The Players’ Championship gets underway with the game between world number one, Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire the highlight of the game scheduled for Friday.
On the other side of the divide is Shaun Murphy and Yan Bingtao who are poised to lock horns in the other semi-final tie slated for Saturday.
Maguire with his wins against Mark Selby and Ding Junhui has put himself within touching distance of the top eight in the world rankings.
The players who makes that list after the Gibraltar Open scheduled for next month are already assured of a place in the lucrative Tour Championship.
World champion, Trump would of course make the cut and hence, win an invite to Liandudno after seeing off an incredible season where he’s lifted four ranking titles. To cap it all, he’s also bagged about half a million dollars in prize money within that time frame.
Should Trump win the title this week, he would equal the record for the most ranking titles collected in a single campaign. It’s difficult to see how Maguire edges past the world number one. However, Stephen has proven with his hard-fought victories this week that he has the ability to dig deep and achieve the required results when the going gets tough.
The world number one has not been lucky in his last three encounters with Trump and posts an inferior record in their head-to-head battles. Of course, who wouldn’t? It’s Juddernaut.
Maguire showed he was built for the game having recently reached the UK Championship final. However, he would have to add a bit of finesse to his game if he wants to come out tops against Trump.
Although Trump has undoubtedly been the player of the season, this semifinal also features two other players who haven’t been too far off the top as well.
Elsewhere, Murphy who’s been in fine form following his Welsh Open win faces Yan Bingtao who’s slowly establishing himself as the best Chinese cueist.
The Riga Masters Champion locked horns with Murphy only two weeks ago at the same stage in Cardiff. 2005 World Champion, Murphy emerged victorious in that encounter but knows Yan would come back stronger in this one. The game is expected to go down to the wire. Who comes out tops?
Written by: Roland Arum