The Haikou World Open qualifiers got under way today as the final action of 2012 comes to a head in Sheffield.
As per usual, 16 players will earn their right to fly over to China in a few months time for the tournament that in its inaugural staging was won by Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen.
And three of the growing Chinese contingent made it through to tomorrow’s second round.
Tian Pengfei was run far but still had a frame to spare in a 5-3 victory over Passakorn Suwannawat – the same margin in which countryman Zhang Anda overcame Michael Wild.
Chen Zhe edged closer to a trip back home with a more comfortable 5-1 drubbing of Welsh amateur Gareth Allen.
Another amateur from Wales, Duane Jones, made light work of the fourth Chinese player in this round with a 5-1 triumph over Li Yan.
Usually amateurs are only able to compete in the Players Tour Championship events but because there weren’t enough pros available to make up the needed 96 four got their chance to mix it with the big boys.
Justin Astley made the most of his opportunity with a tight 5-4 win over Main Tour rookie Craig Steadman to set up a meeting with fellow Englishman Mark Joyce – who recently beat Judd Trump in spectacular fashion at the UK Championship.
There were three other deciding frame thrillers as teenager Sean O’Sullivan enjoyed added another victory to his fledgling career as he ousted Paul Davison, aided by an excellent 134 century break – the highest of the day.
Sam Baird recorded a similar scoreline over Tony Drago, whose season continues to go from bad to worse, while Scotland’s Scott Donaldson edged Aditya Mehta 5-4 as well.
It was a bad day for the Indians as Pankaj Advani was knocked out 5-2 by Simon Bedford with Egypt’s Mohamed Khairy, competing in his first match of the season having finally sorted out visa problems, went down 5-1 to Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Another Thai in Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon notched the only whitewash of a busy day with a 5-0 hiding of young Joel Walker and there were wins too for Michael Leslie, Liam Highfield, Robbie Williams and Martin O’Donnell.
The full draw and results can be viewed here.