Six months on from their Crucible clash, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are back facing each other in another important final.
After Trump came through his Champion of Champions semi-final test on Friday, O’Sullivan followed him into the final on Saturday with a resounding 6-2 victory over Fan Zhengyi.
The world number one was again in fine scoring form, reeling off breaks of 117, 89, 86, 75, 62, 55, and 53 to avenge his reverse to Fan at the European Masters title decider in February.
Both Trump and O’Sullivan have established a love affair with this invitational tournament over the years, and it’s no surprise to see them back gunning for glory again.
Trump is through to the last two for the third time in four years, and the 33 year-old is attempting to become only the second player to successfully defend the crown.
The first, of course, was O’Sullivan when the Rocket went back-to-back in the first two editions of the event in 2013 and 2014.
O’Sullivan later triumphed for a record third time in 2018, and this run four years on means that he will have contested six of the ten Champion of Champions finals across the last decade overall.
Trump and O’Sullivan are very familiar with each other’s company at this stage of a competition, with this meeting representing their 13th showdown against one another when silverware has been on the line.
One of the first of those was in this event eight years ago when O’Sullivan prevailed from a humdinger that included six century breaks between them.
More recently, O’Sullivan orchestrated a special victory over Trump in the World Championship final in May that sealed a record-equaling seventh trophy of his career in Sheffield.
However, in between those the majority of the success has gone the way of the younger Englishman.
Indeed, Trump has won eight finals to O’Sullivan’s four, and the world number three will be motivated to gain a modicum of revenge for that near miss at the Crucible Theatre.
Their full head-to-head record is tantalisingly level at 15-15 from their prior battles in all competitions, leaving a mouthwatering prospect to come between two of the sport’s heavyweights.
There is bound to be an electric atmosphere inside the University of Bolton Stadium on Sunday as they tussle for the £150,000 top prize.
As both players have been playing well – and particularly scoring heavily – it leaves it pretty difficult to determine the destination of that lofty cheque.
Four of their other finals have gone the distance, and it could very well be that close on this special occasion again.
Featured photo credit: WST