Mark Allen and Ding Junhui go head to head for the 2022 UK Championship crown at the York Barbican on Sunday.
The season’s first major silverware is up for grabs, with the players doing battle over the best of 19 frames for the top prize of £250,000.
Allen is aiming to make it third time lucky at this event, having been runner-up to Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2011 and 2018 respectively.
The Antrim ace is also looking to complete the second part of a potential career Triple Crown, adding to his Masters triumph nearly five years ago.
Following a brilliant start to the season that has already seen him land the Northern Ireland Open crown and be runner-up to Ryan Day at the British Open, the Pistol has continued to fire this week.
And he has demonstrated brilliant battling qualities by overturning deficits in each of his four matches to reach the final.
Indeed, Allen recovered from 2-0 down to defeat good friend Jordan Brown and Kyren Wilson, while rattling off four successive frames to overturn a 4-2 deficit against Sam Craigie in the quarter-finals.
The world number nine then fought back from the brink to thwart Jack Lisowski’s latest quest for a maiden ranking title; rallying from 5-3 adrift with breaks of 115 and 74 to force a decider, which he snatched on the final black after Jackpot agonisingly missed the green.
Allen has lost four of his last five meetings with Ding, but he has won both their previous showdowns in finals – prevailing in the 2013 Ruhr Open and 2009 Jiangsu Classic.
The Dragon has enjoyed a timely return to form this week, and one more victory would secure his return to the top 16 and a place in January’s Masters.
The three-time champion would become the fourth-most successful player in the history of this tournament outright, with only O’Sullivan (seven), Steve Davis (six) and Stephen Hendry (five) enjoying greater success.
Having dropped to 38th in the world rankings, Ding won two matches to qualify, before dropping just four frames in victories over Barry Hawkins and Jamie Clarke.
He then sent shockwaves around the snooker world with a comprehensive 6-0 whitewash of good friend Ronnie O’Sullivan, before withstanding Tom Ford’s fightback to prevail 6-3 in the semi-finals.
It promises to be a cracking contest over the best of 19 frames on Sunday between two players returning to the peak of their powers.
The first eight frames commence from 1pm GMT, with a maximum of 11 from 7pm determining who will lift the trophy at the York Barbican.