Both semi-finals of the European Masters will feature an Englishman and a Chinese competitor as the final four shoot out for the title in Belgium.
Reigning champion Judd Trump continued his strong defence with a tight 4-3 quarter-final defeat of Mark Allen on Friday.
The 28 year-old will meet Cao Yupeng in the penultimate hurdle, with the latter set to make a maiden ranking event appearance at this stage of a competition.
Cao’s performances this season had noticeably improved even before Lommel, but this run certainly represents a breakthrough display from the 26 year-old.
In facing Trump, Cao will obviously be a big underdog but that didn’t matter when he ousted twice former world champion Mark Williams in the last eight.
Trump and Cao have no previous history against one another so there’s not much to go on, other than the former will be expected to use his experience to reach a second successive European Masters showdown.
The format for the semi-finals increases to the best of eleven frames, which should also suit the former world number one as it gives less opportunity for chance to play a major role.
The second semi-final also includes a proven ranking event winner and a novice set to debut at this stage.
Zhou Yuelong whitewashed Anthony McGill to embark on a maiden run to the semis like his countryman while Stuart Bingham knocked in a 113 and three further half centuries in dispatching of world champion Mark Selby 4-2.
Quite a lot has been expected of Zhou since his emergence onto the Main Tour and subsequent triumph in the World Cup alongside partner Yan Bingtao in 2015.
The 19 year-old has enjoyed a steady but fast rise up the rankings and has already broken into the top 32, so the day of him competing in a single table set-up of a competition was a question more of when rather than if.
It’s no surprise to see Zhou in the mix for silverware and it’ll likely become a regular occurrence in the campaigns to come.
Against Bingham, Zhou will battle with one of the most hardened and experienced fighters in the game.
The pair has met twice before, with one win apiece from both encounters two years ago.
Bingham will be the natural choice of favourite but it’ll be interesting to see whether Zhou can thrive under the extra pressurised conditions.
Either way, it’s an intriguing line-up and one which could produce a range of interesting finales.
Will there be an experienced clash between the two Englishmen, or can both Chinese youngsters upset the odds?
Live coverage continues on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)
Categories: Snooker News