A host of form horses aim to book their places in the latter stages of the 2020 World Grand Prix at Cheltenham Racecourse on Thursday as the Coral Series event gathers pace.
The unorthodox seedings from the one-year ranking list and short format have led to a number of big names bowing out of the competition in the early rounds, including Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen.
However, a clutch of the usual suspects remain in the running for the season’s first Coral Series title and £100,000 top prize.
Thursday’s line-up sees the four remaining Second Round ties take place in the afternoon session before the opening two Quarter-Finals are contested in the evening.
Judd Trump steps up the defence of his World Grand Prix title with a show-down against rival Kyren Wilson in the Last 16.
Contrasting characters on and off the table, Trump and Wilson have not seen eye to eye in recent times and face off for the first time in over a year since the world number one prevailed 6-2 in the 2019 Masters.
Trump is bidding for back-to-back titles to follow up last Sunday’s German Masters success and what would be a staggering fifth ranking triumph of the season.
Wilson is looking to kick-start the second half of an otherwise underwhelming season by his standards and responded well to falling 2-0 behind to Jack Lisowski by pulling off a 4-3 victory in Round One.
A clash of two former World Champions sees in-form Neil Robertson take on injury-hampered Mark Williams.
Robertson stormed to European Masters glory a fortnight ago by whitewashing Zhou Yuelong 9-0 in the final and fell narrowly short of making it back-to-back ranking titles as he went down 9-6 to Trump in the German Masters final.
The red hot Aussie is out to improve on a below-par record in this competition which has seen him reach just one Quarter-Final in four previous attempts, and he held firm to come through a deciding frame against Michael Holt in Round One.
Williams underlined his grit and tenacity by hobbling his way to a 4-2 win over Barry Hawkins on Wednesday, playing through the pain barrier with gout in his left foot.
The Welshman reached the final of the China Championship last September but has since struggled for consistency and faces a formidable task against a player brimming with confidence.
Four-time World Champion John Higgins aims to avoid a potential banana skin when he takes on emerging star Zhao Xintong.
Higgins came through a tough opener against Stuart Bingham on Wednesday and is now out to progress beyond this stage of the World Grand Prix for the first time in five attempts.
Zhao pulled off an impressive 4-2 win over Chinese compatriot Yan Bingtao in Round One and a high-profile scalp here would see him into his second success ranking Quarter-Final to follow up last week’s run at the German Masters.
Former PTC Finals winner Joe Perry looks to deny Scott Donaldson a third Quarter-Final appearance in his last four tournament appearances when the pair collide on Table Two.
Donaldson has incredible beaten Ding Junhui in each of his last three tournaments, notably whitewashing the UK Champion 4-0 this week and will look to continue his superb run of form.
The main event of the evening sees former World Champions Ronnie O’Sullivan and Graeme Dott collide as ‘The Rocket’ looks to stretch his nine-year unbeaten run over the Scot.
O’Sullivan, competing in his first ranking tournament of 2020, has survived two scares so far this week, holding his nerve to edge out David Gilbert and Liang Wenbo in last-frame deciders.
The 2018 World Grand Prix champion is 22nd on the one-year ranking list and in need of a strong run here in order to bolster his hopes of qualifying for both the Players Championship and Tour Championship.
Dott, semi-finalist in the German Masters, has continued his fine run of form by thrashing Kurt Maflin 4-1 and whitewashing Xiao Guodong 4-0, and now aims to catch O’Sullivan cold and end his miserable recent record.
The evening’s other Quarter-Final sees World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson take on former UK Championship semi-finalist Tom Ford.
Wilson has dropped just two frames in seeing off Zhou Yuelong and Matthew Stevens 4-1 with some trademark heavy scoring along the way, while Ford came from 3-1 down to defeat Stephen Maguire 4-3 before seeing off Matthew Selt 4-2.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Last 16 matches to be contested over the best of seven frames and Quarter-Finals best of nine.
World Grand Prix 2020 Match Schedule
Thursday February 6
Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson
Joe Perry v Scott Donaldson
Not before 2pm
John Higgins v Zhao Xintong
Neil Robertson v Mark Williams
Graeme Dott v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Tom Ford v Gary Wilson