Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham are both seeking a fifth World Championship Quarter-Final appearance when they face off at the Crucible.
One of the most eye-catching second-round ties in Sheffield pits a former champion against the player of the season, with a potential showdown with Neil Robertson at stake.
Well clear on the one-year list, Allen has already captured the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix this term. Although, the Pistol arrived in Sheffield having suffered three first-round exits since his most recent triumph.
His Crucible record also leaves a little to be desired. Though a semi-finalist 14 years ago, he has only reached the last eight once since 2012 – doing so in 2018.
Nevertheless, the world number three made a solid start to this year’s tournament, hitting two centuries and a further four breaks over 50 in his 10-5 victory over former European Masters champion Fan Zhengyi.
Meanwhile, Bingham recovered from a slow start, winning nine of the last 10 frames as he overcame 2019 semi-finalist David Gilbert 10-4.
The 2015 champion, who hit a century and six more breaks over 50, is targeting a third successive quarter-final appearance, having also reached the last four in 2021.
Although, it would match his best performance in a ranking event during a generally modest campaign, which also saw him reach that stage at the WST Classic last month.
Subsequently, ‘Ball Run’ requires another deep run in Sheffield to maintain his top 16 status heading into next season. Indeed, he must reach at least the semi-finals to remain in the elite bracket.
The winner of this best of 25 clash will play either Robertson or Jak Jones in the Quarter-Finals next week.
Play gets underway at 7pm BST on Thursday with the opening eight frames. The next eight following from 2.30pm on Friday, before concluding with a maximum of nine from 10am the following the day at the Crucible Theatre.
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