By Jonathan Davies
We have reached the business end of the 188BET Champion of Champions, as the semi-finals take centre stage at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
Neil Robertson, Mark Allen, Joe Perry and Kyren Wilson are all in action as they look to book their place in tomorrow’s final.
The first clash sees Robertson and Perry put their friendship to one side when they do battle at 1pm.
Robertson came through Group 4 on Thursday, beating Rory McLeod and Yan Bingtao to set up a third straight appearance in the last four.
The world number three enjoyed a comfortable 4-0 victory over Ruhr Open champion McLeod and survived a scare against 15-year-old Yan, who had stunned Shaun Murphy in the group semi-final, before progressing with a 6-3 win.
He is a heavy favourite with 188BET at 2/5 to advance to the final for the first time but standing in his way is good friend Perry, who took out the in-form John Higgins on his way to winning Group 1 on Wednesday.
The ‘Gentleman’ came through a closely-fought clash with Michael White 4-2, before sealing his passage to the semi-finals with a thrilling deciding-frame victory over Higgins.
It was just the second time he had ever beaten the four-time World Champion and will be looking to extend his debut in Coventry to Sunday night. 188BET are offering 2/1 on him doing so against his practice partner.
The winner will set up a final showdown with either Wilson or Allen, who do battle in the other last four clash at 7pm.
Kettering’s Wilson has looked arguably the most composed player of the week so far, with two sound victories on his way to winning Group 3.
He beat tournament favourite Judd Trump 4-2 in what was a repeat of his Shanghai Masters final victory before rounding off a professional 6-3 win over Chinese teenager Zhou Yuelong, who had shocked World Champion Stuart Bingham earlier on Tuesday.
The world number 22 overcame Allen in the semi-finals en route to his Shanghai triumph, and 188BET are offering 6/4 on him recording a second semi-final win over ‘the Pistol’ in quick succession.
Allen was the form player coming into the event having won the European Tour’s Bulgarian Open last Sunday, and showed no signs of letting his performance levels drop on his way to clinching Group 2 on Friday night.
The world number 11 looked impressive as he overcame Barry Hawkins 4-2 to record his first win in Coventry, before a comfortable 6-2 victory over good friend Stephen Maguire secured his place in the last four.
Despite his Shanghai semi-final defeat to Wilson, he did win their most recent meeting in the last 32 of the International Championship and 188BET have him at 1/2 to do so again this evening.
Both semi-finals are best of 11 frames with the winners progressing to Sunday’s best of 19 final in Coventry, where the 188BET Champion of Champions will collect a cheque for £100,000.J