BILOLEVU Club player Viliame Umu will defend the Fiji Open Snooker title in Suva this weekend.
Umu did not feature in the first two versions of the National Rankings Championship this year.
He will face stiff competition from the likes of Canada-based Feroz Khan, Nadi's Mahen Deo, Nausori Club's Jiten Prasad, Ba Central Club's Ali Boy and Nausori Club's Pritesh Khatri and Praneel Singh.
Billiards and Snooker Association of Fiji secretary Praveen Maharaj said they expected 32 players for the two-day tournament sponsored by Fiji Bitter and Blue Gas. He said they would use eight tables.
"The matches will be played at the Merchants Club, Defence Club, Fiji Club and Union Club," Maharaj said.
"Last year we had more than 40 players. This is because we had a contingent from Canada. This year there wasn't much response from overseas. But the top local players have registered.
"There is a British national Nick Askew who has showed interest in participating. It will be interesting to see his style of play if he does enter.
"We will use the pool format. Umu being the defending champion will be the favourite. He defeated Feroz in the final last year."
"Deepak Jai Ram of Nausori will be making a comeback at the national level. He is a former Fiji number one who took a break from major tournaments last year."
"Pritesh who won the second NRC will be amongst the top seeds. He will be looking to win back to back titles."
The winner of the tournament will receive $400. The runner-up will get $200 while the losing semi-finalist will collect $100 each.