Both players are seeking a second career victory in the Home Nations series.
John Higgins will face home favourite Mark Allen in the Northern Ireland Open final on Sunday at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
The pair emerged from tricky semi-final encounters to set up a showdown for glory in which the winner will pocket £70,000 and lift the Alex Higgins Trophy.
Allen delighted the local support by overcoming Ricky Walden in the semi-finals with a 6-3 scoreline while Higgins fought back from 2-0 down to power past Yan Bingtao 6-2 in Saturday evening’s bout.
An entertaining battle for the silverware lies in store between two competitors who have conjured up a number of exciting encounters with one another.
Funnily enough, their very first clash occurred 16 years ago at this very venue, when then-rookie Allen stunned Higgins in the first round of the Northern Ireland Trophy.
Since then, the head-to-head has been even, highlighted by the overall numbers that show Higgins with 11 victories and Allen with the same from their 22 prior contests in all competitions.
Allen and Higgins have faced each other in numerous high-profile fixtures, including semi-final ties at both the World Championship and the Masters, but this meeting will be their first in a final.
The latter is bidding for a 32nd ranking success in what is his 52nd final – an amazing career that shows no real sign of letting up despite having turned 46 earlier this year.
Higgins began a fitness regime after a disappointing showing at the Crucible Theatre last season, losing three stones in weight, and the benefits of a fitter body and mind are already reaping rewards.
Allen, meanwhile, has been distracted by off-table concerns this year – including bankruptcy and his ongoing frosty relationship with former partner Reanne Evans that has often spilled over into the public eye.
This week, the 35 year-old has managed to put those issues to one side and has built on the strong start that saw him knock in a fabulous 147 maximum break against Si Jiahui in the opening round.
Triumph in the Northern Ireland Open final would bring him a sixth ranking title – a low return for someone of his ability – but perhaps more importantly it would be a landmark and poignant success on home turf.
The crowd is certainly going to play a part throughout Sunday, with a boisterous atmosphere expected as they try to will their man on to victory.
Higgins, though, will likely begin as the marginal favourite, and it’ll be a tough task for Allen to dampen the high expectations with the polished performance that will be required in order to topple the Wizard of Wishaw.
Live coverage of the Northern Ireland Open final in Ireland and the UK is available on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Click here to view the full draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST