Mark Allen edged world champion Mark Selby in a 6-5 thriller to reach the semi-finals of the inaugural China Championship on Thursday.
The Northern Irishman compiled a hat-trick of centuries as he established a 5-2 lead, only for Selby to launch one of his trademark comebacks and eventually force a decider with a 127 ton of his own.
Allen, though, held his nerve in the final frame shoot-out with a run of 60 helping him across the winning post, in the process denying the world no.1 a double massive payday in China following Selby’s recent International Championship success.
Allen missed last week’s ranking event in Daqing after failing to qualify, so was probably motivated to make amends in this lucrative invitational where a whopping £200,000 is at stake for the champion – the most ever awarded outside the UK.
The 30 year-old will take on John Higgins in the last four after the Scot comfortably ousted Ali Carter 6-2.
Higgins has finally got a mini monkey off his back having previously reached and being dumped out of four quarter-finals since the World Open in July, when ironically he was whitewashed by Carter.
Indeed, this also represents Allen’s first semi-final appearance of the season and the three-time ranking event champion will be hoping to extend a winning record over Higgins which has seen him prevail in the last four meetings between the pair.
That run includes a last four defeat of the 41 year-old in the 2013 World Open, also staged in China, where Allen duly went on to capture the title.
Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the draw Stuart Bingham prolonged his persistent consistency this campaign as he booked a semi-final berth for the fifth event running.
The world no.2 held off the increasingly dangerous Michael Holt in another tie which went the distance.
On Friday, Bingham will feature in an all-English battle with fellow former world champion Shaun Murphy.
Murphy hammered Marco Fu with a clinical performance of power scoring, knocking in consecutive runs of 129, 69, 66, 101, 63 and 64 in establishing a 5-0 early cushion.
Fu fought gallantly to retrieve a couple of frames but the damage had been served, with Murphy eventually completing a 6-2 triumph over the player from Hong Kong – which is only about an hour away from the Guangzhou Sports Venue.
Murphy has an overwhelmingly superior head-to-head record against Bingham but, perhaps crucially, the latter of course emerged victorious in their World Championship final duel from 2015.
Murphy did gain a modicum of revenge by lifting the World Grand Prix trophy at Bingham’s expense in March and has only lost to his countryman on three occasions in total.
With £50,000 the difference between a semi-final exit and a place in the final, the two remaining encounters are sure to be fiercely contested, with the format accordingly adjusted to the longer best of 17 guise.