Eight players remain in the hunt for the International Championship crown with the quarter-finals on Thursday in Tianjin.
The remaining contenders have already earned £22,000 for reaching this stage, and the prize money starts to increase dramatically from now on.
There is a champion’s cheque worth £175,000 on offer, making it one of the most lucrative jackpots across the entire season.
Not only is there a ranking title on the line, but there are also subplots involving qualifications for the upcoming Champion of Champions and the UK Championship tournaments.
Stephen Maguire vs Jordan Brown
Thursday, 6:30am UTC
It has been a resurgent mini period for Stephen Maguire, who has made it back-to-back quarter-final appearances in ranking events.
The Scot narrowly missed out on a semi-final place at the Northern Ireland Open following a deciding-frame defeat to Judd Trump.
But a victory over the in-form Englishman this week was a just reward for his recent transformation in form.
Maguire, a former world number two, subsequently prevailed from a high-quality affair with Ryan Day to set up a clash with Antrim’s Jordan Brown.
Somewhat surprisingly, this run represents the latter’s first to a ranking event quarter final since he won the Welsh Open in 2021.
Brown’s confidence will have been boosted by excellent triumphs over Kyren Wilson and John Higgins in the last two rounds.
Maguire and Brown have encountered each other four times in all competitions, with the former enjoying a 3-1 advantage.
Both players are in the hunt to claim automatic qualification for the UK Championship, but they each require the title to break into the top 16 in time for York.
That silverware would also gift them with a place in Bolton next week for the Champion of Champions, making this last-eight International Championship tie even more important.
Tom Ford vs Barry Hawkins
Thursday, 6:30am UTC
Like Maguire and Brown, Tom Ford is making a late charge for those spots in the Champion of Champions and UK Championship lineups.
The Englishman needs to win the event to gain an invite to the former but could potentially safeguard a position in the top 16 for York by reaching Sunday’s final.
Those will be added bonuses for Ford, but his primary focus will naturally be on ending his long wait for a maiden ranking crown.
Jack Lisowski is widely considered as the best player to have never won silverware at this level, but Ford is also in that conversation.
The 40 year-old has twice finished as runner-up, including at this year’s German Masters where he lost to Ali Carter.
Ford’s opponent in the International Championship quarter-finals will be Barry Hawkins – already a proven winner from this season.
Hawkins won the European Masters during the summer and has generally been a consistent force throughout the term so far.
The 44 year-old produced a remarkable fight back from 5-1 down to deny Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a decider on Wednesday.
Against Ford, Hawkins boasts a far superior head-to-head record having won nine of their 12 overall encounters.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Ali Carter
Thursday, 11:30am UTC
Undoubtedly the tie of the International Championship quarter-finals pits old rivals Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter against one another.
It’s fair to say that they aren’t the best of friends, with the pair coming to blows on more than one occasion over the years.
Their biggest battles have been at the Crucible Theatre, with O’Sullivan capturing two of his seven world titles at the expense of Carter in finals.
The latter did gain a modicum of revenge in the second round during a fiery showdown in Sheffield in 2018.
Since then, O’Sullivan has won all but one of their duels in all competitions, and he has in fact only ever lost to Carter on three occasions from more than 20 ties.
Carter has been playing terrific snooker in 2023 so it would be foolish to completely rule out his chances of causing an upset.
But with a seemingly weakened field – he’s the only top ten player left in the draw – and a huge sum of money on offer, O’Sullivan will surely be thinking of adding a 40th career ranking title to his collection.
With odds of 13/9 at Cloudbet, O’Sullivan is the outright betting favourite to win the International Championship for the first time in his career.
Zhang Anda vs Ding Junhui
Thursday, 11:30am UTC
Finally, there is an all-Chinese clash on home soil between crowd favourite Ding Junhui and the vastly improved Zhang Anda.
For a player who took 14 years as a professional to break into the top 64 in the world rankings, Zhang is now on the cusp of a berth among the top 32.
The 31 year-old has been buoyed by his memorable run to the final of the English Open last month.
Ding, meanwhile, is orchestrating another week of snooker where he is threatening to rediscover his best form.
The 14-time ranking event winner has produced promising performances over the last year or so, which has been reflected in his return to the top 16.
Yet silverware is what the 36 year-old wants, and what better way would there be to capture his first ranking title since 2019 than by achieving it in front of his adoring supporters.
Through his victory in the Six Red World Championship, Ding is provisionally clinging onto the last Champion of Champions spot.
But Zhang would replace his countryman in that lineup by winning a first pro title this week – a victory that would see him join the top 16 in time for the UK Championship as well.
Ding has won four of their previous six matches, although one of Zhang’s wins came under the six reds guise.
