When the 2019/2020 season began, three-time world champion Mark Selby was 11 months without a ranking title with just one semi-final appearance to his name in the same stretch - but at the Northern Ireland Open he can go half way to winning snooker's wealthiest prize.
The sixth ranking event of the 2019-20 season runs from 11-17 November and is LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player.
And yet in this season's infancy, Selby looks every bit the player that can grind through opponents with an unnerving lack of errors and unfaltering patience. Two semi-finals and an English Open title to his name already, Selby is now the only man with a chance of claiming all four Home Nations titles and a £1 million bonus - described by Ronnie O'Sullivan as 'impossible'.
But if it is a winnable prize then an on-song Selby is the most credible contender - a player whose unwavering mettle looks made for a challenge so unsuited to more gifted but restless opponents.
The Northern Ireland Open is next up, and begins on Monday, 11 November, in Belfast. Selby, however, is just one part of an all-star line-up and a second Home Nations title of the season will be no easy feat.
Defending champion Judd Trump, fresh from winning the World Open and International Championship this season, begins his Northern Ireland Open defence against James Cahill. Last year's runner-up Ronnie O'Sullivan is the favourite for the tournament and goes up against Oliver Lines in first round. These two are obvious contenders, while the likes of Neil Robertson and John Higgins are also massive competitors and few would be surprised should they claim the Alex Higgins Trophy. Not to mention home favourite Mark Allen.
Fans should also keep an eye on 19-year-old Yan Bingtao, who secured his first ranking title at the Riga Masters in July, while Kyren Wilson visits Belfast off the back of a semi-final appearance at the World Open.
David Gilbert is enjoying his finest run of form as a professional
Image credit: Getty Images
But 20/1 outsider David Gilbert looks a strong shout to reach the latter stages and perhaps even push for a first ranking title. The Englishman is enjoying his best run of form as a professional, reaching two quarter-finals and a final - at the Northern Ireland open - in his last three outings at ranking tournaments. One of the form players of the season so far, Gilbert is going from strength to strength and shows few signs of slowing. He kicks things off against Anthony Hamilton.
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As for Selby, his route to the final starts with a match against Xu Si. He, along with everyone else, will be hoping to take home a top prize of £70,000, but for Selby, a win would represent a massive step towards achieving the 'impossible', while reminding us all why he's still one of the game's shining stars even after a year outside the spotlight.