It’s the penultimate ranking event of the season and the last tournament in the lucrative Coral Series.
Mark Allen joined Stephen Maguire in the Tour Championship final after a comprehensive 9-2 victory over Mark Selby on Thursday in Milton Keynes.
The Northern Irishman raced into a 4-0 lead, extended it to 6-0, and coasted to the winning line thereafter at the Marshall Arena.
A day earlier, Maguire booked his place in the title decider after a more keenly-contested affair with world number one Judd Trump that ended 9-6.
Friday’s showdown for glory will see both players battling for the £150,000 top prize.
But Maguire has the added incentive of knowing that a victory would also see him claim the Coral Cup and an additional £100,000 windfall.
The player who earns the most money from the Coral Series that includes the World Grand Prix, Players Championship, and Tour Championship gets to collect the bonus.
Trump is currently in first place, but Maguire would usurp him should he manage to continue his impressive run this week and etch his name onto the trophy.
The Glaswegian’s progress has been remarkable considering he wasn’t even supposed to be in the line-up in the first place.
Ding Junhui’s late withdrawal gifted Maguire his late invitation to compete in the prestigious field of the top earners from this campaign.
Against Neil Robertson in his quarter-final fixture, the 39 year-old produced an incredible display as he compiled a record six century breaks in a best of 17 frames encounter.
Maguire’s battling qualities were in evidence more as he outplayed world champion Trump, and he’s now just one hurdle away from a first ranking event title in more than seven years.
Titles have been won in the interim, including the Six Red World Championship and the World Cup from this term, but success this week would easily represent the former world number two’s biggest achievement since announcing himself at the 2004 UK Championship as a breakthrough champion.
Maguire will probably begin the Tour Championship final as the marginal underdog, but that hasn’t been a problem so far in this competition.
Allen boasts a superior head-to-head record from their previous battles with one another, with four victories from a surprisingly small number of six prior clashes.
Their most recent fixture occurred in this season’s UK Championship semi-final, when Maguire hammered Allen 6-0 before losing to Ding in the final in York.
Both players have the ability to mix devastating scoring with more attritional play, which Allen highlighted when he defied Shaun Murphy’s six tons in their last eight tie to emerge on top as a 9-8 winner.
The former Masters champion will be happy to have had a much easier time of it against Selby, having played and lost in six semi-final matches already during the 2019/20 campaign.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) June 25, 2020
Like Maguire, Allen is bidding for a sixth ranking event crown of his career, and it would arguably be the biggest so far for the Antrim man.
There may not be any fans to play for inside the arena, but with the consistency required to qualify for this tournament and the quality of opposition that had to be overcome in order to progress through the rounds, success would be a standout feat.
Both players will be hoping to pick up silverware at a vital time, when the confidence gained can be taken forward to the upcoming World Championship in Sheffield.
Interestingly, Allen is now guaranteed to be the fourth seed at the Crucible, while Maguire would become the ninth seed and be in the same quarter of the draw as Trump should he triumph in this Tour Championship final.
Played over the best of 19 frames a quick start will be important, but on paper both competitors are relatively evenly matched so it promises to be close.
Live coverage in the UK and Ireland is on ITV4, while there are various other methods of tuning in around the world.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST