Ronnie O’Sullivan and Fan Zhengyi compete for the second spot in the Champion of Champions final on Saturday in Bolton.
The pair will attempt to join Judd Trump in Sunday’s title decider after the reigning champion successfully emerged from his last-four clash against Mark Selby on Friday.
O’Sullivan had moments on Thursday where he scored heavily, holding off a stiff challenge from Robert Milkins before a more resounding 6-1 defeat of Zhao Xintong.
Fan, meanwhile, lasted the distance in both of his first two ties – a magnificent 4-3 triumph over two-time former champion Neil Robertson preceding a 6-5 win against Ryan Day.
There may be a clear favourite and an underdog in today’s encounter, but Fan has already proved this year how he’s not to be underestimated.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Fan Zhengyi Head-to-Head
O’Sullivan and Fan have faced each other only once before, and it was a humdinger of a fixture in the final of the European Masters back in February.
In what was one of the biggest upsets in the history of ranking event finals, Fan stunned the Rocket with a gutsy 10-9 triumph to capture a maiden professional title.
That glory rewarded Fan with the opportunity to participate in this edition of the Champion of Champions, and he has already proven his worth to the tournament.
O’Sullivan isn’t really one for possessing a desire to enact revenge on an opponent, but having never beaten Fan he’ll surely be up for the challenge to set the record straight.
Champion of Champions History
While Fan is making his debut in the competition – and quite a first appearance it is too – O’Sullivan has been a dominant force since its launch in 2013.
The 46 year-old won the first two editions and added a record third in 2018, with two additional runs to the final in between as well.
It’s been said on countless occasions, but it’s no secret that O’Sullivan thrives in these kinds of events that boast a prestigious identity with a lucrative prize pot and an elite field.
Completely ruling out the chances of Fan would be foolish considering his growing pedigree on the bigger stages.
The 21 year-old from China can clearly handle pressure, as underlined by his ability to come through a brace of deciders on Tuesday.
However, O’Sullivan looked sharp in reaching this stage and ominously threatened that there’s even more to come.
If he gets a quick start he’ll likely be able to keep Fan at bay, and a renewal of his rivalry with Trump in the final should be on the cards.
Prediction: Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 Fan Zhengyi
Featured photo credit: @ChampOfChamps