The UK Championship is down to its final 16 contenders, with the fourth round of the draw set to take place on Wednesday and Thursday in York.
There are only five top-16 seeds remaining after a nightmarish week on the baize for the majority of the marquee names.
The likes of reigning champion Neil Robertson, world champion Mark Selby, and pre-tournament favourite Judd Trump have all crashed out already at the Barbican Centre.
Former UK Championship winners John Higgins, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams, Shaun Murphy, and Stephen Maguire have been among the other major casualties in what is the 2021/22 season’s opening Triple Crown event.
Record seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, if he wasn’t already, is now the main target to overcome with the Rocket representing the obvious new overwhelming favourite for glory.
O’Sullivan hasn’t won a tournament since capturing his sixth World Championship in 2020, but he will not have many better opportunities to add to his haul of trophies with so many of his biggest rivals having been knocked out.
The Englishman, who turns 46 on the day of the final, takes on Noppon Saengkham in the fourth round of the UK Championship draw – the Thai representing one of numerous surprise challengers this year.
Arguably O’Sullivan’s most imposing threat hails from his very own quarter, with Kyren Wilson in action against Ben Woollaston and still on course to land a maiden Triple Crown title.
Elsewhere in the top half, Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown faces Anthony McGill – the Scot who will be relieved to have got beyond Zhou Yuelong in the last round to guarantee his spot in the upcoming Masters in January.
The winner of the battle between Brown and McGill will face either veteran Anthony Hamilton or Belgium’s Luca Brecel, an interesting tie for contrasting reasons.
Hamilton will be looking to continue his surprise run in what may be one of his last hurrahs on the big stage, while Brecel is hoping to go deep and secure his return to the big-time after a period in the doldrums.
In the bottom half of the UK Championship fourth round draw, Barry Hawkins is the highest-ranked cueist despite boasting a ranking of just 14.
The former World Championship finalist faces Matthew Selt, a man who will be riding a wave of confidence following his upset of Trump in the third round.
While not a current member of the top 16, Championship League winner David Gilbert represents one of the serious dark horses in 2021 and will be expected to overcome Andy Hicks to reach the last eight.
Elsewhere, Jack Lisowski has been quietly going about his business and will be looking at his side of the draw in amazement at the opportunity that has been presented to him.
The Englishman, still searching for his first ranking triumph, entertains Hossein Vafaei with the winner of that tie in action against either Zhao Xintong or Peter Lines.
UK Championship Fourth Round Draw
Jordan Brown vs Anthony McGill (16)
Anthony Hamilton vs Luca Brecel
Kyren Wilson (5) vs Ben Woollaston
Noppon Saengkham vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (4)
Matthew Selt vs Barry Hawkins (14)
David Gilbert vs Andy Hicks
Zhao Xintong vs Peter Lines
Jack Lisowski (15) vs Hossein Vafaei
Live coverage of the UK Championship is on the BBC and Eurosport. Click here for other available options around the world.
Featured photo credit: WST
Pingback: UK Championship: Fourth Round Draw and Schedule • Snooker Site
Despite four appearances at the last eight stage of the World Championship, Anthony Hamilton has never reached a UK quarter-final.