Magnus Carlsen and Ding Liren are on the brink of meeting in the Goldmoney Asian Rapid final after streaking ahead in their semis.
In a tense day of play, Ding dominated his first semi-final match against the Russian speed demon Vladislav Artemiev.
The Chinese number 1 racked up two wins to take the match 2.5-0.5 with a game to spare.
He now needs just a draw in the second match tomorrow to reach his first final in the $1.5 million Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. Artemiev, meanwhile, is left with a mountain to climb.
Ding has seen a welcome return to form in this tournament coincide with a change in the start time.
The earlier kick-off means he doesn’t have to play into the early hours of the morning – and the difference has showed.
In the other semi, Armenia’s Levon Aronian got off to a superb start against Carlsen with a stylish opening game win to take first blood.
The World Champion, who marked an unbroken 10 years at the top of the world rankings today, grimaced.
Carlsen is notorious, however, for starting slowly in these four-game matches and hit back fast with a crushing endgame win.
A draw in the third then followed before a nervy fourth game saw the Norwegian streak ahead as Aronian looked down the barrel of defeat.
Carlsen then stumbled to give Aronian a chance of a draw but the Armenian couldn’t take advantage and made a mistake of his own.
Aronian collapsed and Carlsen ran out the winner by 2.5-1.5.
It is now 1-0 to Carlsen in matches and the champ needs just a draw in tomorrow’s second match to reach his third final in a row.
The Goldmoney Asian Rapid is broadcast live on Norwegian TV station TV 2 and streamed with commentary in several languages on chess24’s YouTube and Twitch channels.
Highlights will also be available in 60 countries on the Eurosport app.
Play begins tomorrow at 13:00 CEST. All games will be played on the chess24.com playzone.