Mark Allen is the highest seed in the European Masters quarter-finals after holding off a late Ross Muir fight back on Thursday in Lommel.
The Northern Irishman set up a meeting with Jimmy Robertson, undoubtedly the story of the tournament so far, after sealing a 4-3 victory over in Belgium to reach this stage of a ranking event for the first time this season.
But it’s Robertson’s somewhat unbelievable exploits in deciders this week that have caught the eye and perhaps suggests that if anybody’s name was ever etched on a trophy before the actual conclusion of a tournament, it could be here.
The 32 year-old qualified courtesy of a 4-3 victory over Andy Lee in a final frame that finished on the pink at the Preston Guild Hall in August.
Yet, that was only the beginning for the Englishman, who by reaching the European Masters quarter-finals matches his previous best run in a ranking event.
This week, Robertson has overcome Chinese duo Zhang Yong and Zhou Yuelong, as well as former top 16 player Anthony McGill, all by the scoreline of 4-3 but, even more amazingly, on each occasion he has clinched the triumph on the final black.
Whether he can keep his run going against Allen, who will be regarded as the favourite for the title now with so many marquee names out, will perhaps be the true test of whether or not he can be a genuine contender for a maiden piece of silverware but, either way, it’s been a memorable outing for the world number 32.
Allen is bidding for a first ranking success since the 2016 Players Championship and the reigning Masters winner has won both of his prior encounters with Robertson, including in last year’s World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
Ryan Day, in the same side of the draw, is the only other top 16 member remaining after emerging from a scrappy affair with Mark Selby a 4-2 victor.
Selby’s exploits in a late-night gruelling defeat of John Higgins to claim the China Championship trophy on Sunday, before a taxing trip back to Europe the following day, finally caught up with him and the Welshman was the one to take advantage.
Day meets Mark King for a berth in the semi-final after the former Northern Ireland Open champion continued his solid run, supporting his high-scoring whitewash of Stuart Bingham with another strong 4-1 win against Ricky Walden.
Day has the slightly superior head-to-head but the pair has strangely not encountered each other in seven years and a lot has of course changed since then.
The top half of the European Masters quarter-finals draw is minus the home favourite Luca Brecel after the young Belgian fell in a 4-3 defeat to veteran Anthony Hamilton – much to the disappointment of the local support.
Brecel had fought back from 3-0 down in the last 32 and threatened to repeat the trick, only for the “Sheriff” to outpoint the “Bullet” in a tense decider.
Hamilton, in much better form this season after a dreadful last term that was hindered by a recurring back injury, plays one of the most consistent competitors of late in Jack Lisowski.
Lisowski’s latest run means he has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of the first five ranking events since his appearance in the Riga Masters final in July.
Joe Perry and Tian Pengfei are the other two cueists hoping to feature during the weekend when the format increases and the action gets more serious in the single table set-up.
Perry beat Kyren Wilson while China’s Tian was a 4-2 winner against compatriot Liang Wenbo to reach the last eight of a ranking event for only the second time in his career.