Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to secure a sixth World Championship title and deny Kyren Wilson a fairy-tale first success when the duo collide in a mouth-watering final at The Crucible.
An astonishing climax to the Semi-Finals saw both matches go down to a deciding frame on Friday, with Wilson coming through an hour-long epic against Anthony McGill before O’Sullivan completed a remarkable comeback over Mark Selby.
The drama that only the sport’s show-piece event can deliver is set to continue over the next two days as the old guard and new guard collide for snooker’s ultimate prize.
Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan is out to pick up what would be a record-breaking 37th career ranking title and remain in pursuit of Stephen Hendry’s record tally of seven world titles.
The 44-year-old is appearing in his seventh world final, with his defeat to Selby in 2014 the only blemish to his record, and is vying for a first ranking title since March 2019.
The sport’s most enigmatic performer has produced both his best and worst on the table over the past fortnight, as well as making his traditional headlines off it with various comments.
He sent out an emphatic message by thrashing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in the fastest match in the history of the tournament, before overcoming 2016 finalist Ding Junhui 13-10 in a thrilling Last 16 contest.
O’Sullivan then recovered from 7-2 down to deny three-time champion Mark Williams 13-10 with five centuries to his name, before staging another fightback from 13-9 and 16-14 down to edge past rival Selby in a pulsating decider.
O’Sullivan has revealed the lack of crowd has helped him to relax both on and off the baize without the added pressure and demands around the venue, but The Rocket will now have to perform in front of a 300-strong contingent at The Crucible after fans were given the green light by the UK government to return.
The most prolific break-builder with the sport has ever seen, O’Sullivan has won eight of his last ten ranking finals and four of his six previous meetings with Wilson.
Wilson is gearing up for a date with destiny as he steps out for his first appearance in a World Championship final.
Born in 1991, the year before O’Sullivan turned professional, Wilson has emerged as one of the sport’s hottest new talents and is into his ninth ranking final.
Runner-up at The Masters in 2018, Wilson is a three-time major winner who thrives on the big occasion and now has the opportunity to etch his name into snooker’s history books.
The Kettering cueist found himself in the unprecedented position of watching the entire First Round unfold from home, having received a bye as a result of Anthony Hamilton’s withdrawal.
The number eight seed came into the tournament fresh, and despite lacking the match sharpness gained by his rivals, he saw off a resurgent Martin Gould 13-9.
He then announced himself as a key title contender by dethroning reigning champion Judd Trump with a 13-9 victory in the Quarter-Finals, before completing an 17-16 win over McGill in a match of incredible twists and turns.
After getting over line in a deciding frame which featured a Crucible record points total and left him in tears, Wilson will look to dust himself down and go again for the biggest match of his life.
The 28-year-old won his most recent meeting with O’Sullivan – in the Semi-Finals of this year’s Welsh Open – one of three consecutive last-frame deciders between the pair.
O’Sullivan prevailed 10-9 in the 2018 Champion of Champions final and 6-5 in the Quarter-Finals of the 2019 Shanghai Masters en route to taking the title.
Their best of 35 frame encounter gets underway from 1.30pm BST on Saturday and will be played over four sessions, culminating at 7.30pm on Sunday, with the winner pocketing £500,000.
O’Sullivan v Wilson – Player’s View:
O’Sullivan: “For three days I’ve just been looking for a cue action where I can hit the ball half straight.
“If I can find the cue action then I will enjoy the final. Cue action first and everything else is a bonus.
“I’m old enough to be his [Kyren’s] dad! I shouldn’t be here really. I’m 44 with no cue action!
“Genius and bad doesn’t win you world titles, you need to be steady Eddie like Novak Djokovic, the flamboyant stuff doesn’t win you World Championships.”
Wilson: “I’ve dreamt of this moment but I didn’t want to get there like this.
“I felt like it was one of the best semi-finals ever at the Crucible. I felt it was such a good standard, I’m just annoyed that it ended that way.
“My game is in such good shape, I feel so good.
“I’ll be giving it my all for the next few days, I’ve dreamt of this moment and I won’t be letting it slip.”