Who can prevent another Trump and O'Sullivan showdown?
Fourteen of the world’s top 16 players safely navigated their way into the UK Championship second round – but who can prevent another final between Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan?
Shaun Murphy and David Gilbert were the only top-16 casualties from the opening round in York, with many a player impressing going into the second round, which will be shown live on Eurosport and the Eurosport Player from Saturday.
Neil Robertson, John Higgins, Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson all enjoyed 6-0 whitewashes in the first round, but so too Trump and O’Sullivan, who will be favourites to go all the way once more.
Trump v O’Sullivan in finals
- 2014 UK Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan wins 10-9
- 2016 European Masters: Judd Trump wins 9-8
- 2017 Shanghai Masters: Ronnie O'Sullivan wins 10-3
- 2018 Northern Ireland Open: Judd Trump wins 9–7
- 2019 Northern Ireland Open: Judd Trump wins 9–7
This time around, reigning world champion Trump is targeting the Triple Crown at the UK Championship, while O’Sullivan is not only looking to defend his title, but also lift a record-breaking 37th ranking trophy.
But it’s not just a two-horse race, so which players can stop another Trump-O’Sullivan final showdown next Sunday?
The best-of-11 format up to and including the semi-finals (the final is best-of-19) means there is little room for error at the UK Championship.
And though Trump has won three of the five ranking events he has competed in this season, the Bristol-born 30-year-old has succumbed to a couple of third-round exits.
A 5-2 loss to Joe Perry at the China Championships was followed by a 4-2 defeat to Lee Walker at the English Open, highlighting that even the in-form Trump can stumble when there is little room to mount a comeback.
Perry could well be Trump’s fourth-round opponent at the UK Championship, should results go both their way.
However, Trump will first have to overcome Mei Xiwen and then Nigel Bond or Louis Heathcote.
The bottom half of the draw also features a trio of Marks, with Williams, Selby and Allen all more than capable of going the distance.
Meanwhile, it’s world No 4 Robertson who poses the biggest threat to O’Sullivan in the top half of the draw.
The Australian could meet O’Sullivan in the semi-final, although Higgins will look to have a say as well in his bid for a 31st ranking title, and first at the UK Championship since 2010.
O’Sullivan’s route has cleared up somewhat after Shaun Murphy’s shock exit to Eden Sharav, but there is still a potential third-round meeting with Ding Junhui and fourth-round test with Wilson that could prevent the Rocket from defending his crown.
Suffice to say, with only the second round on the horizon, it is impossible to say whether O’Sullivan will meet Trump once again, but if they do, it will have all the potential to go down as another classic.