Mark Allen begins his latest quest for a maiden UK Championship title against good friend Jordan Brown at the York Barbican on Saturday.
The two highest-ranked players from Northern Ireland – and practise partners – go head to head in what will be the first professional meeting between the former World Cup team-mates.
Allen has been the form player of this season so far. Indeed, the Pistol tops the one-year list having landed the Northern Ireland Open crown and been runner-up to Ryan Day at the British Open.
The world number nine, who lost four stone during the close season, has also compiled more centuries than any other player during the campaign with 19.
Allen boasts a decent UK Championship record. He was runner-up to Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan and 2011 and 2018 respectively, and a semi-finalist in 2010 and 2019.
The former Masters champion’s mission to complete part two of a potential career Triple Crown begins against a familiar face in 2021 Welsh Open winner Brown.
The Antrim Ferrari navigated his way through the qualifying rounds with victories over Si Jiahui (6-4) and Zak Surety (6-3) at Ponds Forge earlier this week.
He is now looking to reach the last 16 of snooker’s second-most prestigious ranking event for the second year running, having never previously progressed beyond the last 64.
Although, Brown has endured a mixed start to the season. The world number 22 overcame Yan Bingtao on the way to reaching the British Open last 16 – his best performance so far – but he also suffered qualifying-round defeats in the English Open and Scottish Open.
The winner of this match will play either Kyren Wilson or Matthew Selt in the UK Championship last 16.
Play gets underway at 1pm GMT on Saturday with the match contested over the best of 11 frames at the York Barbican.
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