Ronnie O’Sullivan launches his bid for a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open title when he faces Oliver Lines in the opening round on Monday.
The Rocket is the second-most successful player in the history of this tournament – lifting the trophy in 2004, 2005, 2014 and 2016 – with only John Higgins (five) triumphing on more occasions since the inaugural event of 1992.
O’Sullivan arrives at Venue Cymru in Llandudno seeking a third trophy of the season, having already landed the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions crowns.
Although, the world number one does boast a generally modest Home Nations strike rate by his standards.
Indeed, his 2017 English Open success represents the only silverware he has landed in 26 appearances across the series, while he failed to progress beyond the last 32 in all three events this season.
Nevertheless, he has never lost a first-round match in the Home Nations series, with his unblemished record including a 4-2 win over Lines in their only previous encounter at this stage of the 2019 Northern Ireland Open.
The Rocket will be confident of making it 27 consecutive wins, especially with his opponent struggling for form this season.
World number 61 Lines has won just three of the 15 matches he has played in 2022-23; last-64 appearances at the European Masters and English Open representing his best performances in any ranking tournament.
The Leeds cueist is also yet to progress beyond the last 64 in his seven previous Welsh Open appearances, while you must go back to the 2016 Scottish Open for his only venture into the last 32 of any Home Nations event since the series commenced earlier that year.
The winner of this match will play Ross Muir in the last 64 of this year’s Welsh Open.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Monday and will be contested over the best of seven frames at Venue Cymru in Llandudno.