The Home Nations Series gets under way with the English Open next week where Ronnie O'Sullivan is amongst the star attractions - read Richard Mann's preview here.
Ronnie O'Sullivan's relationship with the Home Nations Series has enjoyed many highs as well as a few lows and his run to the semi-finals of the English Open last year included a masterful 147 maximum break only days after making controversial remarks about the event venue at Crawley Leisure Centre.
O'Sullivan would eventually lose to Mark Davis in the last four but he used that run as a springboard to sustained success in the following months, winning the Champion of Champions and UK Championship before adding victories at the Players Championship and Tour Championship in the new year.
Having won the UK Championship a record seven times, it is fair to assume that he will once again be keen to arrive in York in early December at the top of his game and I suspect he won't be too far away from his best in Crawley as he looks to work his way into top form ahead of those bigger targets ahead.
As highlighted by his victory in this event back in 2017, O'Sullivan's record in best of seven frames matches is remarkably impressive and it appears highly likely that we will witness another deep run from The Rocket here.
As far as the betting goes, O'Sullivan is a 3/1 chance to triumph again with Judd Trump available at 9/2.
Trump might have been a couple of points shorter had he not failed to fire at the Shanghai Masters and China Championship but it was only as recently as August that he made his first appearance of the season a winning one when dismantling Shaun Murphy 10-3 in the final of the International Championship.
That was his first competitive outing since being crowned world champion at The Crucible back in April, dismissing any fears that he might suffer from a Sheffield hangover at the beginning of the new campaign, and that he beat O'Sullivan in the finals of the Northern Ireland Open and The Masters last term will certainly give him the belief that he has the game to take down his old rival.
The draw for this will deny us that mouthwatering final that we will surely get at some point in the coming months, but the possibility they could meet at the semi-finals stage is enough to temper enthusiasm about an outright bet on either.
There have been enough shoots of promise in Mark Selby's early-season efforts to suggest he might be able to regain the winning thread sooner rather than later and I was encouraged to see him get the better of Barry Hawkins in a closely-fought encounter at the China Championship.
His run to the semi-finals in China came to an end when losing to eventual winner Murphy and the latter will be hopeful of another bold showing having left behind a woeful campaign last year by reaching three finals already this time around.
He will no doubt prove popular at around the 16/1 mark but he has yet to sparkle in this event and a potential second-round match against either Martin Gould or Sunni Akani could prove a fly in the ointment, thus tempting me to look elsewhere in the same quarter of the draw with Anthony McGill worth a small bet at 250/1.
McGill is a two-time ranking title winner - the Shoot-Out and the Indian Open in the 2016/2017 season - and was ranked as high as world number 13 early last year.
A wretched run of form since has seen McGill take a dramatic nosedive in the rankings but he is a better player than that and will have been encouraged by beating the likes of Michael Holt and Jack Lisowski at the recent China Championship before losing to Hossein Vafaei 5-4 in a high-quality last-16 match.
A semi-finalist in this event only two years ago, McGill certainly has the game to put a good run together and having scored heavily when securing qualification for the World Open last week, he looks worth chancing at huge odds.
With that in mind, the 22/1 for him to win the first quarter is worth taking considering that, Murphy apart, he finds himself drawn around a host of out-of-form players including Ding Junhui, Kyren Wilson and last year's winner Stuart Bingham.
Elsewhere in the top half of the draw, I could have been tempted to take the 250/1 about Marco Fu in the strong belief that he can recapture the sort of form that saw him win the Scottish Open and reach a final and two semi-finals in a fine 2016/2017 campaign.
An eye issue has plagued Fu in the ensuing couple of years but he should be capable of rising back up the rankings when getting more snooker under his belt, similarly the talented but frustrating Ricky Walden who looks to be playing well again, but the second big-priced selection is Kurt Maflin who is has enjoyed a promising start to the new season, reaching the semi-finals of the Riga Masters and quarter-finals of the China Championship.
Maflin beat the likes of Graeme Dott, Jordan Brown and John Higgins there, enhancing his reputation as a dangerous operator who can mix heavy scoring with a solid safety game, and he can count himself a touch unlucky to bump into the irresistible force of Murphy at the last-eight stage there.
A bold talent who has yet to make anywhere near enough of his abilities, this season has already proven to be his best yet and the suspicion that he is a markedly improved player can be enhanced with another good week in Crawley.
Odds of 250/1 for outright victory look worth chancing to small stakes, though he will have to come through a second quarter that is dominated by Neil Robertson and Mark Williams.
Fresh from a runner-up finish at the China Championship, 2018 world champion Williams is clearly close to his best form again while Robertson has looked in good touch so far this term without yet failing to scale the greats heights as the spring.
His time will come, and being drawn on the opposite side of the draw to the likes of O'Sullivan and Trump here certainly helps his cause, but 6/1 represents no value, similarly the 14/1 about Mark Allen whose game has looked in good working order of late without firing quite as it can.
As such, I'm happy to take a chance on three big-priced runners with Sam Craigie, one berthed in the second quarter, completing the staking plan.
Of the three to make the cut here, Craigie might well prove the best in time and a quarter-final run at the China Open last term certainly served notice that he is capable of winning at this sort of level.
A free-flowing, heavy scorer, Craigie has a tough of class about him and he was desperately unlucky to lose 4-3 to Hawkins in the second round here last year.
Craigie has been on my radar for some time now and 12 months on, with more experience under his belt, I'll happy to take my chance at 250/1 in the hope that some of the big guns are caught cold in the early rounds.