The Scottish Open final in Glasgow will be contested between Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy after the pair advanced to the title decider on Saturday.
Allen left it late but eventually launched a terrific comeback to deny Daniel Wells in a decider while Murphy overcame Judd Trump more comfortably courtesy of a 6-3 victory.
The pair will do battle on Sunday over the best of 17 frames, with a £70,000 top prize and the Stephen Hendry Trophy at stake.
Given Allen and Murphy’s contrasting runs of form this season, the former would generally be considered the favourite for glory.
However, his unusual admission following his turnaround against Wells that he required a couple of drinks at the mid-session interval when 4-0 down might leave fans of the Northern Irishman concerned about his chances.
Allen said that he went to Scotland with the primary purpose of having a good time and his successful run to the latter stages hasn’t prevented him from fulfilling that mission away from the baize.
The 32 year-old, who could barely pot a ball in the opening exchanges of his semi-final such was his poor condition, bounced back with a brace of tons after his little half-time hair of the dog.
The Antrim man began 2018 by capturing a maiden Triple Crown trophy at the Masters and could end the year in similar fashion with more silverware in his cabinet.
In what has arguably been Allen’s best calendar year of his career, he has also triumphed in the International Championship and last week was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the UK Championship in York.
Murphy, by contrast, has endured a dreadful 2018/19 campaign so far with this tournament marking the first time the “Magician” had even gone beyond the last 16 of a ranking event.
Indeed, the former world champion had lost in six first round clashes to see his ranking slide down outside the top ten for the first time in four years.
The 36 year-old’s struggles were hardly going to last forever, though, and he booked his place in the Scottish Open final with an assured defeat of Trump that was founded on three early contributions that helped him to establish what proved to be an insurmountable lead.
💬 @Magician147: “I doubt there’ll be much safety play”
Former world champ Murphy meets friend & Masters winner Mark Allen in the final of the @BetVictor Scottish Open tomorrow.
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) December 15, 2018
In Murphy’s favour, other than the fact that he’ll likely be better prepared for the upcoming showdown, is a far superior head-to-head record against Allen.
The latter has prevailed in their latest couple of fixtures but overall it’s Murphy who has won the majority, with ten victories from their 14 prior duels.
While Allen will be bidding for a fifth career ranking title, Murphy is looking for his eighth and will hope to end an unwanted trend that has seen him lose in his last four ranking event finals.
Murphy and Allen are close friends off the table so the Scottish Open final is likely to be played in good spirit, albeit neither will be happy with second place having done the hard work to reach this point.
Seven out of the ten Home Nations finals since the series was launched in 2016 have either gone the distance or taken all but one frame to complete.
Everything points to this affair, which will bring 2018 to a conclusion in terms of the silverware being handed out, representing a tight tussle as well.