The fourth last ranking event of the campaign got under way on Wednesday with the commencement of the Gibraltar Open draw at Victoria Stadium.
Before the professionals enter the fray on Friday, there are a couple of preliminary stages taking place in what is one of the last tournaments that follows the guise of the now defunct European Tour.
The pro-am event, being staged for a fourth time, provides amateurs with an opportunity to mix it with some of the stars of the game.
That said, eight out of the top ten in the world rankings have chosen not to enter this year’s Gibraltar Open draw.
It perhaps will provide players a little further down the pecking order a chance to claim some silverware – akin to how Matthew Selt defied his lowly ranking to triumph in the recent Indian Open.
The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, and Judd Trump are all missing from the action this week.
However, there are a few marquee names in the field with Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham, Barry Hawkins, and Shaun Murphy among the highest ranked competitors involved.
For Bingham and Wilson, they require a strong showing in order to guarantee their spots in next week’s lucrative eight-man Tour Championship that concludes the inaugural Coral Cup series.
Currently occupying seventh and eighth place on the one-year list respectively, there’s only a few thousand pounds separating them and David Gilbert in ninth.
With a relatively small champion’s cheque of £25,000 on offer in Gibraltar, three-time ranking event runner-up Gilbert will likely have to go pretty far in the event in order to upset the present order.
Like the majority of pros in the Gibraltar Open draw, the Englishman awaits one of the qualifiers from the amateur rounds in the last 128.
German Masters champion Wilson meets Jordan Brown and English Open winner Bingham entertains Mike Dunn.
Defending champion Ryan Day, meanwhile, opens his account in the first round proper against Germany’s Lukas Kleckers.
Some of the other intriguing early ties include the ever-improving Zhao Xintong’s encounter with Gary Wilson and European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson’s meeting with Sam Baird.
Legend Jimmy White, champion of two World Seniors Tour events this season, begins with a tricky tie against Robbie Williams.
UK Seniors champion Ken Doherty is also set to feature and he’s tasked with an equally hard opening challenge in Oliver Lines.
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