Mark Davis admits he feels fortunate to have secured a return to the Champion of Champions following his success at the World Seniors Championship back in January.
The Hastings cueist has qualified for the popular invitational event at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for the second time, after multiple tournament victories over the past 12 months for the likes of Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump pushed him up the pecking order on the qualifying criteria.
However, Davis was made to work hard for his victory in Reading at the start of 2016 - prevailing from a strong field by beating the likes of 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty, Robert Milkins and Rory McLeod, before overcoming Darren Morgan in the Final.
And while not knowing the implications of his achievement at the time, looking back, the 44-year-old believes he deserves to be in this tournament as a result.
"I've been fortunate to get in, to be honest, because it was bottom of the ladder on the qualifying criteria," he acknowledged.
"At the time, I didn't think I'd end up playing in the Champion of Champions because of winning that tournament - I thought I'd have to win another one at some point.
"I think I've earned my place, though. Taking the age limit down to 40 brought a lot of tour players into the event and made it a stronger field, so it was a tough tournament to win, especially over the best-of-three format."
Hastings ace Davis in action (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Davis played in the inaugural event in 2013 - being thrashed 4-0 by an inspired Ronnie O'Sullivan at the opening hurdle - and could face the Rocket again in this year's Group Three Final.
However, the world number 29 must first overcome a tricky opening clash with Martin Gould, who captured the German Masters title in February.
The Battler from Hastings believes that the two players share a similar style of play and is expecting a closely fought contest.
"Like me, Martin's a very attacking player - he doesn't hang around and goes for his shots," he observed. "I imagine it'll be quite an open game and not too much tactical play.
"The standard's very high at the moment, so it's just a case of trying to get off to a good start."
The multiple Six Reds World Champion has recovered from a slow start to enjoy a fairly good first half of the season - notably reaching the quarter-finals in the Paul Hunter Classic and European Masters - and highlights the influence of established coach Terry Griffiths as being the key to his improved performances.
Davis suffered a setback when he failed to qualify for the International Championship, but has been working on different aspects of his game during the unexpected break and, therefore, arrives in Coventry reasonably fresh.
He is hoping that it pays dividends with a busy period of the campaign on the horizon with big tournaments such as the Irish Open, UK Championship, Scottish Open and potentially the Masters fast approaching.
"I feel like I'm closer to playing well," he added. "I wasn't particularly happy at the start of the season.
"But I did a bit of work with Terry, who spotted a couple of things, and I've been working hard on that.
"There's nothing wrong with having a bit of time at home. I'd rather be in the events, but the upside is that I've had two or three weeks where I can work on my game and practise hard.
"Hopefully, it'll pay off over the next few weeks with these big events coming up and I can make the most of it."