Players' Championship Contenders: Can Walden end the season on a high?

A look at the final four setting their eyes on the prize in Manchester

Players' Championship Contenders: Can Walden end the season on a high?
Ricky Walden will be looking to end a disappointing season on a high (photo: Getty Images)

As Easter egg hunts are enjoyed by many across the country, four of snooker's finest talents are on a hunt of their own as they seek to take home the Players' Championship.

Ricky Walden - Barry Hawkins

World number 11 Ricky Walden has endured a torrid season since last summer, struggling to progress past the early rounds in a number of competitions. Other than an Asia Tour final and two Championship League Group semi-finals, this is the furthest Walden has progressed this season. An emphatic 4-1 victory over Ali Carter included two centuries and two half century breaks as the Englishman found his form.

Walden will face a step up in competition when he faces world number eight Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals. Hawkins also has not had the best season and has been out of form since his 10-1 humiliation in the final of the Masters at the hands of Ronnie O'Sullivan. Yet Hawkins has looked decent this week and he eventually saw off Ding Junhui in the last round, after leading 3-0 before being pegged back in the following two frames.

Mark Allen v Shaun Murphy

World number ten Mark Allen is the only representative from outside England, as he flies the flag for Northern Ireland. This is his fifth semi-final of the season, with two progressing to finals, although an elusive 2015-16 trophy has still not been pocketed by Allen. He comfortably defeated surprise package Mike Dunn 4-1 in the quarter-finals, despite only making one half century break.

His opponent is World Grand Prix champion and favourite for the competition, Shaun Murphy. The world number four has never won back-to-back titles but will fancy his chances after an eighth consecutive victory when he saw off the courageous Ben Woollaston in a deciding frame. Murphy had been out of sorts before his Grand Prix success and will look to continue his good run of form into the final stages of the season.