The quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open take place on Friday at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
There are eight players still vying for the Alex Higgins Trophy and the £80,000 champion’s cheque.
Six contenders among those left in the draw have experience of lasting the distance in a ranking event.
The other two will be bidding to etch their names onto a piece of silverware at this level for the first time.
Let’s take a look, then, at the four ties in the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals.
Ricky Walden vs Jack Lisowski
Friday, October 27th – 12pm
While by no means an easy route to glory, Jack Lisowski must be looking at the draw and thinking this could finally be his week.
The Englishman is well regarded as the best player to have never won a ranking event.
Six previous appearances in finals have brought six painful defeats, but with so many big-name players not in the draw, he has a big opportunity to make it lucky number seven in Northern Ireland.
Lisowski’s next challenge to overcome is Ricky Walden, who knows what it takes having tallied three ranking titles in the past.
Walden didn’t reach a single semi-final last season, so he’ll be attempting to rectify what has been an indifferent spell of form.
The head-to-head between Lisowski and Walden reads 5-3 in the former’s favour, although it’s actually 3-2 to Walden when Championship League fixtures aren’t included.
Chris Wakelin vs Yuan Sijun
Friday, October 27th – 7pm
An enormous opportunity awaits either Chris Wakelin or Yuan Sijun in the quarter-finals of the Northern Ireland Open.
Wakelin is a ranking event winner, but even he would admit that there is plenty of fortune involved in emerging as the Snooker Shoot Out champion.
Other than that, the improving 31 year-old has never featured in the last-four stage of a normal ranking tournament.
Yuan, meanwhile, is also bidding to reach a ranking event semi-final for only the second time – having previously gone that far at the 2019 Gibraltar Open.
Wakelin and Yuan have never played each other in professional competition, but even without any stats, their encounter looks relatively evenly matched on paper.
In the last 16, Yuan ended the hopes of teenage rookie Stan Moody while Wakelin upset Shaun Murphy.
Judd Trump vs Stephen Maguire
Friday, October 27th – 7pm
It’s been an unusually long time since Stephen Maguire has featured in one of these quarter-final preview articles.
In fact, this is the first time the former world number two has reached this point since the 2022 World Championship.
In the interim, Maguire suffered a heavy dip in form which has resulted in his plummet down the rankings list.
Fears of a potential scrap with tour survival have been allayed thanks to more promising results of late, however.
Someone who has been no stranger to the business end of the tournaments is Judd Trump.
The Englishman remains on course to claim a 26th ranking crown after fighting back from behind to beat Noppon Saengkham in a decider on Thursday.
Trump has already won the English and Wuhan Opens this month, meaning a rare hat-trick of successive titles is on the cards.
Interestingly, Trump possesses a superior head-to-head record against Maguire but only just, with 16 wins to the latter’s 15.
Barry Hawkins vs David Gilbert
Friday, October 27th – not before 2pm
Barry Hawkins and David Gilbert coasted through to the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals with respective 4-0 defeats of Robbie Williams and Rory McLeod.
Hawkins has already won an event this term, prevailing at the European Masters where he outlasted Trump in the final.
Gilbert, on the other hand, has rarely featured at this hurdle of a competition during the last couple of years.
The pair of Englishmen have met on nine occasions in the past, and they boast four wins apiece in addition to a draw.
Most of their games been have contested in the Championship League, with only four played across longer formats.
Gilbert has won three of those, but arguably their most notable clash was at the 2014 World Championship when Hawkins won 10-4.
