There are eight players left in the UK Championship draw with the quarter-finals set for a fantastic Friday in York.
With the business end of the competition in sight, the remaining contenders are within three more victories of the title and the £250,000 top prize.
Mark Allen vs Sam Craigie (7pm)
Mark Allen is the highest seed left in the top half of the draw and will be a favourite to beat surprise package Sam Craigie on Friday evening.
The latter has produced some excellent snooker to reach the last eight of a ranking event for only the third time in his career, including making a hat-trick of centuries in his defeat of Ryan Day in the last round.
Craigie, the 2010 IBSF world under-21 champion, has long been heralded as a player potentially capable of making it to the higher echelons.
But there have been some who have questioned the 28 year-old’s dedication to the game – a sustained opinion that has fuelled ire in Craigie in recent months.
Allen will be aware of the possible danger as he prolongs his positive form from a 2022/23 campaign in which he has already defended his Northern Ireland Open crown.
In three prior meetings between the pair, Allen has a 100% record and has lost just two out of the 16 frames they’ve played.
Jack Lisowski vs Shaun Murphy (7pm)
Shaun Murphy fought through the pain barrier to come through a magnificent match with Judd Trump on Thursday.
The Magician scored a brace of tons from 5-3 down to force a deciding frame, which he duly won with a break of 53.
Murphy will be back on the massage table and hoping his neck issues ease ahead of a quarter-final fixture against Jack Lisowski.
Lisowski raced into a 3-0 lead against Hossein Vafaei and never looked back, eventually running out a 6-2 winner against the Iranian.
Lisowski and Murphy’s head-to-head reads in favour of the latter, who has prevailed in five out of their six past battles.
Joe Perry vs Tom Ford (1pm)
The only clash from the UK Championship quarter-finals draw in which two qualifiers face off against one another, Joe Perry and Tom Ford play in the afternoon session.
It has been an excellent tournament for the English duo, with Ford backing up his victory over John Higgins with a 6-3 defeat of last year’s runner-up Luca Brecel.
Perry, meanwhile, followed his upset of Neil Robertson with a similar 6-3 success against another former world champion in Stuart Bingham.
Both Perry and Ford have reached the semi-finals of the UK Championship before, so this experience won’t be new to them.
Their head-to-head is relatively even, with Perry leading 7-6 from their previous encounters in all competitions, although they haven’t crossed paths since 2020.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Ding Junhui (1pm)
Undoubtedly the tie of the round sees world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan entertain a resurgent Ding Junhui.
With ten UK titles between them, O’Sullivan and Ding have plenty of fond memories of this tournament and the Barbican Centre.
O’Sullivan thrashed Zuou Yuelong 6-0 to reach this stage with ease, while Ding compiled a century and five additional half-century breaks in his 6-1 rout of Jamie Clarke.
Despite his blasé comments concerning the sport, the former is on course for a third trophy of this term after already winning the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions since the summer.
Ding hasn’t etched his name onto any silverware since landing this title three years ago, a bizarrely long stretch of time for a competitor of his calibre.
Beating the world number one would go a long way in proving he’s really back in the fold as a genuine contender again.
But Ding has generally struggled against O’Sullivan, winning only five out of their 28 overall clashes.
Draw and Schedule
Friday, November 18th
Sam Craigie vs Mark Allen (9)
Jack Lisowski (12) vs Shaun Murphy (13)
Joe Perry vs Tom Ford
Ding Junhui vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
The semi-finals take place on the 19th. The final is on Sunday, November 20th.
Where to Watch the UK Championship
The full 2022 UK Championship schedule will be available to watch on Eurosport and discovery+ across Europe, with viewers in the UK and Ireland also able to enjoy coverage from the BBC.
Other options are available around the world, with more information on those global networks available over on the World Snooker Tour website.
Featured photo credit: WST