You don’t often see heated rivalries in snooker but the escalating one between Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson is currently simmering nicely.
The merry band of cueists that make up the Main Tour are often lauded for their pleasant personalities that buffer an overall camaraderie within the sport.
While this is in general seen as a positive thing, the very meaning of sport is to create competition so a little needle here and there can frequently add a little spice to the billing.
If it’s all smiles and hugs, amid a constant polite recognition of the other’s ability, sport risks becoming a little bland.
Cue Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson, whose angst towards one another has soared over the last year or so.
The pair is nowhere near close to reaching the level of friction that was generated by the greatest rivalry of all time in snooker – the one shared between Alex Higgins and Steve Davis – but there are some similarities to reference.
Trump boasts the same kind of flair, on the table at least, as the flamboyant Higgins managed to conjure in his aggressive pomp.
Wilson, meanwhile, possesses a polarised style of play, a steady and measured approach akin to the “Nugget” when he was at his most dominant in the 1980s.
They say that opposites attract but Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson have openly admitted that they have never really seen eye-to-eye with one another.
The latter probably didn’t help the matter when he landed his maiden ranking title at the expense of Trump in the 2015 Shanghai Masters with a thrilling 10-9 victory.
History repeated itself in the form of a dramatic final frame triumph twelve months ago in the Masters when Wilson’s superior temperament proved the difference in a come-from-behind 6-5 win in the last four.
The duo clash again at the Alexandra Palace on Wednesday in an eagerly anticipated first round tie and it was almost inevitable that they would be drawn together after the jibes that have been thrown in recent months.
Following Wilson’s 6-1 defeat of Trump in the Champion of Champions in November, Wilson said: “I was quite shocked to walk in the practice room and Judd was sat down.”
“I tried to get back on the practice table to get my arm going and I thought he’d have done the same.
“Sending these little messages to players just makes you think, maybe I want it a bit more than you.”
Trump, speaking live in the Eurosport studio after an early victory in the following week’s Northern Ireland Open, retorted: “With his cue action, he probably needs a bit more practice than me.”
“People are saying that Kyren is the next up and coming star but he’s nearly my age and he’s won nowhere near what I’ve won.”
Trump went on to collect the silverware that week – ironically, the Alex Higgins Trophy – to make it nine career ranking titles.
Wilson, two years his opponent’s junior at the age of 27, has emerged successfully in two ranking tournaments, including this season’s Paul Hunter Classic.
Even though Trump is the higher ranked player and will be considered as the bookies favourite to advance, it’s Wilson who boasts a superior head-to-head record.
Indeed, the Kettering cueist has won six out of their nine encounters, including all four since 2018’s memorable showdown in London.
There is a sense that the underdog has the upper hand in terms of the mind games too and the fact that Wilson, runner-up to Mark Allen last year, can better rely on his B-game could be a telling difference.
That said, Trump will be motivated to put right the disappointment of previous Masters after failing in his eight prior appearances to reach the final.
Either way, watch out for their pre-break off handshake and see if there is an attempt to unsettle the other before the action even gets under way.
There’s hardly a better stage in snooker for such a rivalry to flourish with 2,000-plus boisterous fans baying for blood.
It probably won’t reach those extremes but let’s hope that Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson can produce an epic battle that will prolong their conflict a little longer.
Live coverage of the Masters will be on Eurosport and the BBC.
Click here to view the full Masters Draw (Times: CET)