Eight players are still in contention at the quarter-finals stage of the 2022 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.
It has been an intriguing first ten days of what is the 46th edition of the tournament at the Crucible Theatre.
The remaining contenders have won 23 frames at the venue stages in order to get this far, but a further 48 will be required for glory next Monday.
Let’s take a look at each of the four matches in this year’s World Snooker Championship quarter-finals.
Mark Williams (8) vs Yan Bingtao (16)
What a magnificent couple of performances Mark Williams has produced in Sheffield this year already.
The three-time world champion has compiled an incredible ten century breaks, including six during a 13-3 rout of Jackson Page in the last 16.
With that victory completed with a session to spare, the 47 year-old will be well rested ahead of the second week of action.
Williams surprised many, including himself, by capturing a third world crown four years ago, but he’s arguably playing even better snooker now.
Yan Bingtao will represent an entirely different prospect to what Williams has encountered so far, however.
The Chinese cueist will provide a much sterner test than what has come before, underlined by Yan’s gruelling 13-10 defeat of defending champion Mark Selby in the second round.
Yan defies his young age of 22 by already staking a claim to being one of the best all-round competitors in the game.
Reaching the quarter-final stage in Sheffield, a city that is his home away from home, should certainly give him an extra boost in confidence.
Yan will need to restrict the scoring opportunities for his esteemed opponent, because there have been periods in the event so far where Williams has played no-miss snooker.
It definitely wouldn’t be a shock to see the former Masters champion emerge as the winner, but the form guide overall must favour Williams.
Given the standard he’s producing so late on in his career, the eighth seed may never have a better opportunity to challenge for a fourth world title.
Williams holds the edge in their head-to-head too, winning four from six ties in all competitions, including at this year’s Masters when Yan was the reigning champion.
Prediction: Mark Williams 13-10 Yan Bingtao
Tuesday, April 26th – 10am and 7pm
Wednesday, April 27th – 2:30pm
Judd Trump (4) vs Stuart Bingham (12)
In 2015, Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump battled in a memorable semi-final clash that went the distance.
Seven years later, the English pair clash again with a spot in the last four at the Crucible Theatre on the line.
Until recently, it would have been an obvious pick for Trump when choosing the favourite for this tie, but it’s not so straightforward now.
The 32 year-old survived a tough tussle with Anthony McGill with a 13-11 scoreline, an affair in which he relied more on his battling qualities than his trademark scoring prowess.
Trump is definitely not at peak form, but that he’s trying so hard demonstrates a level of commitment to the cause that he perhaps didn’t possess when this duo last crossed paths in Sheffield.
Bingham, meanwhile, is conjuring up another stellar World Championship run, having got so close to reaching the final for a second time twelve months ago.
The 45 year-old took advantage of an underperforming Kyren Wilson to reach the last eight for the fourth time in his career.
Trump and Bingham have played each other 32 times in all competitions, with the former boasting a 22-10 head-to-head advantage.
Their highest profile matches have tended to be close, with Bingham edging Trump 17-16 en route to the world title in 2015 and subsequently pipping his countryman to Welsh Open glory in a decider two years later.
The pair also clashed in the 2017 European Masters final, with Trump prevailing that time with a 9-7 victory.
Expect their latest showdown to be tight as well.
Prediction: Judd Trump 13-11 Stuart Bingham
Tuesday, April 26th – 2:30pm
Wednesday, April 27th – 10am and 7pm
John Higgins (6) vs Jack Lisowski (14)
Jack Lisowski has been in six ranking event finals, but his dramatic 13-12 success over Neil Robertson must surely rank as his greatest career win to date.
The 30 year-old, regarded as one of the most natural talents in the game, has been accused of lacking fortitude when the chips have been down in the past.
But that certainly hasn’t been the case in both of his matches so far in this World Snooker Championship, needing all but one frame to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
Having gained revenge for one previous defeat in Sheffield – Lisowski exited to Robertson at the same stage in 2021 – Lisowski will now have an opportunity to repeat the trick in the last eight.
At the 2018 World Championship, Jackpot was all out of luck in a 13-1 humiliation at the hands of a rampant John Higgins.
That’s exactly who Lisowski will face again in his next match, with Higgins having comprehensively overcome Noppon Saengkham to reach this point for the 16th time.
Higgins has looked solid if unspectacular during this event so far, taking advantage of facing two opponents in Saengkham and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh who aren’t really capable of producing a consistent level over a long format.
The Scot will always be there or thereabouts, so this game will likely come down to how Lisowski can perform.
The latter may be grateful that he has only one session to play on Tuesday as he attempts to regather his composure following his unexpected defeat of the pre-tournament favourite.
It’s imperative for his chances that he sticks with the Wizard of Wishaw early on, and logic would of course dictate a win for Higgins.
But there’s something in the air surrounding Lisowski this year, and maybe his journey won’t be ending just yet.
Prediction: Jack Lisowski 13-11 John Higgins
Tuesday, April 26th – 2:30pm
Wednesday, April 27th – 2:30pm and 7pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) vs Stephen Maguire
A terrific lineup in the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals is completed by a mouthwatering match between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Maguire.
This is not the duo’s first dance in Sheffield, with three prior contests at the home of snooker all going the way of the Rocket.
The first two, way back in 2004 and 2005, were watershed moments in completely changing the trajectory of Maguire’s career.
At that point, the Scot appeared on course for greatness, a predestined track towards multiple world titles.
In fact, it was O’Sullivan himself who said around that time that Maguire, the 2004 UK champion, was set to dominate the sport.
But the snooker gods are unforgiving, and O’Sullivan has been a thorn in Maguire’s side on so many occasions since then.
After a period in the doldrums struggling with cue choices, Maguire looked sharp again during his last-16 triumph against Zhao Xintong.
Once claiming he’d be disappointed not to win the World Championship by his 30th birthday, Maguire is now 41 and his chances of claiming the big prize in Sheffield are becoming slimmer and slimmer.
Beating O’Sullivan would certainly send the message out that achieving the feat could be on the cards this year.
But can he beat the world number one? O’Sullivan has been so dominant against Maguire over the years that it seems very unlikely.
With a documentary crew following his every move in Sheffield, the 46 year-old is looking as motivated as ever to land a record-equalling seventh Crucible crown.
And with Robertson’s demise in the same section of the draw, a player O’Sullivan has tangled with so often this season, he must quietly fancy the job even more.
Prediction: Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-9 Stephen Maguire
Tuesday, April 26th – 10am and 7pm
Wednesday, April 27th – 10am
Watch the World Snooker Championship quarter-finals on the BBC and Eurosport.
Click here for the daily schedule.
Featured photo credit: WST