The final of the 2018 German Masters will take place between two former world champions at the Tempodrom in Berlin on Sunday.
Mark Williams and Graeme Dott emerged from contrasting semi-final encounters on the penultimate day of action to set up an unlikely showdown between the two 40-something year-olds.
Few would have predicted that the final two would have consisted of this pair at the start of the week, especially Dott, who has really come out of nowhere to embark on this kind of run in a tournament of this stature.
Not since the 2010 World Championship has the tenacious Scot reached the final two and you’d have to go all the way back to the 2007 China Open for his last success in a ranking event.
The 2006 Crucible king once again relied on all of his famed battling qualities to superbly come from behind and beat Shaun Murphy in Saturday’s opening last four encounter.
When Dott failed to snatch the sixth frame after being given the opportunity to open up a two-frame advantage for the first time and subsequently fell 4-3 behind to the favourite, the writing looked on the wall.
Yet, the 40 year-old dug deep and conjured up a superb sequence of play that included magnificent clearances of 74 and 66 to move back in front, before a confident 121 century sealed the deal to defy his decade away from the big-time.
As a former world champion, Dott perhaps hasn’t received the respect that he deserves down through the years and a third ranking title could be a just reward for a player who has offered a lot to the sport throughout his career.
It seems certain that if he is to be denied, his opponent will have to scrape him off the table, highlighted not only be his tight triumph in the last four but also following his brace of incredible 5-4 successes on Friday – including reversing a 4-0 deficit to Xiao Guodong in the quarter-finals.
Against Williams, who comfortably saw off Judd Trump with a 6-1 scoreline, Dott will undoubtedly face another mighty challenge.
The Welshman has been a rejuvenated force this season with glories already to his name in the Six Red World Championship and, most notably, the Northern Ireland Open.
That latter victory represented the former world number one’s first ranking trophy since capturing the inaugural German Masters in 2011.
If Williams were to proceed to claim the title again today, the 42 year-old would be the first player to do the double in Berlin and thus break the “Curse of the Tempodrom”.
A win would also see Williams’ total ranking event tally rise to 20, which of course would be an astounding achievement of success spanning more than two decades.
Williams then will naturally represent the favourite in the snooker betting odds and the head-to-head record between the duo reflects that as well.
Dott has prevailed only three times from their eleven meaningful clashes and the Scot has lost all of their battles over a greater distance, including twice in the UK Championship over the best of 17 frames and once in the World Championship.
The Scot will be hoping to control his nerves and get off to a strong start, with sharing the first session’s set of eight frames appearing like the minimum he can afford against a champion of Williams’ prowess.
Whatever happens and whoever the contenders, the atmosphere will, as ever, be electric inside the imposing circus tent auditorium, with around 2,500 enthusiastic fans in the Tempodrom generating one of the best backdrops in the sport.