Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are level at 4-4 after a high-quality opening session of the Northern Ireland final in Belfast.
Trump, 29, scored three centuries on his way to a 4-3 lead but O’Sullivan snatched the eighth frame on the black.
O’Sullivan, 42, is chasing back-to-back titles after triumphing in the Champion of Champions last week, while Trump is aiming for a ninth ranking event win.
The best-of-17-frame decider will conclude on Sunday evening.
The winner of the final will become the third winner of the Alex Higgins Trophy and will collect the £70,000 first prize on offer.
Mark King won the inaugural Northern Ireland Open in 2016, with Mark Williams emerging the victor 12 months ago.
Trump won the first frame on the black but O’Sullivan replied by taking the next two, three breaks of over 60 in the opening three frames helping the five-time world champion to a 2-1 lead.
A break of 112 saw Trump go in all square at the mid-session interval and the world number five followed that up with a 117 in the next to nudge ahead.
O’Sullivan took a scrappy sixth, before Trump responded with a break of 108 in frame seven, his ninth century of the tournament.
The Bristol cueman looked well placed to grab the final frame of the session but O’Sullivan’s clearance to the black ensured that he went in level.
O’Sullivan has also won the invitation Shanghai Masters this season but lost to compatriot Mark Davis at the semi-final stage of the English Open, the first of the four events which make up the Home Nations series.
The world number three had failed to get beyond the last 16 stage in the first two years of this tournament but dropped just four frames in his first five matches, before edging a thrilling 6-5 semi-final win over Mark Selby on Saturday.
Trump, whose last ranking event win came in the European Masters more than one year ago, beat Eden Sharav 6-3 to make the final.
The UK Championship in York is the next event which starts on 27 November, live across the BBC, where O’Sullivan will be looking to defend his title.