Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins both lost their final qualifying matches for the German Masters in Wigan on Sunday.
2014 champion Ding Junhui is also out, adding to the early exit already suffered by Neil Robertson on Friday.
O’Sullivan had just returned from his self-inflicted hiatus and it was expected that he was going to be a little rusty.
Therefore, his 5-3 defeat to Stuart Carrington doesn’t come as a huge surprise in the grand scheme of things.
However, Higgins losing by the same margin to Ian Burns is a big shock considering the Scotsman’s form during this campaign.
It’s hard to say whether we should be particularly surprised by the casualty of Ding, who also went down 5-3 to countryman Tian Pengfei, considering his prolonged run of terrible form over the course of the last 18 or so months.
The Chinese’s situation is so perilous that he has provisionally dropped out of the top 16 in the world rankings and faces an unlikely reality of being forced to qualify for the World Championship at the end of the season.
Overall, while the players who qualified must obviously be given credit for their victories, it’s a shame that once again a high-profile tournament will be bereft of the sport’s biggest names.
Some of the high-profile stars had no such trouble, though, with Judd Trump, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire all advancing.
It was a good day for Irish veterans Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien with both earning deciding frame victories over Michael White and Peter Ebdon respectively to earn their spots in Berlin in February.
The in-form Liang Wenbo and Marco Fu will be joining them while former champion Ali Carter will make a return to the Tempodrom after ousting Jimmy Robertson 5-3.
Elsewhere, Graeme Dott and Luca Brecel hammered their opponents 5-0 while Alan McManus, Kyren Wilson and Alfie Burden required just one extra frame to dispatch of their challengers.
In an all-Welsh affair, Ryan Day got the better of Matthew Stevens while Ben Woollaston, Michael Holt and Zhang Anda all earned narrow 5-4 triumphs.
Finally, Kurt Maflin beat Martin O’Donnell 5-3 and Ruhr Open champion Rory McLeod inflicted the same scoreline on no.10 seed Joe Perry.
Categories: Snooker News