The Quarter-Finals take centre stage at the 2018 UK Championship on Thursday as the eight remaining hopefuls aim to remain on course for glory in York.
One hundred and twenty players have departed the Barbican Centre over the past ten days, leaving two UK Champions, a World Champion and a Masters Champion among those left standing.
Thursday saw 2011 champion Judd Trump and two-time champion Ding Junhui become the latest big names to fall by the wayside, leaving a chasm in the top half of the draw.
No player has managed to successfully defend this title since Stephen Hendry back in 1996, but Ronnie O’Sullivan is now odds-on to break that trend and become the outright most successful player in the history of the competition.
In the tournament which launched his career when he broke through to win the title as a fresh-faced 17-year-old back in 1993, O’Sullivan is now looking to create a further slice of history and underline his incredible longevity at the top of the sport.
The Rocket’s next opponent – Martin O’Donnell – looked an unlikely one on paper before a ball was struck, but the world number 59 has proved the surprise package of the tournament.
O’Donnell is already enjoying the best form of his career and is appearing in his third ranking Quarter-Final of the season, following on from runs at the China Championship and International Championship.
The Londoner pulled off what he described as ‘the biggest win of his career’ by defeating Ding Junhui 6-4 and is now realising his dream of facing O’Sullivan in a Triple Crown tournament, but faces a huge task if he is to pull off another monumental scalp.
Joe Perry finds himself in a second successive UK Championship Quarter-Final and is out to reach his first Semi-Final here since 2015 by overcoming Tom Ford.
European Masters runner-up this season, Perry dropped just three frames in seeing off John Astley, Michael Holt and Joe O’Connor before denying Northern Ireland Open champion Judd Trump 6-4 in the Last 16.
Leicester’s Ford has won through to his first UK Championship Quarter-Final after prevailing from last-frame deciders in three of his four matches along the way.
One of two mouth-watering clashes in the evening session sees reigning Masters Champion Mark Allen take on 2004 UK Champion Stephen Maguire.
Allen, runner-up here in 2011, has enjoyed undoubtedly the best year of his career, also claiming glory in last month’s International Championship and climbing to world number six in the process.
The Antrim left-hander held his nerve to edge out two-time champion Neil Robertson in a deciding frame in the Last 16 and now faces Maguire for only the fourth time in 12 years.
Maguire, the number 15 seed, followed up his Last 32 win over Ali Carter by staging a sensational comeback from 4-0 down to stun World Champion Mark Williams 6-5 in Round Four.
The fiery Scotsman is out to uphold his fine record in this tournament, having reached two finals and a further four Semi-Finals since 2004.
Stuart Bingham, the world number 14, is through to the Quarter-Finals for the fourth time in his last six visits to York and faces a crunch clash with in-form Kyren Wilson.
Bingham, who sat out last year’s UK Championship due to suspension, is already making up for lost time and victory this evening would see him advance to a third Semi-Final here since 2013.
Wilson has banished his previously poor record in this prestigious competition by charging into the Last Eight for the loss of just six frames.
A winner of two tournaments this season, the Kettering star brushed aside Barry Hawkins 6-2 on Thursday and has won all four of his previous meetings with ‘Ball Run’, including a 13-10 triumph in the Last 16 of the 2017 World Championship.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
UK Championship 2018 Match Schedule
Friday December 7
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Martin O’Donnell
Joe Perry v Tom Ford
Stuart Bingham v Kyren Wilson
Mark Allen v Stephen Maguire