The 2020 Players Championship final will be contested between Judd Trump and Yan Bingtao at the Southport Waterfront on Sunday.
The pair emerged from contrasting semi-finals over the last couple of evenings to set up a showdown for the £125,000 champion’s cheque.
Trump relied on his newly-acquired doggedness to fight back from 5-3 down and deny Stephen Maguire in an entertaining first semi-final that lasted the distance on Friday.
Yan, though, produced a determined display as the 20 year-old fired in a brace of century breaks to see off the challenge of the in-form Shaun Murphy, recording a 6-1 victory.
Their progress to the Players Championship final ensures that a remarkable trend this season that has seen the majority of ranking event winners come from the same small group of players will continue.
Apart from last week’s Shoot Out lottery that was won by Michael Holt and Ding Junhui’s somewhat unexpected success in the UK Championship, the ranking titles this campaign have been shared among just five competitors.
Yan emerged as the winner in the first of this term way back in July when he captured the Riga Masters crown, and the Chinese will be hoping now to make it a multi-title season like the others on the list.
Murphy, Neil Robertson, and Mark Selby have all accumulated two each already, while Trump is bidding for a record-equalling fifth.
The world champion has been by far and away the best player in the world over the course of the last 18 or so months, and Trump will obviously begin this fixture as the favourite.
Not helping Yan’s cause much is an absolutely woeful pedigree from their previous head-to-head battles.
In fact, in four prior encounters the former World Cup winner has won a measly three frames in total.
Trump has the ability to steamroll opponents and if he gets in front early on the writing could be on the wall.
Still, Yan is quickly improving and few would have predicted his ease in ousting the “Magician” in the last four on Saturday.
With £50,000 already banked for reaching the Players Championship final, Yan has risen to the all-important 16th spot on the provisional Race to the Crucible rankings list.
Victory over Trump, while also representing his most prestigious title to date, would practically guarantee his automatic berth in Sheffield next month.
For Trump, the 30 year-old is building a case for producing one of the best seasons following a first-time World Championship success.
He has combined his break-building talent, which was underlined with a majestic 70 clearance to beat Maguire, with an equally polished tactical nous.
The second leg in the three-swing Coral Series that also includes this month’s lucrative Tour Championship, victory for either Trump or Yan would additionally send them one step closer to the £100,000 bonus on offer for winning the Coral Cup.
There’s a lot at stake, and it could take 19 frames for the duo to sort it all out.
Live coverage is on ITV4.
Click here to view the full draw. (Times: CET)
😅😅 can’t wait for the final tomorrow now pic.twitter.com/vLqZeJ3QMU
— Judd trump (@judd147t) February 29, 2020
Photo credit: WST