Ronnie O’Sullivan and Fan Zhengyi will compete for the £80,000 top prize in the European Masters final on Sunday in Milton Keynes.
While the latter has unexpectedly played brilliantly to reach a maiden ranking event final, O’Sullivan is set to feature in his 60th.
A record-extending 39th career ranking crown is on the line for the Rocket, and he’ll undeniably be an enormous favourite to etch his name onto the trophy.
The 46 year-old hasn’t faced a single player from inside the top 16 this week but has scored superbly, boasting 27 contributions of 50 or more throughout the competition, including nine tons.
In the European Masters final, O’Sullivan encounters a competitor ranked 78 places below him in the official world rankings list.
While it would be easy to completely write off Fan’s aspirations of a first professional title, it is worth remembering this time last year when Jordan Brown stunned O’Sullivan in the final of the Welsh Open.
Fan, perhaps inspired by the exploits of countrymen Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong of late, has represented a transformed force in the last month.
In January, the 21 year-old reached a quarter-final of a ranking tournament for the first time and he’s carried that form from Germany forward in fantastic fashion.
Reaching the title decider has not been a straightforward route either, with Kyren Wilson, Yan, and David Gilbert all accounted for before a semi-final defeat of former world champion Graeme Dott.
Even if he loses on Sunday it has been a breakthrough moment for the 2017 world under-21 champion from China.
Fan, of course, won’t want to settle for second place having made it this far, but his last task is a daunting one.
When O’Sullivan lost to Brown a year ago in Newport, he was already in the midst of a bizarrely long losing streak in finals.
However, the six-time world champion rectified that with a terrific late burst to win the World Grand Prix at Neil Robertson’s expense in December.
It’s difficult to envisage him not stamping his authority on this encounter from the off, in which case it’ll be up to Fan to rise to the occasion.
Against arguably the greatest player that’s ever picked up a cue, that won’t be easy.
Live coverage of the European Masters final is available across Europe on Eurosport, with other options available around the world by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WST