There’ll be a new name on the Paul Hunter trophy as Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson bid for Masters glory on Sunday in the Alexandra Palace.
The pair, each bidding for a maiden major title, emerged from their semi-final encounters on Saturday in contrasting fashion to set up an intriguing fixture that will introduce a new member into the exclusive club of Triple Crown champions.
Allen was again impressive as he followed up his 6-1 thumping of the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight with a second confident triumph against another all-time legend in John Higgins.
The latter compiled a brace of centuries, the first of which representing his 700th in competition, but it wasn’t enough to penetrate Allen’s defences.
Allen, hoping to emulate fellow Northern Irishmen Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor as a winner of the prestigious invitational, boasted a calmness and killer instinct that he has rarely shown on the bigger stages – consistently at least.
The 31 year-old will make only the second major final appearance of his career and it’s a long time since he last featured at this late point of proceedings, when he narrowly lost in the UK Championship decider to Judd Trump in 2011.
It looked for all money like it could have been a repeat of that clash from more than six years ago but Trump threw away a golden opportunity as he let slip a 5-2 lead against Wilson to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.
To be fair to Wilson, the Kettering cueist raised his standard to another level in the final four frames, constructing runs of 111, 72, and 57 to determinedly overturn the deficit, but he also took advantage of an opponent who imploded again in a major championship.
While Trump’s wait to add to his sole success prolongs further, the final will be all about how a new name will be announcing himself as a force in the game.
In fact, not since 2012 – Ally Pally’s debut year as host – has there been two first-time Masters finalists in the Sunday showdown for glory.
There is bound to be an electric atmosphere in the English capital as the duo go head-to-head for the right to lift the famous Waterford Crystal trophy.
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Allen will probably start as the favourite with both the bookmakers and the majority of the fans, and he’ll be expected to have plenty of boisterous support inside the arena as he attempts to put behind him a decade of disappointment in the traditional big three events.
Wilson, though, is potentially a player who possesses the kind of all-round game that could maybe see him emulate the likes of John Higgins and Mark Selby in the future.
A triumph today, at the age of just 26, would be a monumental moment in his fledgling career that could give him the confidence to be a more dominant contender.
Allen and Wilson have met on six occasions, usually under high-profile circumstances, and the scores stand at an even three victories apiece.
All three of Wilson’s triumphs have come in important affairs with two semi-final victories, including when he went on to claim his 2015 Shanghai Masters crown, and a 13-9 success in the last 16 of the World Championship in 2016 standing out as notable meetings.
Whether that history will play a role in their biggest encounter to date remains to be seen but a tight battle that could go near the distance seems to be the most logical prediction to make.
Who will win may ultimately come down to which player can hold his nerve the best when the pressure is at its most intense, just the way it should be at the Masters.
Live coverage will be on the BBC and Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)