The Players Championship continues in Wolverhampton with the quarter-finals the next round on the schedule this week.
A tournament that began with the top 16 money-earners from this season has already been whittled down to the last eight.
Three further victories separate the remaining contenders from the £125,000 champion’s cheque that will be awarded on Sunday, in what is the second of three events on the Cazoo Series.
Players Championship Draw and Schedule
(Times in GMT)
Barry Hawkins (16) vs Yan Bingtao (9)
Despite still being week shy of 22, Yan Bingtao’s temperament has long been heralded as one of the strongest in the game.
That fortitude was certainly put to the test after what could have been a demoralising 9-0 thrashing to Zhao Xintong in the final of the German Masters just over a week ago.
However, Yan bounced back in terrific fashion with a 6-4 victory against David Gilbert that included a hat-trick of century breaks.
Yan may have been quietly hoping for an immediate rematch with his friend and practice partner, but top seed Zhao succumbed to a 6-3 defeat to Barry Hawkins in round one.
The latter has the upper hand from previous duels with Yan, boasting three wins from four prior encounters with the Tiger.
Ricky Walden (12) vs Mark Williams (4)
The opening match on the Players Championship quarter-final schedule is the fixture between Mark Williams and Ricky Walden on Wednesday evening.
Neither produced his best in the first round, relying more on grit and determination to overcome respective early opponents Gary Wilson and Mark Allen.
The last time Williams and Walden face each other was at the same stage of the British Open at the outset of this campaign.
Back then the Welshman won the last two frames to prevail in a decider and subsequently went on to claim that ranking title in Leicester.
Williams leads the duo’s head-to-head 13-9, but it’s much more even when Championship League matches aren’t included.
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) vs Neil Robertson (6)
For a player who many said was struggling for form throughout last year, it seems remarkable that Ronnie O’Sullivan is three wins away from a return to the top of the rankings chart.
Of course, bad form for O’Sullivan equates to a spell of losing five ranking event finals, a period of consistency that the majority of other Main Tour cueists could only dream of.
The Rocket returned to winning ways at the World Grand Prix in December, where in the final he denied none other than Neil Robertson.
The Aussie has already got his revenge from that outcome by eclipsing O’Sullivan en route to a second Masters success at the Alexandra Palace last month.
Any battle between these two heavyweights is one not to be missed.
John Higgins (7) vs Jimmy Robertson (15)
John Higgins produced one of the performances of his entire career to win this title twelve months ago, and the Scot generally impressed again in his first outing this year.
Recovering from a slow start that saw him trail 2-0 to Shoot Out champion Hossein Vafaei, Higgins ended his 6-3 victory with a fantastic flurry of three centuries after the interval.
For a berth in the last four Higgins will take on Jimmy Robertson, who secured a resounding 6-1 victory over second seed Luca Brecel.
Robertson was one defeat away from dropping off the circuit at the end of last season, making his turnaround and involvement here that bit more special.
That said, the Englishman has only beaten Higgins once in the Championship League so will be a huge underdog going into their quarter-final tie.
Live coverage continues on ITV4 across Ireland and the UK, with other options around the world available.
Featured photo credit: WST