The 2023 Six Red World Championship final will take place on Saturday between Ding Junhui and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Ding reached the title decider in Pathum Thani with a 7-4 defeat of Tom Ford on Friday, while Un-Nooh won the last three frames to deny Hossein Vafaei in a decider.
Both players will feature in a Six Red World Championship final for the third time having each captured glory in the event on one occasion previously.
Ding triumphed in 2016 a year after Un-Nooh’s success, and they both followed that up with final appearances in 2017 and 2018 as well.
The two Asian stars have established themselves as specialists in the reduced-balls format, so it will be interesting to see who will come out on top.
Thailand’s Un-Nooh will undoubtedly have the majority of the home support on his side, but Ding is also a popular figure there.
While this tournament boasts only invitational status, it’ll still represent a major boost in confidence for the competitor who emerges with the title.
You would have to go back as far as 2019 for the last time either player etched his name onto silverware on the main tour.
Ding came close by reaching the final of the UK Championship in November only to be denied by Mark Allen.
The 35 year-old has been in a seemingly constant battle with himself to regain his form of old, and a victory here could reignite that spark.
With the World Championship in Sheffield on the horizon, any victory on the circuit at this stage of the campaign would be a timely one in terms of confidence.
Un-Nooh, who reached the Scottish Open semi-finals in December, was battling tour survival this time last year but is in a much better place currently.
The 37 year-old has only beaten Ding once from their four prior battles, although all of those fixtures were in the more traditional 15-red format.
It’s difficult to say who will be the favourite on this occasion, but with about £100,000 on the line for the winner, the encounter is bound to be keenly contested.
Featured photo credit: WST