Ding Junhui has been the man of the last couple of months after completing a rare trio of successive ranking event titles.
However, Mark Allen is now only four matches away from completing a hat-trick of his own in the minor ranking event European Tour series.
The Northern Irishman won the last two PTC events in Ruhr and Gloucester and on Saturday reached the fourth round of the Antwerp Open.
Allen began his quest with a whitewash victory over Allan Taylor before a 4-2 success over Shaun Murphy, who is having a very quiet season by his high standards.
The 27 year-old then knocked out China’s Yu Delu to set up a last 16 clash with Joe Perry on Sunday.
England’s Perry battled hard to see off Liam Highfield 4-3 in the third round to maintain his challenge.
Were Allen to emerge victorious in Belgium it would not only complete a rare achievement of three in a row, but would also mean he successfully defends the crown he won in Antwerp last season.
Furthermore, the possibility is still there for the two most in-form players right now meeting in the final with Ding in the opposite side of the draw.
The pair met in the final when Allen won the first of his current streak of titles in Germany – the Ulster man coming out on top 4-1.
It will not be an easy task for either of them, though, as the fourth round is littered with high quality opposition.
Not least is the current world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was near his devastating best in a 4-0 drubbing of Michael White that include 142 and 130 century breaks.
The ‘Rocket’ will play fellow Essex cueman Stuart Bingham for a place in the quarter-finals, where he could meet Allen.
Bingham easily overcame Dave Harold and James Wattana before edging past Scotland’s Graeme Dott 4-3.
Teenager Joel Walker, once O’Sullivan’s understudy, continued his recent run of form and qualified for the fourth round of a Euro Tour event for the second time in succession with impressive victories over Alex Davies, Jamie Cope and Mark King – the last two 4-0 scorelines.
Walker will face Kurt Maflin, who also is in the fourth round for a second time in a row, after the Norway player was in typically high scoring mood.
Finally, English duo Ben Woollaston and Sam Baird came through unscathed and will face each other on Sunday, a day which will also see the winner crowned.
That winner is hard to tip because included in the top half are the likes of two-time world champion Mark Williams, Australian Open winner Marco Fu and three-time Masters king Mark Selby.
As ever, the players have been well-received in Belgium with enthusiastic crowds – who are bound to be further entertained on Finals Day.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.
Hi David. Like always I have a few questions and I would like you to share your thoughts on them.
The tournament was great, but I would like to describe what I did not like about its coverage. The first thing is the poor coverage of the event both on TV and in the media by the leading snooker TV-channels and web pages. Why is it not possible to record the matches with the top players and then to show the digest of their performances? We live in the 21st century and Worldsnooker should have enough of money to allow the fans to enjoy snooker in the best possible way. We missed the maiden 147 by Judd Trump. It is a real pity. BBC and Eurosport web pages do not write anything about minor events, and if they dare to write anything then it has nothing to do with anybody but Ronnie or a tiny few from the elite of the sport. I like them all but these media giants should be unbiased in their coverage of the events. Your blog is a real treat to all snooker fans. Frankly speaking I am getting to know far more about snooker from your blog than from the official snooker web page or other leading web pages.
Another question is about the referees or to be more precise about their crucial mistakes. Why was not those mistakes mentioned in the articles devoted to the matches? The first crucial mistake was in the last ranking event semi-final when the opponent of Marco Fu hit the black first and the referee called the foul but then changed his decision based on the mistake from the Chinese referee who watched the shot on his screen. That mistake might have influenced the outcome of the semi-final. The second mistake was in the final yesterday (or today in this country) when Mark Selby did not hit the black ball first but the referee called the miss. It might have spoiled the mood of the marvelous yesterday Selby, but luckily it did not.
What is your opinion about these things?
Thanks a lot in advance for your deep and profound comments, which help me (and other fans I believe) understand snooker in a better way.
P.S. While rereading my post I came across another question: it seemed to me that Ronnie played without passion and excitement at some point of the match with Liang Wenbo and Mark Selby. It first everything was superb, but then something went wrong (it is my personal perception of his game at that moments only) and Ronnie played low snooker by his standards. Am I mistaken here or was there anything else (problems of the psychological nature – I mean it is very boring to play with low ranking players and then to play at your best with the top players)?
Personally, I’ve felt that the BBC sport website has let itself down in a number of sports over the last few years – not just snooker. But yes, its coverage is very poor and it took Stephen Lee’s case to get any significant stories on their site.
As for Eurosport, I think people can be very harsh on them. They might not show blanket coverage but they have commitments to a wide variety of sports, not only snooker. Their scheduling could sometimes perhaps be better because there are times that live sport is on and they are showing repeats of something. But overall their coverage of snooker is excellent and it has been one of the key reasons why there is a wave of interest in Europe right now.
I agree with the cameras. Setting up a simple webcam for each table would be very easy and very cheap to do. These matches wouldn’t have to be broadcast but at least if a big break or important moment arose there would be evidence. As for the referees, well, they are only human. Obviously, you want them to make as few mistakes as possible but sometimes mistakes happen. If the same referee makes the same mistakes over and over again then of course there’s a bigger problem.
Ronnie’s Ronnie. He can look in the zone one minute and away with the fairies the next. i think just take his attitude as it comes in his case, infuriating as it may be.
thanks for sharing your thoughts. Reading your articles is a real treat in the noisy confusions of life. Keep up the great job you have been doing.