Three former winners and a surprise contender remain in the hunt for glory.
The semi-finals of the Welsh Open take place on Saturday with just two more wins separating each remaining participant in the draw from the title.
A total of 128 competitors has been whittled down to the final four at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.
Perhaps fittingly to conclude this year’s Home Nations series, the semi-final line-up boasts a player each from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England.
To add some extra intrigue into the equation, there’s more than just the Ray Reardon Trophy and a £70,000 champion’s cheque on the line.
Stephen Maguire vs Jordan Brown (1pm)
Stephen Maguire reached the semi-final stage of a ranking event for the first time this season with an excellent 5-4 defeat of Shaun Murphy on Friday.
Yet, all the plaudits on the fifth day deservedly went to Jordan Brown, who has embarked on a run to this stage of a professional tournament for the first time in his career.
Brown’s thrilling deciding-frame triumph over Mark Selby was as tense as they come, with the latter clawing his way back into a frame that appeared lost before jawing a relatively straightforward black to the middle pocket to gift Brown a famous win.
Prior to last month’s German Masters, where the Antrim man reached the quarter-final stage, Brown had never before been beyond the last 32 of a ranking event.
The 33 year-old will be a massive underdog again on Saturday afternoon, but he has underlined time and again this week that he possesses battling qualities.
In fact, Brown’s last four victories in this competition have all lasted the distance.
Maguire, though, will look to take advantage of a golden opportunity to reach a Welsh Open final for the third time.
The 2013 champion was in excellent form to deny Murphy in an absorbing affair that boasted heavy scoring from both protagonists.
Maguire has twice beaten Brown from their two prior meetings, and even though he can sometimes struggle with the tag of being a favourite, he’ll definitely be the most fancied to progress in the betting market.
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For Brown to defy his long odds, a lot will depend on whether or not he can handle the occasion and there’s not just the prospect of reaching a maiden final in question.
With victory, one of either Maguire or Brown will additionally gain the last available spot in next week’s Players Championship at Murphy’s expense.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Mark Williams (7pm)
On the opposite side of the Welsh Open semi-finals draw is a heavyweight battle between a pair of the sport’s all-time greats.
With nine world titles and six Welsh Open crowns between them, Ronnie O’Sullivan versus Mark Williams is always a battle to savour.
O’Sullivan benefited from Ali Carter’s late withdrawal to receive an unexpected bye through to this stage on Friday.
Williams didn’t have it so easy, but his 5-4 triumph over Tom Ford does guarantee his place in the lucrative Players Championship where only the top 16 on the one-year rankings list qualify to compete.
The Welshman doesn’t have the best of records against the “Rocket” with only 12 defeats of O’Sullivan from their overall head-to-head history.
Take their clashes from the Championship League away, and O’Sullivan enjoys a far superior win-loss record of 31-8.
Williams hasn’t beaten O’Sullivan in a ranking event since 2014 and will undoubtedly be the second-favourite again here.
Still, the 45 year-old could become the first Welsh player to reach the final on home soil since his last appearance at that hurdle 18 years ago.
But O’Sullivan looks to be in good form this week – scoring more consistently than earlier in the season – and his eyes must have lit up with the unlikely losses for both Selby and Judd Trump.
That duo denied O’Sullivan in the finals of the Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens this term, and the Englishman will be hoping to avoid becoming the first world champion since Stuart Bingham to fail to win any silverware in the season following a Crucible success.
Welsh Open Semi-Finals Draw
Stephen Maguire (8) vs Jordan Brown
Mark Williams (14) vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
Live coverage of the 2021 Welsh Open is available on BBC Wales, the BBC Red Button, Eurosport, Quest, and by various other options around the world.
Click here to view the full Welsh Open draw (Scheduled times in CET)
Featured photo credit: WST