Snooker returns to its spiritual home on Saturday when the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield plays host to the opening action of the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
This year sees six Chinese players in the draw in Sheffield on the opening day of the first round on Saturday. Four of them will be making their debuts.
There are 24 Chinese players on tour this season, only behind England who have 55 players on tour.
This increased presence overall and in Sheffield backs up Mark Selby's claim last year that China would play a more important role in the sport "sooner or later".
Despite the influx of Chinese entrants there is still no place for 20th-ranked Yan Bingtao, 23rd-ranked Xiao Guodong or 27th-ranked Lyu Haotian in Sheffield. But 28th-ranked Li Hang will be there.
Li, who faces Barry Hawkins in the first round, will make his debut this year.
At 28, Li is playing his best snooker and has reached the top 32 in the world this year. The pair meet on Wednesday, with Li the last Chinese player to get their tournament underway.
Another debutant, Luo Honghao, is just 19 and the youngest player in Sheffield. The teenager will hope to follow in the footsteps of his countrymen Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, and Yuan Sijun in beating his opponent, world number 13 Shaun Murphy, when the pair play on Sunday.
Zhao Xintong has bounced back this season to return to the tour through Q school and breach the top 64 in the rankings. At 22, he is improving but faces a stern challenge in the form of world number two and three-time world champion Selby. The pair, who met in the semi-final of the China Championship last year, play on Monday.
Zhou Yuelong has been here before, the only Chinese player in the draw other than Ding Junhui who can say that. The 21-year-old, who is ranked at 35 in the world, faces world number six Mark Allen in the first round. They play on Tuesday.
Ding remains the top-ranked Chinese player on tour and the only one in the top 10 of the rankings, although he is there by the skin of his teeth having dropped to 10th on the most recent update.
That has fuelled fears that while Ding remains the nation's hope on the baize, it seems that time is set to pass the 32-year-old by.
Ding reached the quarter-finals at the Crucible last year, beating McGill 13-4 in the second round, but the world number 24 poses a bigger threat as Ding struggles for form.
The Chinese number one has beaten McGill in all four of their previous meetings but that could come to an end in this meeting.
The remaining Chinese player, Tian Pengfei, faces world number 15 Stephen Maguire when they get underway on Saturday. The world number 81 is not expected to come through that challenge.
The Chinese players are not the only ones to make their debut after James Cahill became the first amateur to qualify at the Crucible.
Cahill was handed a wild card for qualifying by the WPBSA and his reward for beating Michael Judge in the all-amateur play off was world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan.
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The pair meet on Monday. The 23-year-old nephew of former world champion Stephen Hendry hopes to regain his professional status next season.
Whether any of this year's new faces are still in Sheffield when the tournament concludes on May 6 remains to be seen but the bookmakers are not confident.
O'Sullivan is the clear favourite to lift the trophy at as low as $2.62 with Neil Robertson ($5) Judd Trump ($6) and Mark Selby ($9) behind the 43-year-old.
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Ding is 11th favourite with the oddsmakers " paying somewhere between $29 and $41 to win.
His compatriots would be a surprise. Zhao ($301), Zhou ($401), Li and Tian (both 501) are among the most unfancied of the players there.
Luo, priced at $751 is ahead of only amateur Cahill and the Cypriot debutant Michael Georgiou are $1001 rank outsiders.
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