The top seeds may have already departed from this year's Welsh Open snooker event in Cardiff, including world number one Mark Selby and the reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, but two former World Champions remain in the last-four and battling for a place in the final. Both Mark Williams and John Higgins have rolled back the years this week to battle their way into the semi-finals and must quietly fancy their chances of claiming the title come Sunday.
It would be a somewhat fitting finale if proud Welshman Williams were to come through victorious, after sailing through his quarter-final against the higher-ranked Marco Fu from Hong Kong 5-1. Currently ranked world number 16, the 39-year-old two-time world champion has been in superb form this week in his homeland, hitting two centuries in his last-eight contest with Fu.
Williams has two Welsh Open titles behind him, but the last one was as far back as 1999, so will feel that victory is long overdue at his home event. He is also hoping to end a title drought stretching back four years. His place in the final would be guaranteed should he overcome Ben Woollaston in the semi-final, after the Leicester player defeated Gary Wilson 5-2 in their last-eight clash.
Higgins boasts an even better record at the world event, with four crowns to his name during an illustrious snooker career, and was equally dominant in defeating Stephen Maguire, the Welsh Open champion two years ago, by the same score. Higgins is no stranger to success at the Welsh event having lifted the title a record-equalling three times already, with another victory taking him above both O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry in the history books.
The Scotsman will face the giant-killer of the tournament so far in the last-four, Luca Brecel of Belgium. The world ranked 66 player caused a sensation in his last-16 match when knocking out the top ranked player Mark Selby 4-3, showing great maturity for a 19-year-old to come back from 3-2 down to the current world champion. Brecel was equally impressive in knocking out Ricky Walden 5-3 in the quarter-finals.
Earlier in the week, reigning champion O'Sullivan was knocked out at the third-round stage by Matthew Stevens to ensure that he would not retain his crown this year. Aussie Neil Robertson, another big favourite for the title this season, was also knocked out in the third round by Williams.