The final Players Tour Championship event at Furstenfeldbruck in Germany from Friday will decide the final 24 places for the grand finals in Galway in March.
For the first time, the field has been played down to 16 for the three day tournament and it’s an intriguing collection of cueists.
There are three members of the top 16 – Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire and Martin Gould – plus five players who have at one time been top 16 members – Stephen Hendry, Marco Fu, Ricky Walden, Joe Perry and David Gray.
In addition, two players – Andrew Higginson and Michael Holt – are PTC winners this season and another – Marcus Campbell – won one last season.
Of the remaining five players there’s Mike Dunn, a maximum maker this season, Kurt Maflin, a Londoner based in Norway, Xiao Guodong, one of a number of improving Chinese players, and two players who secured main tour spots this campaign through the Q School, Dave Gilbert and David Grace.
Allen would probably start favourite for the title. His run to the UK Championship final last month – and his performance in recovering against Judd Trump – must have left him full of confidence, not a commodity he was lacking in the first place.
All the PTCs are wide open but there is an additional factor in this one in that all matches will be played in front of the TV cameras, where the more experienced players tend to thrive.
The final stages carry big money and big ranking points so those players not already qualified will be busting a gut to do so.
And there is another subplot: if Walden wins the title he relegates Ronnie O’Sullivan from the top 16 at the seedings cut-off for the next three ranking events.
It’s live on Eurosport from 1pm (UK time) on Friday.
Here’s the last 16 draw:
Mike Dunn v Mark Allen
David Grace v Martin Gould
Ricky Walden v Xiao Guodong
Dave Gilbert v Joe Perry
Marcus Campbell v Michael Holt
Stephen Hendry v Marco Fu
Stephen Maguire v David Gray
Kurt Maflin v Andrew Higginson