Only eight players are now in with a chance of capturing the 2020 title.
The quarter-finals of the UK Championship take place on Friday with five top seeds still in action at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Former champions Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, and Mark Selby are seeking to etch their names onto the trophy again.
The latter pair face off against each other in what is a repeat of the 2013 final and arguably the tie of this round.
Robertson fought back strongly to deny Anthony McGill in the last 16 while Selby produced a clinical display, contributing three century breaks, in a 6-3 beating of Barry Hawkins.
It’s already the third time this season that the duo has crossed paths, and after both previous battles the outcome has been a thrilling 6-5 triumph for the Australian.
In the same section of the draw are Jack Lisowski and Zhou Yuelong, who clash in an important encounter that has additional Masters connotations attributed to it.
Lisowski’s 6-4 success against Xiao Guodong on Thursday sent him above Thepchaiya Un-Nooh into 15th place on the provisional Race to the Masters standings.
The odds on the “Dude” earning a spot at the Alexandra Palace are now looking favourable, but the three-time ranking event runner-up needs one more victory to be absolutely guaranteed of a trip to London in January.
With a £200,000 top prize in the UK Championship, Zhou is one of three players in the UK Championship quarter-finals draw who could yet claim an unexpected place in the prestigious invitational.
Of course, regardless of that there is an enormous opportunity for both players to embark on a run to the single table set-up of the sport’s second oldest ranking event for the first time in their careers.
Lisowski and Zhou’s last two out of only three meetings overall took place in the Shoot Out, so there’s not much to go on from their prior head-to-head fixtures.
Lisowski will be there barring a Zhou v Perry/Lu final, while Perry himself will move into 16th position with victory tomorrow evening.
If Lisowski beats Zhou then he’s 100% safe.
— Matt (@ProSnookerBlog) December 3, 2020
Elsewhere, Joe Perry is the man best placed to launch an attack on the top 16 in the world rankings as he takes on surprise package Lu Ning in the bottom half of the draw.
The “Gentleman” will be hoping to continue to take advantage of what has been a favourable draw – he hasn’t faced a single opponent from the world’s top 32 – as he would dislodge Thailand’s Un-Nooh in 16th place with a victory over the Chinese challenger.
Lu, who beat young countryman Pang Junxu in the fourth round, is featuring at this stage of a ranking event for only the third time.
Favourite Trump, meanwhile, faces a familiar foe in Kyren Wilson – a player he meets for an incredible seventh time in 2020.
Of course, the Kettering cueist was the person to inflict the “Curse of the Crucible” on Trump in this year’s rescheduled World Snooker Championship, and he subsequently also ended the world number one’s run of ten consecutive victories in ranking event finals when he denied Trump in the Championship League title decider in October.
But the latter, who is amazingly featuring in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship for the first time since 2014, has won each of their last two affairs by comfortable margins.
There isn’t a lot of love lost between Trump and Wilson, although their rivalry is based more on respect now than it once was, so it promises to be another intriguing chapter to their recurring showdown.
Live coverage of the 2020 UK Championship is on the BBC, Eurosport, and via various other global services.
Quarter-Finals in the UK Championship
Jack Lisowski vs Zhou Yuelong
Mark Selby vs Neil Robertson
Judd Trump vs Kyren Wilson
Lu Ning vs Joe Perry
Featured photo credit: WST