Shaun Murphy begins his quest to go the extra step at the World Championship with a tricky tie against Stephen Maguire on Saturday.
Champion here in 2005, the Magician came within three frames of claiming a second Crucible title 12 months ago.
Indeed, Murphy recorded hugely impressive victories over Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson – winning 10 frames on the bounce against the latter – before narrowly losing 18-15 to Mark Selby in the final.
Although, back and neck injuries have this season hindered the world number nine, who has suffered several first-round exits including a shock defeat by Chinese amateur Si Jiahui at the UK Championship.
Nevertheless, Murphy arrives for his 20th appearance at Sheffield off the back of a run to the Turkish Masters semi-finals in his most recent event.
Meanwhile, Maguire is set to appear on snooker’s biggest stage for the 19th year in succession, having made his debut back in 2004.
Having slipped to 40th in the rankings following a generally quiet season – as well as losing the money from his 2020 Tour Championship victory – the Maverick was forced to come through the qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport.
He did so with a pair of victories over two Chinese opponents in Zhang Jiankang and Zhou Yuelong.
Maguire is a two-time semi-finalist at the Crucible – in 2007 and 2012 – but has won just four of his 13 matches here since the second of those runs to the last four.
Either Zhao Xintong or Jamie Clarke will await the winner in the Second Round.
Play gets underway at 7pm GMT on Saturday with the opening nine frames, before a maximum of 10 commence from 7pm on Sunday.