Most attention this weekend understandably surrounds the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible.
Yet, the next two days mark the start of an important event on the Irish amateur calendar as well – with the opening stages of the National Championship in Carlow.
100 hopefuls head to the Ivy Rooms hoping to make it through to the last 16, which will take place next weekend when the 2016 Irish national champion will be crowned.
The top half of the draw is whittled down on Saturday before the remaining side make up the final 16 on Sunday.
It’ll be on the second day that the defending champion Brendan O’Donoghue enters the fray, and what a prospect he may have in his first encounter.
Seeded through to the last 64, the Nenagh native could potentially face four-time champion Martin McCrudden if the latter safely negotiates his first obstacle against Robbie Walker.
A surprising omission from the draw is top ranked Michael Judge who, despite emerging victorious in three out of the previous six ranking events this season, has chosen not to enter the campaign-ending championship.
The majority of the other high-profile names will be in the hunt, though, including the likes of former winners Rodney Goggins and Jason Devaney, as well as European Under-21 champion Josh Boileau.
This will count as Boileau’s last chance, for the foreseeable future at least, of capturing the domestic title as the 20 year-old is set to join the professional tour next season.
Other top 10 ranked players Jonathan Williams, Ryan Cronin, Philip Browne, David Cassidy and Greg Casey will all be hoping for a positive end to the campaign.
Indeed, Cork’s Casey will be looking to hit peak form just in time for Q-School too, which takes place immediately after the conclusion of the National Championship next weekend.
Two-time champion TJ Dowling, twice runner-up David Hogan, former pro Joe Delaney and last year’s beaten finalist Robert Murphy are among the other notable names to look out for.
With a prize fund of €3,500 and €1,000 going to the champion, it’s sure to be a fiercely competitive couple of days as the field attempts to reach the final weekend where the big money will be earned and the prestigious title played for.