Dechawat Poomjaeng thrilled the crowd on his way to causing the shock of the 2013 World Championship so far by beating Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 10-9 in Sheffield.
Known as ‘Jack’ among his friends, Thailand’s Poomjaeng became only the third player from Thailand to compete at the Crucible after coming through all four rounds of professional qualifying a fortnight ago.
The 34 year-old, ranked a lowly 70, may be relatively unknown to the majority of the viewing public but is rightly recognised as the 2010 World Amateur champion – which is no mean feat at all.
And if he wasn’t a familiar face prior to this championship, then he certainly will have gained a hefty number of fans by its conclusion as the Asian’s charismatic manner around the table endeared him to all, except maybe Maguire himself.
Poomjaeng was not expected to do much against a Welsh Open champion this season and someone who had been tipped by many to go on and lift the famous World Championship trophy on May 6th.
And despite boasting a 5-3 lead following an opening session that was pulled off early, Maguire seemed to regain a stranglehold on proceedings when he took the first three frames yesterday with breaks of 70, 91 and 93 to go ahead for the first time.
Poomjaeng responded with a 74 to level at the interval and took three out of the next five scrappy frames to establish a 9-8 advantage before the players were again told to stop play early.
Upon resumption, Maguire managed to take a tight 18th frame to force the decider but Poomjaeng dominated it with a high break of 63 to deservedly continue his fabulous run into the last 16 – where he will meet fellow debutant Michael White.
Poomjaeng played well, especially in the first session where he compiled five breaks above 50, but the Thai will be making headlines just as much for his charisma.
Rarely in the last decade have we seen so much interaction with the crowd as Poomjaeng wore his heart on his sleeve, never shy to show his emotions, while sometimes his approach being a little too laxadasical after he comically knocked over a bottle of water with his backside.
For one, Poomjaeng’s participation in the competition highlights that, contrary to popular belief, the sport of snooker has an abundance of diverse characters on the circuit.
The result marks the fourth big-name casualty in the first four days, with 32 year-old Maguire’s exit adding to those of John Higgins, Mark Allen and Mark Williams.
It is easy to say that these scorelines have opened up the draw for the likes of Mark Selby and Neil Robertson but why should we think that they will fare any better?
Well, Selby might after the ‘Jester from Leicester’ began his Crucible campaign with a 6-3 opening session lead over Matthew Selt.
The world no.1 had no big breaks – in fact Selt had top runs of 87, 57 and 77 – but ground out the three-frame cushion and will be the overwhelming favourite to progress into the second round.
As will another duo who are widely considered as potential champions this year – Judd Trump and Ding Junhui.
Trump posted the highest break of the tournament so far as he bettered Ricky Walden’s 140 by two points en route to completing a spectacular 142 total clearance and a 6-3 lead over Dominic Dale while Ding Junhui appeared to be in excellent nick as he fought to 7-2 against Alan McManus.
A two-time semi-finalist, McManus was returning to the Crucible for the first time since 2006 and looked good when he led 2-1.
However, Ding dramatically shifted through the gears and, even though ‘Angles’ didn’t make many mistakes, centuries of 129 and 131 helped the Chinese Sensation to an ominous looking overnight frame difference.
Furthermore, it proved to be a promising day for all the Asian contingent as Marco Fu and Matthew Stevens played out an entertaining session that ended 6-3 in favour of the Hong Kong native.
Meanwhile, Ali Carter had a top run of 106 as he raced to a 10-4 triumph over Ben Woollaston to set up an intriguing repeat of last year’s final with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
By the end of Wednesday, all of the last 32 clashes will have either been completed or at least have had their first sessions played.
The only two games yet to get under way are Neil Robertson’s clash with Robert Milkins, which begins this afternoon, and Stuart Bingham against the inexperienced Sam Baird, to start in the evening.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.