Day three of my World Cup preview articles and today I take a look at Group C, with Australia and Wales installed as top seeds.
As in 2011, Australia will be led by world number three Neil Robertson, who of course has an excellent record in Wuxi having won the ranking event held in the city during each of the past two seasons.
Joining him will be friend and flatmate Vinnie Calabrese, who makes his World Cup debut having won this year’s Oceania Championship to earn a fresh two-year main tour card.
On their last outing at the event, Australia were able to come through their group before losing at the quarter-final stage to Wales, who they will play once again in 2015.
Returning as still the highest ranked player from Wales is Mark Williams, despite a shoulder injury that has troubled him in recent weeks.
No stranger to success with his national team, having been part of the Nations Cup winning team of 1999, Williams will be joined by a new partner this time around as Indian Open champion Michael White has now risen above the likes of Matthew Stevens and Ryan Day to become the current Welsh number two.
Semi-finalists back in 2011 (losing 4-1 to eventual champions China), on paper Wales look to have a good chance of another successful tournament four years on.
Pakistan will be represented at the World Cup by newly crowned Asian Championship winner Hamza Akbar, as well as experienced 2014 IBSF World Championship runner-up Muhammad Sajjad.
Sajjad was part of the team four years ago that performed impressively by defeating the Republic of Ireland and Egypt at the group stages, narrowly missing out on a last eight place by finishing third.
Aside from his recent Asian Championship win, Akbar is also a two-time national champion, while Sajjad also reached the semi-finals of the world amateur championship in 2013, a year before going one step further to the final.
A new country to the World Cup, Qatar are led by former professional Ahmed Saif, who last season became the first player from Qatar to win a ranking event match by defeating Anthony Hamilton at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
He will be joined by Ali Alobaidaly, who was his country’s number one junior a decade ago and has appeared at one professional event previously, the PTC2 event in 2010.
Though they were part of the competition back in 2011, Poland will this year be represented by an all-new pairing of Mateusz Baranowski and Adam Stefanow.
Baranowski has been involved in three European Tour events, all in Poland and most recently this February as he lost out to Alan McManus in the opening round.
At the time of writing, he has also made it through to the last 16 of the ongoing 2015 European Championship in Prague, with the winner of that tournament in line to earn the last main tour place for next season.
Currently leading the high break list of the same tournament is his World Cup teammate Adam Stefanow, though he lost at the last 32 stage to German talent Lukas Kleckers.
Stefanow has played at a number of European Tour events, as well as Q School during each of the past two seasons, reaching the fourth round of event two in 2014.
The final team in Group C are Northern Ireland, the 2011 finalists who return looking to go one better next week in Wuxi.
They are though without their number one ranked player, as Mark Allen has elected not to participate in the event in 2015.
Instead, it will be veteran Joe Swail who will join Gerard Greene at the tournament, though on paper they will still represent the biggest threat to the two seeded nations.
Come back tomorrow for my final article, looking at the line-up for Group D, featuring England, the Republic of Ireland, China B, Thailand, UAE and Germany…