Ding Junhui marks his Players Championship return when he locks horns with Gary Wilson in the first round on Wednesday.
The players seeded sixth and 11th respectively go head to head for the right to face Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.
Absent last year, Ding is back in the elite 16-man event after reaching the UK Championship final earlier this season, where he was beaten 10-7 by an inspired Mark Allen having led 6-1.
Although, that run to the showpiece in York represents the Dragon’s only venture beyond the last 16 at any ranking tournament this term.
Ding was a Players Championship semi-finalist in the inaugural edition in 2017. But his last two appearances have yielded first-round exits following 6-5 defeats at the hands of Stephen Maguire and Ronnie O’Sullivan respectively.
Meanwhile, Wilson is making his second successive appearance in the event, but targeting a maiden victory having succumbed 6-3 to Mark Williams at this stage 12 months ago.
The Tyneside Terror claimed the first ranking title of his career at the Scottish Open in December, beating the likes of O’Sullivan, Kyren Wilson and Hossein Vafaei before thumping Joe O’Connor 9-2 in the final.
But his Edinburgh exploits aside, the trip to Wolverhampton marks his only appearance in the last 16 of any ranking event this season.
The four previous meetings between the players have been shared with two wins apiece. Ding was a 4-1 winner in their most recent encounter in last season’s Gibraltar Open last 64, though Wilson has prevailed 6-5 in both their previous showdowns over the best of 11 frames at the 2015 China Open and 2019 Six-Reds World Championship.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Wednesday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton.
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