Some people were predicting an early exit when it became clear that Ding Junhui would have to qualify for the World Championships. Instead the world number seventeen has used it to his advantage to become the form player going into the tournament final.
How did he get here?
His campaign began nearly a month ago at Ponds Forge, just a stones throw away from the Crucible arena. Ding was in inspired form throughout the three qualification matches, as he disposed of Greg Casey, Ross Muir and Nigel Bond, losing just seven frames from 37 in the process.
Ding was presented with a difficult route in the main event itself, as he opened up against German Masters champion Martin Gould. Ding ground out a 10-8 victory and then reached another gear as he defeated China Open winner and form player Judd Trump in the second round.
Though Ding really proved his potential title credentials when he blitzed past former champion Mark Williams in the quarter-finals, winning 13-3. He then produced a record breaking semi-final performance against Alan McManus, as he tied Stephen Hendry's record of seven centuries in a single Crucible match on his way to a 17-11 success.
What is his pedigree?
The former World number one has eleven ranking titles to his game, though the World Championship is still missing from his collection. His best season came two years ago when he won the Shanghai Masters, International Championship, China Open and German Masters. Though Ding has not won a competition since then, his best performance this season a World Grand Prix semi-final until now.
A cool, calm and collected character, Ding has been the most composed and confident of the players that made the semi-final stage. Despite facing a higher ranked opponent in the final, Ding has a real chance and could even start as favourite due to his recent form.
The 29 year old will show no signs of nerves as he carries the weight of a nation and continent on his shoulders. China is becoming somewhat of a heavyweight in the snooker world and the sport is likely to enjoy a boom if Ding can become a national hero come Monday evening. Victory will secure not only his first World Championship crown, but also Asia's.