February’s busy schedule continues on Monday with the start of the Welsh Open draw at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
Two ranking trophies will have already been handed out this month by the time the final leg of this season’s Home Nations series gets under way tomorrow morning in Wales.
Kyren Wilson emerged with the silverware in last week’s German Masters while the World Grand Prix’s champion will be determined later on Sunday with Judd Trump and Ali Carter bidding for glory in Cheltenham.
John Higgins heads to the Welsh Open as the defending champion but the Scot has been suffering from a crisis in confidence over the last few months.
His run to the final of the China Championship aside, a sequence of early exits and poor displays have left the four-time world champion questioning his future in the sport.
Higgins will be hoping that an event in which he is the record five-time champion can reinvigorate some life back into his game but the Scot faces a tricky opener in countryman Graeme Dott.
The third longest running ranking event on the calendar, the Welsh Open draw boasts a full field with all the top stars in attendance.
Four-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be looking to put a couple of disappointing recent defeats behind him when he takes on Sanderson Lam on the second day.
Home favourite Mark Williams meets fellow Welshman Kishan Hirani while the in-form Trump entertains 2018 European amateur champion Harvey Chandler.
Kettering’s Wilson faces Andy Lee, Mark Allen battles with a familiar foe in Mark Joyce, and Neil Robertson will take on Jordan Brown in the last 128.
Arguably the pick of the ties in the first round of the Welsh Open draw has former champions Carter and Stuart Bingham going head-to-head.
Such is the format for the Home Nations events that the top 16 in the world rankings automatically avoid each other until at least the fourth round.
Apart from that it’s an open plan, so even though there are only a few places separating them in the rankings, Carter and Bingham have been drawn together in a banger of a first round clash.
Other notable fixtures include world number one Mark Selby’s opener with Anthony McGill, while local amateur Jackson Page faces fellow hot young prospect Zhao Xintong.
With £70,000 on offer for the champion next Sunday, the prize money on offer could have important implications on the race to the Players Championship.
The lucrative ranking event at the Guild Hall next month will feature the top 16 on the one-year rankings list and there’s still time for several players to break into that elite bracket.
Like the other Home Nations events in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, the early rounds of the Welsh Open will be played over the short best of seven frames guise before a progressive increase in length from the quarter-final stage onward.