The final of the 2014 Masters takes place today at the Alexandra Palace in London.
A mouth-watering prospect between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby will take centre stage as the prestigious invitational comes to a showpiece finale.
It is the third meeting in the final of the competition for this pair, who over the years have shared a fierce rivalry.
That record stands at one apiece following a succession of closely contested clashes in the 2009 and 2010 editions.
O’Sullivan took first blood, five years ago beating his countryman 10-8 in a dramatic affair.
It appeared that he was going to successfully defend his title the subsequent year when he led Selby 9-6, but the ‘Jester’ displayed what are now his typical fighting traits to come back and pip O’Sullivan in a thrilling deciding frame climax.
It was actually the second time that Selby came from three down with four to play in a final against the ‘Rocket’, having done the same at the 2008 Welsh Open.
And in that may hold the key to today’s encounter.
O’Sullivan may enjoy the better head-to-head record between the duo but Selby does often seem to get the better of their matches towards the business end of tournaments, as the pressure mounts to extreme levels.
Selby has won three out of their five finals, all of them with deciding frame victories.
The 30 year-old will be well aware that should he keep proceedings relatively close then he will have a good chance of getting inside his opponent’s head.
O’Sullivan refers to Selby as ‘The Torturer’ for his determined never-say-die style of play, but doesn’t necessarily mean it in a disrespectful way.
While he definitely used to look down on the challenge of Selby, these days O’Sullivan has grown to understand and tolerate other methods even if they don’t exactly subscribe to his more attacking, entertaining, beliefs.
It’s hard to pick a favourite here.
If O’Sullivan can open up a sizable advantage he will be a difficult man to catch, despite the fact Selby has overturned deficits in the past.
Part of the reason for this is that the 38 year-old is playing so well right now and appears to be at complete ease with himself and his game.
However, Selby will be doing everything in his power to stay with O’Sullivan early on and the signs bode well.
In each of his three matches so far this week he has achieved quick starts – 4-0 leads over Mark Davis and Shaun Murphy and a 3-1 advantage against John Higgins at the interval.
So, the outcome of this final may hinge on the early exchanged between the two Englishmen.
Either way, it promises to be an intriguing contest in a cauldron atmosphere at Ally Pally.