Preview: Champion of Champions Semi-Final

Four of the world’s top eight ranked players will vie for the coveted trophy this weekend in Milton Keynes.

The Champion of Champions semi-final stage takes place on Friday and Saturday with two cracking matches in store at the Marshall Arena.

Having successfully emerged from their sections of the draw, the remaining quartet stands just another couple of victories away from collecting the £150,000 top prize.

World number one Judd Trump and reigning champion Neil Robertson will attempt to set up a repeat of the final from twelve months ago when they cue up against their respective opponents in the penultimate round.

While Trump is tasked with the challenge of fellow former runner-up Mark Allen on Saturday, Robertson will face Mark Selby in Friday’s opening clash over the best-of-11 frames.

The latter is the only player out of the four who has failed to ever reach a final in this competition since its inception in 2013.

In fact, Selby has made it this far for only the second time in his career but will hope to add one of the few titles that is currently missing from his impressive CV.

The 37 year-old has been one of the form players during the last year or so, winning three ranking titles in that period including this season’s European Masters.

Selby relied on his doggedness to fight back from 4-0 behind to deny Kyren Wilson in a quarter-final decider, while Robertson also survived a scare following a 6-4 triumph over Ding Junhui.

Against the Melbourne man, Selby comes up against a formidable scorer who has already compiled a staggering 22 century breaks during this term already.

Robertson boasts the stronger head-to-head record and edged the three-time world champion in a recent English Open semi-final encounter that lasted the distance.

Whatever the outcome, the winner will have what could transpire to be an important bonus of an extra day off ahead of Sunday’s showdown for glory.

On the other side of the draw, Trump and Allen will meet in Saturday’s second Champion of Champions semi-final.

The former tallied a fantastic five tons en route to his last-eight defeat of David Gilbert, with Allen overcoming world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan with a similar 6-3 scoreline that was overshadowed by their feisty exchange near the end of the affair.

Trump and Allen last crossed paths in last year’s Champion of Champions semi-final when the Englishman came out a 6-4 winner.

Interestingly, though, Trump has a slightly inferior head-to-head record from their battles overall, with eight career wins to Allen’s nine.

That said, despite his consistency the Northern Irishman has recently often hit a stumbling block when it comes to getting beyond the last-four hurdle.

Although he stopped the rot in June by reaching the final of the Tour Championship, Allen had previously gone on a streak of eight semi-final appearances in tournaments resulting in eight successive defeats.

Trump, champion in the English Open a few weeks ago, will be the favourite as he bids to go one step further than his runners-up spots in 2014 and 2019.

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