The Shanghai Masters got under way at the Shanghai Grand Stage in China on Monday.
It was previously stated on SnookerHQ that the event had moved location but that, of course, isn’t the case as the Shanghai Grand Stage and the Shanghai Indoor Stadium represent the very same venue.
All the better too, because even though there was no Ronnie O’Sullivan on the opening day of action and despite the late withdrawal of Ding Junhui due to an eye problem, there was a handsome crowd in to watch the competition commence.
This is in stark contrast to the other Chinese events so far this season when there were cold backdrops of empty stands at the China and International Championships.
Indeed, the Shanghai Masters has arguably been the best ranking tournament in the country for years, building up its prestige and popularity in the decade since its inaugural staging back in 2007.
It was a relief then that a place for it was found on the calendar after the World Open replaced it from its usual timeslot in September – even if it does create a dreadful backlog of events that swings on a weekly basis between Asia and Europe.
John Higgins came through his opening test against Alexander Ursenbacher on day one, before admitting that he felt like a zombie following all the recent travels.
This week’s event will be one of the most hectic of the season, with the 64 or so players crammed into a six-day schedule that will see the final contested on Saturday rather than its usual Sunday spot.
It all means that the four semi-finalists will have to earn their place by recording consecutive best-of-nine victories on Thursday, as the last 16 and quarter-finals both get played out on the same day.
Perhaps then, a few unexpected competitors will emerge from the field with an opportunity to contend for the trophy and the £150,000 winner’s cheque come the weekend’s play.
In the previous ten stagings of the Shanghai Masters, there has been a total of 24 players who have reached the single table set-up.
The question is, can you name all of those semi-finalists?