The first two Champion of Champions semi-final spots are now known with Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson set to lock horns in the last four on Friday.
Top seed Trump, who still awaits his first win in this big-money event, defeated David Lilley 4-1 in his tournament curtain-raiser before inflicting a 6-0 beating on Welshman Ryan Day.
Trump will renew his rivalry with Wilson for a place in the title decider. The Warrior recorded a 4-2 win over Jordan Brown before reeling off the final three frames in a 6-4 win over last week’s English Open champion Neil Robertson.
Wilson Should Have Nothing to Fear
Their semi-final showdown will be a best-of-11 contest and it is an interesting rivalry with the pair each winning nine of their last 18 meetings.
Trump’s status will see him head into the clash a resounding favourite – he is 4/9 to get the job done – but he made only one century break across his two wins and if Wilson reproduces the performance he showed against Robertson then he must raise his stakes.
The Warrior was below-par in the win over Brown but quickly erased memories of that display against the Aussie world number four as he knocked in three centuries, as well as a break of 98.
Wilson was able to keep Robertson quiet for large periods of time and if he can do the same to Trump, then he has shown on multiple occasions that he has the scoring prowess to upstage the game’s elite.
The 29-year-old was suggested a value outright selection pre-tournament and can still be considered at 7/4 to get the better of Trump. He is available at 5/1 to lift the trophy.
Selby Could Be Worth Taking On
There is still the matter of two groups to go in the Champion of Champions and all eyes will be on world champion Mark Selby in Wednesday’s Group Two.
The Jester from Leicester returned to world number one after the British Open in August but if there is a time to take him on, then it is early in the season over a shorter format.
Selby is a four-time world champion, who peaks for the Sheffield showpiece, and a best-of-seven opener against the dangerous David Gilbert may leave him vulnerable.
Gilbert got the better of Selby 4-2 at the Northern Ireland Open just over a month ago and at 6/4 is worth backing to cause another upset.
The Angry Farmer is a relentless scorer and has started the season strongly, winning the Championship League and making quarter-finals in two of the other three ranking events to take place.
Shaun Murphy and Yan Bingtao is a tighter clash to call, although slight preference would be for the Chinese cueman.
Higgins Can Frank the Rocket Form
The final of the four groups takes place on Thursday and the headline act is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is chasing a fourth win from just his eighth appearance in the event.
The Rocket kickstarts his title venture against an out-of-sorts Stuart Bingham and should prevail, but a rematch with John Higgins in the group final would ask different questions.
O’Sullivan is 5/4 to win Group Three but Higgins, who opens up against Mark Allen’s replacement Ding Junhui, is a more tempting betting proposition at 15/8.
The Wizard of Wishaw is timing the ball nicely, has made back-to-back ranking event finals and has won three of his four meetings with Ronnie this year, which includes a 6-5 victory in the semi-finals of the English Open earlier this month.
*All odds correct at time of writing.