Luca Brecel launches his bid for a second Championship League title at the Morningside Arena in Leicester on Friday.
The Belgian is one of 11 players to emerge victorious in this tournament since its inception in 2008.
Brecel donned the crown in June 2020 – at the first event since the start of the Coronavirus lockdown – after topping the final group ahead of Stuart Bingham, Ryan Day and Ben Woollaston.
It was also in this competition that the 26-year-old compiled the first – and only – 147 of his career to date, achieving the feat against John Higgins in 2018.
Once ranked as high as 11th in the world, the former China Championship winner has endured a run of inconsistent form that has subsequently seen him slip to 39th in the rankings.
A run to the last 16 of the German Masters represented his best performance of last season, and he will be hoping for better fortunes this campaign.
He faces competition in Group 31 from rising Chinese star Pang Junxu, who won last season’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ award after recording impressive wins over the likes of Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, Barry Hawkins and Anthony McGill.
Two teenagers complete the group in Chang Bingyu and two-time Scottish Under-21 champion Dean Young, who makes his professional debut after prevailing through Q School.
Elsewhere, world number 16 Anthony McGill headlines Group 12.
The two-time ranking event winner was a semi-finalist at this event in 2020, while he also reached the Winners’ Group three years earlier.
It was in the 2017 competition that Mark Davis – one of the group’s three remaining players – recorded two maximum breaks in just under two months.
The 2015 finalist, who begins his 31st successive season on the main tour, will be eyeing more of the same this time around.
Rounding up Group 12 is 21-year-old Yuan SiJun, who sealed his return to the professional circuit via Q School, and former English Amateur champion Billy Joe Castle.
The players face each other once in the group with all matches contested over the best of four frames.
Each player will receive three points for a win and one for a draw; the one with the most will top the group and secure a place in Stage Two of the competition.
Championship league Snooker 2021 Results
Friday July 23
Group 12 & Group 31
Anthony McGill v Billy Joe Castle (Group 12)
Pang Junxu v Chang Bingyu (Group 31)
Mark Davis v Yuan SiJun (Group 12)
Luca Brecel v Dean Young (Group 31)
Mark Davis v Billy Joe Castle (Group 12)
Luca Brecel v Chang Bingyu (Group 31)
Anthony McGill v Yuan SiJun (Group 12)
Pang Junxu v Dean Young (Group 31)
Yuan SiJun v Billy Joe Castle (Group 12)
Luca Brecel v Pang Junxu (Group 31)
Anthony McGill v Mark Davis (Group 12)
Chang Bingyu v Dean Young (Group 31)