Some past regulars have won through to the final stages, including three-time world indoor champion Andy Thomson who skips the Cyphers duo in the men’s pairs (Wednesday).
Thomson first appeared at Melton in the 1989 finals, but will face a host of tough rivals in his path.
They include the Lincoln pair of Danny Brown and former world indoor champion Billy Jackson, as well as reigning world indoor bowls champion Mark Dawes who skips for Blackpool.
Other teams to watch in the pairs are Clarrie Dunbar, skipped by Graham Shadwell, and Whiteknights (Robert Newman).
The men’s singles (Friday, March 30) looks wide open with just one former winner in the last 16 – the 2006 champion Paul Coleman (Wey Valley) who also reached the final six years ago.
In the men’s triples (Wednesday), world number two Nicky Brett, leads the Huntingdon trio, while Kingsthorpe will be skipped by Neil Mckee, and Riverain return to defend their crown.
Wayne Willgress, of Norfolk, also enjoyed a great tournament at the recent WBT World Championships.
Kingsthorpe will also be among the favourites to retain their men’s fours crown and open against Sleaford on Saturday.
* Among the last 16 in the ladies’ singles (Friday, March 30), Rebecca Field (2012) is the only former champion.
But there are a few beaten finalists who will want to go one better this time around - last year’s runner-up Devon Cooper (Riverain), Blackpool’s Janice Gower (2014), and Katherine Hawes (2011) from Banbury.
In the ladies’ pairs (Wednesday) there will be a number of familiar faces at Melton, including England internationals Sarah Seymour (City of Ely), Field and Gower, all former champions here.
The strong pair of Wendy King and Sandy Hazell (Swale) will also take some stopping, as will Ipswich, led by Anna Chalk who toasted her second lades’ triples title in three years 12 months ago.
Beaten triples finalists Blackpool will be keen to make amends this year after letting a handsome lead slip in 2017.
In the ladies’ fours (Saturday), Desborough will also hope to erase the memory of last season’s final when they were outfought by a young Hornsea team, who have not made it through to Melton this time round.
9.30am – Men’s Two-Bowl Singles round one
11.30am – Ladies’ Two-Bowl Singles round one
1.30pm – Men’s Two Bowl Singles quarter-finals; Ladies’ Two-Bowl Singles quarter-finals
4pm - Men’s Two Bowl Singles semi-finals; Ladies’ Two-Bowl Singles semi-finals
6pm - Men’s Two Bowl Singles FINAL; Ladies’ Two-Bowl Singles FINAL
9.30am – Ladies’ Fours round one
1.30pm – Men’s Fours round one
5.45pm – Men’s Fours quarter-finals; Ladies’ Fours quarter-finals
9.30am – Men’s Fours semi-finals; Ladies’ Fours semi-finals
1.30pm – Under 25s Inter-county FINAL: Yorkshire v Devon
5.45pm – Men’s Fours FINAL; Ladies’ Fours FINAL
9.30am – Men’s Triples round one
1.30pm – Ladies’ Triples round one
6pm – Men’s Triples quarter-finals; Ladies’ Triples quarter-finals
9.30am – Men’s Triples semi-finals; Ladies’ Triples semi-finals
1.30pm – Over 60s Inter-county FINAL: Norfolk v Surrey
5.45pm – Men’s Triples FINAL; Ladies’ Triples FINAL
9.30am – Men’s Pairs round one
1.30pm – Ladies’ Pairs round one
6pm – Men’s Pairs quarter-finals; Ladies’ Pairs quarter-finals
9.30am – Men’s Pairs semi-finals; Ladies’ Pairs semi-finals
1.30pm – Vivienne Trophy FINAL: Arun Ladies v Colchester Ladies
5.30pm – Men’s Pairs FINAL; Ladies’ Pairs FINAL
FRIDAY (Mar 30)
9.30am – Men’s Singles round one
1pm – Ladies’ Singles round one
5pm – Men’s Singles quarter-finals; Ladies’ Singles quarter-finals
9.30am – Men’s Singles semi-finals; Ladies’ Singles semi-finals
12.30pm – Liberty Trophy FINAL
4.45pm – Men’s Singles FINAL; Ladies’ Singles FINAL