World no.1 Mark Selby scraped through the third round of the UK Championship on Monday but world champion Stuart Bingham crashed out.
Selby looked great in not losing a frame in his opening two ties but had to rely on his battling qualities to cruelly deny Jamie Jones in a decider.
The Welshman was ahead for the entire contest, and scored heavier with a brace of tons to Selby’s meagre 54, but the master of brinkmanship prevailed again by taking it to an eleventh frame where he knocked in a 67 break to clinch it.
Jones will rue the missed opportunity but he is not the first man to fall foul of Selby’s ability to get the job done even when he is not practicing his A-game.
In much the same way, John Higgins has crafted a considerable career producing results of a similar nature and the Scot had no trouble in overcoming Ali Carter to reach the last 16.
Higgins, already with three ranking titles in 2015 and looking to add a fourth UK trophy to his collection, punished Carter’s many mistakes to run out a comfortable 6-2 victor.
Bingham, though, continued to struggle to live up to his status as Crucible king, going down 6-3 to veteran Peter Ebdon.
Ebdon’s encounter with Dominic Dale finished late into the previous night but, fuelled by a bag of bananas to supplement his vegan diet, the 2006 champion looked in very good form as he ousted Bingham with a high break of 109.
With Bingham and Ding out, the top quarter of the draw is increasingly opening up to suit Mark Allen, but 45 year-old Ebdon could well be a dark horse to keep an eye on.
The 2002 world champion will certainly be favourite in his next match against David Grace after the lowly ranked Englishman denied Jack Lisowski with a 6-4 scoreline.
Another surprise competitor still featuring in that section is Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail, who hammered Michael Holt 6-1 to ensure a successful first return in years to the TV tables at a BBC major for the popular ‘Outlaw’.
Swail’s victory could set up a mouthwatering clash with friend and fellow Antrim man Allen, should the latter first safely negotiate his tricky task against Martin Gould on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, 20 year-old Luca Brecel produced glimpses of living up to the star of the future label that is so often branded on his shoulders following an impressive 6-2 success over Robin Hull of Finland.
Brecel compiled breaks of 102, 82, 81, 65 and 57 to draw closer to matching his last eight appearance of 2012.
Elsewhere, Matthew Selt and Jamie Burnett enjoyed 6-3 triumphs over Robbie Williams and Li Hang respectively.
The remainder of the last 32 concludes on Tuesday with the likes of Allen, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy all in action.