The final of the inaugural Champion of Champions event will take place between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stuart Bingham today.
The Englishmen came through tough semi-final encounters on Saturday against Neil Robertson and Mark Selby respectively.
In a new tournament that has been full of drama and excitement from the very beginning, the last four ties required all but one frame to determine the finalists in Coventry.
Both players withstood comebacks from their respective opponents before sealing their places in Sunday’s swansong.
First, Bingham overcame Leicester’s Selby, winner in Antwerp just last week, in a closely fought 6-4 contest.
In a match that lacked a lot of big breaks, Bingham dominated the opening exchanges to open up a 4-1 advantage but quickly saw that evaporate as Selby came back to level with three consecutive frames.
However, ‘Ballrun’ composed himself to take the last two frames for an impressive victory.
The 37 year-old was invited to play in this competition off the back of his success in the Premier League event last season.
The CofC was initiated to replace the tiring Premier League and it would be some achievement were Bingham to be the first man to get his hands on this trophy, having been the last person to etch his name into the PL cup.
His task to do so could barely be any more difficult as he prepares to take on the world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan, also 37, was involved in a titanic battle with world no.1 Neil Robertson only a night after overcoming man of the moment Ding Junhui in a grueling deciding frame tussle on Friday.
The ‘Rocket’ needed all eleven frames once more as he held off a late challenge from the Melbourne man to finally advance.
The encounter was of a high quality throughout but really came to life in the seventh frame with the scores locked at 3-3.
O’Sullivan knocked in a break of 70 and followed it with a 103 ton to establish a two-frame cushion for the first time and to within one of glory.
However, Robbo responded with an 80 and a 125 century of his own to force the one-frame shoot-out.
In typical fashion, Ronnie replied with a 119 to keep his opponent in his chair and complete a remarkable triumph.
In recent weeks everybody has been talking up Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson as the two best players in the world.
They are certainly two of the best players in the world right now but the player that everybody still have to surpass is O’Sullivan.
When he is at his best, he is unstoppable. And often he doesn’t even need to be at his best.
A player who will need to be is Bingham, who knows that if he has any chance of defeating his his fellow Essex native he’ll have to up his game markedly.
Bingham has only beaten O’Sullivan once in eight attempts, yet that was in the UK Championship over a best of 17 format so he can be confident in the knowledge that he has history.
But it would take some effort and all the signs point to Ronnie O’Sullivan being the first name on the Champion of Champions trophy.