The first ranking event on UK soil this season gets going on Monday and is set to take place in the town of Crawley in West Sussex, England.
The English Open, which began back in 2016, has quickly established itself to become a regular fixture on the calendar in October.
Together with its sister tournaments in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, it makes up the Home Nations series that helps to celebrate snooker in the sport’s traditional hotbed.
Attendances have generally been pretty good for these Home Series, and there is the additional opportunity of capturing a trophy that pays homage to one of the sport’s true greats.
As the English Open draw runs through Sunday, the players will be competing for the Steve Davis Trophy, as well as the top prize of £70,000. For anyone who manages to attain the very unlikely feat of winning all four titles, a bonus worth £1 million will be added to his net worth.
John Higgins is the only notable name absent from the list, but Ronnie O’Sullivan, who claimed the trophy back in 2017, will make his maiden bow in a ranking tournament this term.
O’Sullivan meets Jamie O’Neill in the opening round while current champion Stuart Bingham plays against Poland’s Kacper Filipiak.
World Champion Judd Trump will have to contend with Peter Ebdon, in what appears to be one of the more difficult opening round fixtures.
Neil Robertson, Mark Williams, and Mark Selby are in the line-up and will face Kishan Hirani, Jamie Clarke, and Barry Pinches, respectively.
Without a doubt, the most in-form competitor of the season so far is Shaun Murphy, and the Magician takes on China’s Chang Bingyu.
The inaugural champion from three years ago-Liang Wenbo is involved in one of the ties of the round when he meets Kyren Wilson while Ding Junhui, who plunged outside the world’s top 16 last month, clashes with Dominic Dale.
Yan Bingtao, who won the Riga Masters, contends with fellow Countryman Mei Xiwen.
Other interesting battles in the last 128 are Stephen Maguire’s contest with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Jack Lisowski’s struggle with Jackson Page.
The first few rounds of these events are usually 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 possibly emerge as the overall champion will become clearer.
The top four favourites to win the 2019 English Open and their odds are as follows:
Stuart Bingham 4.35
Shaun Murphy 5.00
Kyren Wilson 5.50
Ding Junhui 6.50.
Written by: Imisa Aruorihwo