The race is on for a place in the Wembley Masters and Ken Doherty must be one of the front runners.
Last season, Doherty arrived at Pontin’s in Prestatyn having spent 15 years in the elite top 16.
It was a comedown and took some getting used to. The 1997 world champion must have been wondering how this could have happened so suddenly.
He didn’t get used to it last year but he has now and has won all four of his matches at the North Wales qualifying school so far this season.
Doherty, now 40, won the Masters qualifying event in 1991 when he was 22.
Much has happened in his career since but he still possesses great guile and, with his confidence high, he has a spring in his step at the moment.
He competed at Wembley for 17 successive seasons until 2008.
It was the tournament where he suffered his worst moment as a professional when he missed the black off its spot on 140 in the 2000 final against Matthew Stevens, thus missing out on a sports car worth £80,000 and a slice of snooker history 16 years after Kirk Stevens made the first Masters maximum.
Ken thinks he will be remembered for that shot. He won’t be. He’ll be remembered for being world champion but it’s also true that the likes of me invariably bring it up when writing about him in connection with the game's premier invitation event.
The Irishman starts out against Michael White, who beat him in one of the pro-am finals at Prestatyn recently.
If not Doherty for the title then who?
The likes of Ricky Walden, Jamie Cope and last year’s winner, Judd Trump, are always worth following as is Stuart Bingham, the only player to win this qualifying event twice.
And Matt Selt is yet to lose a match at Prestatyn this season so has to be fancied to do well.
How about an outsider? Well, experience can only be a help so Fergal O’Brien is my dark horse.
It’s nine years since he lost 10-9 in the final to Paul Hunter, the first of Paul’s three terrific comebacks.
Fergal tells me he has joined Lucan Harriers and is now running up to six miles at a time.
This doesn’t mean he is going to start storming back up the rankings but it suggests a positive attitude if nothing else.