Judd Trump and Mark Selby will vie for the first spot in the Champion of Champions final when they encounter each other on Friday in Bolton.
The English duo emerged from tricky sections of the draw to reach the semi-final stage earlier this week.
Selby opened the competition on Monday with victories over world seniors champion Lee Walker and fellow four-time Crucible champion John Higgins.
Trump, meanwhile, was in stellar form on Wednesday with the reigning champion producing some of his best snooker in triumphs against Luca Brecel and the in-form Mark Allen.
It sets up a mouthwatering clash between a couple of the sport’s heavyweight competitors, with a berth in Sunday’s final on the line.
Judd Trump vs Mark Selby Head-to-Head
Trump and Selby have encountered each other a lot over the years but, strangely, not so frequently recently.
Indeed, you have to go all the way back to the 2019 International Championship to find the last time they faced each other in a match longer than five frames.
- CLICK HERE: Judd Trump Player Profile
- CLICK HERE: Mark Selby Player Profile
Even more mysterious is the fact that it’s more than seven years since Selby has beaten his countryman over a considerable distance.
Their overall head-to-head reads 17-16 in Trump’s favour, but taking shorter events like the Championship League out of the equation, Selby hasn’t had any joy since winning their 2015 German Masters encounter in a decider.
Champion of Champions History
Despite having participated in every Champion of Champions edition since 2013, this is only the third time that Selby has reached the semi-finals.
The Jester was denied a crack at the title in both of his previous appearances, and oddly he has never emerged with a trophy in an event broadcast by ITV.
By contrast, this is Trump’s fifth run to the last four – including in each of the last four Champion of Champions.
The 33 year-old reached the final in 2014 and 2019 only to be denied glory by Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson respectively.
But he eventually landed the prestigious prize twelve months ago with an outstanding display of dominant snooker that saw him lose only five frames across the week’s action.
After a dismal 2021/22 campaign in which he was affected by personal issues away from the table, Selby’s form has definitely improved this term.
Even if he can’t produce his A-game, the 39 year-old invariably finds enough in his reserves to at least make a tough game of it.
Trump, though, was in dazzling form on Wednesday, and if he can replicate that kind of standard he’ll be very difficult to overcome.
This kind of tournament, with a more relaxed environment created by promoters Matchroom Sport, also seems to suit his style.
Prediction: Judd Trump 6-3 Mark Selby
Featured photo credit: WST
Trump did dominate last year in terms of losing so few frames, but he never played as well as on Wednesday in any of the matches I saw last year. He was more relying on strong matchplay snooker as opposed to the one visit stuff we saw against Allen.