Gary Wilson will play Mark Williams in the 2021 British Open final following a narrow 4-3 victory over good friend Elliot Slessor in the last four on Saturday.
The Tyneside Terror is through to only his second ranking event final – and first since the 2015 China Open – after recovering from 2-0 down against his regular practice partner at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
Wilson, who twice came from behind to edge out the in-form David Gilbert 4-3 earlier in the day, was appearing in the semi-finals of a ranking tournament for the fifth time.
However, the world number 33 looked nervy in the opening stages. A missed black when cannoning into the reds during the second frame saw fellow Newcastle cueist Slessor step in with 73 for a 2-0 lead.
The world number 49, who was targeting his maiden ranking final having beaten Judd Trump and Ali Carter earlier in the week, was looking good for 3-0 as he opened with 41 in the next.
But he was unable to convert that opportunity and Wilson hit back with 67 to halve the deficit.
That swung the pendulum firmly in favour of the former Crucible semi-finalist, who completed the turnaround with breaks of 68 and 100.
To his credit, Slessor demonstrated tremendous resilience to stop the rot with a wonderful 125 to force a decider.
Although, he was on the back foot thereon with a run of 54 helping Wilson prevail.
“We were both trying so hard,” he told ITV Sport.
“It means that much to try and win this tournament; we’re both vying for our first title.
“It’s not the best situation playing pretty much your best mate on tour.
“We’re both quite like-minded; we both go out there and just try our best. It’s just a shame there had to be a loser.”
Wilson’s opponent will be the gradually improving Williams, who is set to appear in his 37th ranking event final after a 4-1 win over Jimmy Robertson.
Despite a lacklustre scoring display, the three-time World champion managed to scrape past Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals earlier on.
But he looked more assured in the evening; a break of 60 moving him 2-1 up.
The Welshman then crucially produced a stunning 73 clearance from 61-0 down to snatch frame four on the black and move to the brink of victory.
And he required no second invitation; a run of 58 seeing him past the former European Masters champion, who was appearing in only a second ranking event semi-final.
“I did a great dish to go 3-1 up and I think that killed the match off really because it could have gone either way,” Williams told ITV Sport.
“It’s probably one of the best dishes I’ve done for a long time.
“It’s my 30th year on the tour. It’s unbelievable just to be in a final of any tournament.
“I’ve just got to make the most of it. I’ll try my utmost tomorrow night and see where it goes.”
British Open Snooker 2021 Results
Saturday August 21
Zhou Yuelong 3-4 Elliot Slessor
David Gilbert 3-4 Gary Wilson
Lu Ning 2-4 Jimmy Robertson
Mark Williams 4-3 Ricky Walden
Gary Wilson 4-3 Elliot Slessor
Jimmy Robertson 1-4 Mark Williams