Richard Mann previews the ManBetX Welsh Open with the likes of Barry Hawkins, Judd Trump and defending champion John Higgins coming under the microscope.
Judd Trump added another major title to his CV with a near-flawless defeat of Ali Carter in the Coral World Grand Prix final on Sunday and on the face of it, 6/1 for him to follow-up in the ManBetX Welsh Open this week looks fair.
Without question, Trump is playing the best snooker of his life right now - his watershed Masters success sandwiched between victory at the Northern Ireland Open before Christmas and his latest triumph in Cheltenham - and the aura which Ronnie O'Sullivan has carried for so long is something Trump now appears to possess.
What promises to make Trump so special, his innate natural ability notwithstanding, is the fact that he has found a way of winning matches and titles that would have previously slipped from his grasp.
His 10-6 defeat of Carter on Sunday is a criminally unfair reflection of how well the latter played in what was an engrossing final, but having seen Carter close to within one frame at 7-6, Trump ruthlessly finished the match by ratting off three on the bounce with some breathtaking snooker.
Still, backing up the following week has proven to be a bridge too far for any number of winners this season and Kyren Wilson deserves plenty of credit for reaching the quarter-final stage in Cheltenham having lifted the German Masters the previous week.
That said, he was never at his best last week and with Trump having to go back to the well so quickly here, I'll look elsewhere with last year's Welsh Open runner-up Barry Hawkins getting the vote at 20/1.
Hawkins performed really well to reach the final here 12 months ago and played his part in a high-quality showpiece, losing 9-7 to John Higgins.
Unsurprisingly, Hawkins again looks to be peaking just in time for another bold bid at the World Championship in a couple of months' time and he was unlucky to bump into Trump in Cheltenham, leading all the way to 5-4 before the latter produced more outstanding stuff to nick what was a high-class semi-final.
In truth, Trump apart, Hawkins was arguably the form player last week and with a couple of days to recover before his first-round match on Tuesday, he has to be a bet given he has such a strong record at this tournament, making three semi-finals and one final previously.
Last year's final is well worth reflecting upon as it saw the aforementioned Higgins win the Welsh Open for a record fifth time and were he returning to Cardiff this week in any better form, I would have been very close to putting him up at 22/1.
One of the greatest players to have ever played the game, the four-time world champion is enduring one of the worst slumps in form he has experienced, one that threatens to cut short his career, but he can never be written off and I have seen enough shoots of promise in his performances post-Christmas to think that all is not lost.
I'll be watching Higgins with keen interest but while his confidence is so low, I can't justify adding him to the staking plan.
No preview would be complete without a strong mention for Ronnie O'Sullivan but he was comfortably beaten by Marco Fu in the first round of the World Grand Prix and looks short enough at around the 3/1 mark.
Following Trump's recent rise, O'Sullivan will be eager to prove that he is still the king but it is worth remembering the mental effort it took for him to win a record 19th Triple Crown title at the UK Championship in York back in December and there have been a few signs since that those exploits have left a mark.
As such, I'm happy to let him run for now.
Another who came close to joining the portfolio was Yuan Sijun, a quarter-finalist at the World Grand Prix last week and a frightening young talent who could reach great heights in the game.
Recent defeats over the likes of Higgins and Mark Williams tell you what a dangerous player Sijun is and at only 18-years-old, the scope for improvement is huge.
A fine break builder, very much in the mould of compatriot Ding Junhui, he looks to have a mature head on his young shoulders but he was understandably nervous in his last-eight defeat to Xiao Guodong last week and the suspicion is that he still has more learning to do for all he could easily claim a few more big scalps in coming days.
Instead, I'm going to take a chance on Luca Brecel who is a real talent capable of matching anyone on his day.
Already a ranking title winner, Brecel produced a brilliant display when beating Mark Allen at the Masters in January and comes here a fresh animal having skipped the World Grand Prix.
Brecel was a semi-finalist at this tournament in 2015 and with the early part of his draw offering him a good chance of gaining some early momentum, I'm happy to take a chance on the Belgian Bullet at 80/1.
In truth, Brecel probably hasn't made enough of his talent as yet but after that aforementioned victory over Allen he spoke of his new-found dedication to the sport and how he is desperate to elevate his game to the next level.
This week would be a good time to start.