The English Open draw gets going on Monday, with the first ranking event on UK soil this season set to take place in Crawley.
Launched in 2016, the English Open has quickly established itself as a regular fixture on the calendar in October.
Along with its sister tournaments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, it makes up the Home Nations series that helps to celebrate snooker in the sport’s traditional hotbed.
Attendances have generally been pretty strong for these competitions and there is the additional nice touch of capturing a trophy that pays homage to one of the sport’s true greats.
Next week, the players in the English Open draw will be competing for the Steve Davis Trophy, as well as the top prize of £70,000.
For anyone who manages the unlikely feat of claiming all four titles, a bonus worth £1 million will be added to his bank account.
Widely appreciated as a marketing gimmick, the somewhat absurd challenge does at least add a bit of fun to the schedule’s plot line.
As a result, the English Open draw generally boasts a high-quality field and the 2019 edition is no different.
John Higgins is the only notable name absent from the list but Ronnie O’Sullivan, who triumphed in this event two years ago, will make his maiden bow in a ranking tournament this term.
O’Sullivan faces Jamie O’Neill in the opening round while defending champion Stuart Bingham meets Poland’s Kacper Filipiak.
World champion Judd Trump is tasked with one of the more difficult opening round fixtures as the world number one takes on Peter Ebdon.
Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, and Mark Selby are in the line-up and will face Jamie Clarke, Kishan Hirani, and Barry Pinches respectively.
Undoubtedly the most in-form competitor of the season so far is Shaun Murphy and the China Championship winner takes on China’s Chang Bingyu.
Liang Wenbo, the inaugural champion from three years ago, is involved in one of the ties of the round when he meets Kyren Wilson while countryman Ding Junhui, who plummeted outside the world’s top 16 last month, entertains Dominic Dale.
The new Chinese number one is Yan Bingtao and the Riga Masters champion is involved in a clash with compatriot Mei Xiwen.
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Among some of the other intriguing battles in the last 128 are Stephen Maguire’s contest with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Jack Lisowski’s duel with up-and-coming talent Jackson Page.
Ken Doherty and Marco Fu face each other in a battle between two former top 16 regulars while Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, and David Gilbert will be some of the other participants hoping to make their mark on proceedings.
As usual with these events, though, the first few rounds will be difficult to predict as the short best of seven frames guise will guarantee that the lower ranked players can boast more of a chance than what is the norm.
It won’t really be until the quarter-final stage, when the format increases to the best of nine frames, that a true sense of who could potentially emerge as the overall champion will become clear.
Something extra worth noting for this tournament is the launch of the new Snooker Radio by World Snooker.
The latter announced earlier this week that journalists Michael McMullan and Hector Nunns will front a new radio service throughout next week at the K2.
Available for free by accessing the World Snooker website, Snooker Radio will include commentary on table two, as well as scores from the outside tables and interviews with the players.