John Higgins and Stuart Bingham will contest the inaugural China Championship final after emerging from contrasting last four encounters in Guangzhou.
Higgins comfortably conquered Mark Allen, who disappointed with a flat performance following his excellent victory over world no.1 Mark Selby on Thursday.
Higgins raced into a 3-0 lead with the help of a 131 and never looked like relinquishing his advantage thereafter, eventually running out a comprehensive 9-3 winner.
With the triumph, the four-time world champion guaranteed his spot in the upcoming Champion of Champions invitational in Coventry.
Higgins had been required to capture the title this week in order to qualify, but Marco Fu’s withdrawal on Friday has meant that the Scot books his place regardless of the outcome of this final.
If he finishes runner-up in China, the 41 year-old will still be invited as the next highest ranked competitor after Joe Perry – who has also guaranteed his spot at the Ricoh Arena.
Meanwhile, Bingham was conversely taken the distance in his semi-final tie as he denied Shaun Murphy in an epic thriller 9-8.
In a repeat of their 2015 World Championship final showdown, the pair conjured up another treat for the fans with a high-scoring affair from start to finish.
Both cueists held the advantage at various junctures of the topsy-turvy affair, where four centuries and ten further breaks above 70 were compiled.
Bingham knocked in three of those tons, including a superb 141 which briefly stood atop the high break standings until Murphy duly responded with a 144 total clearance of his own.
The world no.2 had the last laugh, though, surviving Murphy’s comeback from 8-6 down by hitting a nerveless 114 in the decider.
It continues a magnificent run for Bingham – the Englishman has reached the semi-finals or better in the last five events he has participated in.
That the 40 year-old hasn’t added a trophy to his collection is the only blip during that spell, but Bingham will seek to remedy that against Higgins tomorrow.
With £200,000 at stake for the champion, the biggest top prize ever to be awarded outside the UK, both contenders will be desperate to reproduce their A-games.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Higgins boasts a much superior head-to-head record against Bingham, albeit the latter did prevail in their most recent affair at the Masters in January.
Prior to that, the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ had emerged victorious in their last five meetings but Bingham won’t care too much about that, especially after ousting Murphy who also possessed a much greater record against him.
If Bingham scores as heavily as he did against Murphy, with seven frame-winning contributions, he will be difficult to overcome but Higgins obviously has the better experience when it comes to high-pressured matches of this importance.
Who do you think will triumph?
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