The field of 16 has been reduced to eight after the opening two days of the inaugural China Championship in Guangzhou.
Mark Selby showed no signs of relinquishing his control on the Main Tour as he comfortably outscored Anthony McGill for a 6-2 victory on Tuesday.
The 33 year-old, who thoroughly dismantled Ding Junhui a couple of days earlier to capture his maiden International Championship title, will seek to continue his form against Mark Allen in tomorrow’s quarter-finals.
Allen missed last week’s trip to Daqing after failing to qualify so should be well motivated to turn around what has been a slow season so far for the Northern Irishman.
In fact, this quarter-final appearance, following his impressive 6-4 triumph over Ricky Walden, represents Allen’s first last eight appearance of the season, albeit having needed to win just one game.
The 30 year-old tends to produce form in streaky spells, so the fact that it has been more than half a year since he has properly contested a tournament suggests that his time to feature once again is imminent.
Allen was my hesitant tip for glory this week but against Selby the three-time ranking event champion will need to be at his best – like he was in round one when he compiled a brace of tons including an event high 140.
Selby and Allen have surprisingly not met each other in over two years, but their head-to-head record goes back to 2008 and is almost all-square.
Meanwhile, two in-form players who won’t be getting anywhere near the monstrous £200,000 winner’s cheque on Saturday are Ding Junhui and Judd Trump.
The former succumbed to a tame 6-3 defeat to Marco Fu while Trump lost the last three frames in a 6-4 surrender to Ali Carter.
Carter will meet John Higgins next after the Scot edged Mark Williams in an entertaining 6-4 tie between two old foes.
Fu, from neighbouring Hong Kong and the beneficiary of perhaps even more support than usual at the well-attended venue, faces Shaun Murphy.
The pair, of course, have plenty of previous having met each other in several clashes from the sport’s traditional Big Three events.
In fact, in addition to the seven overall meetings in editions of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters, Murphy and Fu have also battled in the International Championship, Champion of Champions and even in the old Grand Prix.
Murphy boasts the marginally superior record but Fu has emerged victorious in their last three affairs.
Finally, Stuart Bingham continued his consistency this campaign, beating English Open champion Liang Wenbo, and the world no.2 will play Michael Holt after the improving Englishman denied Neil Robertson in a 6-5 thriller.