There were an astonishing eight deciding frame in the final round of qualifying for the Wuxi Classic yesterday.
Half of the last bout of action went the full distance and there were contrasting fortunes for two players seeking to make their maiden appearance at the venue stage of a ranking event.
Aditya Mehta, who dropped off the circuit last season but regained his two-year card having claimed the Asian Snooker Championship in April, pushed established pro Jamie Cope all the way but eventually fell at the final hurdle for a crushing defeat.
The Indian was clearly disappointed and afterwards admitted on Twitter that it was “back to the drawing board” but there are plenty of positives to take from his performances this week.
The 26 year-old won three matches on the trot and came to within a whisker of qualifying; with the Australian Open qualifiers in the coming days it should not be a case of back to the drawing board but continuing the momentum.
20 year-old Michael White, on the other hand, has been heralded in the last year or so as a player who could very likely take the sport by storm in the next decade.
A powerful break-builder, as most of the top players are these days anyway, Welshman White will be making the trip to Wuxi for his debut in a ranking event after overcoming Anthony Hamilton 5-4.
All in all, though, it was a day for the established members of the game’s top 32 – and even those outside of that list who came through were seasoned campaigners themselves.
Peter Ebdon, Barry Hawkins, Michael Holt, Dominic Dale, Marcus Campbell and Dave Harold all emerged victorious by the odd frame to get their seasons off to a positive start.
Indeed, Dale helped break a two-decade old record during his turgid triumph over Peter Lines – the pair accumulating the most points between them in a single frame, 192 points in a frame won 108-84 by Lines.
In a remarkable sequence, the eccentric Dale, who seems to be involved in a lot of these quirky records, conceded 60 points worth in fouls while Lines amassed 36.
Elsewhere, it was a good day for the sole remaining Irish players on the Main Tour.
Dubliners Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien recorded 5-3 scorelines over Jack Lisowski and Gerard Greene respectively.
It’s a travesty that there are only two Irish players on the professional scene this season, made even worse by the fact that both of them are into their 40s.
Doherty and O’Brien have been outstanding servants for the game but their days of inspiring youngsters in this country to pick up a cue and go down to their local club is all but at an end.
That said, qualifying for a major tournament is nothing to be sniffed at of course and Doherty, in particular, will be hoping to emulate his successful start to last year’s campaign when he reached the semi-final in Australia.
Two Welsh quarter-finalists at the recent World Championship had outings to forget as Jamie Jones went down 5-2 to Rod Lawler, who only came through Q-School last week to regain his place on Tour, while the inconsistent Ryan Day was demolished 5-0 by Robert Milkins. Day has now lost 16 frames in a row.
Tom Ford enjoyed a similar whitewash win over Barry Pinches while Mark Davis, Joe Perry and Jamie Burnett completed the qualifying line-up.