2023 International Championship
Round of 128 (bo11)
Judd Trump 6-0 Wang Xinzhong
Michael White 6-3 Himanshu Jain
Stephen Maguire 6-2 Peng Yisong
Joe O’Connor 6-1 Baipat Siripaporn
Ryan Day 6-1 Mink Nutcharut
Jackson Page 6-3 Liam Graham
Hossein Vafaei 6-1 Reanne Evans
Ross Muir 6-3 Wu Yize
Ben Woollaston 4-6 Wang Xinbo
Dylan Emery 6-3 Joe Perry
David Grace 6-2 Jenson Kendrick
John Higgins 6-1 Manasawin Phetmalaikul
Jordan Brown 6-5 Sean O’Sullivan
David Gilbert 6-0 James Cahill
Elliot Slessor 6-2 Hammad Miah
Kyren Wilson 6-3 Adam Duffy
Mark Selby 6-2 Muhammad Asif
Stuart Carrington 6-4 Xi Si
Jimmy Robertson 6-2 Anton Kazakov
Xiao Guodong 6-4 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Marco Fu 6-4 Robert Milkins
Sanderson Lam 6-2 Andy Hicks
Tom Ford 6-4 Stan Moody
Cao Yupeng 6-0 Ashley Hugill
Jamie Jones 6-4 Ashley Carty
Ricky Walden 6-1 Jiang Jun
Tian Pengfei 6-3 Stephen Hendry
Barry Hawkins 6-0 Andrew Pagett
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-1 Andrew Higginson
Matthew Selt 6-1 Jimmy White
Oliver Lines 6-4 Lukas Kleckers
Mark Allen 6-2 Ma Hailong
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 Ken Doherty
Mark Joyce 6-3 Andy Lee
Si Jiahui 6-5 Julien Leclercq
Jak Jones 6-2 Aaron Hill
Jack Lisowski 6-3 He Guoqiang
Scott Donaldson 6-4 Louis Heathcote
Anthony McGill 6-3 Alfie Burden
Sam Craigie 6-1 Rory Thor
Matthew Stevens 6-4 Liu Hongyu
Stuart Bingham 6-0 Xing Zihao
John Astley 6-5 Jamie Clarke
Ali Carter 6-2 Allan Taylor
Anthony Hamilton 6-0 Bai Yulu
Zhou Yuelong 6-0 Martin O’Donnell
Daniel Wells 6-2 Liam Highfield
Neil Robertson 6-4 Ryan Thomerson
Shaun Murphy 6-1 Andres Petrov
Dominic Dale 6-3 Oliver Brown
Chris Wakelin 6-0 Dean Young
Lyu Haotian 6-5 David Lilley
Mark Williams 6-0 Rebecca Kenna
Zhang Anda 6-3 Alexander Ursenbacher
Noppon Saengkham 6-3 Victor Sarkis
Liam Pullen 6-4 Graeme Dott
Robbie Williams 6-3 Ben Mertens
Gary Wilson 6-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Long Zehuang 6-5 Yuan Sijun
Ding Junhui 6-1 Ian Burns
Pang Junxu 6-3 Zak Surety
Fan Zhengyi 6-2 Mostafa Dorgham
Mark Davis 6-4 Rod Lawler
Luca Brecel 6-2 Daniel Womersley
Round of 64 (bo11)
Judd Trump 6-0 Michael White
Stephen Maguire 6-4 Joe O’Connor
Ryan Day 6-5 Jackson Page
Hossein Vafaei 5-6 Ross Muir
Wang Xinbo 4-6 Dylan Emery
David Grace 1-6 John Higgins
Jordan Brown 6-3 David Gilbert
Elliot Slessor 2-6 Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby 6-2 Stuart Carrington
Jimmy Robertson 3-6 Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu 6-0 Sanderson Lam
Tom Ford 6-0 Cao Yupeng
Jamie Jones 3-6 Ricky Walden
Tian Pengfei 0-6 Barry Hawkins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-5 Matthew Selt
Oliver Lines 3-6 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 Mark Joyce
Si Jiahui 4-6 Jak Jones
Jack Lisowski 6-4 Scott Donaldson
Anthony McGill 6-3 Sam Craigie
Matthew Stevens 5-6 Stuart Bingham
John Astley 5-6 Ali Carter
Anthony Hamilton 0-6 Zhou Yuelong
Daniel Wells 6-1 Neil Robertson
Shaun Murphy 3-6 Dominic Dale
Chris Wakelin 1-6 Lyu Haotian
Mark Williams 3-6 Zhang Anda
Noppon Saengkham 5-6 Liam Pullen
Robbie Williams 4-6 Gary Wilson
Long Zehuang 4-6 Ding Junhui
Pang Junxu 6-5 Fan Zhengyi
Mark Davis 6-3 Luca Brecel
Round of 32 (bo11)
Judd Trump 3-6 Stephen Maguire
Ryan Day 6-1 Ross Muir
Dylan Emery 1-6 John Higgins
Jordan Brown 6-4 Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby 6-2 Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu 3-6 Tom Ford
Ricky Walden 4-6 Barry Hawkins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-3 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-4 Jak Jones
Jack Lisowski 2-6 Anthony McGill
Stuart Bingham 4-6 Ali Carter
Zhou Yuelong 1-6 Daniel Wells
Dominic Dale 3-6 Lyu Haotian
Zhang Anda 6-3 Liam Pullen
Gary Wilson 5-6 Ding Junhui
Pang Junxu 6-3 Mark Davis
Round of 16 (bo11)
Stephen Maguire 6-4 Ryan Day
John Higgins 3-6 Jordan Brown
Mark Selby 3-6 Tom Ford
Barry Hawkins 6-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 Anthony McGill
Ali Carter 6-1 Daniel Wells
Lyu Haotian 3-6 Zhang Anda
Ding Junhui 6-2 Pang Junxu
Stephen Maguire 5-6 Jordan Brown
Tom Ford 6-4 Barry Hawkins
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-4 Ali Carter
Zhang Anda 6-3 Ding Junhui
Jordan Brown 6-9 Tom Ford
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-9 Zhang Anda
Tom Ford 6-10 Zhang Anda
Featured photo credit: WST