|Venue: York Barbican Date: Sunday 5 December Coverage: BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and app|
|BBC coverage times, schedule and results|
Belgium’s Luca Brecel will face China’s Zhao Xintong in the UK Championship final, with both players aiming to win the event for the first time.
Brecel, 26, overcame Kyren Wilson with a barrage of brutal scoring, including four centuries, to triumph 6-4.
Zhao, 24, was also in destructive form, dismantling former World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins 6-1.
Sunday’s best-of-19 final, live across the BBC, will guarantee a new name being engraved on the trophy.
An added significance to the contest will see the winner not only taking home the trophy and £200,000 in prize money, but also climbing into the elite top 16 and qualifying for next month’s invitational Masters event in London.
The UK Championship returned to its familiar stage in York this year after taking place behind closed doors in Milton Keynes last time around.
With the sport’s big-name players all falling early in the tournament, the final pits two exciting, young talents who are now expected to showcase an enthralling exhibition of potting.
Unruffled Zhao makes it look easy
World number 26 Zhao was described earlier in the tournament by Ronnie O’Sullivan as “amazing” and the six-time world champion said he had not seen “a more talented snooker player”.
Zhao now looks to be living up to the hype after reaching the first ranking final of his career, surpassing his previous best of a semi-final appearance at the 2018 China Championship.
Zhao told BBC Two: “I am very happy. I can’t describe how happy. First time in the semi-final and I did it. This time I just think I can do it and become champion.”
Despite the importance of the occasion and match, Zhao was unruffled as he surged into a 4-1 lead with a century and three further breaks of 78, closing out the contest with composed runs of 74 and 81.
Zhao added: “The John Higgins match was an important one for me because I could have lost that match but I won it. Jimmy [White] spoke to me yesterday and told me I had to concentrate.
“Luca played perfect today and is a great player, we can make a beautiful game.”
‘Best feeling’ for brilliant Brecel
World number 40 Brecel was tipped to have a bright a future in the sport when he became the youngest player to appear at the World Championship in 2012 aged just 17.
He struggled to kick on thereafter, winning his maiden and only ranking title to date at the 2017 China Championship. Now aged 26, he looks to have finally come of age, becoming the first player from mainland Europe to reach a Triple Crown event final.
“Unbelievable. It’s a dream, it really is a dream,” Brecel told BBC Two. “I was so nervous last night, I could not really sleep because I was dreaming of the final. Now it is true it is crazy.
“Something has clicked. I had a good start to the season and if you do that anything can happen. It is just confidence. I made a conscious decision before the season to try to give my opponent less chances.
“To do it at this stage of the tournament is very special for me. It is amazing to be in the final. I have a lot to look forward to.”
In all, the savage scoring prowess of Brecel – nicknamed the ‘Belgian Bullet’ – proved too much for Wilson, compiling four centuries and three further breaks of 50 or more.
Brecel added: “The whole game I felt so good. I haven’t being playing my best the whole tournament but I have been winning a lot. But this game I played unbelievable.
“It is the best feeling I have ever had on a snooker table by far, even better than winning in China because this was such a big crowd and the balls kept going in.”
‘A joy to watch’ – analysis
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry on BBC Two:
“The sign of a great player who is comfortable in those circumstances is how you finish a match off. That was just outstanding from Zhao. He didn’t think he was going to miss, every positional shot was perfect. You can’t speak more highly of how both finalists played in the semis today.
“What both players have done is taken the game to their opponents, being aggressive, attacking and playing high-scoring snooker.
“Tonight his composure and pace around the table was very good. He never rushed even when there was pressure. His middle pocket potting is incredible.”
Six-time world champion Steve Davis:
“We have been treated to some wonderful stuff from players we are not used to seeing in the final stages of events.
“It is an absolute joy to watch new players coming through. These are great players who we have been predicting that have finally come of age.”