Ireland men have been drawn with World No.1 Australia, old rivals England and the Chinese team ranked 17 for the World Cup finals in India later this year.
It's a tough pool for Craig Fulton's lads but there remains every chance that they can avoid bottom place which would automatically eliminate them from the knockout phase.
The Green Machine will get the chance to test themselves against Australia and England next week at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup series in Malaysia but it is China, ranked seven places below them, who they will be concentrating on most.
Fulton, though, is unhappy with the new format.
"Worst-case scenario is you could play only three pool games and then go home, whereas in the past you played seven games to a final position, which is real value for the money and time put into preparation," he said.
Ireland start against Australia on November 30, followed by China on December 4 and finally England on December 7.
Meanwhile, the Burney Cup semi-final draw has paired together last season's finalists, Sullivan Upper and Wallace High.
The double-header semis, sponsored by John Minnis Estate Agents, are scheduled for Thursday, March 8 at Lisnagarvey, with Methodist College and Friends on first followed by Sullivan against Wallace.
John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup semi-finals: Methody v Friends (1.30pm); Sullivan Upper v Wallace High (3.30pm).
Burney Plate semi-finals: Banbridge Academy v Bangor Grammar; Kilkeel High or Royal & Prior v Grosvenor Grammar.