Jimmy White eased into the second round of World Championship qualifying after a comprehensive 10-3 victory over James Wattana on Saturday.
The six-time world finalist lost the opening two frames against Wattana, a regular foe at the top of the game during the 1990s, but won ten out of the next 11 with a high break of 106 to march into the next round.
White, now almost 53 and his best years well and truly behind him, would dearly love to qualify for the World Championship for the first time since 2006 and experience the special Crucible atmosphere on one last occasion.
Reaching the venue stage in Sheffield also has connotations for his chances of remaining inside the top 64 in the world rankings – as he’ll need to at the very least reach the last 32, but possibly beyond, to break back into that bracket.
While dropping out would be disappointing and result in him losing all of his ranking points, the ‘Wind’ and his many fans can at least take solace in the fact that he is set to regain a fresh two-year Main Tour card via his consistent performances on the European Tour throughout this campaign.
White takes on fellow Englishman Matthew Selt in the penultimate stage of qualifying after the Romdord potter squeezed past China’s Lu Chenwei in a drab affair 10-8.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s four-time national champion Martin McCrudden went down 10-3 to the dangerous Finn Robin Hull.
Hull, along with veteran Marcus Campbell, are two players fighting to break into the top 64 with no safety net of a separate tour card on offer for either.
Scotland’s Campbell was as high as 20th on the list as recently as 2012 but has suffered a nightmare couple of seasons and requires at the very least a second victory on top of his 10-2 hammering of Ivaylo Pekov yesterday.
Elsewhere on a busy fourth day at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, the majority of the higher seeds made it through the opening hurdle.
The biggest upset of the day came when young talent Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon thrashed Kyren Wilson 10-3.
Much had been expected of Wilson following his run to the last 32 last season but it was the 21 year-old Thai who kept alive his hopes of a maiden Crucible appearance.
Isle of Man’s Darryl Hill became only the second amateur to reach the second round after a dramatic 10-9 triumph over James Cahill that concluded on the final pink.
Hill, just 18, recently emerged victorious in the European Under-21 Championship in Malta and will be expected to gain professional status in-time for next season’s opening.
However, by acquiring an invite to play in the qualifiers this week, Hill has wasted little time in getting accustomed to life on the tour and his reward is a meeting with Robert Milkins on Monday.
Milkins, who narrowly missed out on an automatic berth in the World Championship, beat William Lemons 10-6 while China Open runner-up Gary Wilson, semi-finalist Kurt Maflin and 26th seed Michael Holt all similarly advanced with frames to spare.
Belgium’s Luca Brecel recorded the second whitewash win of the week after a 10-0 drubbing of Saqib Nasir while former Crucible qualifiers David Gilbert, Jimmy Robertson, Jamie Burnett, Robbie Williams and Dechawat Poomjaeng, with a close 10-8 defeat of Daniel Wells, progressed also.
Sunday sees the second round start as the 64 players remaining seek to reach Tuesday and Wednesday’s final showdown.
The drama is only going to get more intense.