Irishmen Ken Doherty and Rodney Goggins were knocked out of the Six Reds World Championship in the Last 32 after narrow defeats today in Bangkok.
Amateur Goggins had been one of the star performers in the round robin phase, winning all five of his group games including triumphs over Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins.
But the Wexford native could not continue his progress and was beaten 6-4 by Thailand’s own Panompai Powises while Dubliner Doherty suffered a similar fate, going down in a close decider to world no.1 Mark Selby.
It is the second time in as many weeks that Doherty has exited a tournament in the final frame after losing out to Stuart Bingham 5-4 in the second round of the Wuxi Classic last week.
The duo’s defeats ends any Irish involvement in this year’s edition of the event but, with the quarter-finals to be played tomorrow, there is still plenty of interest remaining.
The overwhelming tie of the last eight is the clash between the top two ranked players in the world, Mark Selby and Judd Trump.
Selby backed up his victory over Doherty with a defeat of Graeme Dott while Trump saw off Bingham and 18 year-old Iranian Hossein Vafaei Ayouri – the world amateur champion.
Selby and Trump’s clash will likely be the first of many throughout the course of the regular 15-reds season so it will be intriguing to see who can gain the early upper hand.
While this event carries no ranking points and is relatively outside of the public eye, there is still £40,000 up for grabs for the overall champion, plus the status of being a world champion, so it is without doubt that Selby and Trump will both approach the encounter seeking a competitive edge.
Elsewhere, Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden continued his good form of late with a brace of 6-3 wins over former champion Jimmy White and Joe Perry.
The Englishman will meet one of the two remaining home players from Thailand for a place in the semi-finals – amateur Issara Kachaiwong.
Goggins’ conqueror Powises, another amateur and arguably the most unknown player left in the draw, backed up his victory over the 34 year-old by seeing off India’s Aditya Mehta 6-5 and will next meet Mark Davis.
The final quarter-final sees former 15-reds world champion Shaun Murphy up against Welsh ‘Spaceman’ Dominic Dale.
The crowds were marginally…marginally…better on the third last day of the tournament but nowhere near big enough to warrant a justifiable argument for returning to Thailand.
The country may have been a hotbed for the sport two decades ago but a lot has changed since then, not least the fact that the nation has nobody of the popularity of James Wattana at the higher echelons of the game.
Bangkok has now had two cracks at the whip at returning to the calendar as a venue following last season’s World Cup and both have been dismal failures in terms of ticket sales.
It is a shame because any addition of a new country is welcomed, but not at the expense of poor attendances which comes across terribly on-screen.
Of course, a Thai victory on Saturday could be just what the country needs to inject some life into their participation – although even then I feel it’s a 15-reds star that would be the only viable antidote.
Mark Selby – Judd Trump
Dominic Dale – Shaun Murphy
Issara Kachaiwong – Ricky Walden
Mark Davis – Panompai Powises