In one of the events most unlikely finals, Gary Moss looks ahead to today's Ally Pally Masters clash between Stuart Bingham and Ali Carter...
"He has grabbed his chance with both hands and has used his ever-present tenacity to have a real crack at the title."
We're finally down to the showpiece of this year's Masters at Alexandra Palace with Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham ready to do battle in all-Essex rivalry - with the prize for the winner as big as it gets.
For one of these men, it's an opportunity to capture a first ever Masters win and write their name in snooker history.
Neither have graced a final of this prestigious event before but both are dreaming big and looking to create a chapter of their own in this event which is stooped with so much rich history.
In a rivalry dating way back to their junior days, Carter and Bingham know each other well and finally meet on a real stellar occasion of the sport with both men in their 40s.
A case for the Captain
Carter sets off as a familiar second favourite at 2.3611/8 in the match and having already beaten three former world champions this week will go in with no fears as he prepares to face another.
"I've beat Selby, I've beat Higgins and I've beat Murphy; they don't come any tougher than that," he said.
Many have said Carter's looks to have his name on the trophy. The Masters is an event reserved for invitation to players ranked within the world's top 16 but the Captain got the call up virtue of a late withdrawal from seven-time winner Ronnie O'Sullivan.
He has grabbed his chance with both hands and has used his ever-present tenacity to have a real crack at the title.
Carter said: "Everyone is saying it's fate but I'm just going to go about my business and I need to keep the same things going which got me to the final.
"It'd be pretty sweet to win the event. I've lost twice in the final in Sheffield to Ronnie so maybe the writing is on the walls but nothing is given to you in life - especially a Triple Crown final - and I've got to give it my all."It's in my hands how I do. If I'm the best I can be, I've got every chance."
Carter is looking for the fairytale finish which has seen him come close to landing a major title but never quite sealing it.
He has famously experienced health problems off the table with his battle against Crohn's disease and beating two bouts of cancer. The courage he has showed to keep coming back is admirable and a shot at winning the biggest title in his career will mean everything to him.
Carter is blessed with an abundance of self-belief. He hasn't produced his very best this week yet but knows how to battle through with hard-match snooker and will fight for every shot out there.
Ballrun bounces to the final
Bingham was one of the most popular Crucible winners when he landed an unlikely World Championship victory in 2015.
His remarkable run to the title captured the imagination of everyone and he has remained one of the top players in the world ever since.
As a 1.728/11 favourite, he is looking to add a second big win to his CV. As one of the great students of the game, he knows exactly what it would mean to convert this one.
"It would mean absolutely everything to win it. The history of the game and seeing all the names of the players who have won it. Just to be among them would be fantastic," explained Bingham.
"When you're growing up and playing, it's one of the trophies you dream of getting your hands. You've seen the greats like O'Sullivan and Hendry pick it so many times and to get my hands on the Paul Hunter Trophy would mean everything to me."
Ballrun Bingham has played with a smile on his face all week long producing comfortable wins over Mark Williams and Dave Gilbert as well as a stunning late-night comeback against Kyren Wilson to keep his hopes alive.
He said: "If someone had said to me at the start of the week that I'd be through to the final I'd have snapped their hand off. I can go out and there and enjoy myself like I have all week and hopefully play some good snooker."
Like Carter, Bingham hasn't been at his heavy-scoring best but will be hoping he has saved his best for last and can produce it when it matters with the trophy within touching distance.