Mark Selby will face Jack Lisowski in the Scottish Open final after the pair emerged from contrasting last four clashes on Saturday in Glasgow.
While Selby enjoyed a routine 6-1 victory over David Gilbert, Lisowski was forced to produce his very best in outlasting reigning champion Mark Allen in a decider.
Selby’s thrashing of Gilbert was reminiscent of the recent English Open final in October, when the former world number one demolished his fellow Englishman 9-1 to land the Steve Davis Trophy.
Now in with a chance of claiming the third Home Nations crown of the campaign too, his disappointment at losing a Northern Ireland quarter-final tie in a final frame thriller to John Higgins, when he was still on course for the Home Nations million-pound bonus, will surely be felt that little bit more.
Still, Selby has an opportunity to end this decade by underlining his credentials of being the most prolific winner in that spell.
Since 2010, the three-time world champion has captured 15 ranking titles – one more than both Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump have accumulated.
It’s probably fair to say that Selby isn’t playing at the same level as a few years ago, but he’s simply a master at getting the job done regardless of the standard that he produces.
As it happens, he has looked in pretty good shape in the last few days and of course will have been buoyed by his ousting of O’Sullivan in the last eight at the Emirates Arena.
While Selby knows all about the winning feeling, his opponent in the Scottish Open final is hoping to experience the sensation for the first time in his career.
Lisowski, who has been tipped for stardom ever since turning professional nine years ago, is into a ranking event final for the third time in the last 18 months.
The 28 year-old’s rapid rise since the start of last season has been as much remarkable as it has been long overdue.
But Lisowski’s performance in his semi-final victory over Allen highlighted precisely why so many get excited about his talent and potential.
The “Dude” provided a masterclass in break-building, firing in a brace of century breaks and additional runs of 95, 82, 74, and 59 to edge out the Northern Irishman in a belter.
One area in which Lisowski could still improve is the tactical side of the game and unfortunately for him he is coming up against one of the best there has ever been in that department.
Lisowski will at least be thankful that it’s not Neil Robertson, who he lost to in both of his previous final appearances last season.
However, to land a maiden trophy he will likely have to formulate an even more complete display than what he produced against Allen.
🗣 “I think the last three games have been the most well and consistent I’ve probably ever played in tournaments. I am making so many one visits” Jack Lisowski reacts to making the 1️⃣9️⃣.com #ScottishOpen final pic.twitter.com/j8R03j8CVz
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) December 14, 2019
Selby will undoubtedly be the favourite but, interestingly, the “Jester” has an inferior head-to-head record from the pair’s previous meetings, including a 6-3 loss when the duo last crossed paths in the Shanghai Masters this year.
It’s an obvious thing to say but the first few frames of the fixture will be important – more so for Lisowski, who has a history of struggling over the longer format when he falls a few frames behind.
There’s £70,000 on offer for the champion and the coveted Stephen Hendry Trophy to raise aloft as well.
O’Sullivan’s strike rate has been far superior to Selby. He barely played one season.