The UK Championship wasn’t full of surprises as such, with fourteen of the world’s top 16 players routinely walking their way into the second round of the event. Even with the impeccable form of all fourteen players, it is impossible to see how Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan so not face off in the finals once again.
Of all top-16 players, only Shawn Murphy and David Gilbert were shown the exit door early on, with several of the bunch racking up impressive even as they push their way into the second round.
In the first round, it was a flurry of whitewash victories as John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Kyren Wilson, and Mark Selby all picked up such embarrassing victories like it was a routine. But so did Trump and O’Sullivan, who will be favorites to tee up another final.
Trump secured a 9-7 win over Ronnie earlier this month to lift the Northern Ireland Open. This time around, there’s something worth more than just a UK Championship trophy for Trump. The world number is targeting a Triple crown, and the New York event will give him just that.
On the other hand, O’Sullivan is motivated by the prospect of winning a record 37th ranking title. However, before both mentally put themselves in the final, they have to scale past some dodgy players. Which players can potentially put a stop to a possible Ronnie-Trump final showdown?
The best-of-11 format, including the semifinals that the UK Championship runs on, means that there is only very little margin for error.
And although Trump has come out tops in three of the five ranking events he’s participated in this year, he has disappointingly been shown the exit door in a couple of third-round encounters.
An embarrassing 5-2 loss to Joe Perry at the China Championship followed closely by another 4-2 loss to Lee Walker, this time at the English Champion shows just how the in-form man can slip-up when it matters the most.
For O’Sullivan, it’s Neil Robertson who poses the biggest threat in the top half of the draw. For the Rocket, there are potential games with Higgins and Wilson, which can put a stop to its quest.