The Chinese men's and women's Rio 2016 Olympic champions, Ma Long and Ding Ning, are among the favourites who will compete in the International Table Tennis Federation's Bulgaria Open as the main tournament gets underway in Panagyurishte tomorrow.
Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov, China's Xu Xin and Japan's Tomokazu Harimoto, respectively world-ranked fourth, fifth and eighth, will all also have their eyes on a place in the men's singles final on Sunday (August 19) at the World Tour event.
Home hopes at the Arena Asarel will be carried by Stanislav Golovanov, last of the 16 men's seeds and world ranked 363rd.
Japan's hopes will be strong in the women's singles, where they have seven of the top eight seeds, including three of the world's current top 10 in Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito and Miu Hirano, ranked fourth, fifth and eighth respectively.
The only non-Japanese player in the top eight seeds is Ding.
Meanwhile, China's Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Liu Gaoyang, absent from the international scene for a while, announced her return to the global arena in commanding fashion today.
She emerged as one of four players to secure first place in her initial phase group in the women's singles qualification event.
After accounting for Germany's Wan Yuan 11-7, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4, Liu beat Poland's Karazyna Grzybowska-Franc, the highest rated player in the group at world number 78, in an even more emphatic manner.
She conceded just 10 points as she won 11-3, 11-1, 11-3, 11-3.