Shaun Murphy and Kyren Wilson will contest the 2023 Tour Championship final on Sunday at the Bonus Arena in Hull.
The English duo emerged from contrasting semi-final encounters over the last couple of days to move to within one victory of the £150,000 top prize.
On Friday, Wilson comfortably overcame Ding Junhui 10-5 with a barrage of century breaks – his total of six tons just one shy of equalling the record for a best-of-19 frame encounter.
Murphy, by contrast, was pushed much closer by Mark Selby, who fought back from 9-6 down to force a decider that the Magician ultimately prevailed in.
The agonising defeat for Selby means that he falls one frame short of securing a return to the top of the world rankings list.
As a result, Ronnie O’Sullivan is now assured of holding the world number one ranking and seeding heading into the World Snooker Championship later this month.
The Tour Championship final, meanwhile, promises to be an entertaining affair between two attack-minded protagonists of the game.
Both players will be bidding for a second ranking title of the campaign following Wilson’s European Masters success and Murphy’s Players Championship victory.
The latter would advance to eleven career ranking titles – one more than Jimmy White – if he were to land the silverware, while Wilson is bidding for his sixth at this level.
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The outcome of the contest will have an impact on their own respective seeding positions at the Crucible Theatre as well.
The pair currently occupy the sixth and seventh slots, but a win for Murphy would see him move up to fourth.
Wilson could leapfrog his countryman into fifth with success in the title decider – movements that will, of course, have an impact on the World Championship draw.
Murphy and Wilson’s most recent encounter was in Wolverhampton at the end of February when the former won their semi-final tie 6-3 en route to securing glory in the Players Championship.
Indeed, the 40 year-old boasts the superior head-to-head record overall having won nine out of their 13 prior fixtures in all competitions.
This also includes an earlier showdown in a ranking event final when Murphy thrashed Wilson 9-1 to claim the Welsh Open crown in 2020.
Another high-profile encounter took place in Sheffield a year later when Murphy emerged triumphantly in the World Championship semi-finals with a 17-12 scoreline.
All of this points to the 2005 world champion being the favourite for their latest battle in this Tour Championship final.
While Murphy has proved himself on countless big occasions in the past, Wilson is still hunting that prestigious title that would elevate his status to a more genuine elite player.
There have been several near misses, including defeats in the finals of the World Championship, the Masters, and the Champion of Champions.
Should his devastating deluge of power scoring continue he will be a tough opponent to beat, however.
Both finalists will want to play the game with an attacking mindset, and with crowd numbers finally better at the Bonus Arena, it promises to be an exciting climax to this week’s ranking tournament.
Featured photo credit: WST