Only four players remain in the hunt for the 2018 German Masters crown after a busy opening few days at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
The imposing arena has come in for some criticism this week, mostly to do with the arrangement of the tables inside the venue, but it’s usually from around this point on that the tournament really comes into its own.
In fact, you could even say that it’s from the quarter-final stage that the German Masters truly starts to capture the imagination of the crowd and those watching at home.
Three years ago, there was a magical Friday night that produced four incredible quarter-final ties that each went the distance and a maximum 147 from Judd Trump that helped create an atmosphere to remember inside the Tempodrom.
The following year, three encounters went all the way and you’d actually have to go all the way back to the inaugural edition in 2011 for a quarter-final session that didn’t provide at least one 5-4 climax.
In that regard, yesterday evening didn’t disappoint with a couple of 5-3 scorelines supplementing Shaun Murphy’s narrow 5-4 success against Ryan Day and Graeme Dott’s incredible fight back from 4-0 down to deny Xiao Guodong.
Of course, the action on Saturday and Sunday will now focus solely on the single table in the heart of the cauldron circus-styled tent arena.
Three former world champions and world number three Judd Trump make up an intriguing final four line-up.
Mark Williams is the sole remaining survivor of the five competitors who began the week as former winners hoping to break the “Curse of the Tempodrom” – that of there never having been a repeat champion in the German capital city.
The Welshman, who outlasted Jimmy Robertson in the last eight, faces an opponent in Trump who has so far bounced back strongly from his painful semi-final defeat in the Masters and a subsequent shock early exit in the China Open qualifiers.
Trump boasts a superior head-to-head record against Williams and has beaten the 42 year-old in the last three occasions they’ve clashed.
However, Williams has been a rejuvenated force this season and has clearly been buoyed by triumphs in the Six Red World Championship and, more notably, the Northern Ireland Open late in 2017.
Williams, usually such a cool customer, will be well aware of Trump’s frequent fallibility when it comes to the big occasion, albeit it’s difficult to predict what kind of performance the latter will throw in because, outside of the majors, the 28 year-old has undoubtedly been one of the most prolific players in the game over the last couple of years.
Before that, the first semi-final this afternoon will see 2006 world champion Dott challenge 2005 Crucible king Murphy.
Dott relied on all of his tenacity to emerge from a brace of deciding frame thrillers on Friday and reach his first ranking event semi-final since this very tournament in 2016.
It seems strange to think that Dott has only recently entered his forties, both because it seems like he’s been around forever and also as it means that he still has a few years left to compete at the very top if he can get his game going again.
Against Murphy, he comes up against one of the best players of this campaign, although one who is still searching for his first ranking event trophy of the term.
Three times the Magician has reached the Sunday showdown for glory this season only to be denied at the final hurdle, so the Champion of Champions will be keen to put that right this weekend.
Murphy unsurprisingly possesses the better record with eight victories from their eleven prior ties, including in the last 16 of the 2013 German Masters when he prevailed in a high-scoring battle 5-4.
On paper, this match seems to be the easier to call with Murphy representing the obvious favourite but it would be foolish to write off Dott completely.
Whether or not he will be feeling the affects of two gruelling bouts on Friday, though, remains to be seen and could be something that edges it even more in the Englishman’s favour.
Either way, it promises to be an enjoyable conclusion and an atmosphere to savour inside the magnificent Tempodrom over the next couple of days.
Live coverage continues on Eurosport.