The 2018 China Championship enters its business end on Friday with the Quarter-Finals taking centre stage in Guangzhou.
The lucrative major ranking tournament saw 64 players start out on Monday, now just eight remain in the hunt for the trophy and £150,000 top prize.
Four of the world’s top seven players remain firmly in the running, though two of them collide in a mouth-watering contest in the first of two sessions.
A repeat of the 2011 World Championship final and 2012 Shanghai Masters final sees world number four John Higgins up against world number five Judd Trump.
Higgins is bidding to get his hands on this trophy for the second time, having claimed the inaugural title in 2016 and has been made to work hard for his place in the Last Eight.
The four-time World Champion began his run with a 5-3 victory over Allan Taylor before coming from 3-1 and 4-2 down to edge out Mei Xiwen in a last-frame decider and going on to deny compatriot Scott Donaldson 5-3 in the Last 16.
Higgins is appearing in only his third ranking event of the season following his run to the final of the World Championship in May – where he defeated Trump 13-12 in an epic Quarter-Final.
Trump finds himself in a first ranking Quarter-Final of the season following wins over Rhys Clark, Jamie Jones and Yan Bingtao, dropping a combined total of just three frames along the way.
The left-hander is already enjoying his best run to date in this competition and is out to end a three-match losing streak at the hands of Higgins.
Elsewhere, world number one Mark Selby looks to secure a Semi-Final spot at the expense of Yuan Sijun – one of three Chinese youngster left standing in the competition.
Selby has already seen off one teenage talent in Chang Bingyu – whom he lost to in an exhibition in 2011 when Chang was just nine – now he faces an 18-year-old who has already claimed two notable scalps this week.
Yuan is appearing in his first ranking Quarter-Final and is now poised for the biggest match of his career which has already guaranteed him a minimum payout of £20,000.
Ranked 69 places below Selby, Yuan kick-started his run with a 5-2 win over Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher before holding his nerve in a nail-biting decider to knock out home hero Ding Junhui in Round Two.
He then proved that result was no flash in the pan by overcoming former Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King 5-3 on Thursday.
Barry Hawkins, runner-up in the Shanghai Masters less than a fortnight ago, looks to continue his fine form in China when he takes on dark horse Zhao Xintong.
Hawkins has reached at least the Semi-Final stage of four of his last five tournaments, with two finals coming in China, and has looked comfortable in seeing off Ashley Carty, Noppon Saengkham and Graeme Dott so far this week.
As world number 97, Zhao is the lowest ranked player left in the field but has enjoyed a superb start to life back on the tour after regaining a Tour Card via Qualifying School in May.
The 21-year-old reached the Last 16 of the season’s first ranking event – the Riga Masters – and has gone one better on home soil, edging out Anthony McGill 5-4 in the opening round before brushing aside Fergal O’Brien 5-2.
Zhao then underlined his ferocious talent by recovering from 2-0 and 3-1 down to knock out World Champion Mark Williams 5-3 and reach his first ranking Quarter-Final.
Two rank outsiders collide for the golden opportunity to reach a first major Semi-Final as Martin O’Donnell takes on Lyu Haotian.
O’Donnell began by dethroning defending champion Luca Brecel in the opening round before edging past Tom Ford in a deciding frame and dumping out Chinese number two Liang Wenbo 5-2 in the Last 16.
O’Donnell’s only previous ranking Semi-Final came in this year’s Shoot-Out and he had mustered just one win all season prior to making the trip to Guangzhou.
Haotian has seemingly kicked on from his breakthrough run to the Last 16 of this year’s World Championship on debut, though did he benefit from a First Round walkover after his scheduled opponent Kyren Wilson withdrew from the event.
The 20-year-old, however, has taken full advantage, going on to knock out Joe Perry and Shaun Murphy for a place in his third ranking event Quarter-Final – six years after his first as a 14-year-old at the International Championship.
The action gets underway from 7.30am BST, with all matches to be contested over the best of nine frames.
China Championship 2018 Match Schedule
Friday September 28
Martin O’Donnell v Lyu Haotian
Judd Trump v John Higgins
Mark Selby v Yuan Sijun
Barry Hawkins v Zhao Xintong