Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire both exited the 2016 Betfred World Championship on Sunday at the Crucible.
Opening day Saturday had witnessed the defending world champion Stuart Bingham knocked out in dramatic fashion and Murphy, the player who Bingham beat in last year’s final, followed suit after a 10-8 defeat to the excellent Anthony McGill.
It marks the first time in the tournament’s history that both of the previous year’s finalists have been dumped out in the last 32 the subsequent season.
McGill had caused a sensation in 2015 when he dispatched of Maguire before inflicting the Crucible Curse on Mark Selby in the second round.
Yet, it was Murphy who had stood in the Scot’s way in the quarter-finals and the 2005 champion was expected to have enough in reserve once again.
When the World Grand Prix winner compiled a century to move 6-4 up at the outset of the second session it appeared as though he was in control.
But 25 year-old McGill tallied runs of 64, 85, 81, 50, 117 and 97 as he stunned the world no.3 by claiming six out of the last eight frames.
McGill’s prominence in Sheffield is all the more surprising considering he suffered a poor campaign in between his previous escapades at the Crucible and this one.
However, the Glaswegian seems to thrive on the atmosphere created inside the cauldron arena, a handy characteristic several of the other competitors would love to possess.
Meanwhile, McGill’s countryman Maguire endured a fourth first round exit in a row – and fifth in six editions of the World Championship.
Maguire lost 10-7 to compatriot Alan McManus, who by winning reaches the last 16 of the tournament for an impressive 14th time.
The 45 year-old will play Bingham’s conqueror Ali Carter next and will have no fears as his confidence must now be sky high.
Elsewhere, four other ties reached the halfway points in their proceedings.
Ronnie O’Sullivan and David Gilbert served up a superb session of snooker with high-quality scoring and safety entertaining the inevitably boisterous crowd in to watch the ‘Rocket’.
Gilbert is unlucky to find himself 6-3 behind because he cued really well but was left to rue a couple of pieces of misfortune when trying to spread the pack of reds.
O’Sullivan, though, was ominously punishing of any error from his challenger, and perhaps even more worrying for his rivals was the fact that the 40 year-old was disciplined as well – keeping it tight when necessary to maintain the pressure on his opponent.
Another powerfully scored session saw Mark Williams and Graeme Dott, in a battle of the former champions, construct half-century breaks in each of their nine frames.
Williams was in particularly fine fettle, as he raced away to secure a comprehensive 7-2 advantage overnight.
Finally, two other shocks are on the cards as lowly ranked qualifiers Robbie Williams and Sam Baird hold 5-4 leads over Ricky Walden and Michael White respectively.
Categories: Snooker News