The semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open are on Saturday at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Four Englishmen will continue their bids to claim the Alex Higgins Trophy in what is the second of four Home Nations events this season.
Three from the remaining quartet have experienced lifting silverware in the past, while the other contender is hoping to capture a long overdue maiden title as a professional.
Let’s take a look at both Northern Ireland Open semi-finals.
Jack Lisowski vs Chris Wakelin
Saturday, October 28th – 1pm
Jack Lisowski produced a clinical performance to beat Ricky Walden 5-1 in the first of Friday’s quarter-final ties.
The 32 year-old pinched the opening frame on the black with a nerveless clearance – one of many he has been conducting of late.
Walden got back on even terms with a superb 132 in the next frame, but after that it was all Lisowski as he mixed his trademark scoring with terrific safety play.
It’s the noticeable improvement in the latter area that has excitement building that this could finally be his week.
Lisowski is well known as the best player in the game to have never won a ranking event, or any title for that matter, since turning professional in 2010.
He has been a runner-up nine times in the past in all competitions, including six occasions in full ranking tournaments.
Against Chris Wakelin, he faces an opponent in the semi-finals who he would normally be expected to beat.
Yet Wakelin has been a vastly improved competitor on the circuit ever since securing his own maiden title at this year’s Snooker Shoot Out.
At the start of 2023, the 31 year-old was ranked just inside the world’s top 50, but he is now knocking on the door of a place in the top 20.
Wakelin backed up his fourth-round success over Shaun Murphy with a 5-2 defeat of Yuan Sijun in the last eight.
To prolong his stay in the event further he will have to do something he has never done before, though, as Lisowski has won all four of the duo’s previous meetings on the main tour.
Judd Trump vs Barry Hawkins
Saturday, October 28th – 7pm
Saturday’s second fixture in the Northern Ireland Open semi-finals pits the two most in-form players of the 2023/24 snooker season against one another.
Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins are eyeing more success after completing dramatic victories on Friday in the quarter-finals.
Trump, as he has done so frequently in October, fought back from behind to deny Stephen Maguire in a decider.
Earlier on day six, Hawkins held off a late rally from David Gilbert to prevail by the same narrow margin.
The result is an intriguing duel between the winners of three of the last four ranking events on the calendar.
Hawkins beat Trump to lift the European Masters crown in August and, in fact, is one of only three players to beat the world number three all season.
The latter, meanwhile, is on an incredible 18-game winning streak that has incorporated glories in both the English and Wuhan Opens this month.
Should Trump triumph this week again, he would become only the fifth player to win a hat-trick of ranking titles successively.
The 34 year-old ousted Hawkins in Wuhan a couple of weeks ago and boasts a superior head-to-head record overall.
But they have been involved in plenty of close battles over the years, with Hawkins enjoying his fair share of success as well.
It’s a tough one to call, and it may come down to whether a visibly tiring Trump will run out of gas or if he can gain another boost of adrenaline from what will be an electric atmosphere for the one-table setup in Belfast.
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 phot credit: WST