Rounding off 2015 on the Main Tour is the qualifying stage for the German Masters, which takes place in Wigan from Thursday.
The German Masters follows the flat draw structure but, uniquely, there’ll be two qualifying rounds completed rather than the customary one.
That means that there is even more likelihood that some of the big names will come a cropper before even reaching the now famous Tempodrom in Berlin.
The German Masters has become one of the most popular events on the calendar since its reincarnation in 2011.
Not only is the Tempodrom packed with more than 2000 people every day, but it is filled with some of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowds in snooker.
While always then special, the 2016 edition also has the added ingredient of hosting the return of Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The ‘Rocket’ hasn’t competed on the circuit since his World Championship quarter-final loss to Stuart Bingham in April.
Of course, O’Sullivan is a former champion of the German Masters, having tasted glory in 2012 when he narrowly edged Stephen Maguire in a thrilling showdown for the trophy.
The five-time world champion has been handed an apparently handy opener against Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar but could face a stiffer challenge in the shape of Jamie Cope or Stuart Carrington in the last 64 – so he wont be able to afford to be rusty for too long.
It has become the norm now to have at least one or two of the elite performers miss out on the venue stage of a ranking event because of a poor showing in qualifying.
In truth, while this is a necessary evil in giving equal opportunity to all the competitors, it is always an inevitable shame to lose one or more of the stars from the televised rounds.
Looking at the draw, there are a few instances where this could materialise.
2014 runner-up Judd Trump will be expected to get past Peter Lines comfortably enough but is subsequently in line to face the in-form David Grace.
Shaun Murphy has Michael Wasley to begin with before a potentially tricky meeting with Peter’s son, Oliver Lines.
The likes of Maguire and Ding Junhui, champion last year, are never too far away from their next mishap – regardless of the opposition.
It really is a question of who, not if.
Regardless, the German audiences will gratefully support whoever becomes Berlin bound.
That said, while it has been a year of the underdog – certainly in reaching the latter stages at least, even if not quite emerging victorious overall – it’d be nice if the first ranking event of the next calendar year features more of the heavy hitters at the business end of proceedings.
From an Irish point of view, every tournament from now until the climax of the campaign is important to Kilkenny’s David Morris.
The 27 year-old has endured a torrid time of it of late and is now hovering around the crucial top 64 cut-off point in the world rankings.
If he finishes below it then it’s likely that he’ll lose his professional card as his performances on the European Tour have not been sufficiently strong enough to warrant a pro ticket via that avenue.
Morris needs victories, and soon, if he is to avoid a repeat of his first tenure on the circuit when he ultimately flattered to deceive despite a positive early showing.
The Irishman will seek his first win since August against Sam Baird on Friday but is likely to face world no.1 Mark Selby should he progress.
Meanwhile, Fergal O’Brien and Ken Doherty are up against Hossein Vafaei Ayouri and Michael Georgiou respectively.
Qualifying runs until Sunday and streaming will be available on selected online bookmakers as well as the World Snooker live streaming service.
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