A busy Scottish Open schedule has seen the draw in Edinburgh whittled down to its last eight contenders.
There was a culling of the top 16 seeds during the first few days, leaving just two from that bracket left fighting for the silverware – reigning champion Gary Wilson and four-time world champion John Higgins.
There are two more proven ranking event winners among the remaining six, including another former world champion, while half of the octet is bidding for a maiden ranking event success.
Let’s have a look at the four Scottish Open quarter-finals on Friday’s schedule.
Gary Wilson vs Chris Wakelin
Friday, not before 2pm
It has been a terrific title defence for top seed Gary Wilson so far, who has established a sound connection with Edinburgh since the event move there last season.
The Englishman prevailed from three deciding-frame thrillers to reach the fourth round, including a victory over Joe O’Connor in what was a repeat of the 2022 final.
In the last 16, Wilson’s boost in confidence was reflected in his scoring, as he reeled off breaks of 89, 88 87, and 80 to see off Rory Thor.
Chris Wakelin stands in Wilson’s way of a return to the last four.
Wakelin upset Kyren Wilson on Thursday, with the 4-2 scoreline ensuring that the latter will fail in his last-gasp quest to qualify for the upcoming World Grand Prix.
Former Shoot Out champion Wakelin has faced Gary Wilson five times previously in ranking events with only one win to his name – although it was in this very event back in 2019.
Zhou Yuelong vs Stuart Bingham
After a barren couple of seasons during which he has plummeted down the rankings list, Stuart Bingham has shown signs of a welcome return to form this week.
The last of Bingham’s six ranking titles was at the 2019 Gibraltar Open, but everyone is well aware of his class on his day.
Bingham has already won the Welsh and English Opens on the Home Nations series and would love to add the Scottish title to that collection.
The 2015 world champion beat Irish player Aaron Hill 4-2 on Thursday before orchestrating a whitewash win over the ever-improving Zhang Anda.
Bingham has odds of 7/1 to land the £80,000 jackpot at the weekend, with some of the best online snooker betting sites providing great sign-up promotions.
Zhou Yuelong will be Bingham’s next challenge to overcome – the Chinese cueist having reached this point courtesy of triumphs over Andrew Higginson and Dominic Dale.
It represents a third quarter-final appearance of the campaign for Zhou, who is again knocking on the door of a breakthrough.
Bingham leads the pair’s head-to-head 5-3, although none of Zhou’s wins have come in matches of any significant length.
Sanderson Lam vs Noppon Saengkham
While Zhang Anda is the obvious choice for the most improved player this term, Sanderson Lam deserves a mention as well.
The Leeds potter has represented a vastly improved competitor since the start of this season, and now he has a first ever ranking event quarter-final to show for it.
Lam has twice disappointed the home crowd this week – first with a 4-3 defeat of rookie Liam Graham before then also ousting Anthony McGill.
The 29 year-old will be hoping to extend his run further into the weekend when he takes on Noppon Saengkham.
Saengkham has been consistent this year but doesn’t have an appearance at the proper business stage to show for his efforts.
Tough victories over Ali Carter and Matthew Selt have taken him one step closer to a first semi-final of the campaign.
The Thai has encountered Lam only once, and it was a long time ago at the Gibraltar Open in 2017.
Lam prevailed that day, but it was early on in the competition and Saengkham boasts far greater experience at this stage of a tournament.
John Higgins vs Tom Ford
The standout quarter-final clash on Friday’s schedule at the Scottish Open is the one between John Higgins and Tom Ford.
The former is the final hope for a home glory, and for a player from Scotland to lift the Stephen Hendry Trophy aloft for the first time.
After scrambling past Ricky Walden in the last 32, Higgins beat Lyu Haotian 4-2 to prolong his stay in the event.
Ford’s route has had a similar look to it, with the Englishman backing up his deciding-frame success over Ding Junhui with a 4-2 win against Martin O’Donnell.
The 40 year-old came close to breaking his ranking event duck when he reached the final of the International Championship last month.
If he can get beyond Higgins, Ford will be looking at the draw and thinking this could finally be his week.
Overcoming the four-time world champion will be easier said than done, but their head-to-head is a little misleading.
While Higgins has a superior 11-5 record, a lot of the Wizard of Wishaw’s wins have come in the Championship League, and their last four matches in all competitions have ended with the same result – wins for Ford.
