No sooner has the UK Championship concluded in York that it’s straight north to Glasgow for the opening round of the Scottish Open draw.
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a superb performance on Sunday to overcome Mark Allen in York, capturing a record-breaking seventh UK Championship and 19th Triple Crown title.
The pair both feature in a Scottish Open draw that is somewhat depleted as Mark Selby and Mark Williams, the world numbers one and two, opted to skip the third Home Nations tournament of the campaign.
That gifts O’Sullivan another opportunity to close the gap on his rivals at the top of the rankings list, albeit whether he’ll be able to sufficiently recover from his exploits in recent days remains to be seen.
EDIT: O’Sullivan withdrew from the Scottish Open on Monday morning, giving Daniel Wells a bye into the last 64.
Like in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, this leg of the Home Nations series boasts a top prize of £70,000 and the players will all be gunning for the Stephen Hendry Trophy come next Sunday at the Emirates Arena.
Neil Robertson returns as the defending champion after a memorable final twelve months ago that saw the Australian fight back from 8-4 down to deny Cao Yupeng in a decider.
The 2010 world champion meets Peter Lines in the first round while Allen is set to face off against Liang Wenbo.
The latter encounter represents arguably the match of the early stages, although there are a few other intriguing ones to keep an eye on too.
Judd Trump, champion from Belfast last month, clashes with legend Jimmy White and Barry Hawkins meets young Chinese talent Zhou Yuelong.
Shaun Murphy will be hoping to eradicate his dreadful form this season and avoid adding to his six previous last 128 exits in ranking tournaments when he plays Akani Songsermsawad.
Two exciting young Englishmen do battle in Kyren Wilson and Oliver Lines, there’s an all-Chinese affair between two-time ranking event runner-up Xiao Guodong and teenager Yuan Sijun, while Ali Carter plays WSF Championship winner Luo Honghao.
Meanwhile, John Higgins, Stephen Maguire, and Anthony McGill will be attempting to contend strongly on home soil.
Two of that trio – Higgins and McGill – have been struggling for form of late with Higgins in particular suffering mentally with his game and even threatening retirement come the conclusion of this campaign.
Amateur Adam Duffy represents the four-time world champion’s opening challenge while Maguire meets Billy Joe Castle and McGill entertains Zhang Yong.
Much is being made at the moment about the current structure of the sport and the apparent obstacles that are in place for lower ranked competitors to make their way.
It’s true that the recent UK Championship follows a cut-throat format that sees the top seed take on the player ranked at 128, number two face number 127, and so on.
But that isn’t the case for all tournaments and, indeed, there’s a pretty good variety throughout the calendar that provides opportunities for every player to succeed and earn some money.
A quick scan of the random Scottish Open draw, in which only the top 16 are protected from facing each other before the fourth round, and we can see that, yes, some players have found it tough with a difficult tie against a top opponent.
Yet, that isn’t the case for every player and one example proves that with either Zhang Jiankang, Simon Lichtenberg, Lee Walker, and Jordan Brown guaranteed a last 32 berth – and a pay packet of at least £3,500.
At the end of the 2014/15 campaign when the rankings system changed from points to money earned, the player ranked 64th collected £54,000 across the previous two-year spell.
Last season, that figure rose to almost £87,000, highlighting that with the increase in prize money each year there are more opportunities for the players – even towards the lower end of the scale – to earn a proper living if they are good enough.
Elsewhere in the Scottish Open draw, former champion Marco Fu plays Chen Zifan as he looks to put behind him the disappointment of missing out on a place at the Masters in January.
Jack Lisowski, the player who pipped Fu to 16th in the pecking order, meets Adam Stefanow while Ding Junhui makes a rare appearance in a Home Nations event as he attempts to rediscover his form against countryman Niu Zhuang.