The top half of the field at the Ruhr Open got whittled down on Friday as the first eight players booked their last 16 spots in Germany.
With the UK Championship commencing next week, this weekend offers players their final chance to fine-tune their game before the season’s first traditional major in York.
While several of the big-hitters manoeuvred their way through the opening three rounds, there were a couple of notable early exits.
Former World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins was dumped in the first round by fellow Englishman Craig Steadman 4-1 with Peter Ebdon, performing very well in the European Tour series during this campaign, ousted in the second round by Chris Melling.
However, the biggest shock came later in the day when defending champion Mark Allen was whitewashed 4-0 by Stuart Carrington in the last 32.
Carrington knocked in runs of 85, 51, 64 and 102 in an impressive display that sees the 24 year-old reach the last 16 of a minor-ranking event for only the second time in his career.
Rod Lawler stands in the way of a maiden quarter-final berth while Robert Milkins and Andrew Higginson offer potential future opponents.
Gloucester’s Milkins needed all seven frames to get past Peter Lines but Higginson dropped only two frames in his three bouts to seal his place comfortably.
The remaining two ties offer equally intriguing contests.
Neil Robertson compiled a magnificent 140 in his first round before registering wins over Noppon Saengkham, Jak Jones and Steadman.
The Australian will meet Liang Wenbo in Sunday’s fourth round after the unpredictable Chinese cueist came from 3-0 down to overturn Jimmy Robertson in a decider.
Finally, Stephen Maguire produced some much-needed results following a distinctly quiet couple of months to set up a clash with Shanghai Masters champion Stuart Bingham.
The latter also needed a comeback victory in his third round encounter as he won the last two frames to overcome young Belgian Luca Brecel 4-3 – needing the final pink to get the job done in a nervy decider.
Saturday sees the bottom half of the draw battle it out with the likes of Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams and Jimmy White in action.
Irishmen Fergal O’Brien and David Morris face Luke Garland and Matthew Stevens respectively, and will be hoping to go further than countryman Ken Doherty who lost to Bingham in the last 64 yesterday.