteran Desshie Sheehan joined them with another whitewash.
Tony Corrigan similarly got in on the action with a 4-0 triumph while Charlie Sweeney surrendered two frames but still managed to advance to set up a meeting with Christopher Keogan.
Daniel O’Regan was sent home early, though, losing all four frames in his encounter with local lad Luca Kaufmann.
The amateur rounds are completed in a hectic Thursday schedule before the main competition takes place over the weekend.
As ever, you can follow the full draw over at Snooker.org here.