Mark Allen booked his place in the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions after winning his first two matches at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday.
It’s the fourth time in the last five years – Allen didn’t qualify in 2017 – that the Northern Irishman has at least reached the last four.
In 2015, Allen lost out to Neil Robertson in the final and it’s the Australian who Allen joins in the penultimate round after the second day of action in Coventry.
Allen withstood a late rally from debutant Matthew Selt in the last 16, with his opponent fighting back from 3-0 behind to reduce the arrears to just one.
A timely 108 century break sent the former Masters champion through to the last eight to meet Mark Selby, who comfortably outplayed Yan Bingtao with a whitewash display.
An incredible statistic had shown that when Allen and Selby previously met each other over the best of eleven frames, the outcome always ended 6-5.
Seven times the pair had lasted the distance in that format prior to this meeting, including in the English Open semi-finals recently in which Selby denied Allen in a decider en route to lifting the trophy in Crawley.
A repeat occurrence looked on the cards when the duo shared their opening four frames.
However, the “Pistol” pulled away after the interval despite being unable to discover his trademark scoring power.
Selby made it tough in typical fashion but lost a crucial sixth frame on the colours that could have kept the tie close.
It prolongs a miserable run at the Ricoh Arena for the former world number one, with the 36 year-old accumulating just one semi-final appearance from the seven times he’s competed in the prestigious invitational.
Allen, though, has enjoyed good runs here and will next have an opportunity to reach a second title deciding showdown.
🗣️ “It’d be nice if I’m going all the way to beat the world number one and world champion along the way!”@pistol147 isn’t afraid of facing the big guns as he looks ahead at a potential semi final clash with @judd147t on Saturday.#ChampOfChamps pic.twitter.com/vb1x3FfBEN
— ChampionofChampions (@ChampOfChamps) November 5, 2019
The 33 year-old awaits the winner of Wednesday’s quartet of contenders that includes in-form world champion Judd Trump.
Trump, who just triumphed in the World Open, is to be challenged by Stephen Maguire, whose fractured ankle forced him to withdraw from Yushan last week.
The winner of that tie will face either Kyren Wilson or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a repeat of a 6-5 thriller in the World Open semi-finals on Saturday.
The Champion of Champions features 16 competitors who have collected silverware in the last twelve months.
It’s unique in that it’s the only tournament on the calendar in which a semi-finalist is determined on each of the first four days.