Judd Trump and Neil Robertson are the star attractions in the German Masters draw as one of the best events on the calendar returns to Berlin on Wednesday.
Like in previous years, a total of 32 competitors have qualified for the venue stages at the wonderful Tempodrom arena.
However, only six members of the current top 16 in the world rankings will be vying for the £80,000 top prize.
World number one Trump, a runner-up six years ago, takes on Noppon Saengkham in the first round while Robertson meets Ian Burns on the opposite side of the German Masters draw.
The Australian will, of course, be brimming with confidence after surging to a 17th career ranking success at the European Masters just a few days ago.
Robertson lost only six frames in Austria, culminating with an astounding 9-0 whitewash of Zhou Yuelong in the final.
The 37 year-old is subsequently in pole position to top the inaugural European Series order of merit standings.
The European Series comprises last week’s ranking event, the German Masters, the Snooker Shoot Out, and the Gibraltar Open, with the top performer across all four competitions receiving a £150,000 bonus.
With so many of the bigger names already out or having not entered in the first place, Robertson should have a pretty good chance of prolonging his run of form this week.
That said, three out of the remaining four players inside the elite top 16 are in the world number three’s half.
Ding Junhui, who claimed the 2014 title at Trump’s expense, is in the mix alongside Shaun Murphy and John Higgins.
The Chinese number one meets Scott Donaldson in a repeat of last week’s clash in Dornbirn that the latter surprisingly won.
Murphy takes on Tom Ford while Higgins entertains Robbie Williams, dangerous opponents on their day.
Two-time champion Mark Williams is the other marquee name but the Welshman has been struggling of late and faces a difficult opening tie in teenager Yuan Sijun.
Williams could face Graeme Dott in the last 16 in what would be a repeat of the 2018 showdown for glory, with the Scot first in action against Tian Pengfei.
Some of the other intriguing fixtures on paper include 2016 finalist Luca Brecel’s battle with Joe Perry, who has fallen to number 17 in the rankings, and Anthony McGill’s contest with Zhao Xintong.
Meanwhile, Gary Wilson will be hoping to bounce back from a crushing semi-final defeat last week when he meets Jak Jones.
The likes of Alexander Ursenbacher, Kishan Hirani, Jamie Clarke, and Akani Songsermsawad are also in this year’s German Masters draw and could be in line for a rare run to the business stage of a ranking event.
❷ days to go! 🇩🇪
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) January 27, 2020
It’s somewhat a pity that there aren’t more big names involved because the Tempodrom is so impressive that it deserves to be filled with the game’s finest players.
Neither of last year’s finalists have managed to secure a return, with champion Kyren Wilson and runner-up David Gilbert losing in the preliminaries.
Still, the German fans truly appreciate snooker and, regardless of who participates, they will likely create an amazing atmosphere that is hard to rival anywhere else in the world.
The tournament is particularly special on Saturday and Sunday when the middle table becomes the primary and sole focus.
For world champion Trump, the 30 year-old usually thrives on conditions like these but the Englishman hasn’t been producing his best in the last couple of months.
Saengkham represents a difficult opening obstacle to overcome but Trump would surely love to get his name onto this trophy.
Indeed, who wouldn’t?
The German Masters Draw (L32)
Zhao Xintong vs Anthony McGill
Jak Jones vs Gary Wilson
Tom Ford vs Shaun Murphy
Scott Donaldson vs Ding Junhui
John Higgins vs Robbie Williams
Robert Milkins vs Elliot Slessor
Alexander Ursenbacher vs Mitchell Mann
Ian Burns vs Neil Robertson
Mark Williams vs Yuan Sijun
Tian Pengfei vs Graeme Dott
Kishan Hirani vs Nigel Bond
Matthew Selt vs Jamie Clarke
Gerard Greene vs Michael Georgiou
David Grace vs Akani Songsermsawad
Luca Brecel vs Joe Perry
Noppon Saengkham vs Judd Trump