Scottish Open draw
Round of 128 (bo7)
Gary Wilson 4-3 Elliott Slessor
Xing Zihao 4-3 Fergal O’Brien
Joe O’Connor 4-0 Andy Lee
Scott Donaldson 4-3 Ashley Hugill
Hossein Vafaei 3-4 Daniel Wells
Rory Thor 4-1 Graeme Dott
Ryan Day 4-2 Jiang Jun
Ashley Carty 4-2 Andres Petrov
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-2 Ma Hailong
Chris Wakelin 4-2 Mark Joyce
Yuan Sijun 4-0 Muhammad Asif
Mark Williams 3-4 Sam Craigie
Robbie Williams 4-1 Rod Lawler
David Gilbert 4-3 Jak Jones
Jordan Brown 4-2 Adam Duffy
Kyren Wilson 4-2 Mostafa Dorgham
Mark Allen 2-4 Jamie Jones
Dominic Dale 4-1 Ross Muir
Jimmy Robertson 4-2 Amaan Iqbal
Jimmy White 4-3 Duane Jones
Robert Milkins 0-4 Mark Davis
Andrew Higginson 4-3 Allan Taylor
Zhou Yuelong 4-0 Anthony Hamilton
Martin Gould 4-2 Reanne Evans
Manasawain Phetmalaikuk 4-2 Ben Woollaston
Stuart Bingham 4-0 Michael White
Aaron Hill 4-1 Ken Doherty
Jack Lisowski 4-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Julien Leclercq 4-0 Baipat Siripaporn
Si Jiahui 4-3 Tian Pengfei
Zhang Anda 4-2 Andy Hicks
Judd Trump 4-0 Sydney Wilson
Liam Graham w/o Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ben Mertens 4-0 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Sanderson Lam 4-3 Fan Zhengyi
Cao Yupeng 4-2 David Lilley
Barry Hawkins 3-4 Pang Junxu
Xu Si 4-0 Mink Nutcharut
Anthony McGill 4-0 Ryan Thomerson
Oliver Lines 4-0 John Astley
Lukas Kleckers 4-1 Stuart Carrington
Noppon Saengkham 4-0 Rebecca Kenna
Jack Borwick 1-4 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Ali Carter 4-3 Long Zehuang
Alfie Burden 4-1 Ian Burns
Matthew Selt 4-1 Dylan Emery
Matthew Stevens 4-0 Victory Sarkis
Mark Selby 4-2 Sean O’Sullivan
Shaun Murphy 1-4 Liu Hongyu
Zak Surety 4-1 Liam Pullen
Lyu Haotian 4-2 Joe Perry
Jackson Page 4-1 Himanshu Jain
John Higgins 4-0 Oliver Brown
He Guoqiang 4-0 Peng Yisong
Ricky Walden 4-3 Hammad Miah
Alexander Ursenbacher 4-0 Wu Yize
Liam Highfield 4-0 Dean Young
Tom Ford 4-1 Louis Heathcote
Jenson Kendrick 4-2 Anton Kazakov
Ding Junhui 4-0 David Grace
Martin O’Donnell 4-2 Andrew Pagett
Jamie Clarke 4-2 Xiao Guodong
James Cahill 4-3 Stan Moody
Luca Brecel 4-0 Iulian Boiko
Round of 64 (bo7)
Gary Wilson 4-3 Xing Zihao
Joe O’Connor 4-1 Scott Donaldson
Daniel Wells 3-4 Rory Thor
Ryan Day 3-4 Ashley Carty
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 2-4 Chris Wakelin
Yuan Sijun 0-4 Sam Craigie
Robbie Williams 3-4 David Gilbert
Jordan Brown 0-4 Kyren Wilson
Jamie Jones 3-4 Dominic Dale
Jimmy Robertson 3-4 Jimmy White
Mark Davis 1-4 Andrew Higginson
Zhou Yuelong w/o Martin Gould
Manasawin Phetmalaikul 0-4 Stuart Bingham
Aaron Hill 4-1 Jack Lisowski
Julien Leclercq 2-4 Si Jiahui
Zhang Anda 4-2 Judd Trump
Liam Graham 4-2 Ben Mertens
Sanderson Lam 4-1 Cao Yupeng
Pang Junxu 4-1 Xu Si
Anthony McGill 4-2 Oliver Lines
Lukas Kleckers 1-4 Noppon Saengkham
Ishpreet Singh Chadha 3-4 Ali Carter
Alfie Burden 1-4 Matthew Selt
Matthew Stevens 3-4 Mark Selby
Liu Hongyu 4-0 Zak Surety
Lyu Haotian 4-0 Jackson Page
John Higgins 4-1 He Guoqiang
Ricky Walden 4-3 Alexander Ursenbacher
Liam Highfield 2-4 Tom Ford
Jenson Kendrick 1-4 Ding Junhui
Martin O’Donnell 4-2 Jamie Clarke
James Cahill 3-4 Luca Brecel
Round of 32 (bo7)
Gary Wilson 4-3 Joe O’Connor
Rory Thor 4-3 Ashley Carty
Chris Wakelin 4-0 Sam Craigie
David Gilbert 3-4 Kyren Wilson
Dominic Dale 4-1 Jimmy White
Andrew Higginson 2-4 Zhou Yuelong
Stuart Bingham 4-2 Aaron Hill
Si Jiahui 2-4 Zhang Anda
Liam Graham 3-4 Sanderson Lam
Pang Junxu 2-4 Anthony McGill
Noppon Saengkham 4-2 Ali Carter
Matthew Selt 4-3 Mark Selby
Liu Hongyu 2-4 Lyu Haotian
John Higgins 4-3 Ricky Walden
Tom Ford 3-4 Ding Junhui
Martin O’Donnell 4-2 Luca Brecel
Round of 16 (bo7)
Gary Wilson 4-1 Rory Thor
Chris Wakelin 4-2 Kyren Wilson
Dominic Dale 0-4 Zhou Yuelong
Stuart Bingham 4-0 Zhang Anda
Sanderson Lam 4-1 Anthony McGill
Noppon Saengkham 4-3 Matthew Selt
Lyu Haotian 2-4 John Higgins
Tom Ford 4-2 Martin O’Donnell
Gary Wilson 5-0 Chris Wakelin
Zhou Yuelong 5-4 Stuart Bingham
Sanderson Lam 3-5 Noppon Saengkham
John Higgins 5-3 Tom Ford
Gary Wilson 6-5 Zhou Yuelong
Noppon Saengkham 6-3 John Higgins
Gary Wilson 9-5 Noppon Saengkham
Featured photo credit: WST