Matthew Stevens' fairytale run in the International Championship came to an end as he was beaten 9-6 by Masters champion Mark Allen a high-quality semi-final.
Stevens, a dual World Championship finalist, has found results hard to come by in recent seasons but has enjoyed a terrific run in Daqing and came into this semi-final clash on the back of close victories over Mark King, Ding Junhui and Martin O'Donnell.
Allen always promised to provide a much sterner challenge, though, and having started the season in modest form himself, the Northern Irishman has been right back to his best this week in making eight centuries on his way to the last four.
Despite losing the first frame when Allen began with a run of 75, Stevens dominated the opening exchanges and went into the mid-session interval with a 3-1 advantage thanks to breaks of 59, 70 and 86.
However, Allen held his nerve to win a scrappy fifth and took the next two frames thanks to breaks of 70 and 120.
Trailing 4-3, Stevens needed to win the eighth and final frame of the first session to level the scores but will live to regret missing the final pink from distance which would have left the players all square. It was to prove a turning point in the match.
Allen extended his lead to 6-3 when winning the first frame of the second session but Stevens rallied with back-to-back centuries, magnificent breaks of 110 and 144 keeping him within touching distance, before Allen maintained the terrific standard by knocking in another century of his own, this time 102, to calm his nerves at 7-5.
Stevens took the run of centuries to four in a row when compiling a flawless break of 115 but Allen had the final say, a well-taken 85 bringing to a close a high-class semi-final and sealing his 9-6 victory.
Allen will play the winner of Neil Robertston and Jack Lisowski in Sunday's final.