Both of last year’s finalists remain on a collision course to meet at the same stage again after reaching the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters today in China.
Defending champion Stuart Bingham and the player who he overcame to lift the trophy in 2014, Mark Allen, both recorded comprehensive 5-1 victories in the last 16.
Bingham had a 103 break as he dealt with the challenge of fellow Englishman Mike Dunn while Northern Ireland’s Allen had too much for David Grace – who was making his maiden appearance at this stage of a ranking event.
Judd Trump joined them in the last eight with a hard-fought 5-4 triumph over the much-improved Matthew Selt, setting up a tie with Welsh favourite Mark Williams.
Trump built up a 4-2 advantage but was pegged back and it looked like Selt was going to take the decider before a 41 break nicked it for the former world no.1 on the black.
Williams also prevailed in a close match, albeit with a frame to spare, in his enjoyable affair against Jamie Cope, benefiting from opening up a 3-0 early cushion that his opponent could never quite reel all the way in despite a valiant effort.
Both Bingham and Allen’s upcoming prospects may be different from what they would have expected, though, as the purge of the higher seeds continued.
World champion Bingham will face Martin Gould after the Australian Open runner-up gained a modicum of revenge over John Higgins for the defeat to the Scot in Bendigo earlier this summer.
Allen, meanwhile, will do battle with Mark Davis, who rattled off four frames on the spin to come from 3-1 down and oust Shaun Murphy 5-3.
Elsewhere, home hope Ding Junhui survived a scare of his own to scrape past Ryan Day in another decider.
The Chinese superstar, champion two years ago, will meet Kyren Wilson for a semi-final berth after the 23 year-old edged Michael Holt to reach the quarter-final in Shanghai for the second time.