Ronnie O'Sullivan is backing close friend Ding Junhui to become world champion after his own hopes were snuffed out by the Chinese superstar, who is 33/10 for the title.
Thursday sees Ding begin the toughest possible last-four World Championship assignment as he tackles world number one Mark Selby - the man who beat him in last year's final.
After losing 13-10 to Ding, O'Sullivan shared in a warm embrace and offered words of encouragement in the arena.
"He just said that I looked a different player, how I looked stronger," Ding, who is 17/10 to reach the final, said.
"I'm proud to have support from Ronnie. Every year I'm here trying to win the title. This year I have more confidence to come through."
O'Sullivan offered further generous words once his own exit from the tournament had sunk in.
"He's a special lad, a beautiful guy, and I know his family really well so I know he comes from good stock," O'Sullivan said. "He wants to win this title so bad."
Selby was so dominant against Marco Fu that he won their quarter-final with a session to spare, his 13-3 win featuring a 143 break that surprisingly lasted only a matter of hours as the highest of the tournament.
It was bettered by O'Sullivan, who made a magical 146 against Ding and later denied he deliberately spurned the chance of a 147 maximum.
This has the possibility of going all the way so Selby is 10/1 to win a last-frame decider with Ding 23/2 to do likewise.
Selby and Ding begin their four-session, best-of-33-frame semi-final on Thursday afternoon, with John Higgins and Barry Hawkins getting under way in the evening.
Higgins, a four-time champion, was convincing in sweeping past Kyren Wilson 13-6 and the 41-year-old is convinced he can land another crown.
"I believe I can, yeah, and it's a great feeling to have," said Higgins, who is quoted at 3/1 to lift the title and 8/13 to make the final.
Hawkins overcame Stephen Maguire 13-9 to reach his fourth Crucible semi-final in five years and is the 9/2 outsider to be world champion and 5/4 to beat Higgins.
He said: "If I play anything like I did in this game then I'll get my bum smacked by John."
Higgins is in the groove and we like the look of 43/20 for him to prevail by at least five frames.