The biggest ranking event of the season so far has been whittled down from 128 contenders at the Marshall Arena.
Judd Trump and Neil Robertson remain among the favourites for UK Championship glory after reaching the last 16 stage in Milton Keynes.
The fourth round gets under way on Wednesday with fellow former champions John Higgins and Mark Selby in the hunt as well.
However, only six players from the world’s top 16 in the official rankings list are still in the draw after several high-profile casualties in the last few days.
Crucible king Ronnie O’Sullivan and reigning UK Championship winner Ding Junhui, in addition to former champions Mark Williams and Stephen Maguire, are just a few of the marquee names who have bowed out early.
Williams was beaten in a 6-5 thriller by a resurgent Ricky Walden late on Tuesday evening, with the latter’s reward a fixture with world number one Trump.
Trump is bidding for a third ranking title of the campaign following his prior successes in both the English and Northern Ireland Opens in recent months.
World Championship runner-up Kyren Wilson is in the same quarter, meaning the English pair could potentially renew their rivalry in the next round if they can safely negotiate this next hurdle first.
Wilson overcame Kurt Maflin to set up a tie against Scotland’s Graeme Dott, who is among a number of competitors chasing a Masters spot in January.
Meanwhile, there is an enormous opportunity for the quartet of unlikely contenders in the remaining section of Trump’s half of the draw.
Veteran Joe Perry finds himself in the unusual position of being the favourite to progress to the semi-finals, with all three of the other cueists ranked outside the world’s top 32.
The “Gentleman” takes on Jamie Jones as the Welshman continues his comeback after briefly dropping off the tour following his one-year ban.
Chinese duo Lu Ning and Pang Junxu, who has impressed on his rookie season and fought back superbly to deny last year’s runner-up Maguire in the last 32, clash in the other encounter.
In fact when you look at some of players Pang has beaten so far during his rookie season… Hawkins, Ford, Saengkham, Ursenbacher, Allen, Maguire… that’s pretty impressive.
— Matt (@ProSnookerBlog) December 1, 2020
The top half of the draw in the last 16 of the UK Championship appears to be much more difficult on paper.
Robertson faces World Championship semi-finalist Anthony McGill, with the Scot leading the charge to replace Jack Lisowski at the Alexandra Palace next month.
To his credit, Lisowski is defending his 16th placing in the provisional standings admirably, and he prolonged his quest for a maiden ranking triumph with a 6-2 victory over Xu Si.
Lisowski faces Xiao Guodong next with a potential battle with either three-time former champion Higgins or Zhou Yuelong to come in the last eight.
Selby encounters Barry Hawkins in the other last 16 fixture as the UK Championship edges nearer to the business end of proceedings.
Live coverage of the 2020 UK Championship is on the BBC, Eurosport, and via various other global services.
Last 16 in the UK Championship
Xiao Guodong vs Jack Lisowski
Zhou Yuelong vs John Higgins
Mark Selby vs Barry Hawkins
Anthony McGill vs Neil Robertson
Judd Trump vs Ricky Walden
Graeme Dott vs Kyren Wilson
Lu Ning vs Pang Junxu
Joe Perry vs Jamie Jones
Featured photo credit: WST