John Higgins aims to clinch a fifth World Championship title, while Judd Trump looks to fulfill his snooker destiny with a maiden Crucible crown when the pair collide in the sport’s show-piece match in Sheffield.
The culmination of a pulsating 17 days of competition sees two of the sport’s box office stars collide in a repeat of their epic 2011 final in which Higgins triumphed 18-15.
Higgins has since lost in back-to-back world finals and will be desperate to avoid suffering the same fate against an opponent looking for revenge and a chance to etch his name into the history books.
Higgins had endured difficult season by his own high standards, admitting at times he had “fallen out of love with the game”, but has put that to one side and thrived once again in the pressure cooker that is The Crucible Theatre.
The veteran Scot finds himself in an eighth world final since 1998, underlining his incredible longevity since turning professional six years earlier.
The number five seed averted an early banana skin by defeating Mark Davis 10-7 in Round One, before dispatching 2015 champion Stuart Bingham 13-11 and 2010 champion Neil Robertson 13-10 to reach the hallowed one-table setup.
He was then involved in a Crucible classic with David Gilbert, recovering from 8-3, 10-6 and 14-11 behind to edge through a 17-16 winner and break the heart of the Tamworth cueist.
Trump, meanwhile, stands on the cusp of history as he looks to add this title to January’s Masters success to complete an illustrious career Triple Crown.
A winner of a further two ranking titles this season, the Bristol left-hander has seemingly captured the consistency which has been lacking from his game over the past decade and has the chance to avenge his agonising defeat eight years ago.
It could have been oh so different for ‘The Ace in The Pack’ had he not dug deep to edge out Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a deciding frame in Round One, but he has not looked back since, going on to defeat Ding Junhui 13-9, Stephen Maguire 13-6 and Gary Wilson 17-11.
Amid talk of difficult table conditions, Trump has taken it all in his stride so far, landing seven centuries, though Higgins has registered eight, including the tournament high break of 143 to his opponent’s 141.
Trump has won just seven of his 20 meetings with Higgins in all competitions stretching back to 2008, including a thrilling 13-12 encounter in the Quarter-Finals of last year’s World Championship, and has to go back to October 2016 for his last head-to-head success.
With Higgins having come through that breath-taking Semi-Final decider, 29-year-old Trump will look to seize upon any signs of fatigue from the 43-year-old veteran in what promises to be a classic final.
Their best of 35 encounter gets underway from 2pm BST on Sunday for a total of nine frames, resuming at 7pm, before being played to a finish from 2pm and 7pm on Monday.
Higgins: “I was at a low ebb at Christmas time, the worst I have been since playing the game.
“That is forgotten about. Getting out of the house and having a purpose to get up on a morning and practising helped with the results.
“I’ll be playing a different Judd Trump, the way he dismantled O’Sullivan at The Masters has given him the confidence to come here and be one of the favourites.
“The scheduling of the final has to be looked at, you’re running around like you’re on a hamster wheel, it should start at 12, it has to change.”
Trump: “Me or John haven’t been the best players this week but we’ve just managed to dig in when we needed to and just get over the line.
“We’re both very tired – it’s mentally draining. I watched John earlier and he was a bit emotional getting back to the final.
“To be back in the final against him eight years on, it’s going to be an epic.”