The 2013 UK Championship got under way yesterday with quite a few surprise results baptizing the tournament in York.
This is the first year that the second biggest ranking event on the calendar has adopted the 128 flat draw that offers no protection for the game’s elite.
While none of the top 16 were in action on Tuesday, many players positioned inside the world’s best 64 were sent tumbling by their lower ranked counterparts.
The most eye-catching result of the day was undoubtedly Gary Wilson’s 6-0 drubbing of former Crucible quarter-finalist Jamie Jones.
The Englishman, who returned to the Main Tour this season for the first time in seven years, has proved a consistent threat to opposition, highlighted by runs to the semi-finals of the second European Tour event and the last 16 in the Indian Open.
Welshman Jones has predominantly struggled since his stunning journey to the last 8 of the World Championship a year and a half ago and this scoreline will do his confidence no good whatsoever.
There is a difference of almost 50 places between the pair in the rankings list and Wilson was one of five reputed underdogs to advance to the second round at the Barbican.
Wilson’s countryman Sean O’Sullivan, aged just 19, produced a remarkable comeback against Anthony Hamilton from 4-0 down to overcome the two-time ranking event finalist 6-4, while a third Englishman, Jamie O’Neill ousted former UK quarter-finalist Mark Joyce 6-2.
Elsewhere, Australian Vinnie Calabrese bridged more than 80 places in the rankings by narrowly pipping Dominic Dale 6-5 while Noppon Saengkham repeated the trick against Tom Ford in a more comfortable 6-2 scoreline.
However, while it is true that some of these results were unexpected, and perhaps more so that they all occurred on the same day, the players involved would have already suggested a possibility of this happening.
As noted, Jones has struggled for a long time while Dale, Hamilton and Joyce are seasoned campaigners who have probably already experiences their best days.
Ford, meanwhile, is somewhat of an enigma who has failed to capitalise on the evident talent he garners while all five of their challengers are young, hungry and boast a significant pedigree.
That said, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the bigger names on day one.
Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien got his campaign off to a solid start as he ousted Alex Davies 6-2 and Mark King hammered Scotland’s Ross Muir 6-1.
China’s Xiao Guodong, runner-up at the Shanghai Masters in September, also emerged victorious 6-1 over Andrew Pagett – completing a horrid day for the Welsh contingent.
Most of the top 16 are still expected to produce enough to shift through the early rounds, though, particularly as there was a seeding system put in place for this event ensuring that the top seed plays the 128th, the 2nd seed plays the 127th, and so on.
Considering that there are seven amateurs in the draw replacing those professionals who chose not to enter, it is likely we’ll at least have the top seven competitors remaining in the last 64.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.