Only seven players from the top 16 in the world rankings remain in the European Masters draw – the first ranking event of the new decade that begins on Wednesday.
Two qualifying rounds for the European Masters were already staged at the end of 2019 in Barnsley, with the likes of world champion Judd Trump, Mark Allen, and Shaun Murphy all bowing out.
Stuart Bingham, who claimed the prestigious Masters title on Sunday, also failed to emerge from the preliminaries and will miss out on competing in the sport’s inaugural trip to Austria.
Dornbirn, a small city with a population of less than 50,000 people, will stage the tournament for the first time.
Despite the cull of marquee names, the fans will still have plenty of star competitors to follow when the first shots are taken on Wednesday.
Mark Williams, John Higgins, and Neil Robertson are among those from the higher echelons who will be participating for the £80,000 top prize.
Williams is involved in arguably the tie of the last 32, with the Welshman in action against talented young Chinese cueist Zhou Yuelong.
Robertson faces another up-and-coming prodigy from China, with Lyu Haotian the Australian’s initial challenge to overcome.
Higgins could be set for a war of attrition with veteran Fergal O’Brien, the Irishman scrambling for a place inside the top 64 in the world rankings and tour survival.
Elsewhere, Home Nations kingpin Mark Selby and UK champion Ding Junhui will be attempting to add more silverware this season when they first tackle Jak Jones and Robert Milkins respectively.
English duo Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins are the other two top 16 members who will be in action.
The pair, who faced off in the final of the Paul Hunter Classic a few months ago, has each struggled for form this season and could see this week as an opportunity to turn things around.
Countryman Ali Carter will also be hoping to quickly put behind him the disappointment of missing out on glory at the Alexandra Palace a couple of days ago.
With the 2019/20 season now firmly into its second half, there are various ranking lists that are coming into play.
The top 32 in the one-year list after the German Masters, which takes place a week after Austria, will be invited to compete in the World Grand Prix – the first of three events that make up the Coral Series.
Both the European and German Masters will also contribute to the new European Series, with a £150,000 bonus being awarded to the player who can perform the best across four counting tournaments between now and March.
Finally, it’s around this time when the competitors will seriously start to consider their positions in the rankings in relation to qualification for the World Championship in April.
In particular, the likes of Carter in 17th and the group of rivals immediately below him in the pecking order who are additionally involved this week – Gary Wilson, Graeme Dott, and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – will each be vying for a possible automatic spot at the Crucible.
There’s a lot to play for then as the campaign gears up into its busiest period on the calendar.
European Masters Draw (L32)
Daniel Wells vs Michael Holt
Tian Pengfei vs Ali Carter
Robert Milkins vs Ding Junhui
Scott Donaldson vs Kyren Wilson
John Higgins vs Fergal O’Brien
Robbie Williams vs Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Graeme Dott vs Liang Wenbo
Lyu Haotian vs Neil Robertson
Mark Williams vs Zhou Yuelong
Jackson Page W/O Yan Bingtao
David Lilley vs Barry Hawkins
Jak Jones vs Mark Selby
Lu Ning vs Marco Fu
Alfie Burden vs Xiao Guodong
Gary Wilson vs Luca Brecel
Michael White vs Zhao Xintong