Snooker’s toughest challenge and most lucrative prize goes up for grabs on Monday.
The English Open begins in Barnsley on Monday and is the first of four events to be played this season under the Home Nations banner with the Scottish Open, Northern Ireland and Welsh Open to follow.
Each event has a £70,000 top prize up for grabs for the winner and if a player can win all four events they’ll also land an additional £1 million bonus – designed to encourage outstanding performance by the sport’s head honcho Barry Hearn.
Last season’s inaugural series brought us four different winners – demonstrating just how difficult it will be for one player to dominate and land the life-changing prize.
Before the first cue ball is struck, here’s a look back at last year’s winners.
English Open – Liang Wenbo
An excitable Liang Wenbo could hardly contain his excitement as he cleared up the final balls to secure a 9-6 win against Judd Trump to land his maiden ranking event win. He thanked his “best friend” Ronnie O’Sullivan and legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who he met in his hotel before the match for their words of encouragement.
Northern Ireland Open – Mark King
An emotional Mark King ended his 25-year wait for a ranking event title coming back from 5-1 down to beat Barry Hawkins 9-8. His post-match interview as shortly before he accepted the trophy was to become an iconic moment of the season as he paid tribute to his wife Sally who he described as his “rock” throughout his years as a compulsive gambler. He also mentioned his 83-year-old father Bill for his financial support down the years.
Scottish Open – Marco Fu
Another fantastic fightback saw Marco Fu win eight frames on the spin to beat home favourite John Higgins after trailing 4-1. This performance came shortly after Marco had played so well to reach the semi-finals of the UK Championship and was a fitting end to his purple patch of form – culminating in his fifth ranking title win.
Welsh Open – Stuart Bingham
Nerves of steel helped Stuart Bingham to clinch a dramatic 9-8 win against Judd Trump, who lost out in his second Home Nations final of the season. He raced into an early 4-0 led but managed to stave off a Trump comeback as he turned the tie to lead both 7-6 and 8-7 before narrowly missing out.