China calls this week, as it so often does these days.
Europe has a growing legion of snooker fans but China has the money, lots of it. The forthcoming International Championship in Chengdu carries a top prize of £125,000, easily the highest ever awarded outside the UK.
China is such a vast place that its cities are like countries within countries – Chengdu has a population of around 14m – and they compete against each other.
This is how Barry Hearn has been able to ink deals not just for five ranking events there but also steadily increase the prize funds: none of the cities want to be seen to be lagging behind.
We live in a world of instant comment, much of it negative, but few could fault the concept of this event. Aside from the prize fund it is being played over a longer format in an era in which the mania is for shortening things.
Best of elevens will be the order of the day in Chengdu with best of 17 semi-finals.
So what to look out for?
Ronnie O’Sullivan, the top seed, will play his first televised match in a ranking event since he won his fourth world title last May.
Mark Selby, hoping to remain world no.1, has a tough first round encounter in the form of Ali Carter, who is close to returning to the top 16, with Masters places up for grabs at the seedings revision which follows the tournament.
John Higgins, who won the last full ranking event in Shanghai, will hope to reproduce that form.
Ding Junhui, whose China form is generally not too promising outside of Beijing, will again be trying to shut out the expectations of a nation.
Mark Allen, so brilliant in Belgium last week, reached Amsterdam with the wrong passport and had to go back to Antrim to get the one which matched his visa. Allen isn’t a fan of travelling but neither was John Parrott and he won tournaments in all sorts of foreign climes.
Judd Trump was beaten on the line by Higgins in Shanghai but can console himself that he didn’t throw it away.
One player due a win, if indeed anyone can be said to be, is Stephen Maguire.
He came up just short in both the German Masters and China Open finals last season and was a semi-finalist at the Crucible. Maguire has had success in PTCs and has won in China before, in fact the 2008 China Open is his last full ranking title.
Chengdu is home to the giant panda. There are just 1,500 of these living in the world and 80% are said to be in the Sichuan Province.
Snooker was once a rarity in this part of the world. All that has changed. For European viewers it means some early mornings but it also means another week of world class action.