Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to deny Mark Selby a second successive Scottish Open title when the two rivals collide in the final on Sunday.
Two of the sport’s all-time greats renew their captivating rivalry at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as they compete for the third Home Nation Series silverware of the season.
This will be their first meeting since their epic 33rd frame decider in the Semi-Finals of the World Championship back in August, following which Selby hit out at O’Sullivan’s “disrespectful” style of play.
Selby has made a superb start to this season, having now reached two Semi-Finals and two finals in his seven tournament appearances so far.
Winner of the season-opening European Masters, ‘The Jester’ is now bidding to become the first player to successfully retain the Scottish Open title.
His phenomenal record in ranking finals has seen him win his last ten in a row, and victory here would see him eclipse Stephen Hendry’s record of eleven consecutive wins in ranking finals.
Bidding for a 19th ranking title to go level with Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, Selby has stormed into the final with a series of devastating displays, dropping just six frames in seeing off Yuan Sijun, Nigel Bond, Mark Joyce and Lyu Haotian.
In the Quarter-Finals, he dispatched Ricky Walden in a hard-fought decider, before thrashing Jamie Jones 6-1 with three century breaks and a 93 in Saturday’s Semi-Final.
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, is through to his second final of the season, and having lost out to Trump in the recent Northern Ireland Open, is out to secure his first ranking silverware of the season.
The reigning and six-time World Champion, who has been nominated for Sports Personality of The Year, has been typically enigmatic en route to the final this week.
He has bitten the tip off his cue following four of his matches and has a modest three century breaks to his name, four less than Selby.
The number two seed began by defeating Allan Taylor 4-2 before overcoming Chang Bingyu 4-1 and edging out Tian Pengfei in a seventh-frame decider.
He then powered past Robbie Williams 4-1 before fending off a spirited Ding Junhui revival to prevail 5-4 in the Quarter-Finals.
The tables were turned in the Last Four as ‘The Rocket’ reeled off five consecutive frames from 4-1 down to deny Li Hang a place in his first ranking final.
O’Sullivan is eyeing a staggering 38th ranking title as he looks to avenge last year’s defeat to Selby in the Quarter-Finals of this event in Glasgow.
O’Sullivan has won five of their last seven meetings since Selby’s triumph in the 2014 World Championship final and 16 of their 26 in total.
The final gets underway from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames before being played to a finish from 7pm over the best of 17 frames.
O’Sullivan vs Selby – Player’s View
O’Sullivan (WST): “I’m sure at some point down the line this will do me good.
“I haven’t played in a lot of tournaments over the last five or six years, I’ve picked and chose.
“Maybe that has caught up with me a little bit. I’ve never really doubted myself, maybe twice in my career.
“I get thoughts now that maybe I’m not capable of dominating like I used to.
“I still do alright and it will be interesting to see if my game can get a bit stronger from playing a few more matches.”
Selby (WST): “I know Ronnie is still at the top of the game, but you don’t know how much longer he is going to play for. He is great for the game and a genius on the table.
“He is one of the all-time greats depending on what people say, whether it is Hendry or O’Sullivan.
“For me I’d go Ronnie as the greatest ever. When you get the chance to play him, whether it is in the final or not, it is always a great occasion.”