England and Northern Ireland will put their 100% records on the line as the quarter-finals take centre stage at the 2017 Snooker World Cup on Saturday, while Wales lock horns with China A in another tasty clash at the Wuxi City Sports Park Stadium.
We have reached the knockout stages of the biannual team event in Wuxi, where there are eight nations that remain in contention to lift the trophy on Sunday.
The English pairing of Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins looked by far the most impressive during the group phase – winning 22 frames and dropping just three on the way to topping Group C.
Despite both players making their debuts in the World Cup, neither has looked out of place so far and will be eager to build on that momentum in the Last Eight.
By contrast, the Northern Irish duo of Mark Allen and Joe Swail had to work hard to secure second place in Group D, as they prevailed in deciding frames on three separate occasions.
However, the tight finishes will have left them in good stead ahead of the knockout rounds, where it will be the best of seven to determine the winner.
Elsewhere, China A are aiming to kick on from their dramatic victory over Hong Kong when they face Wales.
Ding Junhui’s stunning 67 counter clearance snatched a 3-2 win on the pink and saw he and Liang Wenbo scrape through as Group B runners-up, and the host nation will receive plenty of support from the home crowd in their quest for a second title.
Meanwhile, the Welsh duo of Mark Williams and Ryan Day could afford a defeat against Brazil in their final game after four wins from four helped them top Group A, including 5-0 whitewashes of Norway and Finland.
Riga Masters champion Day has been inspired on his World Cup debut – hitting the tournament’s highest break of 140 on the way to continuing his rich vein of form.
China B finished second behind Wales in Group A following a dramatic conclusion to proceedings on Friday – edging out Brazil on the head-to-head record after a narrow 3-2 success over Malaysia.
The reigning champions – Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao – breathed a huge sigh of relief as their title defence continued, but they cannot afford to cut an in-form Belgium any slack.
Luca Brecel has been the driving force for the Belgians, who finished ahead of China A in Group B after some solid displays from him and partner Jeff Jacobs.
Renowned for his outstanding natural ability but an equal lack of consistency, Brecel will be looking to stay sharp as his country’s quest for the crown resumes.
The other quarter-final provides a battle of the surprise packages, as Thailand and Iran go head to head.
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham come into this showdown off the back of consecutive 5-0 whitewashes of India and Cyprus, which helped the Thais finish at the summit of Group D ahead of the likes of Northern Ireland and Scotland and they will be hoping for more of the same here.
It will not be easy, though, against the Iranians, who are also full of confidence and in strong form ahead of the Last Eight.
Following a surprise 4-1 rout of Neil Robertson’s Australia, Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi went one better by whitewashing Malta 5-0 to seal second place behind England in Group C.
The quarter-finals of the 2017 Snooker World Cup break off at 6am BST on Saturday, with all matches contested over the best of seven frames at the Wuxi City Sports Park Stadium.
Snooker World Cup 2017 Schedule
Saturday July 8
England v Northern Ireland
Thailand v Iran
Wales v China A
Belgium v China B