The China Championship quarter-final stage will be played on Friday with eight players left in the hunt for glory in Guangzhou.
Defending champion Mark Selby is three wins away from a repeat success after a hard-fought 5-2 triumph over Chris Wakelin on day four.
The three-time world champion hasn’t won silverware since his victory in this tournament twelve months ago and is searching for the silverware that would grant him with an invitation into the lucrative upcoming Champion of Champions.
Indeed, as things have turned out this week in China, the line-up at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry in November is guaranteed a new name as all the repeat winners from the last year or so have crashed out.
John Higgins and Matthew Selt were the last survivors but exited with 5-3 reverses to Kurt Maflin and Shaun Murphy respectively.
The former’s ousting of Higgins was particularly impressive given the fact that he fell three frames behind early in the match.
Maflin has met Murphy, arguably the most in-form competitor of the season so far having reached a brace of finals already in China since August, on four occasions with the scores tied at two victories apiece.
Selby’s opponent, meanwhile, will be Barry Hawkins after the Englishman held off a spirited fight back from Zhao Xintong to ultimately prevail by a single frame, 5-4.
Hawkins had led 3-0 and 4-3 but Zhao forced the decider and was in with a first opportunity to clinch it, but the experienced player held on.
Selby and Hawkins enjoy a relatively even head-to-head record from numerous meetings with one another – their last also occurring in China when the Leicester man triumphed in the 2018 China Open.
Elsewhere, Mark Williams was the first player to reach the last eight after he emerged from a scrappy affair with former champion Luca Brecel a comfortable 5-1 champion.
Williams hasn’t won a ranking title in more than a year but will fancy his chances of handling the bottom half of draw.
The Welshman faces David Gilbert next, the ever-improving Englishman who is making another strong bid for a maiden ranking crown.
Gilbert, who reached the World Championship semi-finals in May, came from two frames down to overcome Noppon Saengkham 5-2.
The 38 year-old, runner-up in two ranking events during the last campaign, is in the form of his career and now an established member of the top 16.
Williams and Gilbert’s last two encounters have been memorable ones with the latter gaining revenge at the Crucible after he threw away a four-frame lead to the former world number one in the final of the World Open last summer.
The other tie in the bottom bracket sees Joe Perry tackle Hossein Vafaei in a somewhat unexpected tie.
Perry took advantage of a poor day at the office from world champion Judd Trump to coast through to the China Championship quarter-final stage.
It was markedly different for Vafaei, the Iranian fighting back from 4-3 down to deny Anthony McGill in a decider.
Vafaei has only played Perry three times before, losing twice but winning their last encounter two years ago in Beijing.
The good news for the “Gentleman” is that his return to the top 16 after the conclusion of this week looks very likely.
Live coverage continues on Eurosport.
💬 “I played him in Daqing and he absolutely wiped the floor with me.”@joegentlemanjoe turned the tables on World Champion and World number one Judd Trump today, ending his 15-game win streak in ranking competition.
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) September 26, 2019