Northern Ireland Open Draw
Round of 128 (bo7)
Mark Allen 4-0 Ben Mertens
Andres Petrov 4-3 Sanderson Lam
Graeme Dott 4-0 Oliver Lines
David Grace 0-4 Zihao Xing
Ricky Walden 4-2 Ben Woollaston
Allan Taylor 1-4 Dominic Dale
Stuart Bingham 4-3 Ashley Hugill
Xu Si 4-2 Alexander Ursenbacher
Mohamed Ibrahim 2-4 Dean Young
Matthew Selt 4-1 Andy Lee
Liam Graham 0-4 Jackson Page
Jack Lisowski 4-1 Rebecca Kenna
David Lilley 1-4 Aaron Hill
Fan Zhengyi 4-2 Liu Hongyu
Dylan Emery 4-3 Martin Gould
Robert Milkins 3-4 Cao Yupeng
Shaun Murphy 4-2 Ryan Thomerson
Marco Fu 4-2 Jamie Jones
Joe O’Connor 2-4 Zak Surety
Andrew Higginson 2-4 Sean O’Sullivan
Ryan Day 3-4 Ma Hailong
Martin O’Donnell 4-3 Daniel Wells
Chris Wakelin 4-0 Anthony Hamilton
Alfie Burden 4-3 Mostafa Dorgham
Rod Lawler 4-0 Baipat Siripaporn
Zhou Yuelong 2-4 Stan Moody
Andrew Pagett 3-4 Lukas Kleckers
Gary Wilson 4-3 Louis Heathcote
Jamie Clarke 4-3 Alfie Davies
Xiao Guodong 1-4 Yuan Sijun
Jordan Brown 4-2 Stuart Carrington
Neil Robertson 4-1 Wu Yize
Judd Trump 4-1 Jenson Kendrick
Adam Duffy 1-4 Julien Leclercq
Pang Junxu 2-4 Ian Burns
Liam Highfield 3-4 Ken Doherty
Anthony McGill 4-3 Jimmy White
Robbie McGuigan 4-1 Muhammad Asif
Noppon Saengkham 4-0 Himanshu Jain
Manasawin Phetmalaikul 3-4 Barry Pinches
Mink Nutcharut 2-4 Michael White
Joe Perry 4-2 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Long Zehuang 1-4 Anton Kazakov
Hossein Vafaei 4-1 Mark Joyce
James Cahill 4-1 Duane Jones
Stephen Maguire 4-3 Fergal O’Brien
Reanne Evans 0-4 Hammad Miah
Kyren Wilson 3-4 Sam Craigie
Mark Williams 4-1 Tian Pengfei
Liam Pullen 1-4 Robbie Williams
Si Jiahui 1-4 Zhang Anda
John Astley 0-4 Rory Thor
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Elliot Slessor
Andy Hicks 2-4 Jiang Jun
Jimmy Robertson 4-2 Sydney Wilson
Peng Yison 4-1 He Guoqiang
Matthew Stevens 4-2 Stephen Hendry
David Gilbert 4-1 Joel Connolly
Lyu Haotian 4-1 Ashley Carty
Tom Ford 4-0 Haydon Pinhey
Scott Donaldson 0-4 Mark Davis
Jak Jones 4-0 Oliver Brown
Victor Sarkis 2-4 Ross Muir
Rory McLeod 4-0 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Round of 64 (bo7)
Mark Allen 3-4 Andres Petrov
Graeme Dott 1-4 Xing Zihao
Ricky Walden 4-3 Dominic Dale
Stuart Bingham 4-1 Xu Si
Dean Young 3-4 Matthew Selt
Jackson Page 1-4 Jack Lisowski
Aaron Hill 4-1 Fan Zhengyi
Dylan Emery 4-3 Cao Yupeng
Shaun Murphy 4-3 Marco Fu
Zak Surety 3-4 Sean O’Sullivan
Ma Hailong 1-4 Martin O’Donnell
Chris Wakelin 4-2 Alfie Burden
Rod Lawler 1-4 Stan Moody
Lukas Kleckers 1-4 Gary Wilson
Jamie Clarke 0-4 Yuan Sijun
Jordan Brown 4-1 Neil Robertson
Judd Trump 4-0 Julien Leclercq
Ian Burns 4-2 Ken Doherty
Anthony McGill 4-3 Robbie McGuigan
Noppon Saengkham 4-1 Barry Pinches
Michael White 3-4 Joe Perry
Anton Kazakov 0-4 Hossein Vafaei
James Cahill 2-4 Stephen Maguire
Hammad Miah 2-4 Sam Craigie
Mark Williams 2-4 Robbie Williams
Zhang Anda 4-1 Rory Thor
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Jiang Jun
Jimmy Robertson 4-0 Peng Yisong
Matthew Stevens 3-4 David Gilbert
Lyu Haotian 4-3 Tom Ford
Mark Davis 2-4 Jak Jones
Ross Muir 3-4 Rory McLeod
Round of 32 (bo7)
Andres Petrov 1-4 Xing Zihao
Ricky Walden 4-1 Stuart Bingham
Matthew Selt 1-4 Jack Lisowski
Aaron Hill 4-0 Dylan Emery
Shaun Murphy 4-0 Sean O’Sullivan
Martin O’Donnell 1-4 Chris Wakelin
Stan Moody 4-2 Gary Wilson
Yuan Sijun 4-2 Jordan Brown
Judd Trump 4-2 Ian Burns
Anthony McGill 0-4 Noppon Saengkham
Joe Perry 4-3 Hossein Vafaei
Stephen Maguire 4-2 Sam Craigie
Robbie Williams 4-1 Zhang Anda
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Jimmy Robertson
David Gilbert 4-1 Lyu Haotian
Jak Jones 3-4 Rory McLeod
Round of 16 (bo7)
Xing Zihao 1-4 Ricky Walden
Jack Lisowski 4-1 Aaron Hill
Shaun Murphy 2-4 Chris Wakelin
Stan Moody 2-4 Yuan Sijun
Judd Trump 4-3 Noppon Saengkham
Joe Perry 3-4 Stephen Maguire
Robbie Williams 0-4 Barry Hawkins
David Gilbert 4-0 Rory McLeod
Ricky Walden 1-5 Jack Lisowski
Chris Wakelin 5-2 Yuan Sijun
Judd Trump 5-4 Stephen Maguire
Barry Hawkins 5-4 David Gilbert
Jack Lisowski 1-6 Chris Wakelin
Judd Trump 6-4 Barry Hawkins
Chris Wakelin 3-9 Judd Trump
Featured photo credit: WST