John Higgins has completed the last four line-up in the Champion of Champions after an excellent 6-4 victory over Judd Trump in Coventry.
The Scot prolonged his superb form in November, having last weekend clinched the inaugural Evergrande Championship in China – where he pocketed a tidy £200,000 winner’s cheque.
Another £100,000 is on offer for this Saturday’s overall winner at the Ricoh Arena and what a fantastic final four there is left contesting this increasingly prestigious invitational.
Higgins once again produced an excellent display, both in overcoming Shaun Murphy 4-2 in the last 16 this afternoon and his subsequent tight triumph over the similarly in-form Trump.
ITV4 commentator Clive Everton remarked that Higgins missed only ten balls throughout the entire day, in which he played in 16 frames, and boasted a 97% pot success rate in his quarter-final victory.
Trump, who earlier in the day compiled a hat-trick of tons in pipping Anthony McGill in a decider, also played well bar a mid-match wobble which was arguably the deciding factor in the game.
From 2-2, Higgins capitalised on a few costly mistakes from his opponent to reach the brink at 5-2.
European Masters champion Trump responded gallantly with an excellent 79 clearance to the pink and a 65 in the next to reduce the gap to only one.
Yet, a composed long red from Higgins in the tenth frame set him on his way to a wonderful total clearance of 143 – the highest break in the tournament so far.
The 41 year-old will face Shanghai Masters champion Ding Junhui in the first semi-final on Friday.
Interestingly, the latter boasts a superior head-to-head record and, indeed, has prevailed in the last five meetings between the pair.
This includes the last 16 of the World Championship in 2015 and just recently too at the International Championship, when Ding beat Higgins 6-2 over the same best of 11 format.
Ding will also have happy memories of their UK Championship final in 2009 when the Chinese no.1 lifted his second Triple Crown major trophy.
However, write Higgins off at your peril and it is clear to see that the former world no.1 is back playing at a level which is, in many ways, approaching his best standard.
Victory for either will grant Ding or Higgins a maiden appearance in a Champion of Champions final.
In contrast, the second semi-final affair features two competitors who know the showpiece encounter for the title particularly well.
Mark Allen finished runner-up to Neil Robertson 12 months ago, while in 2013 and 2014 Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged triumphant on both occasions.
In fact, the ‘Rocket’ has never been defeated in the tournament having not participated in last year’s edition.
Somewhat surprisingly, O’Sullivan and Allen have only met four times in total.
Considering the duo has featured in the higher echelons of the sport for many years this does come as an oddity of sorts.
Two wins apiece ensure that there is nothing of note to call upon from their prior ties, although Northern Ireland’s Allen has defeated the 40 year-old in the World Championship and the Masters.
Those duels came seven and five years ago respectively, though, with their most recent tie in Bucharest last month won by O’Sullivan.
The bookies will undoubtedly favour the five-time world champion and rightly so, but Allen, popularly known as a streaky competitor, is due a very strong week and perhaps this could be it.