The three Players Tour Championship winners from this season so far all booked their seats on the flight to Poland today for the Gdynia Open in October.
Stephen Maguire and Martin Gould, champions of the two UK PTCs staged so far, and inaugural Asian PTC winner Stuart Bingham all came through two rounds in Sheffield to reach the last 32, where the remainder of the event will be staged in Poland.
Last year’s Polish outing was a huge success with packed crowds every day and with Eurosport covering all of the European Tour events this season it was decided to get the crowded schedule of the rounds of 128 and 64 out-of-the-way so that more television coverage and, more importantly, main venue time can be reserved for as many players as possible – and indeed the willing, enthralled fans.
For someone who once likened the PTC series to prostitution, Scotland’s Maguire is now clearly a man in love with the range of satellite events now on the calendar after backing up his victory in UKPTC1 with a run to the final of the second outing, where he was only narrowly defeated by Gould.
And today he wasted little time in ensuring his safe passage east with a brace of 4-0 wins over Simon Bedford and Peter Lines.
Gould too had little trouble, enjoying a 4-2 win over Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden, while Bingham recorded a similar score line in his defeat of Tony Drago.
Elsewhere, there was joy for Jimmy White fans as the ‘Whirlwind’ came from 3-0 behind to oust amateur Andrew Norman in a decider, having earlier had the luxury of a walkover in his opening round tie.
Fellow legend Steve Davis was not so fortunate and, despite overcoming Polish rookie Wiktor Rzezuchowski without any hassle, was sent home by World Championship quarter-finalist Jamie Jones, 4-1.
As most of the players have now become accustomed to the positives, and indeed necessities, of playing well in the PTC events, which all carry ranking points, the existence of shocks in the early rounds has become less frequent as was the case in the series’ inaugural year in 2010.
That was indeed the case today as Mark Allen was the only high-profile casualty – going down 4-1 to the inconsistent Liang Wenbo of China.
It was a mixed day for the Chinese outfit as Tian Pengfei and Cao Yupeng both advanced to the third round – the latter in a decider to Allan Taylor having once trailed in the match 3-0 – but Xiao Guodong and Yu Delu fell to practice partners Joe Perry and Neil Robertson respectively while Zhang Anda lost 4-2 to Dave Harold.
Incidentally, Australian Robertson won the Polish PTC last year in the capital Warsaw so will be relieved to have come through unscathed to revisit the country – despite needing all seven frames to pip Yu 4-3.
Englishmen Mark Davis, Andy Hicks, Michael Wasley and Ben Woollaston all enjoyed victories with Scot Anthony McGill joining the party late in the day.
With the top half of the draw accounted for, tomorrow sees the bottom contingent whittled down to the final line-up of 32 who will get to compete in Poland later this year.
The full list of results and draw can be viewed by clicking here.