Former ranking event winners Mark Allen and Ryan Day have been kept apart in the semi-finals draw for the British Open.
In what is an unexpected last-four lineup, Allen will face Noppon Saengkham while Day will meet Robbie Williams on Saturday in Milton Keynes.
Two more victories are needed at the Marshall Arena to claim the Clive Everton Trophy and a top prize worth £100,000.
Mark Allen vs Noppon Saengkham (1pm)
Not only is Mark Allen the highest seed left in the semi-finals, but he has also had by far the toughest route in this year’s random British Open draw.
All signs point to the Northern Irishman being the new heavy favourite for the title after victories over last year’s runner-up Gary Wilson, world number two Judd Trump, and four-time world champion Mark Selby.
Allen is clearly reaping the rewards of a summer in which he lived a healthier lifestyle and lost a lot of weight.
The Pistol is on course for a seventh career ranking title, and judging by his displays so far it’ll take an excellent performance to stop him.
Noppon Saengkham will be the next player to give that task a crack after overcoming Jamie Jones in Friday’s quarter-finals.
It has been a positive week for Thai snooker, and Saengkham will be hoping to bring more silverware home after Mink Nutcharut’s success in the World Mixed Doubles last weekend at the same venue.
Saengkham was narrowly beaten in his two previous appearances in ranking event semi-finals, including in a decider at the 2018 World Open.
The 30 year-old beat Allen the last time they faced one another, but the latter boasts a 2-1 advantage overall and they’ve never crossed paths at an important stage like this.
Ryan Day vs Robbie Williams (7pm)
While Allen will be rightly regarded as the favourite from here on out, there is still one other competitor who has plenty of experience at this level.
Ryan Day compiled a gutsy century break in the deciding frame of his last-eight tie with Yuan Sijun to return to this stage of a tournament for the first time since the start of last year.
The Welshman, who will face Robbie Williams in the last four, remains on course to secure a fourth career ranking trophy.
World no.61 Williams, meanwhile, didn’t score a single break above 50 but managed to defeat Lyu Haotian 5-1 in a relatively comfortable quarter-final bout.
Neither Day nor Williams have encountered anybody from the top 16 in the world rankings en route to reaching this point.
Like Saengkham, the latter has reached the penultimate round of a ranking tournament for the third time thanks to his displays this week.
Williams has faced Day on two previous occasions and lost both, but the most recent of those was way back in 2018.
Like in the opening semi-final with Allen, the smart money would point toward Day making the most of his experience.
However, this has been an unpredictable British Open so it would be foolish to write off the two underdogs entirely.
Live coverage in the UK and Ireland is on ITV4, with more options available to watch from around the world.
Click here to view the full draw (times in CET)
Featured photo credit: WST
I was a little surprised when you said he’d be in his third match at this stage of a ranking event. One was the Shootout and the other in India. Today’s semi is definitely the biggest of the three.
A win in this event would represent a career peak for all men apart from Allen.
We shouldn’t be too surprised by an unfamiliar line-up as a number of ingredients were in place: FA Cup style draw, short format until the quarters and top players not particularly match sharp after such a truncated start to the season.