Luca Brecel and Jamie Jones denied Fergal O’Brien and David Morris a trip to China after defeating the Irishmen in the Shanghai Masters final round of qualifying on Sunday.
In a dramatic day at the Metrodome in Barnsley, Belgium’s Brecel came from 3-1 down at the interval to pip O’Brien in a decider while Jones overcame Morris with a frame to spare in another tight affair.
It’s an excellent result for both the 20 year-old Brecel and Welsh competitor Jones, with both hoping to feature at the business end of competitions more regularly during this campaign.
Jones hasn’t impressed as much as predicted following his breakthrough run to the World Championship last eight in 2012 while Brecel is now coming to the age where the expectations on him delivering on his talent multiply tenfold.
Meanwhile, on a busy last day of action in the qualifiers, it was a bad day for the Chinese hopefuls seeking a return to their motherland as three out of the four remaining exited at the final hurdle.
2013 runner-up Xiao Guoding and Tian Pengfei succumbed to narrow 5-4 losses at the hands of Mike Dunn and Mark Davis respectively, as compatriot Li Hang was also downed 5-3 by Michael Holt.
Liang Wenbo, the 2009 finalist, was the only one to join Ding Junhui in the main draw after a tense 5-4 win of his own against Andrew Higginson.
Indeed, all but three of the 16 encounters yesterday went down to the last couple of frames – with 5-4 and 5-3 scorelines the order of the day.
Only Peter Ebdon and Ryan Day enjoyed relatively comfortable days, knocking out Jamie Burnett and Dominic Dale respectively with a pair of 5-1 wins.
Martin Gould had only a slightly more difficult time of it in his 5-2 success over Liam Highfield but it’ll subsequently be interesting to see if the Australian Open runner-up can even travel to the Far East after ear trouble has put into doubt whether he’ll be fit to fly.
Meanwhile, the biggest shock was arguably Ali Carter’s defeat to David Grace, who impressively won the last three frames with runs of 68 and 78 for a 5-3 victory.
However, the best comeback of the day was reserved for Alan McManus after the Scot managed to reverse a 4-2 deficit against Rory McLeod even when his opponent had him in a two-snooker bind at the end of the 7th frame.
Finally, there were close triumphs for Englishmen Jamie Cope, Tom Ford, Matthew Selt, Robert Milkins and Kyren Wilson.
The Shanghai Masters takes place in September, starting on the 14th and concluding on the 20th.