Defending champion Mark Allen and world number one Judd Trump feature in a high-quality Scottish Open last eight line-up in Glasgow.
Ronnie O’Sullivan also remains in the hunt for what would be a record 37th career ranking event crown.
In a tiring day at the Emirates Arena, the players had to emerge from two rounds in order to reach the last eight.
Allen’s brace of 4-1 victories over Elliot Slessor and Chris Wakelin maintained his title defence.
The Northern Irishman’s last title came in this event twelve months ago when he denied Shaun Murphy to etch his name on the trophy.
The 33 year-old is tasked with the only remaining home competitor, with Scott Donaldson flying the flag for Scotland.
Donaldson backed up a standout defeat of Kyren Wilson in the last 32 with another against Zhang Jiankang.
The 25 year-old is the clear outsider left in contention in the Scottish Open with all the others either proven ranking event winners or repeated finalists.
A poor head-to-head record against Allen, with four losses from the same number of clashes against the former Masters champion, would suggest that Donaldson has his work cut out for him if he’s to reach a ranking event semi-final for the fifth time.
The top half of the draw also includes an exciting prospect in a match-up between attack-minded duo Jack Lisowski and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Both earned impressive triumphs in the fourth round when they overcame John Higgins and Neil Robertson respectively.
A 776th career century break, moving him above Stephen Hendry on the all-time tons list, was not enough to help Higgins in his 4-2 reverse while Un-Nooh thumped the 2017 Scottish Open champion with a whitewash display.
John Higgins has gone to second in the all-time list of century break makers with 776 to his name… but is out of the Scottish Open
— David Hendon (@davehendon) December 12, 2019
Lisowski is bidding for a maiden ranking title that would put the finishing touches to his recent rapid rise up the rankings.
For Thailand’s Un-Nooh, who was a beaten finalist in the World Open earlier this season, eventual membership in the elite top 16 is becoming a more realistic prospect.
Meanwhile, the other side of the draw is littered with class.
Trump remains on course for a sixth ranking title of the calendar year after ousting veteran James Wattana and former world champion Graeme Dott – who upset Ding Junhui in the third round.
The world champion encounters David Gilbert after the “Angry Farmer” survived a couple of testing battles to continue his run to this stage.
Gilbert, three times a ranking event runner-up, edged Xiao Guodong in a decider before prevailing with a 4-2 scoreline against Murphy.
O’Sullivan fist-bumped his way to wins against Martin Gould and Joe Perry, setting up a fascinating affair against old rival Mark Selby.
The latter’s progress has been the most serene, with the “Jester” bagelling both Liam Highfield and Jimmy Robertson on day four.
Selby and O’Sullivan duels are always ones to look forward to because it pits polar opposites against one another.
If anything, Selby has become even more attritional of late while the “Rocket” has continued along the opposite path of producing a fast and frenetic pace in an effort to steamroll his challengers.
Selby has the ability to get under O’Sullivan’s skin, though, and there’s no doubting the fact that, although his overall game is weaker, his temperament is far superior.
Still, now that the 44 year-old has reached this point, O’Sullivan will surely be buoyed by the opportunity to eclipse Hendry’s career ranking tally in an event that rewards a trophy with the seven-time world champion’s name on it.