Eight players remain in the chase for the £70,000 top prize.
After a busy week of action at the Waterfront Hall, the quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open will take place on Friday in Belfast.
A somewhat chaotic schedule has been countered with a flurry of thrilling battles that have went down to the wire, notably in a dramatic round of 16 that produced five deciding frames.
Two of those came from reigning champion Judd Trump and home favourite Mark Allen, who survived from respective 4-3 battles against Jimmy Robertson and Stephen Maguire.
The pair will now go head to head for a berth in the semi-finals this weekend and one step closer to raising the Alex Higgins Trophy aloft come Sunday evening.
For Trump, that of course has become a familiar feeling with successes for the Englishman in this competition in each of the last three campaigns.
Allen, though, will be looking to embark on a run to the last four of his local event for the first time in what has already been a landmark week for the Pistol following his magnificent maximum break.
Interestingly, Allen boasts a slightly superior record from their prior contests, but he will naturally go into what will be their 28th career duel as the underdog against a formidable foe who is already guaranteed to return to the top spot in the world rankings after the conclusion of this tournament.
Allen will obviously have the crowd on his side, but Trump has been a winning machine since lifting the first of those Northern Ireland Open titles in 2018, and having reached this point the 32 year-old will be smelling a 15th ranking success since that maiden win in Belfast three years ago.
Meanwhile, Shaun Murphy and Ricky Walden will face off in the other top-half encounter in the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals draw.
Walden was another 4-3 winner in the fourth round, winning the last two frames to deny 20 year-old Jackson Page, while Murphy consigned his deciding-frame victories to the earlier rounds by ousting Stuart Bingham 4-1.
This run marks Walden’s second in succession to the quarter-final stage of a ranking event, having reached only one per season in each of the last five disappointing campaigns.
Murphy, the World Championship runner-up from May and now a permanent resident on the Emerald Isle, boasts a significantly greater head-to-head record, though, with 15 wins to his opponent’s four.
In the bottom half, David Gilbert’s resurgence in form continued with the Championship League winner securing a 4-2 triumph over world champion Mark Selby in a match that finished after midnight on Thursday.
Gilbert will meet another four-time world champion in the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals when he tackles John Higgins, who orchestrated a brilliant comeback from 3-0 behind to outwit long-term rival Mark Williams.
Higgins has lost to Gilbert on only two occasions in all competitions, and the Scot has in fact inflicted several notable defeats on the Angry Farmer down through the years.
In addition to winning the 2015 International Championship at Gilbert’s expense, Higgins has also denied the 40 year-old final appearances at both the 2019 World Championship and the 2021 Masters.
Finally, Yan Bingtao’s reward for downing Ronnie O’Sullivan will be a meeting with the only competitor remaining who does not yet know what it takes to land a ranking event title, Mitchell Mann.
Mann, officially ranked 109th in the world rankings, built on his surprise victory over Kyren Wilson with a comprehensive 4-1 beating of Lyu Haotian.
The Englishman has played Yan two times in the past, and if those fixtures are anything to go by he’s in for a tough time of it, with the current Masters champion having won both with 4-0 scorelines.
Live coverage in Ireland and the UK continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Northern Ireland Open Quarter-Finals Draw
Judd Trump vs Mark Allen Shaun Murphy vs Ricky Walden Yan Bingtao vs Mitchell Mann John Higgins vs David Gilbert
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST