The Second Round action gets underway at the 2019 UK Championship on Saturday as the big names aim to step up their quest for the crown in York.
After a break in play on Friday to allow the television set to be assembled, the Betway UK Championship begins in earnest as a selection of the sport’s household names return to the baize.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, the reigning and back-to-back UK Champion, looks to stretch his unbeaten run at the York Barbican to 16 games by overcoming dangerous Chinese cueist Tian Pengfei.
O’Sullivan, who lost out to Judd Trump in the final of the recent Northern Ireland Open, began his title defence with a routine 6-0 whitewash of 18-year-old amateur Ross Bulman on Thursday, but now faces a genuine test against a seasoned campaigner.
O’Sullivan has reached the final in each of his last four appearances in this event and will be keen to maintain that record and avoid any early slip-ups here.
Tian, the world number 65, defeated Sam Craigie 6-4 in Round One and is bidding to reach Round Three of this competition for the second successive year, having also made the Quarter-Finals of this season’s English Open.
The afternoon session also sees an all-Welsh clash between 2003 UK Champion Matthew Stevens and 2017 semi-finalist Ryan Day, while 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham faces Championship League winner Martin Gould in another stand-out tie.
Two players with three ranking titles apiece to their name collide as German Masters Champion Kyren Wilson takes on Marco Fu – runner-up in this event back in 2008.
Wilson whitewashed Riley Parsons 6-0 in his opener, while Fu continued his recovery from an eye problem with a strong scoring display to overcome Craig Steadman 6-3.
Former Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King faces a tricky assignment against Crucible qualifier Lyu Haotian, while an all-Chinese tussle sees Xiao Guodong take on Li Hang.
Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham faces former Indian Open champion Anthony McGill for the right to take on either O’Sullivan or Tian in the Last 32.
Ian Burns, who pulled off a sensational whitewash of Matthew Selt in Round One, aims to maintain his fine form when he faces Michael Holt – quarter-finalist in this event 20 years ago.
The evening session sees two-time UK Champion Mark Selby aiming to avert a potential scalp at the hands of world number 59 Liam Highfield.
Barry Hawkins, who made a magnificent maximum break in his First Round win over Gerard Greene, looks to pick up from where he left off when he takes on former Masters Champion Alan McManus – who pulled off an impressive 6-1 rout of Elliot Slessor in his opener.
Eden Sharav’s reward for his First Round scalp of Shaun Murphy is a meeting with Welshman Daniel Wells, while World Open finalist and Shoot-Out winner Thepchaiya Un-Nooh plays Zhao Xintong in what promises to be a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ battle.
Mark Allen, runner-up in 2011 and 2018, aims to improve on his First Round display against Jimmy White when he takes on Welsh youngster Jak Jones, as former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton faces giant-killer James Cahill – conqueror of David Gilbert on Tuesday.
Neil Robertson, winner here in 2013 and 2015, looks to safely see off former Crucible qualifier Robbie Williams, while Scott Donaldson and Ben Woollaston collide in a repeat of their China Open Quarter-Final which Donaldson won 6-4 in March.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Second Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
Betway UK Championship 2019 Match Schedule
Saturday November 30
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Tian Pengfei
Noppon Saengkham v Anthony McGill
Li Hang v Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu v Kyren Wilson
Ian Burns v Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham v Martin Gould
Mark King v Lyu Haotian
Matthew Stevens v Ryan Day
Daniel Wells v Eden Sharav
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Zhao Xintong
Robbie Williams v Neil Robertson
Anthony Hamilton v James Cahill
Liam Highfield v Mark Selby
Mark Allen v Jak Jones
Scott Donaldson v Ben Woollaston
Barry Hawkins v Alan McManus