Judd Trump produced some high quality snooker to easily dismantle the challenges of Stephen Maguire and Mark Selby in the Champion of Champions on Tuesday.
The Englishman, who gained an invitation to this lucrative tournament by winning the Championship League and Australian Open in 2014, knocked in a flurry of big breaks in his brace of victories, surrendering only a solitary frame in each.
The contrasting way in which Scotland’s Maguire and 25 year-old Trump have been performing this season was only going to lead to one eventual winner, and so it proved as the latter romped to a speedy 4-1 victory with runs of 82, 106, 66 and 89.
The 2011 World Championship runner-up would have perhaps expected a sterner test from the reigning Crucible king in Mark Selby, but the ‘Jester’ too could only manage a paltry single frame having earlier knocked out six-time world champion Steve Davis.
That frame came in the third to reduce a two-frame deficit, but a rampaging and confident Trump reeled off four in a row, adding breaks of 68, 70 and 119, to complete a convincing 6-1 scoreline.
Indeed, it has been a much-improved campaign all-round for Trump, despite slumping to a three-year low of 11 in the world rankings.
The Bristol potter endured a difficult 18 months following his 2012 International Championship success that saw him leap to the number one spot in the standings, before suffering a dramatic slide.
But victory in the short formatted Championship League at Crondon Park got him back into the winners’ circle and he was rewarded for making the effort to travel to Bendigo by capturing his fourth ranking event crown in the summer.
Despite a surprise early exit at the hands of Jamie Burnett in Chengdu last week, the signs are positive that Trump could be about to return to the elite band at the top of the game.
With the talent that this still very young competitor possesses, it was only ever going to be a matter of time.
Wednesday will see the penultimate bracket of four players whittled down to provide us with our third semi-finalist.
Today the defending champion enters the fray with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s first obstacle being a familiar face in Stuart Bingham, the man he overcame in the final to lift the trophy 12 months ago.
This quartet is one of the toughest of the week as the other last 16 clash comprises of Bulgarian Open champion Shaun Murphy and Hong Kong’s Marco Fu.
It’s difficult to pick a winner out of those four, particularly in the opening pair of matches where the best of seven format is so short.
O’Sullivan didn’t fare that well in his travels to China, in stark contrast to Bingham who nabbed a couple of cups for his growing cabinet, but the ‘Rocket’ is predominantly more at ease on UK soil so it would be foolish to write off his top form just yet.
In reality, though, all four have a good chance and will each be confident in their own right of advancing to Saturday’s last four.
Don’t forget that Irish and UK viewers can tune into full coverage of this event on ITV4.