The Wuxi Classic qualifiers – or first round if you will – took place in Gloucester over a protracted five days of action at the Capital Venue.
With it commenced the 2014/15 snooker campaign as the sport’s roadshow once again shifts into gear.
Seeking to maximise as much streaming revenue as possible, World Snooker used only five tables each session, thus ensuring that the qualifying round lasted almost as long as the time it will take for the actual tournament to elapse at the end of next month.
There were supposed to be four Irish players in action but only two of them took to the baize as the other pair benefited from the visa problem that surrounds the Thai players amid the political unrest in the country.
That resulted in Dubliners Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien fortunately progressing without having to hit a ball.
David Morris is also through after a 5-3 win over Ian Burns in a match where the Kilkenny cueist knocked in high breaks of 66, 73, 120 and 61.
Morris, just shy of a place inside the world’s top 64 in his second season as a returning pro, will be hoping for a repeat performance in Wuxi this year having gone all the way to the quarter-finals 12 months ago.
John Sutton, though, earning an invitation through his stellar displays at Q-School, was unable to join his countrymen, losing the last four frames in a 5-2 defeat by Michael White.
Of course, it wasn’t too surprising to find several of the game’s top players absent through one reason or another, while it was equally not shocking to find that most of those who did compete did so in a rusty fashion.
China’s Ding Junhui, player of the last season in some quarters, was one such figure who was sent crashing to a thumping 5-0 loss to amateur Oliver Brown.
In other circumstances, this kind of defeat in a relatively small ranking event probably wouldn’t have bothered Ding so much but the 27 year-old will undoubtedly be disappointed to miss out on his real home tournament – Wuxi being the place of the birth.
All of the other top 16 seeds, with the exception of Matthew Stevens, who lost 5-4 to Q-School graduate Chris Melling, booked their flights to the Far East – some more safely than others.
Newly crowned world champion Mark Selby wasted little time in dispatching of John Astley in a one-sided whitewash will century man Neil Robertson compiled his first of the new campaign with a 5-1 win over rookie Steven Hallworth.
Elsewhere, highly ranked Barry Hawkins, Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Marco Fu, John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Ricky Walden all won, although the latter had to come from behind to seal a narrow deciding frame victory over Joe Swail last night.
Despite the fact that the action was in full-swing, there was a twinge of sadness throughout the entire snooker community as the development of Ali Carter’s lung cancer was learned.
The ‘Captain’ obviously pulled out of qualifying and has now already begun an intense chemotherapy programme where he will hopefully emerge from another cancer scare, having already battled testicular cancer in 2013.
Everyone wishes Ali the best of luck in his road to a speedy recovery.