UK Championship Snooker 2019 Day Eight preview and order of play: Former champions aim to seal Quarter-Final spot

Jamie Shaw in UK Championship

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Ronnie O'Sullivan keeps his title defence on track (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui set up Last 16 show-down at the UK Championship

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Ding shakes hands with O'Sullivan (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

Ding Junhui ends Ronnie O’Sullivan’s reign at the UK Championship

Three-time champion Higgins looks on (credit:Richard Sellers/PA Images)

Higgins is eyeing a fifth Crucible crown (credit: Richard Sellers/PA Images)

The Fourth Round commences at the 2019 UK Championship on Wednesday with two former champions and two former runners-up among those vying to reach the Last Eight in York.

The season’s first Triple Crown tournament enters its business end at The Barbican as a mixture of regular title contenders and lower-ranked hopefuls aim to keep their title hopes alive.

John Higgins is among a clutch of players remaining in the field to have tasted success in this illustrious competition in previous years, with ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ bidding to lift this trophy for the fourth time.

The world number five, who has triumphed in three different decades (1998, 2000 and 2010) has reached the Semi-Finals of his last two ranking tournaments and has begun promisingly this week, dropping just two frames in his opening three matches.

Higgins now faces a formidable test against 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham – a player in free-scoring form and looking to eclipse last year’s run to the Semi-Finals.

Bingham has made four centuries en route to this stage, notably overcoming Martin Gould 6-4 and Zhao Xintong 6-1, but will be wary of his vastly inferior head-to-head record against Higgins, having lost 14 of their 17 previous meetings, including each of their last four.

The pick of the evening’s ties sees two-time UK Champion Neil Robertson up against rising star Yan Bingtao – a player who has broken new ground at The Barbican this week.

Two-time champion Robertson in action (Photo by PA Images)

Two-time champion Robertson in action (Photo by PA Images)

Robertson is out to add this title to his Champion of Champions success last month but has made hard work of things so far, battling past Robbie Williams and Mark King 6-4 in his last two outings.

The Australian ace has not reached the Quarter-Finals here since 2015 – when he secured his second UK crown and made a stunning 147 break in the process.

Yan, meanwhile, finds himself at this stage of the tournament for the first time and in pursuit of a return to the world’s elite top 16.

The youngest player left standing in the competition at 19, Yan saw off world number 13 Jack Lisowski in the Last 32 and has kicked on from winning his first ranking title in Riga at the beginning of the season.

Mark Allen, twice a UK Championship runner-up, aims to avert a potential banana skin at the hands of Norway’s Kurt Maflin on Table Two in the afternoon.

The world number seven, who has four Semi-Final appearances to his name this season, has dispatched Jimmy White, Jak Jones and Ben Woollaston on his way to the Last 16 and will feel he still has plenty more in the locker approaching the latter stages.

Maflin finds himself in the Last 16 here for the first time in seven attempts courtesy of consecutive 6-2 wins over Thor Chuan Leong, Jimmy Robertson and Alan McManus and is now eyeing a third ranking Quarter-Final of the season.

An all-Chinese show-down sees 2015 UK Championship runner-up Liang Wenbo take on in-form Li Hang for the right to face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui in the Quarter-Finals.

Liang has continued his love affair with this competition by defeating Dominic Dale, David Grace and Eden Sharav, while Hang, ranked one place below his compatriot (41) finds himself in the Last 16 here for the second time following impressive wins over the likes of Xiao Guodong and Marco Fu.

The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Last 16 matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.

Betway UK Championship 2019 Match Schedule

Wednesday December 4

Last 16

John Higgins v Stuart Bingham
Mark Allen v Kurt Maflin

Li Hang v Liang Wenbo
Yan Bingtao v Neil Robertson